The first time you cram your car with cardboard boxes and spend the day lugging everything you own up five flights of stairs, it’s sort of fun. But after you’ve moved yourself a few times, you start to think about how nice it might be to have someone else do it for you. If you’re getting ready for a move and you’re planning on using a moving company, it’s probably a wise decision; letting professional movers do the heavy lifting can help make the entire process go more smoothly and give you more time to concentrate on all the other little moving details. For example, worrying about how much to tip movers.
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Do You Tip Movers?
Asking yourself do you tip movers? Tipping is never required, but because it is widely understood that people in service professions deserve and even depend on tips, you’d almost never intentionally not tip the person who cuts your hair, parks your car, or serves your dinner. Some put movers in a different category and say they don’t expect tips in the way that, for example, a bellhop does. Others argue that because movers are responsible for the survival of all your material possessions, their work is especially deserving of a reward for a job well done. Most agree that if the moving crew is competent, you should give a tip just as you would for anyone providing an important service.
Depending on your move, that could mean tipping a lot of people. The size of the crew for your move will vary based on how much stuff you have and what the job entails. For a small apartment or house, you may have two or three movers; for a larger home, four or more may be required. Moving companies may use separate crews for packing, loading, and unloading, especially in long-distance moves. If you’re factoring tipping into your moving costs, keep in mind that individual movers are not necessarily making tons of money.
When in the Move Should You Tip Movers?
Tip once the move is complete, just before the movers leave. There are two reasons for this: one, you won’t know how well the job has been done until it’s actually done; and two, while it’s highly unlikely that even the rudest of movers would threaten you or damage your things out of revenge over a small or nonexistent tip, it’s always prudent to avoid angering anyone or getting into a confrontation if possible.
For a long-distance move, there may be one crew assigned to pack and load your things, and another that actually drives your belongings to your new home. Ask beforehand how your movers will be dividing these tasks, so you’ll know whether you need to tip the first crew after they pack the truck or whether the tip can wait until the shipment is delivered.
If at all possible, tip the movers individually rather than assuming the foreman will evenly divide your cash between the crew. One person may not disperse the tips as you’d assume they would. Tipping each individual also lets you give one a little extra based on the quality of their service.
Larger moving companies may let you add the tip to your credit card payment if you prefer. Smaller businesses might not have that option; in that case, go with cash or a check. You can also inquire beforehand with your moving company about the best way to handle tips.
When Is It Okay to Not Tip Movers?
If a mover breaks something or damages your property, you may choose to not tip, especially if the damage was due to unsafe or careless behavior. However, if the incident is due to bad luck rather than negligence, and if the movers act quickly to fix the damage or work with you to manage the situation, you might decide to tip anyway. If the broken item was valuable, you can also deal with the problem through your insurance company.
Tipping a Mover Based on Performance
As mentioned above, the standard tip can range anywhere from 5% and 20% of the total or $10 to $50 per mover. But within that range, the amount you tip should be partly based on performance. If your movers were professional, polite, worked hard and treated your belongings and property respectfully, that’s worth a lot more than if they dawdled, had a bad attitude, or made you wonder if your stuff would survive the trip. Also take into consideration the specifics of your move. If you had many heavy or bulky items, if your move involved multiple flights of stairs or other tricky maneuvering, or if your movers had to work especially hard for another reason, you’ll probably want to tip more than you would for a simple, straightforward, relatively stress-free job.[
How Much Do You Tip Movers?
In general, when it comes to how much do you tip movers, current etiquette mostly agrees that a tip should be somewhere around $10 to $50 per mover (calculated by the hour or as a flat fee), or between 5% and 20%, divided among your movers. While there’s no one customary amount to tip, it’s safe to say that within the usual range – let’s use the simplest method and say that’s a flat fee of $10 to $50 per mover – your decision should take into account all the specifics of your move. Think about:
- The amount of time and effort the move requires
- The norms in the region where you live
- Your satisfaction with the movers’ performance
- The level of physical difficulty of the move
These factors apply both in local and long-distance moves. Though longer moves will usually be more complex and that can influence how much to tip movers, that’s not always the case, and local moves may also be full of difficulties. A crew who packs up a six-bedroom house, moves its contents across town, and unloads them in a new home with four flights of stairs are working harder than a crew who loads a small apartments’ worth of boxes into a truck to be driven two states over.
Local or long-distance, the choice of whether to tip based on a flat fee or a percentage is up to you; both are valid options. And although a flat fee involves less math, the two may come out nearly equal in the end, with exceptions for very costly, complex, long-distance moves.
If you tip movers by percentage, calculate based on the total, final bill, and remember to divide the amount between all the workers, even if more than one crew handled different stages of your move.
Alternatives to Tipping Movers with Cash
Aside from a cash tip, there are other ways to tip movers and show your movers your appreciation. Offering extra food and drinks, as mentioned above, shows your concern for their well-being. Some people choose to buy lunch instead of giving a tip; if you do this, make sure your movers want their lunch provided and ask them what they’d like before simply showing up with randomly chosen pizzas or sandwiches.
Depending on the situation, you might even offer to gift your movers household objects you aren’t taking with you. For example, if one of the crew members mentions that he loves restoring old furniture, you might let him have his pick of the old dining set you were planning to donate to charity.
Another way to show appreciation for a good crew is to provide feedback to their employer, using specific names if possible. Movers may be rewarded based on recognition like this. You can also refer your friends and family to your movers, or write a positive review for the company online, something many small businesses value.
What If You Don’t Leave a Tip for Movers?
Let’s say moving day is over and you weren’t able to tip movers, either because you couldn’t swing it financially, you forgot to go to the ATM, or the movers left amid the hubbub of the day before you got a chance to hand over the cash. If you still want to tip, you can probably remedy the situation.
- Call the moving company
- Explain that you forgot to tip but would like to do so now
- Ask how you can forward the money to the crew who worked on your move
As you’ve probably realized, there is (unfortunately) no official rule for how much to tip movers. All you can do is research tipping etiquette ahead of time, treat your movers with respect, and try not to get too stressed out about the exact amount of the tip. After all, it is only one small part of a complex and hopefully positive life change.
Take the nest step.