Q. What is the procedure for tipping a repair person? If you tip them, how much?
Valerie H., Detroit
I get this question a lot. The short answer is that home service tradespeople typically don’t expect a gratuity, so you shouldn’t feel obligated to offer one.
I’ve talked with a number of contractors about this and the overriding sentiment from most is that they charge what they believe is a fair price to do a specific job and don’t expect anything above that.
That said, if you feel like your provider provided extraordinary service that went above and beyond your expectations and you want to reward him or her, there are a few things to consider before you reach into your pocketbook.
First, you should check that it’s permissible for the employee to receive tips. Some companies expressly forbid their employees from receiving cash gratuities or gifts of any sort. If tips are not allowed, you can still reward that worker by writing a nice letter of recommendation to his or her supervisors. Another easy way to offer some positive feedback is to post a review of the tradesperson’s work online. A positive review would likely be as appreciated by the business owner or the worker — if not more — than cash or a gift.
If the service being provided is a more personalized one, such as weekly house cleaning, a tip or bonus once a year is a nice way to say, “Thanks,” but again, it’s not expected.
If you’d rather offer your repair person a tangible gift of some sort, cash is the most common gratuity offered by homeowners according to a nationwide Angie’s List poll of home services tradespeople. Typically, a cash tip is less than 20 percent of the total job’s cost. For a larger job, though, that could run into hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. So it really comes down to what you feel comfortable giving.
Other forms of gratuities, though less common, would include gift cards or personalized gifts.
Though it might not be considered a “tip,” offering your tradesperson a cold beverage or snack at the end of his or her job is another great way to express your appreciation and would eliminate any potential awkwardness over the giving or receiving of the tip for both sides.