How Much Should You Tip Movers In The U.S.?

How Much Should You Tip Movers In The U.S.?
Photo: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock

Tipping isn’t second nature to many outside the U.S. (and also has an ugly history of manipulation). Over time, though, it has become customary in U.S. service-based industries. Tipping isn’t mandatory, but it’s an expected and kind thing to do for someone who, say, carries your entire bed up five flights of stairs. But deciding how much to tip can feel like learning from old wives’ tales: No one tells you why they tip the amount they tip, but your mum told you to give the movers ten dollars once. And while it’s ultimately up to you, here are some tips for how to show some customary appreciation to your movers.

Tip based on a standard amount

Calculating a tip for movers is not as clear-cut as the base 15 per cent for food service (which should be 18 per cent, if you ask me). Plus, tipping in the food industry helps to supplement service industry wages (as tipped employee wages are a ridiculous standard that allow establishments like restaurants to pay their workers below minimum wage). So how much do movers generally make, and what would be an appropriate amount to supplement that income?

According to ZipRecruiter, movers make an average of $US30,386 ($39,499) a year. If suggested tips for restaurant staff is between 15 and 20 per cent, you can expect movers to be somewhere in that range depending on the cost of the job.

According to Move.com, “A good rule of thumb is to tip movers $US4 ($5)-5 per person for each hour of work.” If your move takes eight hours, you would need to tip about $US40 ($52) per person — enough of an expense to consider it part of your moving costs altogether. Consider it like a larger party at a restaurant, where tipping is included when you meet a certain number of guests. Include the added costs of tipping in your calculations when planning the costs of your move.

Base the amount on the performance level

When I tip at a restaurant, even if the waiter does a so-so job, I tip 18 per cent (or 15 if they ruined everything). If the movers were late, nicked some corners, or scuffed your walls, tip at the lower $US4 ($5) range. The movers still moved your things, so be sure to tip them. The opposite is essential as well: When the mover does an exceptional job, be sure to tip above that standard tipping rate.

Appreciate movers with food and beverages as well. Even something simple, like the classic lemonade and cookies, will go a long way to show appreciation. Some might go as far as offering to buy lunch or dinner.

Make a complaint, if anything

While your mileage may vary, I personally choose to tip regardless of my perceived quality of service in most cases (probably as result of having worked in the food service industry in the past). I will always tip movers, and recommend you do, too; however, if the quality of their work was poor in some way, tell them where they failed to deliver. Talking directly to the movers about your grievances may not only help them make improvements, but if you feel their service was beyond reconciliation, you can expect repayment for any damaged property or unsatisfactory service.

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