Keeping a harmonious relationship with your super
February 17, 2005 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I've been living in New York for only about six months, and was a bit surprised when one of my friends asked if I tipped my superintendent. He told me after the fact that upon your first meeting, you should tip anywhere from $50-100 (and possibly more) to ensure any of your needs are met further along the line, in addition to providing a small tip whenever any small bit of work is done in the apartment. Am I alone in never hearing of this practice? Do you tip your super, and if so, how much?
posted by dogmatic to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have lived in NYC my whole life and had not heard of this until recently. I tip the Super and other building staff at Christmas and then various workers throughout the year if they are doing something not within their usual job description. Are you in a rental, Coop or Condo.? I would probabaly be tipping more frequently in a Coop or condo. In a rental I feel that some basic maintenance does not require my funding as I have no equity in the property.
My Super is not too Super so I tip $50 at Holiday time but this could easily go up if service improved.
posted by mookie at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2005

I've been here for 6 years and never heard of tipping your super, beyond offering him food and beverage when he stops by to make repairs. I, too, have only rented, though.
posted by saladin at 1:26 PM on February 17, 2005

We live in Manhattan always tip the super and porter when we move in and on Christmas. And yes, the service is always much better. I think my wife gives him $100. And it's well worth it!
posted by marcschil at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2005

Moving in, no. Holidays, yes. Of course, this NYC, where cash on any occasion brings access.
posted by mkultra at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2005

I did this when I moved here, really out of fear - I wanted to have at least one friend in the city. And apparently it's a done thing, and it really does make you a friend.

Both the supers I've had will take a tipple from time to time, so I prefer to give them a nice bottle of whatever liquor every couple of months, rather than cash. They certainly seem to appreciate it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2005

Best answer: The key is, what kind of situation are you in? Used to be you could judge by how much rent you paid whether or not you should tip but with the exaggerated and gold rush rents right now, it's no longer a good guide.

So the new determiners are these, at move-in, at the holidays, and maybe at random:

You always tip your super if you own your own apartment, condo, or coop, or if you live in an illegal sublet. $50 minimum.

If you live in a building with a porter, doorman, elevator man, gardener, cleaning staff, or security guard, then you tip them and the super. If you have multiple staff to tip, minimum $50 to the head person (which is not always the super) and $20 to everyone else. If it's a ritzy building, don't be a cheap-ass: minimum $100 to headman, $50 to everyone else.

If you are in a normal low-rent situation with no amenities--no doorman, no porter, no elevator man, no security desk--then you do not have to tip the super, but it couldn't hurt. Twenty bucks a couple of times a year might be about right.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2005

I AxedMe something similar here, and there was some good information.
posted by Capn at 2:08 PM on February 17, 2005

Being Australian, I don't understand tipping, but this does sound a lot more like bribing.
posted by krisjohn at 2:18 PM on February 17, 2005

Yet another example of why we need to eliminate tipping and demand equitable pay. This really is nothing more than a bribe to ensure that an employee does his job correctly for you, instead of doing it correctly because that's what a job is: doing things correctly. Yeesh.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:41 PM on February 17, 2005

Mo Nickels is (as usual) spot on. NYC is different in many ways, and this is just one of those things you have to get used to.

krisjohn, five fresh fish: My my, the world is not as it should ideally be! Outrageous! And yet, there's nothing we can do about that, whereas we can follow Matt's rules and keep non-helpful remarks out of AskMeFi.
posted by languagehat at 2:48 PM on February 17, 2005

Krisjohn & 5ff: first of all, What languagehat said. second of all, It's less of 'equitable pay' but 'merit pay' -- instead of EVERYONE getting the same pay amount and everyone doing a mediocre job, you reward the people who do an excellent job for you by paying them extra. Just like you might tip a waiter 10 to 15% of the check for doing a decent job, 20 to 25% for displaying extra sensory powers and getting everything perfect although you didn't even ask for some things, and 0% for being an annoying, interrupting asshole that got your order wrong. I don't want the interrupting asshole to make the same amount as the guy that does a great job, that's not fair to the guy that does a great job.
posted by SpecialK at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2005

And this way, if you don't want to pay for the service, you don't have to. You think "equitable pay" wouldn't raise tenants' rents?

Mo Nickels, that's a great guide. Does anyone know if there are similar tipping expectations in other U.S. cities?
posted by hartsell at 8:21 AM on February 18, 2005

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