Building maintenance staff tipping? (Non-holiday related)
June 15, 2010 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Building maintenance staff tipping? (Non-holiday related)

I live in a large, apartment building (1000+ residents) with a staff of salaried, unionized doormen / porters / handymen, plus a building manager. I'm a very low-maintenance resident and have never been sure what to do about tipping for small jobs in my apartment.

I do, of course, tip each staff member during the holidays, or if I ask them to do a personal job for me, like washing windows or changing a fixture, that itself requires an additional service charge. I usually tip between $5-$10, depending on how much work it is. But I do not tip when they do things like routine air conditioning maintenance.

But what about those occasions when I need a leaky faucet fixed, or the tub unclogged? They don't charge extra for these things, so what category would that fall under -- routine building maintenance or a personal job? Most of the time I'm not around when the job is completed, because it happens during working hours, but what if I am?

So, do I tip, and if so, how much? And if there is more than one person doing the job (they sometimes work in pairs), do I tip each of them the same amount?
posted by arbor day to Human Relations (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think tipping staff on non-holidays for routine maintenance (clogs, fixes) isn't really necessary. However, if a worker goes out of his or her way, for instance, coming in at a really odd time, or making sure that everything is cleaned up spotlessly after s/he leaves, then a tip is appropriate. Really, tipping is for above and beyond, unless someone is working in a field that relies on tips for their livelihoods.
posted by xingcat at 11:28 AM on June 15, 2010

I'm guessing that simply being friendly to these people is far more than most residents do. That said, if you have the means and will to tip, give whatever you think is appropriate to the job. You'll likely earn a few favors this way.

Alternatively, just offer them a cup of coffee.

My parents tip their garbage man a few times a year (especially after throwing out something big/heavy/awkward, which is technically against the rules), and the guys definitely go out of their way to help them. UPS guys definitely appreciate tips during the holidays, and are known to go out of their way to help friendly customers.
posted by schmod at 1:06 PM on June 15, 2010

I would tip very cautiously. Tipping is a nice sentiment and I feel like I want to give tips to people who have helped me. However, I would avoiding doing this with people who work in your building and you see regularly. This might sound mean, but tipping often creates a situation where they end up bugging you. I would especially avoid tipping if you are female and the person who is helping is male.

For instance, I once tipped a very friendly, helpful valet in my friend's building (I used to go there several times a week). After that, he hit on me very strongly and I was terrified to go down to the garage alone. Sometimes I still seem him around the building and I feel terror just seeing him.

Also, my grandpa used to tip the maintenance guy for changing light bulbs in his condo, etc... just simple jobs. My grandpa has since passed away. Every time we go to the condo, the maintenance guy invariable tracks us down and starts bugging us to have him paint the condo or have him clean the condo. It's really annoying and he's very forceful about it.

Lastly, my friend gave too much of a tip to his doorman. Since that time, the doorman won't leave him alone. He's continually asking for favors and even calls my friend's apartment to ask him to look things up on the internet.

If you don't mind getting hit on or having someone become friendly with you, then tip away. If you want to avoid some uncomfortable situations, just tip at the holidays. Also, try to stick with the building's recommended tip.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:57 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing just tipping in December and paying for a special job. I've paid staff for removing an old doorknob which I couldn't get out myself and installing bathroom hardware. Leaks, replacing light bulbs and clogs fall under routine maintenance.
posted by brujita at 11:54 PM on June 15, 2010

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