How Much to Tip the Movers?
June 28, 2005 7:21 PM   Subscribe

How much should we tip our movers? Specific details inside.

NYC move, Manhattan to Queens, 1 bedroom, modest but far from spartan, 450 square feet, estimated 3 hours of work, both buildings elevator. My initial guess was $20 for each of the four movers, but I haven't ever hired movers before and don't want to be accidentailly cheap or even insulting. I have no idea how much tips make up a percentage of the income.
posted by hackly_fracture to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've always tipped $20/mover.

Don't forget to have water & soft drinks on hand. (They may have their own, but the gesture will be appreciated.)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:34 PM on June 28, 2005

I second having cold water or gaterade on hand. They really appreciate it and I've heard it's been really hot there. I've moved locally many, many times (typically three hour moves) and I typically tip $25 per mover. If they come in faster than the estimate, I usually give them the extra money I've budgeted for them. I had a really good company though, that was always reliable and fast and never broke any of my stuff.

(Oh and you didn't ask for moving advice, really, but one thing I've learned with all my moves is to make sure you have clean bedding readily available and make the bed right after the bed is set up. There's nothing better than a fresh bed to collapse into when you can't do anything more.)
posted by Kimberly at 8:03 PM on June 28, 2005

As a former furniture mover, I repeat the wisdom of one of my colleagues, a Very Large Man with a Very Deep Voice, who was known to say, quite politely, to non-tippers, "Customarily, we expect a graTUity."

$25 a man sounds good, plus the soda and a few beers for the end. If you've got good movers, you've got a treasure.

And this former mover's advice on the whole process? What looks like a few unboxed things to you is what movers call "chowder," and it's always more than you think. Try really hard to get *everything* in a box except lamps, furniture, and other large pieces.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:26 PM on June 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Water and soft drinks are indeed nice. But in all seriousness beer is nice too. It's not like 4 people are going to get blotto, drop half your stuff, and piss on the other half because they split a six-pack.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:37 PM on June 28, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all!

You really helped out; we are dumb enough to have not thought of the cold_water/gatorade idea, and we will now have beer to offer, though we're the morning move and they may have to take it for later on. But if they want it, they got it!
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:57 PM on June 28, 2005

Also, be sure to hand each guy his own money. I've heard that if you give a wad of cash to the driver (typically the lead man) then he divvies it up as he sees fit and not necessarily equally. It's only a rumor, but I certainly followed that as gospel when I moved. BTW, I tipped $50 per guy (two guys at departure, three guys at arrival) but this was for an interstate move with stairs involved, so $20-25 seems more than reasonable for your move.
posted by cyniczny at 10:45 PM on June 28, 2005

Never tipped movers, never occured to me to do so. Always supplied drinks and snacks. I hate movers.
posted by Goofyy at 11:52 PM on June 28, 2005

There's a related question that explores tipping, along with keeping movers happy (and thus productive), in great detail. Unfortunately, almost every answer has been marked as "best," but there is a lot of good information in there. Good luck with your move!
posted by TPIRman at 1:15 AM on June 29, 2005

After our last move, a cross-town, 12-hour affair which involved (gulp) unloading the truck, going back to the house and reloading it, I tipped the guys $40 each, IIRC. I also went out at lunch and got them fast food, which they really seemed to appreciate, since they had no way to go out at lunch except in the truck.

(My other lesson? Don't forget the attic!)
posted by SashaPT at 3:39 AM on June 29, 2005

We had some real scumbag movers move our stuff a few weeks ago (long story). We tipped them a grand total of $10 at the end, just to make sure they knew: we didn't just forget to tip; we didn't appreciate they way they jerked us around / "lost" some of our stuff / generally made the process worse than doing it ourselves.

I felt kinda bad about it for awhile, but these guys were actually that bad.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:35 AM on June 29, 2005

Wow. I have never even heard of tipping movers. Or of supplying them with food and drinks. I'm not arguing for or against it or anything; it just honestly never even occurred to me, perhaps because I'm paying them lots of money to begin with.
posted by JanetLand at 5:41 AM on June 29, 2005

I second the advice to hand each guy his own money. I worked full time for a moving company for 6+ months, and we grunts never saw a single penny in tip money. I have a feeling that if any was offered, the boss probably thought he was entitled to it all.

It's a good idea to keep your movers happy. They will be less inclined to break your stuff.
posted by Otis at 6:16 AM on June 29, 2005

$20 per guy is fine for a basic move. My mover-working-friends confirm that this is about typical.

Also, for the job you describe, they should be able to get it done in about 2 hours (not counting travel) if you packed well.
posted by desuetude at 6:20 AM on June 29, 2005

Previous thread on the subject; I stand by the negative attitude I expressed there about people who don't think you need to tip movers.

And if you haven't picked your movers yet, I repeat what I said in another thread:

I highly recommend Big And Gentle Movers (718-672-4339), a bunch of Russkies run by a guy named Alex. They moved us from one place in Astoria to another without breaking a thing, in the time estimated, and at exactly the estimated cost. When they later moved us from Astoria to Peekskill, they charged more than the estimate, but that was because the move took place in a blizzard (they barely made it to the house) and took hours longer than expected; I gave them a good tip and would use them again in a heartbeat. Just supply lunch and coffee and they'll work like Stakhanovites.
posted by languagehat at 8:07 AM on June 29, 2005 [2 favorites]

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