NYC super tip
July 9, 2015 10:39 PM   Subscribe

How much should I tip the super of my NYC apartment building in this situation?

I called his cell phone 12:30 pm because most of the electricity in my 1-bedroom apartment went out. (Con Edison said there was no problem on their end and I had to call the building staff.) I felt bad about calling his personal number so late, and he wasn't willing to come out tonight. Instead, he said he'll show up around 7 or 8 in the morning.

The phone call was a little frustrating. He said I should open a panel in my kitchen and reset the circuit breakers behind the panel — but I told him the panel is completely painted over, making it impossible to open. He said I should be able to pry open the panel with a screwdriver; I told him my screwdriver wasn't working and could only chip the paint; but he insisted it should work.

I pointed out that the food in my full-size fridge/freezer was going to go bad soon, so he suggested that I move the whole thing out of its place to unplug it and plug it into an extension cord (using one of the few outlets that's working). This was a helpful suggestion which I successfully implemented.

I've tried Googling but have only found advice about tipping at the end of the year, not tipping for specific services. (Frankly, I've always been more comfortable with the latter than the former.) If it matters, my building is non-luxury, non-doorman, etc. Please let me know if I've left out any relevant info. Thanks in advance.
posted by jejune to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you sure a tip is warranted? You had a building-based emergency, and I presume you called the dedicated after-hours number. You got the immediate help you needed (ensure your food doesn't spoil) and you'll get additional help promptly to fully resolve the issue during business hours.

I'd say you did your job and the super did his job. Though I don't live in NYC so maybe conventions are different there.

Also, go ahead and rip open that circuit breaker panel door even if you have to chip the paint. Then search YouTube for "How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker" and try it yourself. You'll most likely be able to resolve this yourself (though if it turns off again as soon as you flip it, definitely wait for qualified help).
posted by reeddavid at 11:04 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are you sure a tip is warranted?

No, I'm open to the answer being $0. I should have said, "How much, if anything, should I tip the super..."
posted by jejune at 11:23 PM on July 9, 2015

I presume you called the dedicated after-hours number.

First I called his usual number, which went to voicemail. His message gave his cell phone number, but emphasized that it's "only for emergencies." So I called his cell phone number and immediately got through to him, though he seemed annoyed I was calling so late.
posted by jejune at 11:26 PM on July 9, 2015

I am a NYC native and dedicated tipper and I would not tip in this situation.

(Also, for future reference, an emergency in a standard building without 24 hour concierge is fire, flood, murder, or a hostage situation. Loss of some of the electricity in your apartment is not an emergency. In a loss of power situation, your freezer is good for >24 - 48 hours and your fridge is good for 4 - 6 hours. Your milk going off is not really an emergency, even when you don't have the option of plugging into a different outlet.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:32 AM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]

Personally, I'd add it to the end of the year tip - and you can mention the late night help in the card that you give him with it.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:34 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

No tip; he was just doing his job. Now if he would've come out and fixed the circuitbreaker for you in the middle of the night, I'd say it'd be nice to get him a small token of appreciation, like a bottle of wine or some nice craft beers if he's into that. As it is, this is the perfect situation for cookies. Or brownies. Bake him something and tell him thanks for helping you out. Done deal.

(Really you don't owe him a thing, but I'm a firm believer in the theory that fresh baked goods make the world a better place.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 2:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

OK, so everyone agrees that the answer to the question — how much should I tip in this situation — is: nothing.

That's the only thing I asked, and all I needed to know. Thanks for answering my question.
posted by jejune at 3:51 AM on July 10, 2015

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