I hate tipping....
June 13, 2008 6:27 AM   Subscribe

How much do you tip a 3-man team doing a 12+ hour move 3 states away?

There's been a couple threads on AskMe about tipping movers but all seemed to pertain to short in-town moves.

My wife and I are moving from Annapolis, Marlyand to Northern New Jersey, so in addition to the time moving our furniture, there will be 7-8 hours of drive time there and back for the movers. We plan to have coffee/donuts/water available in the morning, and order lunch for them once we arrive at the place in NJ.

The move will end up between $750-1000, so I was thinking $100 a man. Is that appropriate? Too much/little?
posted by emptybowl to Grab Bag (16 answers total)
If they show up and don't make demands, and your stuff is all in one piece, I'd say $100 each is more than generous.

I'd hold-off on worrying about tipping for now, though. Rather, I'd be investigating what your legal options will be when/if the movers show up demanding an additional grand before they'll offload your stuff. Seriously.

If you do enough research, you'll find a lot of stories of movers imposing such extortion. You could think of it as a built-in tip, I suppose.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on June 13, 2008

$100 is a ton.

I suggest $20-$40 a man, certainly no more if you are also feeding them.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:07 AM on June 13, 2008

Really? I figured for such a long move some more would be appropriate.
posted by emptybowl at 7:08 AM on June 13, 2008

My father worked for a moving company, so I asked him about tips before my last move. I tipped $50 per person, plus a big lunch (2 big burgers, fries, with cans of soda and bottled waters in an ice cooler) for each person. Mine was a small-ish move as I was going from an apartment to a house, but I had 3 movers and I did my own packing/boxing for everything except the wardrobe (I mean, hanging clothes in the wardrobe boxes).
posted by Houstonian at 7:16 AM on June 13, 2008

This is a "how did they do" kind of situation. I would probably tip them anywhere between $50-$120 as well as including lots of refreshments on both ends, but I like my stuff to end up nice and intact! If you are being so nice, I would consider making their second meal in a nice brown bag since they have to drive right back to their home base.
posted by stormygrey at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2008

I don't understand why a tip is necessary at all. Offer them some cold water and perhaps some lunch, but that's it.

You're paying them for a service that you've contracted out to have done. They quoted you a price, it looked good to you, case closed. You don't tip your plumber, your bank teller, or the guy who answers the phone when your Comcast service has been interrupted again.

Tips are for service personnel who add a legitimate value to something else you've purchased. Waiters add to the meal experience. A friendly, sensitive cabbie adds value to a ride. The movers are just moving your stuff, and things such as "handling boxes carefully" and "not scratching furniture" is part of their job. Tip them if they do something extraordinary, but otherwise don't.

Tipping is creeping into really stupid places now in America, like counter service for fast-food restaurants and coffee shops. I don't support it because it essentially allows employers to pay their employees less on the customer's dime. In your particular case, it's raising the price of the already extraordinarily expensive process that is moving.
posted by explosion at 8:07 AM on June 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

I second the recommendation of tip + lunch money. You might also want to consider giving some of it to them before the drive - tell them it's specifically for lunch, and you want them to stop and eat somewhere on the way to NJ. It'll make them really happy (as lunch isn't coming out of their pockets, and they know you want them to stop and eat so they don't feel rushed), and it'll give you some time to get to the house ahead of them and do anything you need to do there.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:07 AM on June 13, 2008

Seconding explosion. Maybe I'm a miser, but I'd feel that I'd already paid for the job. I think lunch sounds like a great idea, and perhaps $20 per person if they were very social and did a good job, but $100!?! That single tip is more than I make in a whole day, and seems exorbitant.

I know you were saying the drive was longer and thinking you needed to tip better because of that, but also remember you're already being charged way more because of the length.
posted by GardenGal at 8:18 AM on June 13, 2008

I would probably tip them anywhere between $50-$120 as well as including lots of refreshments on both ends

Same here, and for chrissakes ignore the cheapskates. Movers should always be tipped.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think $100 is probably more than is needed, but $60ish per person plus food is probably fine.

explosion, "just" moving your stuff is a more complicated than you suggest. Good movers certainly do add value to the service you've purchased. The giant jigsaw puzzle that is Packing The Truck is no small skill. The best movers can do it so that the unloading is swift and efficient and saves you money (as you're paying them by the hour.) Movers can make your unpacking process easier by being mindful to not make a giant fortress of boxes that will require you to move a ton of stuff in order to unpack. They can cheerfully schlep boxes up stairs upon request. They can eyeball whether or not your box spring is going to fit up the stairs.

Additionally, the guys who work for the mover, like waiters and cabbies, don't get to keep the majority of the agreed-upon fee.
posted by desuetude at 8:47 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I meant to say "movers, similar to waiters and cabbies, don't get to keep the majority of the agreed-upon fee."
posted by desuetude at 8:52 AM on June 13, 2008

I don't care if my movers are social. That's not why I'd tip them. I'd tip them because they were fast and careful and put stuff where I asked them to put it in the new place. I'd tip them because it's a really hard job.

In past moves, I've tipped $40-$80, depending on the length of the move, if there were lots of stairs at either (or both) end, and how much of my stuff they had to pack. $100/per sounds high to me, but if you're comfortable with it - well, it's your money, and your stuff, and if they do a good job, your good karma.
posted by rtha at 9:05 AM on June 13, 2008

Regardless of how much you tip, I think tipping a bit more on pick-up is a good idea. A little, "hey thanks, keep a good eye on all my stuff" kind of tip seems very appropriate.
posted by maniactown at 9:10 AM on June 13, 2008

Desuetude, I know that it's complicated, but that's why he's paying more than the bulk rate cost to have a pallet of crap moved across country by a freighter.

If they do an extraordinary job, tip them of course, I didn't say "under no circumstances, tip", but the most I'd plan on in advance would be lunch and some cold water. Have the cash available if they're awesome, but assuming that you'll tip them in advance seems silly.

Then again, I am one of the few people I know who is actually willing to decline a tip to a truly awful waiter. The AskMetafilter crowd is notoriously pro-tipping and some of these folks here would probably tip 10% even if they had to walk to the restaurant kitchen to pick up their food because their waiter was so bad.

Tips are a plague in American commerce, a job should be done well because people have pride in their work and because they want recommendations.
posted by explosion at 9:16 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Desuetude, I know that it's complicated, but that's why he's paying more than the bulk rate cost to have a pallet of crap moved across country by a freighter.

The individual who is moving your stuff possesses skills which are directly responsible for how efficiently the job goes, and thus how much you pay for the total job. The fee that you pay goes to the Moving Company, not to the dudes carrying your boxes. The type of service is analogous to a waiter or cabbie.

Good luck finding a shipping company who would pallet and ship the contents of a private home for less $ than a moving company. And I'm pretty sure a freighter is a boat. Or plane.
posted by desuetude at 9:47 AM on June 13, 2008

I've used professional movers several times. I own antiques and other stuff of sentimental value. I find I get the best service from the individual laborers when I tip them a little in the beginning, flirt and joke with them all day long, carry some stuff myself, buy them lunch (or at least offer it), bring them cold drinks, and then tip a lot more at the end. I usually tip around $80 per guy (total for the day) for good service.

I've never had anything broken, stolen, or unaccounted for.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:47 PM on June 13, 2008

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