How to tip movers in an above-and-beyond situation?
July 1, 2008 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Unique situation with cross-country move (at least, I think it's unique). Help me figure out what I should tip 'em.

I'm getting a large moving company to ship my stuff across the country while I drive separately. After a conversation with the management of the apartment building I'm moving into, I found that there's no way to plop a semi outside the building (and certainly not in the parking deck). They suggest having the movers' semi park at a lot around a half-mile away, and having a pickup truck as the liaison between the lot and the parking deck.

A.) Is this too much above and beyond? Will the movers help get it to my place like this, or is that too much to ask? Not sure if they'll just help me load the pickup and then wait as I and a friend or two make a run to the apartment, or help me the whole nine yards. They're not putting my stuff together once it's there or anything, just helping me unload, after which I'll unpack/put things together myself.

B.) In the event that they help, I'd assume it's a bit above-and-beyond, so I'd like to tip them generously. What would be appropriate?

Background: it's a very small move, equivalent in their book to a one-bedroom apartment. It's essentially a bedroom suite plus the random boxes of my living room/dining room/whatever furniture other than the bed, dresser, and nightstand. I'm packing it all myself, and can't stand to watch them do all the work, so I help load/unload (I've moved like this before, BTW). When I moved before, it was into and out of a house at ground level that they could essentially pull right up to, so I'm not sure what to expect. FWIW, I'm a generous tipper, having been there, done that in tipped positions.

I'd like to just make it worth their while if they help me out. Thanks!
posted by quixxotic to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
If you're only moving the equivalent of a "one bedroom apartment" why not see if they can use a smaller vehicle (like a cube van)? They might be able to pull that up to the apt. building a lot easier than a semi which, IMO seems like a bit of overkill for the amount of stuff you've got.
posted by aedra at 6:39 PM on July 1, 2008

Best answer: Notify the movers immediately, let them know the situation, and give them the contact information for the apartment manager so that everyone's on the same page. The moving company may choose to increase the charge in this situation, either because of the increased labor and vehicle requirements or because they'll elect to use a smaller truck and lose the economy of scale.

As for expecting you to move things into the apartment yourself, why wait to find out? Mention that you aren't in a position to do that, so whatever arrangement happens needs to involve no labor from you.

Ultimately this isn't a situation to be solved with tips (although you should certainly tip well, and perhaps bring drinks to the place where they'll move from large to small vehicle if that happens) -- this is a situation where your professional and amply-paid moving company should work with you and your apartment manager to handle the logistics, and you need to facilitate that by being up-front and getting all parties talking.

Remember: they've seen it all before, and they have solutions you haven't even thought of.
posted by davejay at 6:44 PM on July 1, 2008

You'd better contact the moving company office ahead of time. I'ts quite possible that they won't even wait for you to make trips with a pickup. They might just unload on the sidewalk and drive away. They might not; they might be very helpful, but I don't think what you have in mind is in their job description, nor might it match their timetable.

Good luck with your move.
posted by reflecked at 6:46 PM on July 1, 2008

Seconding davejay, movers have dealt with this before. Either the company will charge you more for the extra labor/time, or will refuse in which case you should contact another company who's willing to have your business. The moving company should provide its own smaller truck to ferry between your apartment and the semi, and handle all the loading/unloading/transferring itself.

No extra tipping required, you're already paying them for a well-defined service. If they do an awesome job, go above and beyond, etc, then consider tipping.

P.S. Be very anal and check that they removed everything from the apartment, and get them to confirm that they have it. Then when you're unloading and something is missing it'll clearly be their responsibility to find it, not yours.
posted by jpeacock at 7:12 PM on July 1, 2008

It's pretty common to have to use a different vehicle for a delivery. They may drop your shipment at a local agency for your van lines, and they'll finish the delivery to your destination. There will be extra charges, but not too bad for a small shipment.

If all your possessions were inventoried, they'll give you the inventory and you should be able to check off items as they come in.

I used to be a mover and tipping was rare, and so were the drink offers. Tip if you must, but offer water.
posted by keds at 10:59 PM on July 1, 2008

As others have noted, this is not an uncommon situation, and a "large moving company" will certainly have dealt with this before and have a policy and a rate sheet that takes it into account. I had something similar come up when I moved across the country three years ago using one of the major national moving companies. They charged me a few hundred dollas extra on a $5000 move to use a smaller shuttle vehicle. Well worth it, in my book. Give them a call and let them know the situation. No big deal.

I used to be a mover and tipping was rare

Really? Does that make me a sucker for tipping $75/man to the two guys who moved us to our new house last week? It was a hot day, and I have about 40 boxes of books in addition to an entire home's worth of stuff, so I felt a little guilty. Plus the company only charged $100/hour, so I figured they couldn't be getting much of that.

posted by dersins at 1:20 AM on July 2, 2008

Response by poster: To seal this in internet perpetuity, here's how it ended up. Previous commenters were right, they've seen this a trillion times and immediately rattled off the price for short-distance shuttle service ($200-250 for these guys, in case that's applicable to your curiosity). Case closed. :)

Thanks for the help, Mefites!
posted by quixxotic at 2:26 PM on July 3, 2008

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