Angie’s List: Do Plumbers Expect a Tip? Tips on Tipping the Trades

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In the home services trades, tipping isn’t the given it is in the restaurant and personal grooming trades. In fact, consumers are often uncertain whether they should tip tradespeople at all. Angie's List went to the front lines to figure out what's expected, what's not and when it's OK to skip the tip.

Results show that movers and house cleaners expect to be tipped more often than other service providers. At the bottom of the tip jar: Exterminators and contractors like plumbers, roofers and electricians.

In the home services trades, tipping isn’t the given it is in the restaurant and personal grooming trades. In fact, consumers are often uncertain whether they should tip tradespeople at all.

Where does a consumer draw the line? For some, tipping the dog groomer is as natural as tipping a barber or hair stylist, but tipping a plumber never occurs to them. Some consumers tip virtually everyone who offers a hand. Others don’t just wonder who to tip; they also ponder how much to tip.

“We get questions from consumers all the time asking about the proper tipping protocol,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, which offers consumer reviews on local service companies. “It’s a gray area for lots of us. So we decided to figure it out.”

Last month, Angie’s List asked nearly 5,000 service professionals across the nation how often they get tipped and how much they tend to collect. Results show that movers and house cleaners expect to be tipped more often than other service providers. At the bottom of the tip jar: Exterminators and contractors like plumbers, roofers and electricians.

Locksmiths say they never expect tips, but 38 percent of the time, if the service is above and beyond, they collect.

According to the survey, when tradespeople do get a tip, cash is the most-common gratuity offered, and most often the tip is less than 20 percent of the total job cost. The most common time of year to get tipped is the winter holiday season.

Angie’s List Advice for Tipping the Trades:

Movers and haulers – Expected 52 percent of the time; 38 percent for above and beyond service

Housecleaners, organizers and decorators – Expected 28 percent of the time; 15 percent for above and beyond service

House and pet sitters – Expected 14 percent of the time; 29 for above and beyond service

Disaster relief cleaners – Expected 11 percent of the time; 19 percent for above and beyond service.

Lawn, fence & driveway pros – Expected 8 percent of the time; 15 percent for above and beyond service

Handymen & painters -- Expected 7 percent of the time; 28 percent for above and beyond service

Remodelers and window & door installers – Expected 6 percent of the time; 18 percent for above and beyond service

HVAC pros -- Expected 4 percent of the time; 12 percent for above and beyond service

Electricians Expected 4 percent of the time; 14 percent for above and beyond service

Plumbers – Expected 4 percent of the time; 17 percent for above and beyond service

Gutter/siding pros and roofers -- Expected 3 percent of the time; 13 percent for above and beyond service

Exterminators – Expected 2 percent of the time; 18 percent for above and beyond service

Locksmiths – Expected 0 percent of the time; 38 percent for above and beyond service.

Hicks says there’s nothing wrong with skipping the tip if consumers feel they’re already paying a fair price for the work being done. For work that goes above and beyond expectations, there are other ways of rewarding the company and/or crew, she said.

“Consumers shouldn’t feel pressured to tip every service company in town. Some don’t let their employees accept tips,” Hicks said.

For consumers who want to express appreciation without tipping, Hicks suggests writing a letter to the company owner or giving an online review spelling out that great experience. “Tips are fleeting. Letters and public expressions can have a longer lasting effect,” she said.

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Angie’s List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 550 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. More than 1.5 million subscribers across the U.S. submit more than 65,000 reports each month about their consumer experiences and use Angie’s List to gain unlimited access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine, the Angie’s List complaint resolution service and information about how to make the most of their home improvement projects.

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Cheryl Reed
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