Opinions are divided on Brownstoner.com on whether tipping tradespeople is expected or over the top: "Don't be ridiculous. Do you run up to your subway conductor and give him/her a tip too?" says a commenter on one extreme.
At the other are people who have apparently impoverished themselves showing appreciation for a good job. "Wow, I tip all workers, owner [of their business] or not. No wonder I'm broke!" Indeed.
In between is an undulating landscape of rationales for attempting to give unasked for money to people already paid for doing what they do.
"If it's the owner of the company doing the work, a tip really isn't necessary,'' according to one post. "If he or she is working with a helper or a crew, or the crew is there alone, and they really go out of their way for your home, a tip would be nice for the extra efforts."
Others advocate tipping for "emergency calls, rush jobs and the like, but not a regular job. I guess it's the difference between 'can you come out next week and install a sink' and 'my sink just fell off the wall and is spewing water everywhere.'"
Yet another insists: "Never the owner or solo contractor. I have tipped the Roto-Rooter employee who did a great job opening a clog where previous plumbers had failed (he took his time and didn't give up.) I'll tip the guy from the AAA who comes to change a flat or the guy at the garage who actually fixes the tire. Not likely to tip an employee of a contractor unless there is a special effort."
Several posts reminded us that not every potential recipient sees a tip the same way. Sometimes people refuse them and say, "Thanks, but unnecessary." Or they seem offended, as if the tip is more of a bribe to give the same high-quality level of service the next time.
Suggestive alternatives: "A phone call to the owner to praise their work is a good thing, too. At the very least offer to buy them lunch if they're there at that time. I always tip and offer lunch (if it's that time). I was a worker bee at one time and a tip was always appreciated. A tip meant I really made the customer happy with MY work."
BrickUnderground's Tipping Survival Kit