Here's how 16 New Yorkers decide how much to tip

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | December 3, 2012 - 4:21PM

BrickUnderground hit the streets recently to conduct a friendly interrogation of 30 New Yorkers about their holiday tipping habits. While the overwhelming majority planned to tip their building staff this year, they did not plan to tip them equally.

Many said they planned to tip the friendly/helpful/longtime doormen more than rude and/or unhelpful staff. (Take BrickUnderground's 'Naughty vs. Nice' 2012 Holiday Tipping poll to find out exactly how much.)

Some said they would go as high as high as $700 for their favorites, and most planned to save the biggest tip for their super. Many said it would also depend on their own personal financial situation.

Here's what they told us influenced their sliding scale of tips:

  • “The amount we tip depends on length of time in the building and what they’ve done for us…some make inquiries, take care of problems, go the extra mile.... The most we would give is $150-$200 for excellent service.” Helen and Neil, Yorkville
  • “I tip one person, the super, and it depends on how much they help. This year I’ll give $100, because I received a lot of help, but generally, I’m a low maintenance guy.” -Dior, Upper West Side
  • “It all depends on how friendly they are.” -  Scott, Upper West Side
  • “When I do tip, everyone gets the same amount. It depends on whether or not I have enough money for Christmas for my own family. Once I set my doorman on a blind date with my friend, so that’s sort of a tip I guess… They ended up together for six years!” -Effie, Park Slope
  • "It depends on who I think deserves it. The doorman who helps with groceries and taxis is worthy of tipping and will get something.  It also depends on my income and my own ability to do it. This year I'm not tipping the super because I already paid him for his services--like helping me hang paintings on concrete walls. I pay him for individual things throughout the years, so I won't tip him again during the holidays." -- Peni, Yorkville
  • “The most I ever tipped was $700, and that was because he did a lot for me. He took packages, helped fix my toilets. But if someone isn’t nice, I won’t tip. One staff person in my building ignored the needs of an elderly woman, and wouldn’t clear ice in inclement weather.  I also tried to buy her groceries and have them delivered, and the doorman rejected the package. He didn’t get a tip.” -Walter, Upper West Side
  • “The amount I give depends on tenure. I also will give less if I feel they’ve shirked their work.” - Susan, Carnegie Hill
  • “I have my favorites—the people who have really helped me out in the past and I give them more than others. It does depend on my own personal circumstances, like how much of a holiday bonus I’m getting at my job.” -Jackie, Upper West Side
  • “The most I’ve ever given is $50 to the super. It depends on how well they work, if they pay attention to detail and do what they need to do. If the super does not blame the damn tenants for everything that goes wrong I’ll tip." - Walter, Carnegie Hill 
  • “I’ll give as little as $20 to workers I don’t know. But the super gets more. I also give more to whomever I encountered more, who did more for me directly and who was more pleasant. I would never stiff someone, but I might give them less.” -Brad, Midtown
  • “The amount I give depends on the degree of responsibility and seniority. I once gave $500 to the super because he did a great job throughout the year.” -Anonymous, Carnegie Hill
  • “I pretty much pay everyone the same, but maybe $5-10 more for one than the other. I acknowledge that I have to play the politics and be nice to the super. I’m less likely to tip the building’s handyman because he’s given money for jobs over the course of the year.” -Bob, Upper East Side
  • “Once I had words with one of the doormen in my building and I left him out of my cash gifts for that year.” -Kara, Gramercy
  • The most we ever gave was $200. I liked the person and knew he was having some issues and needed the money. If you feel that you were treated really well, your tip should reflect that. Alsom, building staff often keep records and compare notes.” -Steven & Sarah, Park Slope
  • “It depends on my own personal earnings for that year. I don’t tip slackers.” -Semona, Gramercy/Union Square
  • “I don’t tip everyone, but for those that I do tip, yes, everyone gets the same.” -Sheila, Williamsburg

Related posts:

BrickUnderground's 2012 Holiday Tipping Guide

BrickUnderground's 2012 Holiday Tipping Poll 

All 2012 Holiday Tipping Coverage


11 reasons you should tip a little more this year, including that incident in the elevator

What happens to bad tippers

Tina Fey's come-to-Jesus moment over how much to tip her doorman

An open letter from your porter at the holidays

NYC Real(i)ty Speak: Good excuses for lame tippers (sort of)

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Do I tip the FiOS guy?

Dear Ms. Demeanor: How much do I tip for lobby delivery?

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Big tip, bigger attitude. What gives?

To tip or not to tip the garbage man: Advice from our street-parking friends in Brooklyn

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Tipping the amenity staff at the holidays

Serial Renter: 3 tips on tipping




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