Yes, we realize that you're probably just getting past the economic blow of holiday tipping season here in New York City, but that doesn't mean you need to wait till the end of the year to acknowledge those who help you live more easily and conveniently in this city.
In the spirit of generosity, here's a year-round guide to tipping. And as always, use your discretion and do stick within your budget. "Tipping is not as straightforward as giving exact numbers, as the amount will depend on the different scenario at hand," says Myka Meier of Beaumont Etiquette, which offers etiquette classes at the Plaza Hotel. "You always want to take into consideration the job and service given. Was the service efficient? Was the service labor intensive? Did the delivery person do an extra great job in terms of service? How much did they deliver? Was there inclement weather? All of these questions should help determine the tip."
As a general rule, she says "20 percent is excellent service, but you should never tip less than 10 percent of the amount in most food/grocery situations— the average is 15 percent."
While moving is undoubtedly expensive in this city (what isn't?!), it's also really back-breaking work. Generally, experts suggest you set aside 20 percent of the total cost of the move for a tip and split it amongst all movers. If your movers are also packing or unpacking for you (which we highly recommend if there's room in your budget), you'll want to tip on the higher side and, it goes without saying, that "if you live in a sixth floor walk-up, you're going to want to give them a little more," says Lizzie Post, president of the Emily Post Institute (and great-great grandaughter of Emily herself).
According to the Emily Post Institute's tipping guide, food delivery people should be tipped 10 to 15 percent of the subtotal (that's before taxes). And, Post points out, don't assume that the delivery fee you see on Seamless is going to the delivery person, because it probably is not. If you live in a walk-up or there's inclement weather outside, err on the side of giving a little bit more.
"If you order $20 worth of food and it's raining, and a bike delivers your food in the promised time, we would recommend 20 percent, or $4," says Meier.
Tips for grocery delivery, like FreshDirect, usually hover between $2 to $5 (and yes, that's in addition to FreshDirect's delivery fee). Now, as people who order FreshDirect once or twice a week (don't judge!), we know that you often have the same delivery people over and over again, so generosity is even more appreciated in that case. Note: Freshdirect has made it easier to tip, now that you can e-tip while you check out and don't have to have cash handy.
"If it's one piece of furniture, I'd estimate a $10 to $20 tip per person," says Post. Nonetheless, it may be refused. Post says she recently ordered a piece of furniture from Pottery Barn, and when she tried to tip the delivery person, he wouldn't accept it. "In that case, don't push it," she says. "You can try one more time, but you don't want to make the person feel awkward or risk getting them in trouble with their employer."
Meier says in these cases, "it completely depends on how labor intensive and how many hours of time it took." If the delivery people are putting a piece of furniture together, you may want to go as high as $25 per person, but make sure you're not already paying for that service, warns Post. If you are, you don't need to tip extra for it, or at least not as much.
Super or porter
Post says there's no need to tip a super or porter for doing tasks that are part of his or her job (for example, unclogging sinks). "In this case, it's much more logical to give a larger thank-you at the end of the year," she says. Of course, if the building employee is going beyond their job description (e.g. installing or removing your in-window A/C units, for instance), you're going to want to pay them for that. How much depends on the time it takes, but figure no less than $20 an hour (remember you'll rely on these people throughout the year). And sometimes you don't need to tip cash. (We've often run across the street to buy a cappuccino for the porter after seeing him shovel the sidewalk post-snow storm. That has always been as much appreciated as a few bucks, in our experience.)
Chances are the bulk of your tipping for doormen will take place at holiday time, but if your doorman goes above and beyond (say, helping you unload your car after a weekend away), a small tip (a few bucks) is always appreciated.
Post also suggests an end-of-the-year tip for parking garage attendants, but as our recent interview with a parking attendant showed, many people tip sporadically, too. Of course, if you're taking your car in and out twice a day, it's probably not realistic to tip a dollar or two every time, but if you're only doing it a couple of times a week, you can. And if you're a ZipCar user, you're not off the hook either, considering giving a couple of bucks to the attendant who pulls the car out for you.
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