About Tipping Moving Workers

Tipping moving workers is not mandatory like tipping restaurant workers. Restaurants workers make a special minimum wage close to $2 per hour, and the bulk of their income is from tips. Moving workers makes several times that, but still not that much. Tips are a very significant part of their income.

Most professional people have experience tipping wait staff, hairstylists, and bellhops, and beyond that their experience may be limited. Customers with a good amount of experience using professional movers—usually tip, but many customers are using professional movers for the first or second time and have not had to address this topic before.

The Cultural Norm in Atlanta in 2009 is that experienced customers will usually tip if they are pleased with the move. You don’t use percentages like with restaurants, but think in term of dollar amounts per member of the moving crew. For a several-hour or all-day move, $20 to $40 per man is a good tip. Not infrequently the tip is above that, but then that is a GREAT TIP! If it is only a half-day move, you would adjust the tip proportionately.

When I as the owner am a member of the moving crew, I don’t expect to get a tip, but when the Driver/Crew Chief is not the owner—don’t forget him! Customers will sometimes think the Driver/Crew Chief is not working, because he is not carrying in the heaviest furniture. He is on the truck, wrapping and putting items into tiers, and unloading items. He also drives the truck and supervises the whole operation, so if anything he should get a larger tip, but an equal tip is fine too (and the Driver/Crew Chief does not make that much more per hour than the workers)

Residential Moving is a personal service. The workers may not be bringing your food to the table or cutting your hair, but they are handling your personal household goods, which includes your furniture, boxes, and all other household items being moved. During an office move there is not that the same “personal feel”—a file cabinet is not as “personal” as say a vanity table. Accordingly, office moving workers get tipped much less frequently.

The reality is that moving workers try to “size up” a customer in the beginning of the move to determine whether or not they will tip and how well. Guess what? The workers work harder when they predict they will get a good tip.

Please give me your comments on what you think about this. There are definitely no “hard and fast rules”

6 thoughts on “About Tipping Moving Workers

  1. Thank your Greg for you comment and sad MOVING HORROR STORY. Though I believe most Movers are professional, competent, and honest–with the numbers of Movers and moves involved, the number of MOVING HORROR STORIES out there is large. Let me comment on a few of your points:

    1) THE MOVERS PUT THE TIP IN THE BILL: Thank you for mentioning that; I have to admit I had never heard of that stunt involving moving! What audacity! There are actually movers out there who are part of an international mafia. Customers respond to advertisements and the numbers they call are answered in New York City. The jobs are booked and passed to Mafia members up and down the East Coast. The workers come in from the middle east, and work as moving workers illegally unless they happen to get student visas. The arrangement is that most of their pay is held in an account for when they return to the middle east. For money to live on, they must get EXTRAS from their moving jobs, which means Tips and extra box sales–as in on the day of the move, the worker says, “I see this $20 Ikea lamp is not in a box. I think I’ll put it in a box and charge you $25 for it. Many times the moving workers take it upon themselves to extract tips–and this may have happened with the “Adding the Tips into the Bill” strategy. And here I thought that just happens when you have a large party at a restaurant, or you’re on a cruise!

    2) Lateral File Cabinets: Need to be emptied before moving. Vertical file cabinets can usually be moved full, unless they’re “fire-proof.” Often lateral file cabinets will break when moved full. That really does qualify as a MOVING HORROR STORY in my book–moving a full lateral file cabinet upside down.

    3) As the unloading part of the move is approaching completion, it is good to walk around and examine the furniture. Then when all your items are unloaded from the truck, the moving workers should not mind if you ask to inspect the truck. It is standard professional moving procedure to fold and re-stack the pads as the furniture is being unloaded. When all your furniture is off, there may still be pads unfolded. They have to be folded before the crew leaves, because some of your items may still be under the pads. This may take a few minutes, and it is appropriate to keep the clock running if your job is done by the hour, though they may also be charging you a flat fee for your move.

    Thank you Greg for your long comment, and for you closing words. I have been in the moving business since 1994. I’m sorry I did not know you when you needed a mover back in 2005. You’re correct that the rogue movers give the moving business a bad name. As with most personal and business services, the best way to find a good vendor is through personal referral. If you just check the internet and call and compare prices, you’re not getting enough information. Moving services need to be affordable, but they are not a “commodity” like say, a Canon Camera.
    A Canon camera may cost $10 less through one internet provider and it will probably–though not always–turn out to be the same camera which is sold for $10 more elsewhere. A mover who charges $10 less per hour than the other movers, may make up for that by adding a $75 tip into the bill; by charging $200 extra in spurious box charges; and adding in a fraudulent 5% fuel surcharge on top of that.

    Please feel free to comment further, or contact me in any other way.

  2. Bob,
    On our last move, the moving crew actually calculated a tip into the amount they told me they expected to receive. To add insult to injury, this particular crew did not put the legs back on several pieces of furniture in my son’s room. Before the move I asked about emptying 2, 2 drawer lateral file cabinets and the crew chief told me just to secure the drawers well and they would be fine. When the crew brought these two items out of the house, they were upside down! It took me MONTHS to get those files back in order. The crew chief actually charged me some sort of surcharge that had expired several months earlier. I had to contact the state government department that regulates and licenses the movers. This company simply ignored the repeated demands of the state government for more than 1 year to reimburse me for the invalid charges and damages the crew did to our belongings.

    All that said, I will do a walk through with the moving crew chief to inspect my move BEFORE ANY MONEY CHANGES HANDS in all future moves. The company I had was called–back in 2005–5 star moving out of Doraville, GA. I placed several complaints with the BBB and noted in my complaints that this one outfit actually appeared to do business under several different names.

    Since I know you personally, I can only say that I wish that you had been in the moving business back in 2005–or that I knew you were back then–because the company I had to use should be run out of business by all the legitimate movers in Atlanta since they seem to be doing more to give the business a bad name than any company I have ever seen!

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