If you Google for anything related to tipping housecleaners odds are that you will run across a link to this blog. Funny enough it is the number one search criteria for One Frugal Girl and more readers stumble across my blog with that query than any other.
I wrote the post, (probably the shortest post I’ve ever written), back in 2010. Despite it’s age I still receive comments from time to time and an email pops into my inbox every so often from readers telling me how they approach similar situations. It seems the rules for tipping house cleaners are not particularly clear.
I consider myself a pretty good tipper. Despite my frugality I understand that some jobs don’t pay a lot and I think good service should be commended as often as possible. I almost always tip at least 20% when I go out to eat, get my hair cut or go to the spa. An exception only occurs if the service is particularly poor.
At Christmastime I also tip the mailman. I live in a neighborhood where mail is still delivered door to door. It’s actually a HUGE perk of living here. When I go out of town I never need to stop the mail. It gets placed through the mail slot in my door day after day while I’m gone.
I haven’t tipped the mailman the entire time I’ve lived here, but a few years ago we got a new carrier and he has always been kind and friendly. He knows our family by name, (even my young son), and when he knocks on the door to alert us of a package he always takes a minute to say hello.
On extremely hot days we leave cold drinks outside in a cooler for him and if I see him walking on his route I always make a point to wave and exchange pleasantries.
A few years ago he hinted about receiving a tip at Christmastime. I Googled for how much to tip a mail carrier and read that postal employees are not allowed to accept cash gifts. After reading this I presented him with gift certificates equaling roughly $30.
Now fast forward to today. My mailman is retiring and I decided it would be nice to send him off with a thank you gift. I placed a card with very kind words outside of our door and included a gift card worth $30. A few days later he knocked on my door to say goodbye. I was actually sad to see him go. I’ve chatted with him about sports, his retirement, his children and all sorts of other topics over the years and I was surprised by how emotional I felt about his last day.
He said his goodbyes and then said, “Let me give you a piece of advice.” He’s an older gentleman so I expected to hear some sage advice about raising children or living a good life. Instead he said, “People want cash not gift cards.” He then told me that he didn’t appreciate the gift card I presented to him at Christmastime either. I was kind of shocked by the remark. I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond and to be honest I was so surprised I’m not exactly sure what I said in response.
I’m sure he didn’t mean it the way it came out, but I presented him with a gift and I couldn’t believe he decided to take an opportunity on his very last day to tell me he was unhappy with what I provided.
As I shut the door I wondered how many people tip their mailman for holidays and retirement. I bet the majority of homeowners on his route didn’t present him with anything. Was my approach so awful? What do you think? How much do you tip your mail carrier and how do you tip them? Also, have you ever gotten a gift you didn’t like and had the nerve to complain about it?