My Handyman Says I Should Tip Him $20/Job. Seriously?

Dear Penny,

I had a handyman with two helpers do remodeling in my house over a period of many months. Sometimes, all three came to my house; sometimes, he sent one or the other to work at my house.

The last job he did for me, he said on his way out the door that he had been doing work for someone who would hand him $20 every time he finished the work. So he wanted me to know that his prices were going up and he was charging me per diem. He basically left indicating that he was not for hire again. The only indication that he was expecting a tip for his work was the story he told.

I have very seldom used a handyman, and I have never thought about tipping them. I have asked several people if they tip handymen, and it has been a 50-50 split on the answer.

Since he was the owner of the business, should he have included a tip in his bill? When he sent the other individuals to do work, if I asked about a bill, they referred me to the owner and left without a tip. supposed to guess whether people are supposed to be tipped?


Dear P.,

If your handyman thinks he can command an extra $20 per job for his services, he should charge customers accordingly. In no way would I begrudge anyone for taking the best-paying work they can find. But what he shouldn’t do is expect his customers to get the memo via ESP that he wants more money.

If only there were a reasonable standard for when tipping should be a norm.In professions where workers have long depended on tips for their livelihoods, like serving and bartending, gratuities are non-negotiable. They’re also a nice gesture when someone truly exceeds your expectations, particularly if they probably aren’t raking in a fat paycheck.

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