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Holiday Tipping 2011

It's that time of year again -- what are you planning to tip (if any) for your:
- Super
- Doormen
- Porters

I live in a building with 9 staff and 150 apartments. The staff are generally very nice and while I feel no obligation to tip, I feel that doing so would be an appropriate recognition of good service over the past year.


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Nycmatt - great idea. Can you elaborate on that , ie. Who determines the $, who pays it, how did you institute this policy ?
Thsnk you

i would wonder how "merit-based bonuses" can be done in a coop by the board. there are some supers that are complete jerks to some and lick the board's ass. there are some doormen that are more helpful to some then to others.

i want to decide whose pocket MY money goes to, not the board.

we issue merit based bonus....most doorman get 1 to 2 wks pay - not much perhaps $1500 in total before tax and super can get 6 to 8 weeks which adds up to clost to $7k PLUS tenants tip.....wonder how common it is to have both in a building....what do you normally give doorman vs super via bonus?

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the coop gives the bonus based upon the boards just wondering how common it is for buildings to give bonus?

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We live in a lux condo with 20 staff. The building sends out a thank you note with the staff names on.
We normally give $100 to the doormen, concierge, porters,and maintenance crew, and $60 to those cleaning crew we hardly see. you know if your building also gives them a bonus? I think besides the board, th rest of the owners/shareholders never know about the bonus going out as well.

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NYCMATT....what is the typical bonus for a super vs doorman?

I thought NYCMatt's building is a walk-up. Don't think walk-ups have doormen.

3. Building staff has been made aware that accepting tips or gratuities from tenants will result in disciplinary action.

Sounds like a difficult policy to enforce. Owners will always wish to express gratitude toward a building staff member that has gone above and beyond

I thought NYCMatt's building is a walk-up. Don't think walk-ups have doormen.

so we're only talking a porter/handyman?

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Why do cheap people always have to find an reason to justify their thriftiness?

To reprimand an employee for accepting a gift from a shareholder is outrageous!

I have saved my building over the past two (2) years over $110K! the buildings accountant was AMAZED when he saw the numbers... I cancelled my vacation and stayed with the building during Hurricane Irene my WIFE and 2 KIDS had to go with out me. I had to listen to my 6yrs old every day cry and ask why I'm not there with them and will be joining them. Any time a shareholder wants to meet me to discuss anything regardless of what time it is I make myself available. And to think that I can be reprimanded for accepting a tip. I would be looking for a new job in not time...

Has anyone heard of being asked by a management company if the board wants to tip the non resident managers? to top it off they ask that we send them the funds and they'll put it in their paychecks! We thought it inappropriate- opting for a gift of a few nice bottles of wine/champagne (this for less than a half year service). I'm asking wouldnt they (the management company) be the one to give bonuses to their own employees and not ask the building?

We live in a co-op with a small staff (fewer than 10). Doormen getting $250, super gets $500

Once again - the residential building workers, building union members, and their friends and family have come out in force in order to skew the actual - real amounts that people actually tip - to list here what they want instead.

Super: $80
Front Desk & Porters: $30 - $40

Give what you can afford and nothing more. Some of my neighbors don't tip at all.

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To NYC SUPER: I am a believer in tipping. I enjoy doing it for the great staff in my building, my garage guys, etc. I advocate on this forum in favor of tipping generously. But I must say, if I ever caught whiff of an air of entitlement from the people whom I tip, or a suggestion that it were somehow required for me to tip or they would work less hard, then I would be offended. Your tone has that kind of ring of entitlement and is very off-putting. What makes you or your work so special? I too completely rearranged my plans for Irene. In any number of other disasters, including 9/11, I put my own plans completely aside to serve others because I had skills which were needed even though I wasn't getting any extra payment. Such is the nature of my job. I am not paid extra to field calls at night and on weekends (which I regularly do), to report to emergencies when needed, or to just offer some advice or comfort at times when I am not obliged to be at work. But I do not get tips. They are not offered and I cannot accept them. I am also not especially well compensated despite the rather serious substance of the work I do. So maybe you can lose the attitude and tone down the indignation a little and sound a little more grateful and less indignant and haughty. Be happy you are employed, have a relatively well-paying job, that you are appreciated and make a difference in people's lives, and that sometimes--unlike most of us--you will recieve a tip as an extra thank you for going above and beyond the typical job requirements (which is, frankly, what any good employee does regardless of tips which most of us do not receive).

Super: 300
Concierge: 250
Doorman Fulltime: 200
Doorman Partime: 125
Porter: 150

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First holidays in an NYC condo (bought this year). Today I gave my holiday cards and tips for all staff to one of the morning concierges for further distribution. Question: Should I expect to receive thank you notes from all recipients? I'm serious.

nyc-apt-buyer - don't expect a thank you note. Uusally just a verbal thank you (that's assuming the concierge distributed all the envelopes :)

Thanks ph41. I agree. Just can't help but think that if I were a concierge receiving about $7000 in holiday tips (more than most white collar New Yorkers this year), I might take the trouble to slip 70 small thank you cards under the respective doors (no postage stamps required).

My "tip-ees" all gave me big hugs or handshakes, with sincere thanks and a comment about how much they enjoy working in my building. Many of them have been employeees for 20 years. I'll take that over a note any day.

Then again, I'm a hug lover. :)

I don't like getting hugs from tip-ees. Thank you and a handshake.

Thank you notes are very rare and shouldn't be expected. I wouldn't personally want the staff to have to write 100 cards. The smiles and handshakes I get are plenty. Apparently I settled on the right amounts since everyone seems especially happy with my husband and I this last week.

Sorry: "my husband and me"

you do not need to tip all workers, just those who do a good job. I am skipping 2 of the 8 staff members who put in the minimal effort. Same as any job, no reword for the worst performers

Lux condo building, 80 units with 12 full time staff. I see all of them quite often, and everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful. Live in one of the smallest units in the building...

$100 to each doorman, porter and the handyman.
$150 to the super

Received several genuinely appreciative "thank you's" the days after opening the cards, which makes me feel like we were generous enough to fall within expectations.

NYC10007, that seems beyond expectations. Let us do the calculation. $100*80 = $8000 per doorman even if every one with bigger units tipped the same as you. $50 for a smaller unit would be more of an expectation if do not do something extra for you - carrying groceries/deliveries to your apt, accompanying the cable guys to your apartment when you are not there etc. $100 per doorman for a 2/3 bed room. That explains the genuinely appreciative thank yous. That said, if you can afford it and want to generous, it the season for giving.

We give bonus' to doorman and supers....doormen get 1 to 2 weeks pay and super gets 8 weeks...and everyone tips as well.....i think 50 to doorman and 75 to 100 for super is plenty esp(if you are like me) you tip throughout the year when super does something in your apt.....only 1 seemed overly thankful.....others i think just 'expect' it.....and since their salaries are low...tipping is a big part of their salary......i havent gotten a raise or bonus since the financial collapse but my salary is not tied to tipping seems fair for these folks, esp if they are deserving...

I rent in condo building. My building has staff of 25 people. I tip a total of $1,000, but given the large number of staff it is pretty small amount per person. Some gets a bit more (doorman) while others get a bit less (porters). My doorman/porter gets between $25 to $50 each. Is this on the low end?

I've read many of these discussions and it all seems so individual. For example, I would think that if you own a one bedroom, then $100 tip per doorman is fine. It really depends on your individual financial situation and what you think of the staff. I prefer the idea of tipping myself although it gets expensive because you are tipping based on your own evaluations of the staff. I once lived in a rental building where you deposited one check into a box at the front desk and it was divided up somehow. It was easier, but who knows how it was divided up. My sense is that the doormen, porters, handymen don't make that much salary and depend alot of tips at Christmas and throughout the year. Having a handyman on staff to do small repairs is a convenience and also I trust him to be left alone in the apartment which I wouldn't do with someone I hired from the outside. The porters schlep up packages and took apart my moving boxes and other stuff. It really depends alot on how helpful the staff is, how well-run the building is and your own financial circumstances.

I don't see why larger apartments should pay more. It should be based on family size, particularly those with children who seem to consume most of the resources. Also the larger the building the smaller the tip. No sense in giving a doorman $100 if the building has 200 apartments, that would be 20K in tips, better than most of the resident's yearend bonuses. I also do not feel compelled to go overboard to make up for the people who stiff the staff. We tip by seniority, personality and how effective each staff member performs as it relates to us. We tip some doormen $50 and a select few over $100. As for the handyman and the super, we tip at yearend but also each time they perform a service for us throughout the year. Tipping during the year is much more effective in getting services on a timely basis.

"I don't see why larger apartments should pay more."

I find this strange. I've lived in a building where guidance was given on how much to tip, which I personally appreciate. The strange part to me was that it was the same amount regardless of the apt size. While I can appreciate the idea that perhaps the amount of services received by 2 people living in 3000 sq ft is not 5x higher than 2 living in 500 sq ft, the former does pay 6x more into the salaries of the staff. So IMO I think they should just man up & tip more.

FWIW, I find people who post "I tip X to doormen" without further explanation useless: how big is the building, your staff, your apt? I find a good rule of thumb to be tipping 1 month's worth of common charges (or maintenance minus taxes).

inonada: "I find this strange."

People with larger apartments will probably tip more during the year for individual services like repairing leaks in their multiple baths and those kind of things. There is absolutely no reason a retired widow/widower living in a three bedroom should tip more than a couple with 2 children living in a two bedroom. The couple with the children consume much more of the doorman and porter services and should tip more. They receive more packages, they make more garbage, they need help loading and unloading their SUV's, etc. I don't think that's strange.

The whole point of tipping year-end is so you don't bother with tipping throughout the year, IMO. You know what I appreciate? When they guy bringing up my guest's luggage refuses the tip my guest tries to slip him.

Do you think building maintenance should also be based on the number of residents in an apt? Should the widower's maintenance be reduced and the family's be increased to account for the difference? Or should the widower give absolutely no tip, the logic being that he is over-paying through the maintenance that is often pro-rata based on square footage? What about the building engineers? Do they deserve a higher tip from the widower or not?

Along these same lines, what about wine? If you tip $10 on a $50 bottle of wine, what do you do with a $200 bottle of wine? Tip $10 or $40? Same restaurant, same service. Why tip more?

The point you are missing is that as a rich a-hole living in 3000 sq ft, a higher portion of the building staff is being allocated to your usage. It's not as if the building can say "Oh wait, a rich a-hole with no family has moved into 15A, down from a family of 6. Let's lay off Bob the doorman." The fact that you don't use the service to its full extent does not alter the fact that the staff size and their livelihoods are based on a level of service.

So pay up, you cheap bastards! And Merry Christmas ;).

BTW, I think the rich a-holes in larger apts do tip more regardless of their usage of services. I think it's over-extended people in smaller apts who think otherwise.

^-- Wow, what an a-hole!

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People with bigger units should clearly pay more. Extending Nada's example, let us imagine some one buying 4 1 b/r units and combining them. Should they pay the same tip as some one with one bed room even though only three people live in the combined unit? You have to be an a-hole to do that. They not necessarily need to pay the 4* 1 b/r but close. I would think that they pay more that 4* 1 b/r as people with 1 b/r may be streched. If you can afford it, be generous to people who are less fortunate than you and help you. Same way I do not get the MD taking home $2-5mm per year not being generous to non bonus eligible assistants and the floor staff.

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NYCMatt, I've got no beef against a world where no tips are paid to building staff. Or waiters. However, in the NYC buildings I've lived in and the NYC restaurants I've eaten at, gratuity is an integral part of compensation. Building staff and their unions accept a lower salary and benefits with an expectation of income from tips. If tips became illegal tomorrow, I would hope you'd support a union effort to raise salary to compensate for it.

In any case, the question here isn't whether you should tip or not. Rather, it is whether the compensation you provide through common charges and/or tips should be in proportion to apt size rather than apt population. If you want to take the "apt population" side of the argument, let me know how it goes when you bring it up at your next coop meeting. No tips, but maintenance adjusted based on apt population.

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"This is like saying that we should raise every investment banker's base salary if we take away their bonuses because of the 'expectation' of them."

That's what they did.

I like the idea of dividing approx one month's maintenance, minus the portion for taxes and mortgage, between the staff as a good starting point.

inonada:"So pay up, you cheap bastards! And Merry Christmas ;).

BTW, I think the rich a-holes in larger apts do tip more regardless of their usage of services. I think it's over-extended people in smaller apts who think otherwise."

People in larger apartment already pay higher maintenance because they take up more real estate. Tipping is discretionary and should correlate to the use you make of the service. The young couples with 2 and 3 children who glom up the services are the ones who should be tipping generously.

BTW inonada, save some of your tipping money for anger management sessions. Hope you have a better year next year! LOL!

Let's get real. The larger apt pays, say, $4000 in common charges. Probably $3000 of this goes to paying the staff. The smaller apt pays $1500, with $1100 going to salaries & whatnot. The larger apt already signed up for paying a higher share of service costs, irrespective of actual use.

Suppose we follow 1 month's common charges as guidance. I say the larger apt should tip $4000 and the smaller one should tip $1500. In your world, you think the larger apt should tip $1500 and the smaller one should tip $4000. In the real world, the latter will not happen: expecting others to tip 3 month's common charges is delusional, particularly a family of 5 living in 1100 sq ft. So the staff get shafted. You signed up for a portion of the service worker's time, so pay for your share of the service if it's been good regardless of usage.

It's like going to a restaurant and tipping 10% because you order food without getting recommendations from the waiter, thinking the guy interacting with the waiter will tip 30% and make up for it.

No worries on anger management -- arguing with you here is therapy enough ;).

At the end of the day, I dont think there is anyone here who doesnt have a strong opinion on this thread and is going to be swayed to change their tipping habits based on someone elses comments. For the past 5 years I have lived in 3 different full-service rentals and my tip giving habits have completely changed year to year, even when I stayed in the same building. The thought that there should be any sort of guide or rule applied across the board is utterly ridiculous. Last year I felt I received good enough service from the staff of 10 or so to warrant a tip that I was comfortable with. In the same building, this year there were several staff members who did a poor enough job that I felt they deserved no tip at all, while others did receive who actually deserved it. When I've gone to restaurants and received genuinely bad service from the waiter, I think it's absurd to feel obligated to tip just because they've chosen to be bad at a profession where they accept below minimum wage. In fact, that should be all the incentive in the world to provide amazing service, JUST like building staff.

I'm following this topic and laughing--all this talk of what to give, what percentage of rent or cc to give....let me let you guys in on a secret-- these very wealthy people go away before the holidays, don't tip and then "forget" when they get back after the 1st of the year.

Yep, people living in $10M apts, effectively spending $600K a year on housing and making at least a few million, are looking to screw the staff over $10K. After having paid $90K of their salaries and benefits all year long.

In the latest episode of Two and a Half Men, the half a billionaire Malibu beach house owner gave the maid only 3 weeks of pay for the holidays. That comes out to less than 6% of annual salary.

Salary of household staff is pegged to their jobs. A housekeeper that comes to a one bedroom every week may get paid $100/wk. A housekeeper who works for a family of 4 in a 4 bedroom for 4 days a week may get paid $800/wk. In either case, in my opinion, the staffer should get two paid weeks of vacation a year. On top of that a bonus equal to two weeks of salary is proper I think. The amount is not supposed to reflect the income of the owner, but rather the work done by the staffer.

year end bonus is typically a 2 week salary dollar value.
for the super in a rental who is not your employee the situation changes.
In my building we tip the super every time he actually does something. usuall between $20 and $50.
At year end we give him $100 so he answers our calls the rest of the year, which are minimal.
I think this is very fair.
P.S. this is not a super high end building (as if you had to guess)

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falcogold1, that's some serious tipping of your super. Does he really do that much for you?

>>falcogold1, that's some serious tipping of your super. Does he really do that much for you? <<

It makes sense to take good care of the super. We've given ours several hundred during our reno in addition to the xmas gift and an initial tip on move-in.

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Sounds like a Wall Street bonus to me.

For a 7 month gut renovation that was the best thousand he spent.

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Always pays to grease the skids (in this case the palm) in life. It makes everything easier. A 7 month renovation may have cost several hundred thousand dollars, an extra thousand is meaningless. The super has the ability to make things easy or make things difficult. Any delay could end up costing thousands to the owner, not to mention the aggravation. Did you ever hear of "penny wise and pound foolish" it's a case of that.

I can remember years ago wanting to upgrade from a rent stablized studio to a one bedroom in the same building. We spoke to the super and let it be known we would be good for a couple of thousand dollars if a well priced stablized apartment was coming on the market. Sure enough a few months later we got the one bedroom, no one in the building even knew it was coming available. We ended up with a very reasonably priced one bedroom and the super was a happy man. Similar situation to the above.

"I can remember years ago wanting to upgrade from a rent stablized studio to a one bedroom in the same building. We spoke to the super and let it be known we would be good for a couple of thousand dollars if a well priced stablized apartment was coming on the market. Sure enough a few months later we got the one bedroom, no one in the building even knew it was coming available. We ended up with a very reasonably priced one bedroom and the super was a happy man."

Does that work with police officers and judges, too?

"Does that work with police officers and judges, too?"

Don't know about those, but in former rental building, it was told to me by several people that our super had paid several thousand dollars to "make sure" he got the job in that building. So where does it start...end...continue? Graft and corruption seem not to be the favored descriptive terms to describe this phenomenon. And it does seem to be self-perpetuating?

" ... it's just "tipping.""

Now you're beginning to understand. It went on 30 years ago when we did it and it continues today in all aspects of life, not just real estate.

So proud to be such a tool!

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Issue - have complained about the lack of service all year. Tip tine, while I did tip it was down 20-30 %.
Now I'm getting the evil eye and an attitude.
Thoughts on handling ?

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Co-Op building, large staff - 100 for the super, 80 for the doormen, 40-50 for the handymen, and a bit less for the other folks we barely see. All told, about $1000 in total. I hope this helps.

I suggest next year tip nothing.

I agree with gcondo. The point of tipping is to reward good service. I did not tip anyone at my garage because my car ended up in the body shop twice this year because of them. Likewise, did not bother tipping some of the doormen who do the bare minimum.

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I think this is all ridiculous... I tip my doormen $20.00 each. Sorry but I don't get tipped for doing my job! I think we have all lost sight of tipping. $100.00 per doorman... CRAZY.. I have 15 people in my building to tip...

mealie, $100 per person will be too much for a staff of 15. I assume you have 200 apartments in the building to need such a large staff. For a full service building, I have thought a total amount of $400-$600 for every one is a good number for a full service building unless you get a lot of extra help (the super at 300 mercer had confirmed that which is a 300 unit building with a staff of 15, $20-$50 each; $100 for super). For 2 b/r $500-$800 is probably more of a norm. People with children tend to pay higher as they always need the doormen. If any one wants to give extra, it is great but not expected.

I'd rather give nothing before I would hand a doorman $20.

No one says you have to give everyone $100, but the doormen that you think are the best of the lot, have long tenure, and you interact with the most should get the most.

Porter's you can get away with a $30 tip.

The super should get $100 it's the best money you spend, believe me.

The handyman I'd give $50 and than tip during the year when he actually comes to your apartment and fixes something, a $10 or $20 tip will generally cover most repairs.

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Robbers grab Yule tips
"Two armed suspects got into the lobby of 99 John St. around 2:40 a.m. Mon., Dec. 19, forced the doorman into a back room, bound him and made off with a white box containing about $5,000 donated by residents for the staff, police said."

Guess it was only a matter of time b4 someone figured out just grab the box and run..they leave the big box/chest right out in the lobby where i live too.

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let me guess, cooper square took it!

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Sounds a bit fishy...

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