I'm a regular at a coffee shop on the South Shore. I like the coffee and the convenience - but I don't like the attitude at the drive-through window. When I extend my arm for my change, the lady shoots me a hostile look then fumbles around in the cash register at length before flicking a nickel into my palm.
Cheap? No. I tip - and I tip well - but I consider it a reward for a job well done. Filling a Styrofoam cup with coffee is a basic service. A surly attitude doesn't win any points from me. I don't tolerate extortion. I expect that nickel back every time - on principle.
Which brings me to the issue of tipping our deliverymen. At Furniture Consignment Gallery, we take good care of our workers. That's why they have all been with us for a long while. They don't have to rely on tips to pay their bills.
Still, our delivery guys often get some extraordinary requests from customers. "Can you move my old sofa out to the garage?" "While you're here, would you mind moving a few other pieces of furniture for me? They're heavy!" "Yes, I told the salesperson that I lived on the second floor, but I actually live on the fifth - and there's no elevator." "Can we see how the dresser looks in that corner instead of that one? Hmmmm, let's move it back to this corner. No, that doesn't work, either. Let's try it over here."
Our standard fee is based on simple factors like the size of the item and location. But we've learned that hauling furniture in or out of some homes can be an extraordinary challenge. Sometimes, doors have to be removed in order to squeeze a big piece through the jamb. Stairwells can be so narrow that extreme measures must be taken to protect walls, floors and the furniture!
And then there are the folks who find it hard to resist the temptation to re-arrange all the furniture in the house when two moving pros show up at the door.
We want happy customers. Our guys are generally willing to assist with a simple task or two. But when you ask them to tackle something above and beyond the basic delivery, well, I think that's when you ought to think about a tip. They don't expect it, but they really do appreciate it. After all, a little more goes into it than snapping a lid on a cup.