/ Money

Do you tip the postie at Christmas?

Postman Pat

Christmas is known as the season of goodwill, but does this generosity spread to tradespeople, like the postie or the paperboy? A survey has indicated that more than half of us will forego the traditional tip.

In a survey published earlier this week, less than a quarter of respondents said they’ll tip the postie this Christmas, while only 11% will leave a gift for the milkman.

The survey’s researchers suggested that this decline was largely due to pressured household finances. Indeed, these findings show similarities to our own research, where two thirds of Brits told us they were planning to cut back on Christmas spending this year.

Household finances under fire

Reacting to the survey, etiquette specialists Debrette’s suggested that it’s good form to leave at least a fiver for your local tradespeople. That’s the equivalent of two coffees in exchange for a year’s worth of exertion on your behalf.

In return, you get the warm feeling of knowing you’ve helped keep the spirit of Christmas alive and well.

That fiver would be appreciated so much more than the indulgences we waste our cash on during the festive period. In fact, now that tips are no longer seen as compulsory, it could well make that person’s day.

Tips for tradespeople

The poll showed that older generations are the most likely to tip their tradespeople this year. Perhaps this suggests that the Christmas box is a tradition that’s going the same way as Christmas cards.

I’ve never met my postie and I’m rarely in when the bins are collected. No-one I know has milk delivered to their door anymore. Maybe this is one of the reasons why young adults are less inclined to leave festive tips.

Yet, I’m still all for helping maintain this tradition, even if it does mean buying a cheaper brand of Christmas crackers this year. After all, the jokes can’t get any worse.

Will you be tipping any of your local tradespeople over the holidays, or is this a practice that’s past its sell by date?


Tipping should be for exceptional service, not for doing one’s job as expected. However, my current postman is deserving of a tip, whereas my current dustmen are definitely not, repeatedly dropping rubbish all over the road on every collection day.

Tipping should be abolished and people should be paid properly and expected to do their job well.

The fact that employees can supplement their income with tips is often used as an excuse for not paying them properly.

If someone just does the job adequately for which they are paid then tipping (like bonuses) is not, in my view, appropriate. However if they do more than their job – exceptional performance or putting themselves out to help their customers for example, then an extra reward is merited.Our post lady always knocks and waits if she has something that won’t go through the letter box or puts a note through if she leaves something in the porch. She will get a large box of chocs.

Gentlemen – as regulars here are we all subscribers ? Or more to the point Ordinary members! I was just wondering. Please respond.

As for tipping I am ambivalent as we now have three crews collecting rubbish and it is confusing as to who gets what. They do give us a card every year so I suspect I will put something with the food waste bin.. Postie probably yes again this year.

I suspect we soemtimes have too much time on our hands! Or maybe they become addictive. However, I find there is a lot to be learned through these conversations. You also learn that your opinions may (rarely, of course) not always be shared by the whole community. As Chrisb1 pointed out in another conversation he could not understand why some facts were given the thumbs down by a number of (anonymous) contributors.

Yes I’m a subscriber and here because I learn more than from watching TV. I use thumbs-up to encourage new or infrequent contributors to take part, but don’t bother much with the regulars. Thumbs-down is mainly for commenters that are unpleasant to others and best avoided if there is a dispute. On another forum that I look at you can’t vote more than twice a day, there is no equivalent of thumbs-down and you can’t vote on your own contribution, which overall seem a better system.

Meanwhile back at tipping – although I don’t approve of it because the system is denying some people fair wages from their employer, I do tip in circumstances where it is commonly done to avoid my embarrassment and the recipient wondering what he/she did wrong if there was no tip. My postman does not get any form of Christmas gift but get thanked at least once every week.

I have been using many different forums for over a decade and I find Conversations a little bit limiting – however better than nothing : ) Forums can be very educational and yes compared to TV infinitely more satisfying as you can take time to consider what information is provided and ask questions of fellow contributors.

The question of tipping is interesting and normally we worry about it mostly when abroad. It is nice to see countries where tipping is regarded as an insult! [This was a subject for another Conversation]

Perhaps I can ask the views here – I was told that primary school children now take presents to teacher – seems exceedingly wrong to me. Is this just a rogue school in TW or is it widespread?

I am also concerned about school kids giving presents to teachers. Is it genuine thanks, possible bribery or tipping when items such as bottles of wine change hands? I think gifts should be restricted to cards.

A card can be a nice gesture. A charity I am involved with arranged a couple of outings for a group of disabled school kids and their teachers and we acted as impromptu teachers. Several months later, I have received a nice hand-made Christmas card, which I will put on display where my colleagues can see it, but at the moment it takes pride of place on the mantelpiece.

I am not a subscriber of Which?. I used to be, but stopped due to making cut-backs in money 🙁

I do learn so much from Which? conversation and I leave comments due to me not living a “normal” life and are interested on what others have to say.

While most of my comments do get thumbs down I have come to accept that as it goes hand-in-hand with not being normal.

Perhaps we could have a Christmas Conversation about what we value about the work that Which? does and what we are less keen on, or what topics would be good to debate in future. That’s my Christmas ‘tip’. 🙂

I’ll give you a ‘thumbs-up’ for being the most eccentric regular contributor, Lee. I hope you will switch from 0871 to a geographic number to thank all these companies and other organisations that are in process of making their phone numbers affordable to the public.

I’ve had a continuous Which? subscription for about five decades but I learn a lot from the Conversation topics and enjoy participating. I used to read the magazine from cover to cover but I am more selective these days as i find the Conversation topics give me better insights into the subjects that interest me. Plus I am not so keen as I once was to have [or at least to know about] the latest gadget/appliance/tool/car feature so studying the comparative data is not so rewarding as reading users’ experiences and their thoughts on other current issues.

As for tipping, I hardly ever give a tip these days for a variety of reasons. Staff turnover in restaurants and other service outlets is so high that I don’t feel I have any commitment to them nor they to me. There was a time when the dustman’s job was seriously back-breaking and life- threatening; not so nowadays with wheelie bins and modern protective clothing . . . it’s task-&-finish as-quick-as-you-can today, so no tips from me. We get post three days a week but rarely the same delivery operative. I recently tipped a driver who picked us up from the airport at some unearthly hour because he had had to go to bed at seven o’clock the night before and his company probably doesn’t compensate him adequately for the disturbance to his daily life. I do still tip taxi drivers and my hairdresser because the recession has brought so much competition that they are struggling to exist on their level of turnover [there are now so many taxis queuing up at Norwich station that some of them have to wait over an hour for another fare where they used to be able to do upto ten journeys per hour, and the local hairdressers have seen an influx of competitors from other lands who are quite content to keep the prices at low levels with no actual increases possible for the established barbers in over five years now – hence I top it up to something nearer the London rate].

There is no such thing as ‘normal’.

Anne S says:
22 December 2013

I have left small gifts for the milkman and the paperboy.- I suppose it’s the way people of my age were brought up. Yes, I still get milk and papers delivered in Greater London. I have a card ready for the postman but this week my post has been delivered by a different person each day, probably temporary staff as I didn’t recognise them, so the gift is still waiting. When I moved to my current address I did tip the bin men the first year but was put off when they demanded more on the grounds that there were five of them, including those on the vehicle. As we now also get three additional vehicles collecting various types of material for recycling, all with several people on board, I hate to think what the demands might be..

Yes, we give him a good tip. He is always pleasant and smiling. We have a lot of mail and he is very thoughtful and reliable

Harris says:
23 December 2013

I tip all regular tadesman who come to my door and provide a servicce. The bin man puts ny wheelie bin away, because I relate tothem duringthe year, the regular postie goes out of his way to deliver parcels not able to go through the box, and the milkman ensures there is fresh milk on my door step each delivery day.
As a former paper boy I provided a service to those I delivered to and this was hansomely repaid to me at Christmas; compared with the other delivery boys I received a fortune!
These tradesman provide a service through all winds and weather.
As regards paying them a decent wage this is irrelavent, as tipping is a way of saying Thank You

Perhaps those who you tip do receive a decent wage, but have you asked those who have a very low and sometimes illegal income whether they would prefer tips or to be paid a fair wage?

While I don’t “tip” my postie we do give each other a small xmas gift as I do get alot of parcels and when I’m not at home he always makes a special trip a few hours later for me.

Parcel Force Dave has turned into a friend too. He always comes at 6.00am for a cup of tea and some toast before work. If i need anything from town he will pick it up for me (I wont pay bus fare since the rise) and bring it the following day for me and yes, we give each other a gift too.

As for my local Yodel driver, the only gift I want to give him is a kick up the bum! lol

I am a subscriber to Which? but I am curious as to the numbers participating in Conversations, on Twitter and Facebook who do not subscribe.

I feel very uncomfortable tipping those who provide a service to me. I just feel that I am behaving like the lord or lady of the manor when tipping at Christmas time. I used to tip my paper boy until I stopped having the paper delivered about ten years ago. I tipped the postman when I had a regular one and had my post was delivered early in the morning. In recent months the post arrives in the afternoon, delivered by a different postie each time I notice, so no tip there. My local council has forbidden the bin men from soliciting a present for some years. The only person I tip without feeling embarrassed is my hairdresser and I have tipped him/her since I started paying for my hair cuts. I was in my GP’s surgery last Friday and a few patients had gifts to deliver. I wonder if this should be outlawed as it could be seen as a way of currying favour with reception staff.

I’m currently a subscriber but I might have to stop in the new year.

If someone provides me with good service as opposed to just doing their job, I’ll write to the company thanking them, and let the company reward them at Christmas time. Although I can imagine many wont 🙁

FYI I’ve cancelled by subscription.

I thought I witnessed a Christmas miracle yesterday. Had post delivered before 8am. First time in many years they’ve managed to delivery it that early, Around 1pm I got a knock on the door, it was the postman delivering the post, so I asked him what was happening this morning ? Oh that was Saturdays post.

Can’t see how they’d expect to get a tip, they can’t even get the simple things right.

If you give a tip to a postman, does it all go into a pool that is then shared, like it does in many restaurants? In an effort to avoid this, I instead just gave my postman some booze for him to enjoy over Christmas.

I used to give mine a tenner at Christmas because he goes that extra mile for us, besides him being a “Tractor Boy” I usually get the tenner back and more when my team beats Ipswich Town twice a year!
However, under the “new” regime we have for the last 6 months been getting different posties every day and I haven’t seen Steve for many months so this year, sorry last year gave nothing although we still get a great service circumstances prevent me tipping them all, though I lived once in a place where we had 3 regular posties and I’d give them 15 quid to share between them because they went the extra mile and one was a mate of mine.

Why should people be tipped just for doing their job? Surely, “Thank You” is enough? I will thank people who have been exceptional, but similarly I do not tolerate lazy people.

The only tip I want to give to my postman is to stop being a lazy a*****le and to do his job properly. I have pulled him up before about the mistreatment of my mail and my letterbox and do you think that has made a difference? He goes round with a glum face and today proved that he cannot even read properly, delivering someone else’s mail (someone from an address several miles away).

Similarly for the refuse collectors. I have rarely seen one doing his job properly (the occasional one exists, but is a rarity).

As someone who is housebound, I rely on tradespeople and there are a few who go the extra mile to help or just have a quick chat which is appreciated when that is the highligjt of my social life. So yes, there are two or three who I will be giving a Christmas box to, even though I don’t celebrate it myself. Even if I wasn’t housebound I still believe there is a difference between ‘someone just doing their job’ and a person who actually seems to care about their customers, too many these days seem not to know what good customer service is.