Tipping. The cash kind, not the cow kind!
How do you feel about it? And should it be part of the quilting economy? I would really welcome your thoughts and discussion in the comments.
I ask YOU this question as I was approached at my local guild’s sew-day by another member, who asked me if I thought we should be tipping our long-arm artists.
I had to pause for a moment… my first reactions was one of slight panic. I hoped I hadn’t committed some dreadful faux-pas by not tipping for my most recent long-arm collaboration. But then I thought about it, and my answer is no, I don’t think tipping should be part of this transaction.
My thoughts on tipping, IN GENERAL, are these:
- I would prefer that businesses price their offerings at the true cost, and that’s the cost I see and pay (I feel the same way about sales tax, too)
- Yes, I do tip servers and bartenders. I do this because it’s the custom in the United States. I would rather go with the European model, which is pay the workers well, charge the actual, sustainable price for the meal, and tip only for exceptional service (with the understanding that the basic quality of the service is not predicated on a tip.) The wages for such service positions are ridiculously low here, because the businesses count on us tipping their workers up to a decent wage. There is inherent abuse embedded in this model, and I don’t like it at all. Read here for some hard data about how tipping negatively affects workers.
- Yes, I tip my hairdresser and my pedicurist. Same issue though – I do it because it’s the custom. I would rather have a set price for these services… if I don’t like what they deliver, I just won’t go back (and let’s face it, it’s sometimes hard to tell if you have a good haircut until you wash and dry it yourself!)
- Yes, I have tipped for all my tattoos. Same issue… it’s the custom. Same issue as above… I would rather pay the actual rate and avoid the tip. Because honestly, once the ink is in your skin, a tip isn’t going to change the quality of the work. And if you don’t like the work, you won’t go back.
And my thoughts on tipping, IN THE QUILTING INDUSTRY, are these:
- On my last long-arm project, I asked for a bid on the work, received a quote, and was invoiced according to the quote. And during the work, there was no discussion of needing to change the number due to unforeseen issues. So I paid the bill as originally estimated. I see it as a business arrangement, not a service arrangement.
- Although I suppose you could argue that it’s a service… but then I suppose I could argue that I deliver a service of some sort also. Delivering good patterns is a service, yes? But then should I get tips from my distributors? Should there be a tipping box on Paypal when you buy one of my patterns? Do you tip the quilt-shop worker for cutting your fabric straight? Or should we all agree that you should get a straight cut from a quilt store as a basic tenet of good business? The semantics of this could be argued heavily.
- We, in this industry, are far more likely to be underpaid than overpaid. Many of us don’t claim our worth, nor bill it. I would hate for this industry to start following food service in a system where the wages are artificially low, and need to be brought up by a tip to be considered decent.
- Here’s that link about the abuses in tipping again, in case you avoided it above (although you might not want to watch the Reservoir dogs clip at work!)
- Again, and again, and again, I advocate for pricing the work at its true cost. This is how we educate people as to the value of what we do. And I advocate showing that full cost on an invoice, even when a discount is given.
So in closing… no. I haven’t tipped my long-arm artist, and I doubt I will. But being as she’s a friend, there’s a good chance I’ll take her some chocolate soon 🙂
I agree with you. I wish all service businesses set the actual price of the service and did not expect a tip. I quilt all my own quilts so tipping or not in the quilting industry is not an issue for me. Claudia W
I quilt for others as a business and I don’t think tipping is appropriate for it. I see it like the custom of not tipping the owner of the salon if they do your hair – at least it used to be that way!! I hate tipping too and would love to see it disappear into the sunset. I can see where a quilting customer may see the need to pay a longarmer more then an original estimate – if the job that was done was extraordinary and they felt the value of the quilting was higher then the bill (I actually had a customer do that – shocker for me!) or if it was a rush job that was squeezed in, but most longarmers will charge an extra fee if they do that since it generally eats away at their non-quilting time. I agree with charging a fair price for the service – longarm quilting, designing patterns or fabric – and no tips required or expected!
I dislike the tipping too. I’ve experienced the no tipping when in Australia and it was much freer to live that way. I enjoyed the article including the Reservoir Dog video. It will take a long time to change the custom though.
Sam, I’m with you!! I tip my personal service providers — nails, toes, hair, etc. but I don’t think it’s necessary to tip a long-arm quilter. This is a business who provides a service which is quoted and paid for by the user of the service. This could get carried away in many facets to let’s just KISS!!!
What an interesting post!
I don’t usually TIP service providers such as plumbers, electricians, builders, etc.I feel a long-arm artist is in that kind of industry.
Tipping is an odd thing and this was a provoking question to ponder. WHY do I or don’t I tip.
Thanks for making me ponder!
No no and NO! The long-arm quilter is a professional and generally the business owner. I’ll trust the quilter to give me a quote based on time and skill, just as I would any other professional business owner. I don’t tip my plumber or the guy who took out two huge trees or my attorney. Yes, I tip my hairdresser (and frankly wonder why, since at the rate I pay her, she’s making $90/hour (and yes that’s before all her shop expenses, SS, etc…)) But as you say, it’s the custom.
Oh, where to start? I read something many years ago in reference to tipping hair stylist that went something like this: You should tip an employee of the salon, or someone “renting” from the salon, but not the actual salon owner. The assumption being that the owner has a better profit margin than an employee. This made a sad kind of sense to me and I have extrapolated it across other service spectrums; ie. is the person doing my nails the owner or employee? The person grooming my dog, cleaning my house etc.
As a professional Longarm Quilter (that is to say someone quilting for a living, not just a hobby) I have always tried to charge a living wage! Keeping in mind that I don’t get paid vacations, sick time, short/long term disability, matching 401k contributions, company sponsored health/life insurance plans and on and on. What I do get is to decide how much my time, effort and learned skills are worth and I do get to stick to my loaded guns when one of my “sisters” tries to shame me into charging less “because everyone else is”!
So, I too say “NO”, longarm quilters should not be monetarily tipped, but chocolate is always nice, and so are referrals!
i am a long arm quilter. Sometimes I get tips, but I mostly do not and I’m fine with that. When I do get a tip, it’s a happy little bonus but I don’t expect it.
No. The quilter is expected to give a bid on the job which includes the thread, electricity, batting sometimes, etc. and that is what I expect to pay. Professional people don’t get a tip. Even the sandwich artists at Subway do not get a tip. Nor the grocery checkout person.
We had a long discussion with some Kiwis in New Zealand a few years ago, and they find the US to be entirely confusing as to what something like a dinner will actually cost with taxes and tip. They even got rid of the penny in their system.
Just where did this idea for tipping professional machine quilters come from?
So this is a hot button for me. As a hairdresser in a shopping mall salon I was underpaid and appreciated the tips. As a hairdresser in a commission booth I set my prices as I felt they deserved and if a customer tipped I graciously accepted but told them it was not necessary. As a knitting and quilting teacher I do not expect tips. I have been tipped by customers when I went above and beyond in my service to them. It was a pleasant surprise, but by no means expected. As a longarmer, again, I set my prices by the quality of my work and I feel that is ample compensation. I don’t discount my prices and I don’t expect tips because my prices indicate true market value. Just my opinion.
While I believe the long arm artist is more comparable to a tattoo artist than to the person that does my hair or serves my dinner there is one major difference — the tattoo artist generally gets paid by the shop and the the long arm artist owns their space and their hardware. I do tip my tattoo artist. I don’t think the long arm artist needs to be tipped if the price was fairly negotiated in advance. This puts part of the responsibility on the buyer to know what fair is and to pay for it. This may sound harsh but I’ve heard many quilt makers complain about fair pricing for long arm services. If I was long arm quilting for profit I would rather get a referral and some repeat business than a one-time tip.
I have wondered if I should be tipping my long armer. This really helps clarify. But the comparison to tattoo artists is a bit off. My son is a tattoo artist. Shops do not pay the artists, they charge them, usually 35-50% of their take. Plus he has to buy his own inks and needles. The shop provides paper towels, space, autoclaving – and the reputation that comes with the shop name, not a small thing. I can see why he appreciates tips! Maybe rather than tipping, I will gift my longarmer throughout the year.
To me tipping is a personal choice. At one time when my children were small I worked for a horrid wage and survived off tipping. I feel if someone give me above and beyond service not matter their profession I tip if I’m more then pleased with their performance. I tip the plumber who drops everything to fix my problems even. The flip side of that I feel embarrassed when a customer tips me for a quilt. I charged what I felt was a fair price. BUT and there is always a but. If you say no to the offer of a tip, consider your taking away the blessing of the giver who wants to show you how thankful they are for you
Your thoughtful observations regarding WASWI has opened my eyes. And I am tracking my time and expenses when making quilts from now on. Sometimes just because I am curious, but also for pricing options when I am asked to make a quilt that someone wishes to purchase upon completion. That said, I have never tipped my longarm quilter, I have purchased treats and given gift cards or other gifts to show my extended appreciation for their handling of my quilts. But I have also never haggled over their stated price for a project and I do expect them to price fairly for both of our benefits. I want them to profit and prosper so they are still available for the work they do.