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What's the Deal With Tipping the Military Movers?

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What's the Deal With Tipping the Military Movers
We've all asked the question, but what's the answer? (Stock photo)

It's an age-old military move question: do I tip the movers? Is lunch enough? What about lunch and a tip? How do I know what the right thing to do is?

We've spent quite a bit of time pondering this over the last several years. We've asked moving industry experts, military spouse and family experts and military spouses themselves.

The general consensus? Food -- lunch and drinks or whatever is appropriate given the heat outside and the time of day -- is the expected tip during a military move.

But that doesn't mean that's how everyone rolls.

Moving industry experts, however, said that a tip is generally expected in the moving community. The problems with that, however, are twofold. 

One is that military families often have several different crews of movers. A family could, potentially, see three totally different sets of folks -- one to pack, one to load and one to unload on the other side. In theory, you are tipping for a job well done, but if those who pack don't unload, and the only way to know whether or not they did a good job is by the condition of your stuff on the other side...

The other problem is that tipping is not officially recommended by military officials, even though it's not strictly forbidden.

You see the problem.

We are in-kind tippers in this house. That means that we give food and drinks and, when all is said and done, the liquor collection that can't come with us. (But, as the head of the military's personal property moving operation told me recently -- don't give it out until the end of the day. He learned that lesson the hard way.)

Another common complaint about tipping the military movers is that we, the military folks, are not actually paying for the move. These moves are supposed to be on the government dime. And if you are shelling out, say, $20 per mover and you get three teams of three or four folks, you can be paying as much as $240 out of pocket. That's not how that is supposed to work.

Finally, some military movers aren't supposed to accept tips as a matter of company policy.

On the other hand are those of you who believe that tipping is just part of being a good consumer. Why wouldn't you thank someone for a service performed with a cash tip? We tip nail salons, commissary baggers, house cleaners, hairdressers, etc. ... why not movers?

To tip or not to tip? That is the question.

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