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View Full Version : AAA calls, was I supposed to tip the Tow truck guy?


aceplace57
03-10-2014, 10:13 AM
My week is starting out well. Got 10 feet from my driveway and heard thump, thump, thump. Flat tire. I was dressed for a meeting at work and didn't want to risk grease/dirt stains on my nice clothes.

AAA guy came quickly and changed the flat. He scanned my AAA card. No charge. He seemed to be disappointed I didn't tip him. I didn't even think about it until he was in his truck pulling away.

Are you supposed to tip? Aren't a lot of these tow trucks run by the owner/operator?

I wouldn't object to tipping. I was just distracted and concerned about missing this meeting at the VC's office. Gosh knows what my boss is agreeing for me to do. :smack:

I got to run. I'll check the thread later today.

Shagnasty
03-10-2014, 10:29 AM
No, I have never tipped one or heard of anyone else doing so either.

ElvisL1ves
03-10-2014, 10:30 AM
Me neither. Still, no harm in trying, right?

Gyrate
03-10-2014, 10:34 AM
I have a nephew-in-law who is a tow truck driver. Apparently he gets tipped regularly - he said he made $103 in tips over the weekend.

Which doesn't answer the question of whether you should tip the driver, but people certainly do.

SaharaTea
03-10-2014, 10:41 AM
I have AAA and I always try to tip the tow driver (if I have the cash). I have no idea if you're supposed to but it seems like the right thing to do.

GreasyJack
03-10-2014, 10:44 AM
Was it an actual AAA truck, or a contractor? AAA only actually owns and operates tow trucks in a few cities, otherwise it's just a regular tow company that contracts with them. It could be that the driver gets paid some percentage commission and was disappointed to see you whip out the AAA card, which means he only gets his cut of whatever pittance AAA has negotiated the price of a service call down to instead of the princely sum they would have charged had you called them yourself.

ThisUsernameIsForbidden
03-10-2014, 10:57 AM
Never heard of tipping the tow guy, but I guess in certain areas where they don't make much it is reasonable. Around here they make over 20/hr, so I wouldn't tip. Also, don't feel bad about not tipping if you have no idea of whether it is customary. If you don't know about it then it isn't customary, really. Everywhere I go someone is accepting tips, and it gets annoying. I guess I feel that if someone is getting paid above minimum wage then there is no reason to tip. They are already getting paid to render the service so the employer is just passing on some of the cost of employment to you. On the other hand, if someone does really really well, then maybe a bigger wage makes sense.

steronz
03-10-2014, 11:12 AM
I almost always tip. My limited understanding is that it's like an auto dealer performing warranty work -- the price is fixed by the manufacturer (in this case, it's fixed by AAA) and sometimes it's a win for the company, sometimes it's a lose, but overall it's a beneficial arrangement. Most of my calls are for tows somewhere near the maximum allowable distance (100 miles), and I know the towing company is losing money if I don't tip. For a quick tire change, I wouldn't feel so bad about not tipping.

Sicks Ate
03-10-2014, 11:14 AM
I almost always tip. My limited understanding is that it's like an auto dealer performing warranty work -- the price is fixed by the manufacturer (in this case, it's fixed by AAA) and sometimes it's a win for the company, sometimes it's a lose, but overall it's a beneficial arrangement. Most of my calls are for tows somewhere near the maximum allowable distance (100 miles), and I know the towing company is losing money if I don't tip. For a quick tire change, I wouldn't feel so bad about not tipping.

They may not be making much off of your trip, but they'll make it up on another one. If being a AAA tow company wasn't a net benefit, they wouldn't bother.

No tip from me.

steronz
03-10-2014, 11:42 AM
They may not be making much off of your trip, but they'll make it up on another one. If being a AAA tow company wasn't a net benefit, they wouldn't bother.

No tip from me.

The company's overall benefit is some small consolation to the driver, who's often paid a commission of each call. Having to spend 3 hours towing me somewhere might be money out of his pocket. Yeah, he might make it up next week or next month on a bunch of short calls, but that kinda sucks for someone living paycheck to paycheck (yes, I'm making broad generalizations about the finances of tow truck drivers.)

Brad the Impaler
03-10-2014, 11:52 AM
I've always tipped the tow truck guys for AAA calls. I've never gotten one of the actual AAA trucks, always from a local garage. And they've always been nice guys, in the days before cell phones, they'd find me a pay phone so I could arrange a ride if I was away from my home town, and if it was one of the home town guys, they'd even drop me at my house if they had time. They've always been great guys who went above and beyond what they had to do, even if I wasn't going to their home garage.

Mithras
03-10-2014, 12:07 PM
I've never considered tipping a tow truck driver but now I'll probably be wondering if the guy's expecting it during any future tow. I'd have a hard time tipping even if I wanted to, though. I have cash on me less than half the time and I've never had a car warn me that it was going to have an emergency far enough in advance to rectify that.

nevadaexile
03-10-2014, 12:11 PM
I tip the driver when it's a long tow (>50 miles) but I rarely do so for an in-town tow unless the driver is very helpful or something about towing my vehicle is very difficult ( my vehicle and several others had all of our tires slashed in a parking lot and the driver had a hard time getting my car onto a flatbed tow truck. I gave him $10 for his efforts)

It's a matter of choice. If you feel that that he/she deserves a tip, then do so. It's not an obligation.

aceplace57
03-10-2014, 01:55 PM
I feel better that I didn't tip him. If I get a flat switched out again then I'll tip $10. Just because it's more work for the guy then just towing.

At first he just wanted to aid air and I objected because the tire shop I use is 16 miles away. Wasn't sure how fast the tire would deflate. Turns out I had a 1 inch cut in the tire. Must of been a hunk of metal. Nails don't make a gash like that.

$160 for a new General Grabber HTS tire (mounting and balance). my van uses 235/75R15's. light truck tires. ouch. hurts replacing one of those.

Unauthorized Cinnamon
03-10-2014, 03:02 PM
Typically it wouldn't occur to me, but I did give the guy a big tip last weekend because he had to brave the TERRIFYING HELLSCAPE that is Glenwood Avenue by the mall on a Saturday.

As I age, I tend to tip more often and more generously. What's a few bucks to me, when I'm in a position of trying to decide whether to take just the two or bump it up to three vacations this year?

gigi
03-10-2014, 03:16 PM
I tipped the last guy because he spent an hour trying to get my car out. He was from a local shop and knew I was using AAA. To me, the AAA dues plus tip are still way less than a normal tow would be. I had my father give it to him and he said the driver seemed surprised. Maybe it's a Yankee thing not to tip??

RTFirefly
03-10-2014, 03:17 PM
Never heard of tipping the tow-truck driver.

I've said this before (probably ad nauseum), but this is my main problem with tipping: keeping track of all the different tipping situations and proper amounts. In a restaurant, I'm a good tipper: 20% as a floor for anything except genuinely abysmal service, and I'll go into the 30s for good service at a place I frequent. So I've got nothing against tipping.

But I've got other things to think about besides keeping track of where you're supposed to tip, and how much. If you were landed gentry in 19th century England, knowing that stuff was part of your job, since you didn't have a real job. But I have a real job, and a complicated life, and I know to tip in a few frequently recurring situations - restaurants, the pizza delivery guy, my hairdresser, the skycap at the airport. Everyone else is on their own.

panache45
03-10-2014, 04:29 PM
The first time I called AAA, I had locked myself out of the car. The weather was horrible, but didn't involve towing. I tipped the guy, and he took it without batting an eye. Then after asking around (including here), I learned that people don't usually tip, especially for just getting into the car. So I stopped tipping. If the guy ever does something really extraordinary, I'll tip, but not for routine assistance.

astro
03-10-2014, 05:05 PM
The first time I called AAA, I had locked myself out of the car. The weather was horrible, but didn't involve towing. I tipped the guy, and he took it without batting an eye. Then after asking around (including here), I learned that people don't usually tip, especially for just getting into the car. So I stopped tipping. If the guy ever does something really extraordinary, I'll tip, but not for routine assistance.

IMO tipping is appropriate f he does some real labor or it's nasty out when he is doing the work.

As a side note tow drivers (or more specifically the business owners) on AAA contracts do not get that much per tow. It's a constant complaint in the tow industry. Do you take the AAA (or other auto service) tow contract and the bundle of requirements involved and get the volume with the fixed relatively low per tow rates, or do you avoid that work? The auto services have very sharp pencils.

randompattern
03-10-2014, 05:15 PM
Why would someone tip a waitress just for bringing them food? When someone does actual real labor for you of course you tip them! I know I'll hear the argument that waitresses don't make much hourly. Why would you assume a tow truck driver, or the guy that delivers your appliances, etc. is making great money and doesn't count?

Lsura
03-10-2014, 06:09 PM
I did for the tow guy who found me in New Orleans, when I was reading the nearest cross streets from my phone map, had no power in my car, so no hazards when it was after dark. He also towed me to the firestone closest to my hotel AND the convention center, so I could manage to get it fixed and still do the conference stuff I had to do.

For jump starts, generally not.

kanicbird
03-10-2014, 08:10 PM
Why would someone tip a waitress just for bringing them food? When someone does actual real labor for you of course you tip them! I know I'll hear the argument that waitresses don't make much hourly. Why would you assume a tow truck driver, or the guy that delivers your appliances, etc. is making great money and doesn't count?

This argument sort of falls apart on it's own weight. If a person has a one person company and charges what the job is worth for the labor contracted for, there is no room in that for a tip.

Where this falls on that spectrum I don't know.

boytyperanma
03-10-2014, 10:24 PM
I'm not all that consistent on this. It more depends on how poor I am feeling due to whatever caused me to call in the first place. So if my car is going to need major work I don't feel as generous. If I locked my keys in my car and they solve the problem quickly I'm likely to tip 5 bucks.

Of the two truck drivers I know their opinion is more along the lines 'it's cool when I get a tip, but I don't hold it against people that don't. Their opinion changes a bit when they get called out in a blizzard, put exceptional effort into helping the person and don't get a tip.

randompattern
03-10-2014, 11:05 PM
This argument sort of falls apart on it's own weight. If a person has a one person company and charges what the job is worth for the labor contracted for, there is no room in that for a tip.

Where this falls on that spectrum I don't know.

Where did I mention a one person company? I was simply stating that assuming someone is already being paid enough for what they're doing isn't really being fair.

JohnGalt
03-10-2014, 11:44 PM
Just this last weekend, my car broke down on a busy US Highway Saturday afternoon. AAA sent a local truck in 15 minutes, he loaded my AWD VW on a flatbed and drove to the dealer 3 miles away. It wasn't a huge task for him, but I did tip him $10 at the end.

Why? Because it's he provided a much-appreciated service in a timely and efficient manner, satisfying a need that I had at that time. I appreciated that and showed that appreciation with a tip.

Green Bean
03-10-2014, 11:49 PM
Wait...people don't tip the guy who comes when you call AAA? I always do, and I will continue to do so.


I've said this before (probably ad nauseum), but this is my main problem with tipping: keeping track of all the different tipping situations and proper amounts.Oh please, it's not that hard.

48Willys
03-11-2014, 03:58 AM
Way back in the day, I worked for a wrecking yard and went on about 1/2 of the calls. I was pleasantly surprised when I got a tip. Most of the calls I went on involved a major traffic accident with the drivers and passengers either going to the hospital or the morgue. On the few occasions that someone was still around when I towed the rig, they were so upset that I was lucky if they could remember where I was supposed to tow the rig to. When I was their ride back into town, by the time we got back to town, they usually had their acts together enough to tell me where they wanted to go. Most of these gave me a tip. I really did not care about the tip. I was just happy that they were OK enough to ride with me and not the other guys.

Our yard was way out of town, so we got very few minor calls. Minor calls being flat tires, dead batteries, or they locked themselves out of their cars. We did get some tips from them. We did not do repo work.

mandala
03-11-2014, 06:06 AM
I usually do not tip, but if the person fixing my car is a hot blonde chick, then I might.... tip. :D

elbows
03-11-2014, 08:48 AM
If they turn up especially quickly, if the weather is especially foul, if the tow involves something especially challenging, if they give me a ride into town, if they are especially pleasant to deal with, I might tip them.

On a sunny day, just a jumpstart, takes them 35mins to turn up, refuses me a lift into town, or is surly or rude? I'm not going to tip.

I don't feel obligated to tip a tow truck driver. But I would if I got especially good service.

kayaker
03-11-2014, 10:01 AM
I recently called AAA because of a flat tire combined with an injury that temporarily left me unable to use my left arm (sling). Feeling helpless, I figured I could still get the spare out. Successful with that, I got out the lug wrench and got the nuts loosened a bit. Then jacked up the car. And got the flat off.

It was actually embarrassing when he showed up. He tightened down the wheel, chatted a bit, and stowed the flat and tools. In two minutes I was ready to roll. I didn't tip.

RTFirefly
03-11-2014, 01:56 PM
Wait...people don't tip the guy who comes when you call AAA? I always do, and I will continue to do so.

Oh please, it's not that hard.Sure it is. Seems every so often I come across the mention of some tipping situation that I never dreamed would be one. You can't keep track of the 'unknown unknowns.'

ETA: And you really can't keep track of how to tip in situations you only encounter once every 5-10 years, usually without warning. Most tipping situations fall into this category. And all of a sudden you're thinking, "I should tip this person. How much? How the hell do I know? When was I last in this situation? Oh yeah, New Orleans, 2007. I had no idea what to do then, either."

mhendo
03-11-2014, 04:08 PM
If a person has a one person company and charges what the job is worth for the labor contracted for, there is no room in that for a tip.

But how do you define what a job is "worth"?

Value is, to a considerable extent, a subjective thing. I think, for example, that people who work as house cleaners should be paid a fair wage for the work they do. What would be a fair wage for a house cleaner, however, is more than i am willing to pay, so i don't have a house cleaner.

What is the value of the labor contracted for, in a case like this? How do you determine this? Is it simply your own sense of what is fair, or is there some objective calculation that we can do in order to determine what constitutes the "worth" of any particular task?I was simply stating that assuming someone is already being paid enough for what they're doing isn't really being fair.But, at the same time, why is it up the the customer to determine, by guessing, what might or might not be a fair payment?

I think, for example, that it would be fair if the minimum wage were raised for people working at supermarket checkouts. Does that mean that i should tip those people every time i go to Safeway? Why should i be forced to engage in on-the-spot speculation about a person's income, especially in an industry where i really have no prior knowledge at all about pay and conditions? For all i know, the guy i just gave a $20 tip might own is own business and be making a six-figure income; or he might be on minimum wage.

Hell, even if i move away from minimum-wage work and look at my own area of employment, i could see an argument for tipping. There are literally thousands of highly-educated college instructors in this nation working as adjunct professors, without any security of employment or benefits. In some cases, those people (many of whom hold PhDs, and almost all of whom have at least a Masters) are paid as little as $2000 to teach a semester-length class of 40 or 50 students. And all this happens in a context of constantly rising student fees, where the universities and colleges ask their "customers" to pay more and more every year.

Should students be required to tip their underpaid adjunct professors? If not, why not? The professors are providing a service in pretty much the same way that a tow-truck driver, or a waiter, or a hairdresser is providing a service.

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