How much do YOU tip food delivery people?

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Tip jar at Tillie's in Ft. Greene. Via Flickr user Emily C.

When you dine out or give in to the desperate necessity of delivery, it means you’re going to be spending extra hard-earned money: the markup at restaurants, delivery fees and, of course, gratuity. Many of us have been (or are) on the other side of fence, and we know: it sucks to get stiffed for all your hard work. Williamsburg delivery guy Larry Fox thought so too, and started a blog chronicling all the poor tippers he has encountered. Tumblr made him remove the personal addresses, but now he uses street names to shame bad tippers. He also fields questions from all sides in arguments about tipping, the state of the serving industry, and personal habits.

So we want to know: what’s your standard for tipping delivery people? If you order via Seamlessweb or Grubhub, do you leave more of a tip on your card because it’s easier?  Does a delivery person get a bigger tip if the weather is nasty? Or is it the system that pays sub-minimum wage that ruins it all? What about the recession — is that a valid excuse? Share your thoughts below (or make it anonymous if you’re ashamed of your cheapskatery)!

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  1. As cabs tend to (annoyingly) charge more when the weather is nasty, you should for sure (justly) tip your delivery person more in the same situation. Remember that they’re saving you the trouble of getting blizzarded or monsooned on.

    Also, the recession should NEVER effect how well you tip. If you cannot afford to be provided a service, do not request the service at all. Always have enough for at the very, very least a 15% tip, though 20% is standard.

    This is someone’s livelihood in the name of your luxury. Don’t screw them on it.

  2. As someone who’s worked extensively in the service industry, awareness is the most important thing. It frustrates me to no end to see perfectly comfortable (money-wise) folk getting out their calculators on their phones to make sure that they don’t overtip. Tipping is a gesture. Unless, you punch me in the face, I will always tip 20% or more. I also firmly believe that every human being should work in the service industry at some point in their lives.

    • That is a pretty ignorant comment. Why should everyone have to work in the service industry? If one chooses to do that job, good for them. It would be a waste of time for people who have skills in other areas. It would also be a waste for the world. Live with your decisions; others do not have to.

      • Because it teaches you to be humble, and to appreciate people who are stuck doing these jobs. Skills or no, it’s a life experience that people high and low should have under their belts.

  3. I get the sense that New Yorkers are usually fairly generous tippers, but I’m not sure why: Is it because we eat out so much? Or have such generous compassion for those hard-working service industry folks who are doing the same jobs we all did at one point? I’ve never been at a table where we’ve left less than 20 percent. And more often than not, I see two dollar bills fall on the bar as a tip rather than one. If you’re not planning to tip decently, why bother going out or ordering in? Cook your own food because it’s cheaper anyway.

  4. One problem is that a bad tip is usually meant to imply bad service/food/whatever. Instead, it is interpreted as “bad tipper.” If you have a problem with the food or service, it’s best to mention something to someone (server or manager) so they are aware of the problem instead of thinking you’re a schmuck.

    All that said, tipping has become an undocumented entitlement in that you’re expected to pay it even though it wasn’t outlined in the price or in your order.

  5. As a service industry professional, I have to echo Sarah Bibi. Anytime someone performs a service for me, I tip them 20%. That includes people who do my laundry, manicurists, hair stylists, and tattoo artists. My only exceptions to this rule and car services and taxis. Car service employees set their own prices, so I don’t always tip them. And I’ve had some very awful cabbies in my life, including one who I made pull over because he kept falling asleep. Patrons of the restaurant where I work are usually generous, tourists being the exceptions. They don’t tip at all or will leave 10% in change. Don’t pretend like you don’t know our rule! Every guidebook says you are supposed to tip service employees. We aren’t dumb, you idiots! We know you are just being cheap.

  6. Restaurants I always tip minimum 20%, standard. Exemplary performance is definitely rewarded. As for delivery guys, anywhere from 10-15% on a normal day. If its so shitty out that I know I don’t want to leave to get food, I give him plenty, nearly 25%.

    Having worked in the service industry for many many years, I understand the value of that extra dollar. The difference between 5 or 6 dollars, 10 or 11 dollars is big. Not just in adding up, but in appreciation. So when my bill comes and I’m trying to figure out how much to leave, if I look down in my wallet and see two bucks left over, I give it to them, because in the end that two dollars is worth way more to them than it is to me. Otherwise, don’t eat out.

  7. In Australia, wait and bar staff make between $15 and $20 per hour, with any (minimal) tips on top of that being a perk. I appreciate generous tippers here in the States now that I’m waitressing here, but I don’t really understand why the service industry is allowed to foist their employees’ salaries on the customers. Doesn’t it make more sense to just charge what the food/drink/haircut is worth and then pay your staff from the profits?

  8. In general, I agree with Alison– who thought this system up? It’s stupid.

    That aside, I try to always tip 15-20% because I’ve been there.

    However, as a waitress I knew that if it was a super busy day and there were tables I just couldn’t get to quickly or couldn’t serve well, I NEVER expected 15-20% in those instances. I always saw gratuity as a reward for good to excellent service, and if my service was sub-par, I expected to get very little or nothing.

    I’d like to help support struggling servers no matter what, but I myself am struggling so the fact that I’m dining out means it’s a treat! So if I’m not taken care of in the meal, the tip will be smaller. It’s simple. Like anything, if you’re good at your job, you should be rewarded.

    Also, tip the FreshDirect guys, the company takes any tip you put on the card!

  9. exactly! that’s what I always tell people. Why do you need calculators/tip charts/math when you can just not be a jerk and multiple the total by 2? Also, thanks for introducing me to the word “dyscalculia.”

  10. I’m a solid 20% tipper – more if you’re extraordinary at your job, less (and a complaint to the management) if you suck. For delivery, you get 20% for regular weather, 25-30% if it’s pouring/a nor-easter/a blizzard.

    I’m a licensed massage therapist and anything less than a 20% tip off the original price of the service gets me in a huff. I train and work very hard to undo the damage that you do to yourself; that’s what you hire me to do, and I take great care to always be at the top of my game, no matter if you’re a Trump or a Bean.

    Let’s say the Deep Tissue Massage is $130/hr at a decent spa in the city. The therapist performing that service sees an average of 30-35% of what the spa charges you – the rest goes to the spa. So, if you see a sale on services for 20% off, my take home pay also gets reduced by 20% – if I don’t like it, I can quit.

    Now, just because the spa puts the service on sale, doesn’t mean that I give you any less of a massage than the originally priced one! Tip me as you would if you were there any other time! Spa Week took a huge chunk out of my normal rate of pay – our spa dropped the price from $130 to $50 for a 50 minute Deep Tissue. They did me a big favor and payed me $30 per session ($9 less than normal!). My clients that week were AWFUL tippers! $5 or $10 per session! Normally, my take home is $39/session + $26 tip = $65/hr.) Sure, we were booked solid, but at an average of $40/hr (including tip), I worked twice as much for 30% LESS. The promoters of Spa Week KNOW this is a big issue, and even gave us little cards to hand to our guests (how tacky!) reminding them that the therapists, estheticians and nail techs should be tipped off the ORIGINAL price of the service, rather than the sale price. Those notices did no good at all!

    On behalf of everyone who keeps you looking good, feeling good, well fed and well travelled, please, when you’re in the USA, tip 20% of the original price (CASH PREFERRED)! The tradition of tipping is not going anywhere, much like the English system of weights and measures. We are different here – service people are payed substandard wages in the hopes that they will do better jobs with increased tips as their reward. We don’t get decent, livable wages, nor do we follow the metric system. Yes, it’s an inaccurate way to live, but it’s what we’ve got.

  11. I had a $13 delivery order last night and I tipped $5. I did it because I was grateful they deliver far to me… from Fulton & Washington to Nostrand & Madison. I feel like I over-tipped tho.

  12. can we please just have mandatory living wages in this country? it’s pathetic that a waiter’s ability to pay his rent at the end of the month depends on my good humor. american exceptionalism, my arse.

  13. In response to the comment about a bad tip implying bad service, not a bad tipper:
    I’ve had many tables give me a “verbal tip” (“You were great!”, “Great service, thanks!” etc.) but they leave 10%. That’s not bad service, that’s a bad tipper. And while the tip isn’t included in advertised prices, you’re still expected to pay it, just like the tax that isn’t included. It’s just that the tip is left at your discretion so you can reward service that’s above and beyond, or make a statement about how the service was bad. 20% is definitely the standard. 15% if the server does the bare minimum, and 10% or less if they eff up a lot or are rude.

  14. I wasn’t mentioning the pay rates elsewhere in the hopes of changing the system here. It works ok. It’s just that I find it strange that the employer ends up hardly paying for his/her employees.
    Also, I have found that daytime diners (breakfast, brunch and lunchers) pay a lot less gratuity than evening diners. I don’t know why this is, but I can make more than double my daytime tips on any given evening, which complicates matters for the person doing scheduling at a restaurant/cafe.

  15. I tip between 15% and 20% depending — never below 15%, but 20% is for good service – not the norm.

    Also, for delivery, it is 15% or $2 – which ever is more – unless the weather is bad. If the weather is bad I tip more like 20% – 25%. I appreciate the bad weather.

    That’s for food though. For haircuts, nails, etc. I tip closer to 10% — I pay a lot and I (believe?) think that they are paid a better living wage than servers/delivery people. 15% near the holidays, etc. since I go all the time to the same people.

    For drinks, it’s $1 per drink – but I’m just a beer drinker. A $6 beer has a 17% tip with that $1 — a $4 beer during happy hour gets a 25% tip. If I get a cocktail it’s $2. If it’s a simple mixed drink (rum and coke, etc.) it’s still just $1.

  16. I still do not know where this 20% came from. It used to be in NY that you doubled the tax, which put you at 16% an you’d often round up the tax before doing so. So that might bring it to 17-18%? Where did restaurants and restaurant employees get this notion that we should be paying 20%?

    I double the tax for sit down service, full service. If I think they were over and above, I give a bit more.

    I usually give 5% for delivery service. I do not get delivery very often, but it doesn’t seem logical to give the same proportion to some who guide me through a meal – offering food and wine suggestions, etc – as for someone who serves as a runner, but outside of the restaurant.

  17. To be honest, I tend to avoid situations in which there is a need to tip outside of bartenders and restaurant waiters. In other words, I don’t get delivery and I try to avoid table service at bars. For those I do tip: $1/drink for beer, $2 for a complex mixed drink, %20 for food. These don’t change if the items in question are more expensive, i.e. I still tip $1 a beer even if the beer is $12. Occasionally I will up the tip for mixed drinks at expensive bars.

    As for this Tumblr: he fails to answer the most important question of all, which is to say how much of the delivery fee goes to the delivery person on average. As a result it’s just griping and hearsay, neither of which we need more of in BK.

    Finally, I calculate 20% by dividing by 5, which is a lot easier to do in my head than moving decimals around.

  18. I like being able to tip on my card via Seamlessweb or grubhub, but there’s a problem with a presumptive tip. Like the time I ordered falafels during a poker game and then had to wait 2 hours for delivery. If I have cash, I’ll withhold tip until actual delivery from now on.

  19. I hate to break it to you, but deliverymen are not waiters, they are bus boys. In no way shape or form should a deliveryman get a percentage of the order cost. My standard tip to a deliveryman is $2 and I will bump it up to $3 for a larger order. When the weather is nasty then I tip $5. These guys who think they’re waiters need a dose of reality (which I’m sure they get when they make their deliveries)

  20. Yes, deliverypersons are not full-service waiters. I tip a floor of $3, or 10%, whichever is more and especially if it’s raining. FD gets $1/box. Emotional entreaties about people’s livelihoods don’t affect the issue. People who pay 20% over everything are only doing themselves a disservice over time.

    I find the whole tipping system to be stupid. All things being equal, except at the top-most scale, a $10 entree doesn’t take more effort than a $20 entree. My glass of water is only vaguely less work to deliver on than a bottle of beer. And I DEFINITELY don’t find the argument that a restaurant subsidize staffing during less-busy times by not paying a living wage. Close down, for god’s sakes.

    How about I reasonably expect everyone does a good job of serving/cooking/busing, the restaurant charges me 15-20% more, and I decide not to go back (and complain on public forums) if they failed to not suck at their collective job?

    The worst is tipping ‘creep’ into nearly every aspect of consumer life, and the idea that we as customers should find such a compelling advantage to socially-enforced wage subsidy that we’d be indifferent to this happening. The idea of ‘better’ service for extra money is fundamentally broken in its premise.

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