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Take-Out Etiquette... [moved from Texas board]

Hello all,
This weekend I had an experience with an Uptown Dallas pizza place where I walked in and ordered a pizza as take-out. When I paid for the pizza, I did not add a tip since I was not dining in, and it was not delivery. I used to work in the food service industry and never expected tips where additional service was not performed. Is this still the case?

The reason I ask is because this morning while reviewing my bank statement I see that the pizza place added a nice 20% tip for themselves. In my mind, this is stealing from me. Am I right? Or should I have tipped, and they were only "righting" my wrong?

Thanks so much!

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  1. I seem to recall a restauranteur (sp?) posting within the past couple of months that the credit card processing automatically authorizes the payment plus tip, although that might not be what will actually be charged? ah yes:


    So... perhaps they didn't help themselves to a tip, as you suspect?

    If they actually did, then you would be right. But I think it's unlikely that they did.

    1. Thanks, abowes- I looked at the post you linked. I will give it a couple more days to see if the amount on my online bank statement is adjusted. In the meantime, I am still curious if not tipping for take-out is okay.

      1. I used to agree with you on it. I've since changed my mind and here's why. Someone is taking the time to package every thing up. Granted, with a pizza, it may be as simple as sliding it into a box and cutting it, but often with take out, there are several boxes or other packages; many times anything liquid is put in a plastic bag so it won't leak. Small condiment containers are frequently taped shut.....long story short, someone is making some effort. So, i don't tip at the same level as if I were dining in the restaurant, and I don't tip at the same level as for delivery (for obvious reasons) but I do add a bit (I'm thinking usually around 8 or 10% since I often glance at the tax line for a starting point) or I just round up and leave $5. I will say that in terms of karma, its seemed to work out nicely. most people don't tip for takeout and so those that do seem to stand out. We've always been treated very nicely at the restaurants where I've done this. Of course, part of that is that we also try to be nice to people, so maybe that helps too :).

        3 Replies
        1. re: ccbweb

          The "someone" who package everything up is usually someone in the kitchen or the front counter. A waiter is very unlikely that someone.

          1. re: PeterL

            I'm sure that you're correct. Didn't say that I tipped the waiter since the waiter is also not normally the person rining up my check. The person at the front counter is the likely candidate for "someone" and is also the person most likely to get my tip.

          2. re: ccbweb

            in my part of the country, (NE), oftentimes the weather is so nasty, i'd rather tip the delivery guy who is taking his life in his hands by driving on icy or rainy roads, or it might be 5 below and i just don't want to go outside... i think this service is actually more valuable than good table service inside the restaurant... tip the pizza man, please; btw, i have no vested interest.

          3. I think tipping for take out is along the lines of tipping at the local coffee shop. Some people do, some dont, it's not expected, but I'm sure is appreciated. Along the lines of what ccbweb just said, I usually leave about 10% (which is nearly always b/t $2 and $4 where I get take out). I like doing so, but I doubt everyone does or that the stafff counts on it.

            1. Having worked in restaurants for many years, I can say that I never expected a tip on a take out order. It was a great bonus if they did, but certainly not a given.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mojoeater

                A-men! I agree with you. When serving I always just thought of take out as just another one of the job duties and didn't expect a tip on it since I wasn't waiting on them.

              2. If a person thinks it is morally right to tip for take out then I guess we will all have to tip at places like Mcdonalds, Carls Jr, etc. Not me.

                3 Replies
                1. re: malibumike

                  While I'm not about to argue that people at McDonalds, etc, are being paid well, they're actually being paid more per hour than waitstaff at a takeout joint. Minimum wages are much lower for waitstaff because they are expected to get tips, that's how they make their living. So, I think there is a completely reasonable argument to be made that one should tip the waitperson at your local take-out Thai spot and need not tip at McDonalds.

                  1. re: malibumike

                    who said anything about it being "morally right"?

                    1. re: nc213

                      Good point. Morality has nothing to do with it. Being polite, decent...

                  2. Couple of points. There are several types of restos that have pizza to-go from your neighborhood pizzeria to high-enders that have schmanzy pizza.

                    - Take out from a pizzeria is not on my list for a tip because that is their main biz and not anticipated, although they usually have that tip jar at the counter anyways and I may leave something depending on the mood, but not often (usually is if know the cashier is a friend of a little jfood.
                    - Ordering a pizza from a mid-level that has pizza, burgers, sandwiches, etc, I may leave a buck or two, but it's more how i feel at the moment
                    - Ordering a pizza from a high-ender is probably more common in my book. Sometimes I'll order a pizza and mrs jfood a chicken and i'll tip on the whole tab (usually 10-15%) as a courtesy to the staff who is packing. They seem more appreciative to this than many servers I have seen.

                    WRT the 20%, why wait, pick up the phone and call the resto and ask. It may be the "hold" that has been described elsewhere and I hope that's the case. If not you will have to call anyway if it does not disappear.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jfood

                      I think that makes sense; though in my case I almost never get takeout from the pizzerias, its always delivery, so of course I tip there. I also almost never order pizza from higher end place as mrs ccbweb is a fan of pizzeria pizza. But I expect, were I to order pizzas as you do, that I'd probably tip as you do also.

                    2. I think the whole tipping situation has gotten out of hand. I absolutely hate the proliferation of "tip cups" you see everywhere these days - they've multiplied like rabbits and I think are meant to put pressure on the customers to leave something. I'm sorry but when I go into Dunkin' Donuts and order a coffee I don't leave a tip. Why? THAT'S THEIR JOB! They're pouring me a cup of coffee that I'm paying for. I'm the customer, and I have to pay a gratuity to get something I bought? I don't think so. My Chinese takeout just started with the tip cup and started using the AMEX receipt with the tip line included (previously the receipt did not have a tip line). This is for takeout only, no seating. Sorry, no tip.If I knew the tip was going to the cooks maybe I'd think differently, but I leave a tip when/where I want to, not because I'm supposed to. The pubs in England have it right - no tipping allowed, and you get great service regardless.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Vint1955

                        My Chinese takeout place has a tip line on the charge recipt - if you get your food delivered and charge it, you can also charge the tip. They're not going to set up separate charge systems for delivery and takeout. Don't read too much into it.

                        I can see the tip jar being annoying, but I never feel obligated to use it. I do throw some money in when I feel it's warranted. For instance when I pick up 5-dozen donuts for the office during the morning crunch. I know I'm a jerk. I left $5 in the tip cup...I hope that makes up for it some :-)

                        1. re: Vint1955

                          I wonder, when a tip is automatically added to a credit card charge, whether the cook or the slicer/boxer or both or neither gets the money -- or whether the owner just sees it as additional profit.

                          1. re: ClaireWalter

                            I'm not generally aware of places that automatically include a tip on a credit card (except for large parties) - there may be some, but they're not the norm.

                            Many credit card _holds_ when you charge something at a restaurant now regularly include an extra 20% to reflect the fact that a tip is probably going to be added to a restaurant bill. That's because the server or bartender or whoever swipes your card and the only amount available to charge is the total food/drink with tax. In many places, though, you then add a tip at the table. That amount is not reconciled until later that night or the next day when the final numbers are all entered into the credit card machine (is it ZAN machine?). So, the automatically included part is a "hold" not an actual charge. The better credit card banks will have the hold amount shift to the actual charge amount quite quickly, of course, not all of them are better.

                          2. re: Vint1955


                            I am getting so sick and tired of people acting like a tip is a RIGHT rather than what it really is, a GRATUITY!! As I have pointed out before, everyone would be OUTRAGED if your local trash company announced that they were cutting their trashmen's wages and along with your normal cost of trash service every month, YOU had to directly pay the trashmen extra money to cover their pay!! But for some reason, it has become expected that along with the posted cost of food that we pay 20% extra just for the honor of eating in their establishment no matter how good, bad, or nonexistent the service.
                            I am not against tipping. I grew up with my grandmother owning restaurants and bars. My first "real" job was in a restaurant. I spent a number of years living in Reno NV, a service-based economy. I tip at a buffet (up to 20% if they keep my drink full and plates cleared) but I'll be damned if someone is going to force me to pay a tip when I decide it's not warranted!

                          3. I think you should call the place and ask. You don't pay a tip on a take out pizza anymore than you tip your grocery store for putting food on the shelf.

                            1. I only tip for restaurant take-out if the person getting it ready has been really good about the extras. (ranch, napkins, cutlery, parmesan etc.) If yes I'll definitely throw a couple bucks their way.

                              1. First off Vint, nobody ever has to tip for anything. If you feel guilty not tipping, that's your issue, not the restaurant's. Nobody is making you tip by putting out a tip cup.

                                However, in Britain and most of Europe, bartenders, baristas and other such professionals are treated as professionals and paid accordingly. Here, if they didn't have tip income, they'd be well below poverty line. So for them to "have it right" that Dunkin Donuts coffee would need to be about another $0.50 more expensive, or maybe $1.00 to cover the universal health benefits. You OK with that?

                                As for the "packaging", I own a foodservice business. The cost of take out paper/plastic is already in the cost of goods and reflected in the price. So everyone is paying for it. That's standard practice, so no need to feel guilty about that and no need to tip for it.

                                That might bring up the question whether "to go" orders should carry an extra charge..

                                For me, if I'm chatting up the PBTC while waiting for my order and if s/he asks if I want a drink or something while waiting, I'll toss in a buck. But for a hit-and-run pizza pickup, nada.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                  In the US, people who work in "retail food" type jobs (fast food, counter service, etc) do get paid on the same minimum-wage scale as everyone else. My ex-girlfriend worked at Starbucks around 1999 and her starting hourly rate was $8/hour. I don't feel bad about not tipping there.

                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                    Panini, I never said anything about feeling guilty about not tipping, mainly because I don't.My point was that I do think other people are intimidated to leave a tip when they see a tip cup, and that they seem to have popped up everywhere, such as Dunkin' Donuts, whereas in the past you never saw them. Also, I agree with your remarks about the profession in Europe, but your remarks about covering the cost of universal health benefits would not just apply to take out but to everyone, since benefits would be universal, so the price of all services would be higher. I am interested in your remarks about an extra charge for take out. If the cost of paper/plastic is already included in the cost of the meal, why should there be an extra charge for take out? Seems like double dipping to me.

                                    1. re: Panini Guy

                                      [Quote] First off Vint, nobody ever has to tip for anything. If you feel guilty not tipping, that's your issue, not the restaurant's. [/Quote]

                                      You have obviously missed the posts here about restaurants automatically adding tips to checks for parties of one or two. It happens.

                                      [Quote] Here, if they didn't have tip income, they'd be well below poverty line. So for them to "have it right" that Dunkin Donuts coffee would need to be about another $0.50 more expensive, or maybe $1.00 to cover the universal health benefits. You OK with that? [/Quote]

                                      Uh, what's the difference?? $0.50-$1.00 more or them begging for a 20% tip? BTW, we don't have Universal Healthcare in the U.S., we're smart enough not to trust the government to run our healthcare.

                                    2. I don't usually tip on take out unless someone's gone above and beyond, or some such. It's my understanding that the kitchen doesn't share in tips, just the servers. When I've ordered take out, I haven't used the servers' services at all.

                                      Someone in the industry, please correct me if I'm wrong about the kitchen not getting tips. I might revisit my approach!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: amyzan

                                        It is not uncommon for servers to share their tips with bartenders, bus boys, and even cooks. Each restaurant has its own policies, and a lot of it is up to the individual server.

                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                          We (the servers) tip out the kitchen (against our will, typically) for large caterings and private parties. In the restaurant I work at, the takeout orders are all rung up under a dummy number, so if you leave a tip on your credit card slip it goes to the owners. So if you want to ensure you're tipping someone specific, hand them cash.

                                          Vint, placing a tip jar or providing a tip line doesn't compel you to tip. There is no moral obligation to tip someone at Dunkin Donuts. However, I fail to see how giving someone your change or leaving a couple of bucks at a takeout place hurts anyone, so I usually toss some change in. Paying the gods of tipping karma, I guess.

                                          1. re: jnstarla

                                            I agree on the tipping karma. Plus, at our DD, we only go about once a week; but the servers know our coffee preferences, and the manager (or maybe owner, we're not sure) always says "Hi, guys." They did this before the tip cup appeared, and at least now we have some way to say thank you for good service.

                                      2. i think its subjective. One can always ask who gets the tip if that matters to you. I used to bartend in a restaurant, where it was the bartender's responsibility to handle all aspects of the take-out order. From taking the order, turning it in to the kitchen, to boxing it up, ect. This was an Italian restaurant, so we included bread and oil for dipping. Yes was part of my job, but I was getting paid just over $2.00 an hour, so a tip was appreciated. Did i expect 20%? of course not, but a few dollars was always welcome. I now work in a restaurant where the kitchen boxes up to-go orders. This is a smaller establishment. Any tips left for takeout orders here we give to the kitchen. Its never a lot, but usually enough for a beer or two at the end of the shift, and they certainly appreciate that.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: bethd127

                                          on orders say at the Thai place, I tip out, because here in T.O. i know that servers are more than likely being asked to tip out to the bartender, dishwasher etc.. based on their sales. So they shouldn't have to actually PAY for my take-out.
                                          Pizza- I don't generally tip take out, it is a pretty easy thing to slide the dang thing in a box. If it was a big order I'd go ahead and tip just for the PIA factor.

                                          1. re: bethd127

                                            My favorite local pizzeria is a sit down joint that does a lot of take out business. The first time I picked up a pizza there, I paid on credit card and did tip them because not only did they carefully pack the well-cheesed and topped pizza by adding four little garlic rolls to the box to keep the lid from sitting right on the cheese, they also gave us an extra pizza because the first one they made was cooked just the tiniest bit more than they planned. They didn't want to throw away the first pizza and offered it to us for free (or rather, just said they were giving it to us for free). By the way, the first pizza was only just slightly more golden on the top than usual. It was still delicious and most pizzerias I would be willing to bet would have just sold it as usual. Anyway, I did write in a 20% tip that time (the total was only $25.00, so basically a $5 tip). The next time I went to pick up pizza, they made a point of requesting that I NOT tip them. I'm not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with their accounting. I did ask if cash was preferable and they said it was not necessary. Just my personal experience for reference...

                                            Great pizza place, by the way, if you live in Dallas and have had your heart broken by yet another bad chain pizza. Try it - Sam's Pizza off Danieldale and 67 in Duncanville. It may be a drive, but well worth it. Best Sicilian I have had since leaving Boston. The management and staff are incredible as well.

                                            1. re: Nestra

                                              I do takeout in a restaurant that is primarily dine in. I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that your takeout person is paying taxes on their sales assuming that people are tipping them off of their order. I pay taxes on money I don't always make- and no you may not tip a store clerk but that clerk's hourly wage is not decided assuming that a person will tip them. Is a 20% tip needed on takeout? No. If your order is ready when it's supposed to be and your service is good- some token of appreciation is nice (although laying down a quarter is probably worse than no tip unless you are putting it in a jar). I know all my regular's names whether they tip or not (probably 100 people) but the ones who get highest priority in a rush? The ones who help pay my bills. I always give good service but the people who get great service are the ones that act appreciative for the amount of work that actually goes in to preparing their order. I don't expect a tip but I do appreciate it, and even if you don't tip- be respectful, I have to be.

                                          2. Well when restaurants run credit cards they always run them for an amount higher than the food cost. To account for the tip. So when they post the tip the charge will not be declined. When the charge posts it should post for the amount that you signed.

                                            As far as tipping on take out it really depends on the type restaurant and the city the restaurant is located in. The more sit down a place is the more likely it is that you should tip. Take out is usually handled by the bartender.

                                            Previously I never tipped on take out. Then someone explained it to me. You are paying for a service. You care calling in and asking for them to prep your order and have it waiting for you.

                                            I certainly do not think you should tip 20 percent for take out, I mean otherwise you should just eat it there. However I do think that you should tip about 10 percent for the take out. And remember most take out orders include things like make sure it has ketchup but no mayo, etc.

                                            It is a service and a convenience and you should pay for it unless this restaurant is an all or majority take out place, in which case it would be expected. In urban areas it is more expected that there should be a tip for take out.