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Nov 25, 2008 02:58 PM

Tipping Food Delivery

We order out a lot for delivery and I was wondering if I tip correctly. My take-out bills range from $30 to $60 and I usually tip $5-$7. Is that reasonable? I mean usually the guy is just walking down the street with a bag.

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  1. I'd up the top end to $10 but you are definitely in the ballpark.

    1. usually 15% so in your range jfood would give $5 on the 30 and $10 on the 60.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        I guess I haven't been tipping as much on price as I was on how cumbersome the package was. I'll stick to the standard 15%. That's just easier.

      2. The customary norm is 10%, rounded up to the nearest dollar. More if the delivery person has to climb stairs, or walk through significant inclement weather.

        1. These guys ain't gettin' rich, and they're out on the street with its hazards and using their gas. Give 'em a decent tip.

          25 Replies
          1. re: wayne keyser

            I agree with Wayne - I think delivery people work harder than waiters. Why don't they get tipped as much?

            1. re: 512window

              Social custom. Tipping is utterly a matter of social custom. Delivery people don't prepare a table, take orders, serve and clear multiple courses, tip out to other staff, et cet. Waiters also get taxed on their sales assuming a given rate of tips. So, waiters might strongly disagree about who works harder...

              1. re: Karl S

                In Manhattan there is no question delivery men work harder than waiters. They all either walk or ride bicycles, no driving, so there is the danger of being injured by motor vehicles. They have to deal with all kinds of weather and the winters can be brutal and the summers stifling. Last and certainly not least delivery men are often targets for robbery. The have been a number of cases of the delivery men being murdered for nothing more than a few dollars and the food they were carrying.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Note the baseline I cited in my first comment includes an add on for these thing. But that those things are not the norm in most of the US.

            2. re: wayne keyser

              Thanks Wayne. You said it far more diplomatically than I would have.

              In addition, a lot of people order out when the weather is really crappy. Servers depend on tips for their income, as do delivery people. It'sastounding to me that because their jobs are different from servers, some think they shouldn't be rewarded equally.

              Cab drivers just drive around, after all, should they not be tipped adequately?

              So much for diplomacy, eh, Wayne?

              1. re: marcia

                I respectfully disagree. A server has much more to do with a table and their dinner than someone delivering a takeout meal. I'm not saying they shouldn't receive any tip, but I disagree it should be the same. A server waits on your table for 30-60 minutes on average making numerous trips back and forth with things (drinks, refills, food, clearing plates, delivering different courses) and also has to have a great attitude, engage the customers as it seems appropriate, "sell" the restaurant and their food and oftentimes take part in at least part of the food prep (usually salads, often dessert, sometimes garnishes at expo). This is a lot more work than someone sliding a box into their car and handing it to me at my door.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  Speaking from experience: delivery drivers also have to have a great attitude, engage the customers as it seems appropriate, sell the restaurant and the food, and take part in at least some of the food prep.

                  While drivers may not have to be back and forth to a table for an hour, they do incur gas costs (which are back down now, for the moment), extreme wear on their car (driving 30 hours a week on top of any other normal driving), and significantly higher insurance costs.

                  Drivers may make standard minimum wage instead of the $2.13 or whatever a lot of servers make, but they also incur additional costs that servers don't have. Also, I'm not saying one job is harder than the other; again, from experience, they're both rather soul-sucking, and neither pays anywhere near enough, even when the tips are good.

                  1. re: nickblesch

                    I have never had a driver say ANYTHING to me other than "$18.25" or whatever the cost and then "thanks" as they leave. Never. No "selling" no "engaging," nothing. And I've ordered pizza from literally dozens of pizza places locally.

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      And perhaps those drivers don't deserve as much of a tip (nor, indeed, as much pay) as drivers who do go beyond that.

                      When I was delivering, I went out of my way to help people out (suggesting specials, different topping combinations, etc) when taking orders, and I always tried to do more than just quote a price when dropping off a pie. A lot of people order food (particularly pizza/wings) when there's something going on; for instance, when there was a game involving The Local Sports Team, I'd check the score at every dropoff. I shaved before work; I didn't look like trash; I cleaned my car; you get the picture.

                      Did I do that in order to increase my tip? Well, yeah, of course. But I also did it because I grew up in a retail environment (my parents still own their own store), and a little customer service goes a long way. Happy customers typically make for a happy boss, and that typically makes for a happy me, lol.

                      And I forgot above: people specifically avoid going out to restaurants when the weather is awful - when it's snowing, when the roads are icy - and what do they do instead? Call for delivery. Ugh.

                2. re: marcia

                  I don't think either of the other jobs you've mentioned are comparable. Servers do not make minimum wage and typically deal with a table for 30 minutes to two hours depending on the restaurant. Delivery people typically do make minimum wage and interact with the customer for a minute or two at most. If the order is correct and the delivery person arrives at or before the amount of time agreed upon when the order was placed, we'd say s/he did a good job.

                  Cab drivers have a whole host of other expenses and responsibilities that delivery people do not have, and people put a lot of trust in cab drivers that they will get their customers to their destinations safely, fairly quickly, and on a route that does not pad the price unnecessarily.

                  No one is saying not to tip delivery people at all. I just think that a smaller amount is adequate considering they are already making minimum wage and probably have a relatively small delivery area to deal with.

                    1. re: queencru

                      When is the last time a server was robbed on the job? Beaten up and killed for their food or money? Bicycled or walked in extreme weather conditions?

                      The jobs are different. One is not more difficult then the other but both deserve to be tipped adequately and in my opinion adequately is 15% to 20%.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        None of those things happen to delivery people in my area. They drive 1-2 miles max (typically, 5-10 mins max), park in front of the house, walk up a short sidewalk. Weather happens, and for that and other things you tip up.

                        But the baseline custom remains 10%. You are free to tip more. But you are not free to look down on those who observe the custom as if they were violating the custom. Your generosity does not make them stingy.

                        Servers, btw, do get robbed - patrons leave without paying. And servers, unlike delivery people, get an automatic assessment by the IRS for tips, and must often tip out to others on the staff.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          Mine neither. Same thing as Karl. they drive about 5 minutes or less, park in front of the house or apartment and that's it. We live in a pretty low crime area.

                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            Maybe you two live in VERY safe communities but a simple google search of the words "food delivery robbed" brings up a multitude of stories.

                            Also from a 2003 cnn story linked here

                            "One top-10 surprise was the fifth place finisher -- driver-sales workers, which, according to a BLS spokesperson, includes pizza delivers, vending machine fillers, and the like. Again, these workers are often self employed. Traffic accidents contributed heavily to their high fatality rate of 38 per 100,000, but they also suffered from crime; nearly a quarter of their deaths came from robberies and assaults. "

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              I think all that Karl, rockandroller and I are saying is that 10% is a reasonable baseline, from which point people are free to add on extra based on weather, danger level, etc. If a person living in a safe area a 2-minute drive from the restaurant and the weather is fantastic, she may see no reason to tip more than 10%. If the restaurant has a huge delivery area and the person is coming 10 miles in inclement weather, she may choose to give that person 20% or more. I think the reduced base tip comes from the fact that delivery people make a few dollars per hour more to start.

                              1. re: queencru

                                Where I live, there is really only pizza delivery, we're that suburban. There isn't even Chinese delivery. I won't order pizza if it's really bad snow or something, I think it's mean to make them come to you in that kind of weather and the food takes 2-3x as long anyway, so what's the point, just make something and make do.

                              2. re: KTinNYC

                                My community is unremarkable and utterly ordinary in terms of safety. It's 7 miles north of downtown Boston. In my nearly 20 years of living here, I've never seen a report in the weekly police blotter of a restaurant delivery person robbed or assaulted while doing their deliveries.

                          2. re: KTinNYC

                            uh, actually for servers, assault is a *very* real on-the-job hazard. and bartenders have one of the riskiest jobs, in terms of physical assault, in the country-- i think police officers and cabbies have higher assault stats than bartenders, and that is it. any job where odds are you'll be seriously injured from assault every 3 years or so is by no means a cakewalk. :(

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              I've tended bar and I have a number of friends who have or still do tend bar and I can't think of one that has been physically assaulted. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but I've never seen it. Google search doesn't uncover much. Could you cite a source or article? TIA

                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                i wish i could say i'd been so lucky in the 10 years i tended bar. i sport a couple of teensy facial scars that healed pretty nicely, for 16 stitches. you can barely see them now. :) my male co-workers definitely had it worse than me :( the huge majority of bar scuffles are of course unreported, & settled in-house (or maybe by zealous bouncers outside by the dumpsters).

                                here is some older info on workplace violence. i don't think the stats have changed much. there is a pretty good table on the 3rd page with the (reported) assault rates for different work groups per 1000 workers. law enforcement (including prison guards and private security) is highest, depending which division, then cabbies at 183.8/1000. bartenders are at 91.3/1000, nurses, hospital and mental health workers are lower still. this stat for bartenders seems really low to me, seems like it must be really underreported, because i have read industry lit which puts it at a higher percentage-- this is what i've got that i can link to though:


                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  Wow, I'm really sorry to hear about what you went through. I'm curious as to why our experiences were so different.

                                  Do you mind answering a few questions? What form did these assaults take. Patrons just jumping the bar and attacking the bartenders or throwing glasses and bottles. What kind of bars did you work in and what kind of communities were these bars in?

                                  My experience is as follows, between all the bartenders I know there is over 100 years of experience. Some with well over 10 years of experience and others with 2. All working in Downtown Manhattan, below 14th street and all in bars. Not lounges or restaurants, mostly diveier places both men and women. The neighborhoods are all pretty swank now but not so much 10 years ago and there are still sketchy customers but I've heard of more bartender on bartender violence than anything from the customers.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    hey, it's totally okay, i just think that the otj dangers to hospitality workers should be something more people are aware of. fwiw, on topic for the thread, i agree with other posters that tipping should never be a pity party about who has the rougher job, because *all* hospitality jobs are pretty tough in their own way, and some folks handle different jobs better. have whatever baseline tip is standard for your own area and increase for whatever super-powers the person exhibits (or because s/hes on a bike, and the weather's crummy) :)

                                    okay: without trying to get way ot, i've tended bar in minneapolis independent bars and nightclubs, no lounges-- some of the places had a kitchen, you could get a burger, you could *technically* take a family there for a meal, but most people considered these places *bars.* i've worked at a some dives, but don't restrict myself to them, & have worked in yuppie-meat-market-type places too (wherever the tips are good), but some type of violence happens everywhere there booze is served, eventually, ime (& that's why bars pay more for insurance, makes sense). sometimes i've worked in places with great, excellent, on the ball security. i felt pretty safe. msp is pretty safe, in general. but i also think that about 1-2% of the public is completely nuts in some way, and alcohol brings out the crazy-- get a big crowd, add booze, shake well. . . :)

                                    most little bars have *something* behind the bar for the bt's self defense, or in case of robbery right? or do i live in the wild wild west? one bar we had a sawed off pool cue, one we had a revolver. bigger places have security personnel. . .

                                    big nightclub dancefloor fights/brawls/mob stampedes, when they get away from the security staff, are indeed scary, people can get seriously hurt. i do have a tendency to go over or around a bar and help either my overwhelmed co-workers, or scared customers in those situations, make sure the cocktail waitresses are okay, etc. i could probably stay behind the bar like a pussy and be safer, but i'm not smart like that, sometimes. i've had a lot of forgettable, non-serious little scuffles/pile-ons like this where everybody gets by with a little scrape or a bruise. i'm *way* more afraid of testosterone and red bull/vodka pumped up frat boys brawling than any other demographic group, btw.

                                    i once got into a pretty good knock-down with a prostitute after she threw a beer in my face. i didn't see any need to call the cops on her afterward, she'd already had a bad night.

                                    the incident with the stitches in my face happened in a regular ol' bar&grill that had a great 3 hour 2fer1 anything happy hour that drew a huge crowd, mostly great, regular customers. a kid came up to the bar and ordered a drink from me. i carded him, he presented an id saying he was 19 (drinking age 21)-- i called the whole staff over & told them he was underage trying to purchase, and handed him over to the bouncer. then i made a serious mistake. i figured the whole thing was over and turned my back-- i was busy. my bouncer was a total meathead. despite having 10 years, a whole 100 pounds and almost a foot on this kid, he goofed and let the kid give him some line about saying bye to his girlfriend or using the bathroom or something-- he let him just walk off instead of putting his butt out the door like he should have. the kid obviously took the situation as if i was trying to humiliate him personally (ladies present), and wanted a piece of me--personally. he grabbed a dirty pint glass and whipped it at me in a split-second flat. had good aim, too. i saw the glass coming and flinched--i turned my head in time to save my right eye (see, i'm more lucky than anything else). the bottom of the glass hit my right temple (concussion) and the lip of the glass shattered on my jawbone. it was a deep cut, but not broad, and pretty clean. so this twerp wasn't even a customer. i learned from it, but that doofus bouncer didn't--god he was worthless, i wonder where he's scrubbing toilets these days ;-)

                                    i can think of many other examples that have happened to other bts i've worked with, or known, but the worst i can think of was when my co worker told a regular customer (same bar) that the bar had raised prices on the guy's regular drink liquor by like thirty-five cents. pretty ho-hum to *sane* people, right? well this guy was nuts enough to think it was a personal affront to him and that this bt was charging him a higher price than everybody else. long story short the guy waited until my co-worker went to the bathroom and smashed him in the face with a bottle or glass when he walked out. my friend lost a bunch of teeth and had to have a bunch of surgery. over thirty-five freakin' cents :'(

                                    people are dumb. give em liquor, they don't get smarter. . . i'd encourage everyone to give all hospitality workers respect, smiles, & most importantly *tips* to pay their bills. all the goodwill, it will all come back to you! i, uh. . . i overtip. regularly. esp bts. cheers.

                          3. re: queencru

                            At the end of the day, comparing the two is silly, IMO. Tipping is a matter of social convention and not a pity contribution due to the hardship one person does or does not undergo. I don't think that comparing who has the harder life should really enter into it, but rather ask the question "what's the social convention" for each position.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              Indeed. And the convention is that 10% is the baseline.

                      2. My two cents as a former pizza delivery boy:

                        Tip a bare minimum of $2 or 10%, whichever is greater, and the delivery person will leave and not be angry. Tip more that that if you want them to be happy - this can lead to extras in the future (in my case, more sauces, pepperoncinis, etc).

                        Tip less that that at your own risk, though, as most places keep track of names, addresses, and such in the computer, including whether or not people stiffed them. I'm not saying it'll get you spit in your food (seriously, who does that), but it almost guarantees you cold food because no one is going to rush to drop off food for free.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: nickblesch

                          I used to deliver pizza as well when I was younger and I never got anywhere near 20%. No one really stiffed me, but it was usually like you said, $2 or about 10%. I was also getting about $5/hour cash as well. This was probably about 12 years ago.