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Are Tips Required for Takeout?

Here's an issue that I wanted to get some opinions on from Hounds. You go to pick up a pizza or a Chinese food order at your favorite local place. You pay with a credit card. You receive the same paperwork as those who are eating at a table in the restaurant. There is a space for a tip. I personally never tip when I'm just picking up an order. But a hostess said to a friend of mine she should get a tip because she placed the order with the kitchen and went and got it from the kitchen when it was ready. Some people have told me they give a smaller tip for takeout. Am I wrong not tipping at all for takeout?

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  1. There was just a recent "Ask Amy" column about this very question and I too do not tip for take out. Delivery....absolutely but not take out.

    1. I always skip right past the tip line and put in just the amount for the food.

      3 Replies
        1. re: MattInNJ

          When you do that, make sure you either cross out the tip line or write 0.00 in it! I have heard of staff (not many, but there are always a few who ruin it for everyone) adding in their own (sometimes substantial) tip.

      1. I think this is tricky. If a host/hostess puts in your order and fetches/readies your food that arguably part of her job, which she is paid at least minimum wage to do.
        However, at one of the restaurants I worked at, wait staff were expected to answer the phone and handle takeout orders as well as look after our tables. This meant that the time I spent putting in a takeout order and specifying special requests when necessary, fetching the food from the kitchen, picking it up when it was read and, making sure the order was correct and complete, packaging it in takeaway bags with utensils and condiments, and handling the payment/making change with the customer, was all time that took away from the time and attention that I could have giving my tables, who I *knew* would be giving me a tip. So yeah, when the takeaway customers gave me no tip, I was annoyed.

        Of course I didn't expect 15-20%, but not to give a dollar or two seemed to say "I am absolutely oblivious to the fact that you spent time and attention on making sure that I have a complete, fresh, and enjoyable meal, so there's no reason for you to do that again next time I'm here."

        For context, this was a very casual bistro-type place on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It was actually rare that I did not get a tip for preparing a takeaway order, because one thing you can say for UES-ers is that they are accustomed to tipping somebody every time they turn around, and it doesn't seem to trouble them much. In other parts of the country, I can imagine tips-for-takeaway being more of an uphill battle for servers, no matter how deserved.

        1. There are many many threads you can find over the years on this very topic, so search to your heart's content if you want to get detailed variations on heated opinions.

          Bottom line: if the person taking care of your takeout order is a server being paid the below-minimum wage wage of servers, having your sale recorded as a sale for the purposes of their withholding, and relying on tip income to make up the difference, you tip. This is normally only true for finer dining establishments that don't have a cashier or other similar person dealing with takeout orders. Otherwise, the only other reason to tip is if you a regular and the practice garners you better service.

          1. I do not tip at certain take out restaurants. Let me explain. There is one restaurant I go to all the time and only get take out. It is a local family owned, operated and they also serve. There are only 4 tables and the majority of the customers are take out. Since the owners prepare are pack the meal up at a counter service restaurant I do not tip. However, if I go to a restaurant to get take out where the waitress has to leave her tables and package the meal I will tip. It all depends on the circumstances...

            1. I guess it depends on the local customs where you are.

              In the UK, no-one would even consider tipping for takeaway.

              1. Hi Chowmrnsch. I was recently having a conversation with my friend about tipping... I was telling my friend that I was irritated and upset and how many people now days expect tips! I live in San Diego California which is very expensive and the cost of living is outrageous, but that's the price we pay for yearlong beautiful weather...Anyway I was telling my friend that everywhere I go there are tip jars and not to mention everyone expects to get a tip because society tells us to do so. I often ask myself who makes these rules up? I am a woman and I am expected to tip my hairdresser, when I get my nails done, when I get waxed, when I treat myself to a massage, when I wash my car and the list goes on and on... There are some days when I do all of these things in time frame of 3 to 4 hours and before I know it I've spent $50-$60 dollars on just tips. Now I go into Coldstone (Ice cream shop) and the receipt ask for a tip, just like a restaurant and starbucks and subway too... I am paying for a $6.00 ice cream and I am expected to tip, or I just ordered a $5.00 coffee drink and I am expected to tip, I am sick and tired of being pressured or expected to tip because society makes up believe we have to. I work in the Emergency room and save lives every day and you don't see us placing a tip jars, nor do we expect it. I don't care if I am called cheap I am only tipping my server when I go to a restaurant, and hairdresser and maybe a $5.00 tip for a good massage, not the $25.00-$30.00 tip the massage parlor recommends for a 50 min massage that's
                worth $90.00 (they have posters all over the spa with their tipping recommendations of $25-$30.00 tips)! It's not my problem that host/hostesses expect a tip because they take the time to prepare an order ie..."picking it up when it was ready (takeout) and, making sure the order was correct and complete, packaging it in takeaway bags with utensils and condiments, and handling the payment/making change with the customer" Then are annoyed when they don't receive one. It is their job! If they don't like it then they can invest time, and sacrifice to get an education and to have a career where they don't get paid minimum wage. I worked my butt off and sacrificed a lot to have what I have and I still struggle even with my salary. If someone doesn't agree then they can invest in their future and better themselves with a better paying job. I work 12 hour shifts, save lives every day, come in contact with blood, vomit, Hep C, HIV, and every other disease you can think of and I risk my life everyday to treat very sick and contagious people and I don't expect a tip, and do things outside "my job and responsibilities" and I don't complain about it, nor should hostesses/hosts because they have to prepare your take out order! I say don't tip for take out! It's your time and gas and they are just doing their job. We don't need to reward people for doing their job.

                1 Reply
                1. i think this is an area for "pure" tipping. if i get really good service, i tip. if it's a take out only place, i don't tip. if i order at the bar and am comped a soft drink while i wait, i tip. if the person who takes the order pushes it through and makes sure it doesn't languish, i tip. if the person who takes the order makes sure the order is right and i have olive oil, condiments, napkins, etc., i tip.

                  that said, i keep it around 10%. no way the same as table service for a meal.

                  1. I leave a tip if it's an unusually large takeout order, but no more than $5 or $6 for the tip; if it's from certain small shops where the same staff have been serving me, and giving me excellent service, for years; or if the staff spent a lot of extra time answering my questions about the menu (eg, at certain ethnic restaurants where I am not that familiar with the cuisine).

                    1. I always tip $2.00 for take-out.
                      And most of the time, they are pleasantly surprised and grateful.

                      If I call ahead to Applebee's carside-to-go, which I sometimes do when I am exhausted from a long day at work and a long drive home, where they bring it to my car, saving me the hassle of parking and getting out, I tip $4.00 or $5.00.

                      These folks don't make much money, and often rely heavily on tips just to try to make ends meet. And most of them are not lazy, or not trying to better themselves. A lot of them have 2 or 3 jobs, are students, etc.
                      Working in a restaurant or store is a lot of work, and neither pay much.

                      I almost never tip at Starbucks though - I agree with the previous poster on that - if I am paying $5.00 for a freakin' cup of coffee, the heck with ya. Except I do sometimes throw the coin change into the jar just to save me the hassle of dealing with coin in my purse.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: aces551

                        I also don't make it a habit to tip at Starbuck's, especially since I;m usually using a Starbuck's card and not handling cash, BUT today my 12 year old daughter wanted a Caramel Apple Spice drink, she asked the cashier if she could have a lot of whipped cream on her grande. The cashier replied, I have them make a grande in a vente cup and we'll fill it to the top with lots of extra whipped cream, You can be sure, I got out some folding money for the tip container.

                      2. It is certainly not essential to tip for a take-out order.

                        Only about 5% of the take-out customers at the restaurant I run tip for the service.

                        A few of the customers who tip our take-out packer are those whose orders include a lot of special instructions, special requests etc. One of these customers told me that he's never found a restaurant before ours that would get all of his family's special orders right so that's why we earned the gratuity. Makes me wonder what the other people were thinking. I mean, you listen to what the customer wants, write it down, and someone makes it -- according to what's written on the ticket.

                        I tip when doing take-out nearly all the time. It's appreciated and most places remember me in the future.

                        1. I always tip $2, in cash, for takeout. For the reasons the hostess gave in the OP. The order didn't magically appear in the kitchen and the it didn't magically appear at the takeout counter. The person running the takeout position made sure that both happened the way they were supposed to happen. I've found that on subsequent trips to the same restaurant, my order is ready when I walk in the door, the person who took the order goes over it with me to make sure it was correct and I fork over the $2. TIP originated from To Insure Promptness. That's what I'm looking for!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bucksguy14

                            I also leave a couple bucks.

                            Just wanted to let you know that TIP has nothing to do with "To Insure Promptness", as the word you want is "ensure", which would render it TEP.

                            Happy New Year.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              Indeed. Isn't "tip" generally accepted as having the same derivation as other uses of the word, meaning something passed surreptitiously - like "tip the wink",. "tip off" or "tip" (as in a horse to bet on).

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                Wow - agreement, AND, an English lesson. What's not to like about CH, it educates you in so many ways!