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Tipping delivery people?

I don't ever order food delivery from a restaurant. I love to walk and will usually call ahead and pick up my order or more often just eat out and let someone else wash dishes.
But last week I was sick as a dog and "needed" some hot Thai soup to cure my aches and pains.

I called the Thai place across the street and placed the order which totalled just under $6. I gave the delivery guy $7. I thought that was ok since he only had to walk across the street and I am on the ground floor. The guy flipped and cussed me out in his native tongue.

After thinking about it I figured I was wrong. Then again, I was in a Dayquil/Nyquil/Tylenol/Motrin stupor. I did not lose too much sleep over it.

What's the protocol for tipping delivery people? Percentage of the bill? $$$ per block? Just in case I am ever too sick to get my own food.

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  1. I usually do around 20%. I figure the person isn't waiting on me, but they're risking life and limb (literally) to bring me my food. If I'm paying cash I usually round it to the nearest convenient dollar amount. But more and more I use seamlessweb, so I can get pretty specific with what to tip.

    Honestly, I probably would have given the guy $7 as well, unless I had some pocket change to make it $7.50. Giving him $8 would have made it nearly a 33% tip. It's not about the percentage really, but I think you're right... it was across the street and he didn't even need to climb any stairs.

    1. I worked as a delivery guy in college (not in NYC), so I tend to overtip. That said, I think what you gave is fine, given the small order and proximity of the restaurant.

      If I order delivery for two and its $25, I might give $5. that said, I really overtip, and $2-3 is fine.

      1. Maybe it's just me, but regardless of how small the order tipping a delivery guy anything under $2 just seems chintzy.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Ann900

          I'm with Ann900. The fact that the guy made any trip, even a short one, means he should be compensated. Even if it is only across the street.

          1. re: LulusMom

            I agree too! I was chintzy. I just wasn't thinking straight. Back in the day I was a delivery boy for a pharmacy and later in life a taxi driver. I usually overtip if the driver is halfway decent.

            1. re: Motosport

              I would have tipped a little more since i always feel like i should have at least a base amount on a delivery, regardless of the cost of the order...but with the person flipping out like that, i wouldn't worry about it that much. The flipping out was much more inappropriate than what might be perceived as a small tip.

          2. re: Ann900

            Agreed. Plus, I usually increase my tip if the food delivered is "difficult" like soup (hot, no spilling, etc.). That said, it's pretty ridiculous that he'd cuss you out over a buck...

            1. re: akq

              It was what I call a true New York moment: Me, sick as a dog in my PJ's, with a raging Asian ranting in the lobby as the doorman looks on. Just right for Seinfeld!

              1. re: Motosport

                The guy had no right to berate you. That is just ... bad karma.

              1. re: Ann900

                I agree. Whether you're tipping a delivery person or a server, the absolute minimum is two bucks.

              2. What you gave is totally fine. What I tip depends on how prompt the food is (I'm not likely to tip 20% if I had to wait for an hour) how far he/she had to travel, how bad the weather is (if it's raining cats and dogs, I'll probably overtip.) My friend who worked as a pizza deliveryman in college said he would've been happy if everyone tipped 10%, he can't count the times he was tipped 5-10 cents with 20 dollar order.

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