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Apr 10, 2010 07:39 AM

Takeout Tip 'Tude


Please indulge me, I know this has been discussed before.

I visited a local Italian restaurant in person and ordered a salad and a pizza. Both were standard items. I did not ask to have them quickly nor did I ask to make changes to the standard offerings. The restaurant was not busy and I came in before 7, the typical dinner rush.I told the cashier I would return to collect the food and offered to pay in advance.

When I received the credit card slip, and did not choose to leave a tip, I noticed a pronounced snort and general attitude problem.

I consider myself a generous tipper and far from parsimonious, however the idea of tipping someone for filling a basic take out order seems crazy to me. Am I hopelessly behind the times on this one?

    1. While you were probably correct, keep in mind there can be different scenarios here. You refer to a "cashier" who is presumably paid an competitive hourly wage WITHOUT any allowance for expected tip compensation. Where I work however, since I'm a "waiter" I'm paid $3/hr. Also we aren't a "take out" kind of place. So if someone really wants to order something to go, and as there is no cashier, I must take time away from my tables who are tipping to do it. Even if I'm not busy at the moment, I must pay taxes on the amount of your order so some kind of tip is customary.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BrianRIngram

        I hear you except that while I believe you should be compensated fairly, I do not believe the responsibility falls on the customer's shoulders. It is customary to tip for service and I most certainly do. However if restaurants decide to assign a significant amount of take out responsibility to a person who isn't properly compensated it is their responsibility to resolve the problem, not mine. This restaurant does a significant take out business.

      2. What sort of place is this? I don't tip at a "counter" only place, if that is the case, jfood is correct.

        But if it's a restaurant who's primary business is as a eat-in place with table service, you should at least acknowledge that you did receive a service at some level from a wait person, and Brian is correct. Also, if this is the case, then it is presumably a restaurant that you did not wish to return.

        12 Replies
        1. re: cheesemonger

          I'm inclined to disagree but want to understand your point more fully. This place does a fair amount of take out. However, a restaurant that normally does not get any take out business should be absolutely delighted to be able to add meals to their night's takings without expanding their staff and dining room. I cannot think of any service that I received.

          What service did I receive that I would not get at any merchant in the habit of exchanging legal tender for goods and services?

          1. re: Kater

            Someone did take your order, pack/box it, put the dressing in the little takeout container, ring it up (probably under their unique code for tracking orders), etc. Food handling is different than buying a T-shirt, and it comes with different customs.

            But, my primary point is to slap a buck or two on the tip line to preserve the relationship.

            1. re: cheesemonger

              That really stands out because I placed my order and then did several other errands. The tasks involved in my to go order, apart from cooking it, are frankly far less substantial than the rest of my transactions that evening. For instance, I visited a boutique and bought an inexpensive bracelet for a friend's daughter. The employee showed me several items, helped me make a selection, cleaned the bracelet, boxed it and gift wrapped it. She also ran my charge card through the machine.

              I am aware that we pay for service in restaurants as a matter of custom, but tipping cashiers for take out orders is certainly not the custom in food service. This is a new phenomenon that seems based on an entitlement issue.

              As far as the relationship is concerned, my relationship is with the business not with a clerk or waitress with a bad attitude. If I had asked for or received any service of any kind I would have tipped but I do not like the idea of throwing money at people just because they happen to want some!

              1. re: Kater


                the cashier in the restaurant sees everyone else getting tips and then there is the "what about me" syndrome.

                1. re: Kater

                  I've worked in many restaurants, and this certainly colors my choice. This is not a "new phenomenon", I've been tipping on take-out for as long as I can remember- more than 15 years.

                  Again my point is this- I only get food from restaurants that I like, and wish to return to, and be remembered kindly. I'd rather consider my take-out tip as a down payment on good will. If you do not wish to cultivate that, then you are of course free to not tip.

                  Pick your battles- $1 or $2 is not a battle I choose to fight for a salad and a pizza from a person probably making $3/hour.

                  1. re: cheesemonger

                    This employee is quite lucky that I did not contact the owner and I hardly think she is an any position to engage in a battle with me or any other customer. Still, I appreciate your responses because it helps illuminate the other side of this issue.

                    1. re: Kater

                      I'm not talking about her battle, I'm talking about yours. Why make such a fuss about something that is so insignificant. Sometimes good will is only a couple of bucks. And then you forget about it.

                      1. re: cheesemonger

                        I am not engaged in a battle with the clerk. Your argument only holds water if you presume that I owe the girl $2 and am trying to get out of paying it.

                        1. re: Kater

                          sheesh. You don't get the point at all. If you feel that you are being extorted, and want to fret about it, please do. I see it as the cost of takeout, and I don't fret at all. Yes, I feel it's a good custom to give her the $2. I promise you, that $3/hour employee remembers the tippers, and more importantly, those that don't- that's what you are paying for. So, feel free to stand on your principle, whatever it is, I simply think it's poorly thought out in the way the real world works.

                          1. re: cheesemonger

                            Au contraire. I understand your point completely but do not share it. You, on the other hand, seem unable to grasp mine.

                            1. re: cheesemonger

                              I completely agree with you. A few dollars is literally nothing to me, and I see it as part of the "cost" of takeout, as long as my order was prompt, etc. I mean, really, what's a buck or two?

                2. re: Kater

                  I think maybe it depends on who got your order together. Sometimes, a to-go order is filled by someone who is also waiting tables, so maybe it takes away from their potential to earn tips if they are getting your order ready. I know not all take-out is handled like this, but there are places where the waitstaff is responsible for those orders. In those cases, i think tipping is appropriate. I still tip on pretty much all of my to-go orders, regardless of how the restaurant may be set up, but it definitely feels like tipping is getting out of hand. Sometimes i probably tip when i really shouldn't based on a guilt factor. I know i shouldn't feel guilty, but that's just me.

              2. It depends who fulfilled the order: a cashier, MOD or other administrative person (no tip) or a waitperson for whom your sale is added to their base for withholding (a tip is in order then, I would say something like the 10% standard for buffet service). In some places, it's hard to tell, and you might ask the manager for future reference.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Karl S

                  >It depends who fulfilled the order ...
                  "could i please review your 1040 before deciding whether to tip"

                  "sorry i didnt leave a tip this year ... here's my Schedule D ... "

                  for me:
                  whether or not i tip on take out is slightly random. what increase the odds are
                  "pls have a seat", "can i get you something to drink". i basically never ask
                  for anything special, so that's a non-issue. what decreses the odds
                  are wildly out inaccurate time estimates with no updating, reaction etc. and if
                  i do tip, it's usually a rounding kind of thing ... $18.35 of chinese take out -> $20 ...
                  i dont bother figuring out the %age.

                  and frankly i'm less likely to tip on pizza than a some other foods.

                2. "Look at me, I posted something on chowhound so that other people will support me and I'll feel better about myself. I will NOT accept criticism, as this was not an invitation for open discussion." (Me paraphrasing the 16 responses before mine)

                  When did chowhound get so negative?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: raleighboy

                    You (The OP) are not behind the times. I see this as two issues. One was the attitude of the person filling the order. Tip or no tip, server or cashier or manager, there should NEVER be any visible or audible negative response to a tip or lack thereof. If you choose to work in this industry with its accompanying plusses and minuses, you accept the ups and downs that are part of the system, short of anything illegal. As to whether you "should" tip, that's entirely a personal decision. OP made a great point about the services they got at other retail establishments that involved as much or more "service", and no tips were expected. Having worked at a restaurant that handled a very large amount of takeout, I can say that I don't see much difference from the to-go service one gets at fast-food places, where tips are not expected.

                    And to the person who said that as a server they had tp pay taxes on the order, you are a little confused or not explaining yourself well. If your restaurant has to meet a percentage of sales tip-reporting requirement, then you might have to pay taxes on the tip that is assumed according to the percentage, not on the sale itself. And if you keep accurate records, you do not have to pay a tax on that assumed tip if there was none. However, you would also be expected to pay taxes on every tip over the assumed amount, which servers rarely do even today. And if the restaurant handles a lot of take-out, they should have separate accounting for take-out sales to avoid that problem.