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Tipping on takeout?

I like to think of myself as a good tipper (Don't we all? lol). I'll tip 20% almost as a standard. I just can't bring myself to tip on takeout. I know people who do, and I see the space for it on the receipt, but if I'm picking up my Chinese/Thai/Pizza/Whatever, I don't see why a tip is necessary. It seems to go against everything I've ever known about the reason why we tip. How about you guys?

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    1. This must be the 1000th thread on takeout tipping, but I'll bite:)
      Someone still packs up the order and makes sure it's correct.
      $2 or $3 bucks makes no difference to me, but it might to the person doing the work.

      23 Replies
      1. re: BubblyOne

        Using that logic (and because I like playing devil's advocate. :) ), would you tip at McDonald's or Subway? How about the drug store if they bag your shampoo?

          1. re: Midknight

            Well, people working at fast-food restaurants are paid at least minimum wage; restaurant servers are not. For example, in DC, regular minimum wage is $8.25; minimum wage for tipped employees, meanwhile, is only $2.77. So you are not comparing apples to apples.

            1. re: ChristinaMason

              Servers are not serving for take-out. The kitchen is preparing the food and the counter staff are doing the "serving" - and they are making at least minimum wage just like at the counter of fast food. It is apples to apples because the server making $2.77 isn't involved in the take-out process.

              1. re: gardencook

                Agree, counter staff in a lot of places, or a hostess. All making minimum. But sometimes, a bartender. A bar tender is someone who serves you drinks, or if you are eating at the bar, also serves you your food. If they aren't serving me anything but are passing me a bag from the kitchen, I just don't see that it needs a tip.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  Unless the server has to order the food, bag and prep it, make sure you have what you need to eat it and enjoy it, bags the food with care to make sure it arrives optimally, makes the salad, boxes up condiments like dressing, sour cream, butter, various sauces you might need... No work at all involved in that. : )

                  Burgers tossed in a bag - diff story.

                2. re: gardencook

                  <the server making $2.77 isn't involved in the take-out process.>

                  That simply isn't true *everywhere* you go (especially, as I pointed out, in places without a host). I've done the takeout prep at both restaurants I worked in, as a server making $2.77 or less.

                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    And if they are... the $2.77 is there to cover the 2 minutes they spend actually doing the take-out prep. It's not like servers do not get paid *at all* outside of tips. This is why there is a minimum server wage. In the end, doing their main job of serving usually nets them a very respectable wage. People go overboard with this tipping. Tip well when you sit and know that in the end it is fair when you stop in and grab-n-go without tipping.

                    1. re: gardencook

                      It may be fair for someone like Garden Cook to "know that in the end it is fair when you stop in and grab-n-go without tipping," but it really isn't fair if you're a decent person.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          Sorry, but I disagree....if you're dining-in they have to "plate" and "serve" your food, serve water, plus follow up on how it is. Take-out is a much less involved process and you may get your food home and realize it's not very good and then you're whole meal is effected ...but you've already paid a tip??? No, take out is something I do not feel needs to be tipped for...they can take care of multiple people quickly & without the fuss, time or cost. If you want to make more money...get a college education or special training, but don't expect a tip for take out! And 20% tip...LOL...we're in a recession...so get real! 15% tops and no restaurant should ever print what is expected for a "tip" on the menu or check/bill...that's just down-right rude! A tip is a reward for excellent service & food in my eyes!

                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        Me too, I've also done take-out prep as part of my job as a server at 2 establishments (one being a national chain). I never expected a tip on takeout but it was appreciated.

                      2. re: gardencook

                        That's not true, Garden Cook. When I was a waiter, I had to pack up and ring up takeout orders. The server in both restaurants I worked in, i.e., I, was quite involved in the take-out process.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          But it's "decent" to be insulting?

                          I'm speaking as a former server, as well. If you'll read thoroughly, in one of my posts, I said that we just don't do take-out... ever. I'm not in a position to tip or not tip in that situation, but I certainly don't want anyone to think that they are stiffing someone if they don't tip on take-out (from a SERVER'S prospective... unless that server is so greedy that they think every little task is supposed to be additionally compensated!!). I'd certainly still consider a take-out non-tipper "decent" people. Amazing what some people will say when they have a keyboard for defense.

                          1. re: gardencook

                            Many of us disagree with that viewpoint. I don't tip the same as I would for table service, but making sure my take out order is correct is food service. Most of the places I get take out it is a server, not a designated counter/cashier person who prepares the order. I usually give 10% instead of 20% for takeout. It seems miserly not to. And since you are someone who NEVER does take-out, then why are you so quick to pass judgement on those who do? And I don't see anything where you said that you didn't, at least not on this thread, or are we supposed to look up your name and check everything you have ever said about tipping?

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              And there are many who disagree with you without being rude.

                              I said we never do take out in my first post to the thread which is now down- thread. I did put in the disclaimer and said I was speaking from the perspective as a former server. I wasn't passing judgement, I was giving an opinion from a certain perspective, which seems to be the point of this forum.

                              And while you may think that 20% is fine for table service, some may think that is too little. No one is wrong, just operating differently in their lives. I stand by my opinion that take - out, as I see it where we are dining and where I used to work, doesn't warrant a tip because the host/ess is doing the work. Nobody can comment on every single particular situation ... These are generalizations which is all anyone can ever relate to.

                              1. re: gardencook

                                Including the generalization that it's the host/ess who takes care of takeout.

                              2. re: KaimukiMan

                                I think 10 is fair. It is not table service, but if the order is big, complicated, special, involves a lot of pieces parts - 10% is greatly appreciated.

                              3. re: gardencook

                                It is less indecent to call someone out for her non-tipping position, however theoretical it may be, than it is to tip 0% for when picking up takeout (I'm presuming we are talking about restaurant rather than fast food).

                                That's this erstwhile waiter's opinion, written from, yes, behind his keyboard.

                            2. re: gardencook

                              It depends. Where I most often get take-out, the owner takes the order, makes the sandwich, bags it up, and accept the payment. Unless it's during busy hours, when he has a counter assistant. I leave a dollar tip in either case.

                              I never tip at In-n-Out, however. I've never thought about it before, and can't say why the rule would be different, but it just seems like it isn't done. And I don't think they have a tip jar.

                              There's a contracted coffee corner in the grocery where I shop. I would tip there, but when I asked where the tip jar was, I was told it was against policy to accept tips there.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                Fast food places are required to pay minimum wage, on rare occasion where someone there has gone out of their way to be accommodating I have tipped at a fast food (McD's, Wendy's, Burger King, whatever.) But it is not expected or justified by pay scales.

                                I'm not sure what the justification is for tipping at Starbucks, but considering how easy it is to mess up a coffee order I kinda get it.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  at my local starbucks' and peets' they have tip jars out.

                                  on the other hand, there used to be an ice cream place that removed their tip jar because the IRS had decided to tax the servers on a presumptive tip amount that was so far in excess of the actual tips received that they were LOSING money by having any possibility of getting tips.

                                  the servers put up a sign telling the customers that they do not and will not accept any tips and to please REFRAIN from leaving tips because it would reduce their take-home pay.

                          2. re: Midknight

                            I will usually leave a tip if the person has provided an extra service or is unusually pleasant or helpful. I don't eat at places like MCDonalds or Subway..but I do stop for coffee at Dunkins a couple of times a week. I always leave a tip.

                        2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666603
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792430

                          My personal reasons for tipping for take-out are three-fold:

                          1) Solidarity: I'm in the restaurant business so it's "professional courtesy."
                          2) Feed my ego -- and ensure service: I enjoy the enhanced level of greeting/service and accuracy/quality of order one invariably gets from tipping sufficiently that the restaurant staff knows me.
                          3) Taking care of those who're less fortunate: I'm grateful every single day that I have a job that pays very well. While I don't necessarily think that my few extra dollars spent is going to invigorate the economy, it's really not a financial burden for me to at least help *some* of those who've probably been quite negatively impacted by the poor economy. It's my own silly version of "trickle-down."

                          Many of the nice Chowhounds I meet are quite well-off. Isn't it just the right thing to do to "spread it around" a bit?

                          All this being said, I know that there are some ChowHounds who're on a tight budget or have fallen on hard times and for whom a couple of dollars is indeed meaningful. I would certainly understand if they choose not to give a tip if they're not eating-in. Take-out, for some, is a treat and a relief from the routine effort of preparing a meal at home.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: shaogo

                            I love your reasons and agree with all of them.

                            1. re: shaogo

                              i've yet to meet a counterperson or a server in a non-fine-dineing establishment who is making so much that a couple of dollars isn't meaningful to them too.

                              when times were really tough for me, if i couldn't tip, i went to the grocery store and bought some of their pre-prepared food.

                              it's just a few dollars in order to be fair. the counterpeople did their part, i have to be a good enough person to do mine.

                            2. I do, but it doesn't have to be the same as for table service.

                              1. I am not a good tipper. I tip about 20%-25% in general, but I have no idea what to do half of the time. As for takeout, I know I don't have to tip, but sometime I do, and then I feel bad afterward. I don't feel bad because I tipped. I feel bad that I don't tip other people. I should bite the bullets and just don't tip at all in any place for takeouts.

                                I go to a nicer looking place, and I tipped for takeout. I go to a not-so-great looking place and I don't. Why? It is not logical, but I do that from time to time.

                                So unlike other people here who have good answers. I am not in place to tell you what to do because I am trying to figure out myself.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  for take out, i tip about the same in all places.
                                  it took just as much time for the worker in the lower-level restaurant to help me as it did for the worker in the higher-level restaurant.

                                  off topic:
                                  because i look at tipping as being related to the labor involved, i've been known as a wild over-tipper in breakfast places where the tab is generally quite low, while being a "regular" tipper in the higher-end places (about 20% or a little more on the total including tax).

                                  it never seemed fair to me that a breakfast server who does the same amount of work as a lunch server should get tipped less just because breakfast food tends to cost less.