June 4th, 2013
10:45 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

Deliverymen may be the most misunderstood, and least appreciated, of all gratuity-based workers. Sure, there are some bad eggs in the mix, but the vast majority of them work for tips in a completely unregulated, and unstructured, environment—somewhat like café baristas.

Restaurant servers, for example, may not know exactly how much tip they’ll get, but tips generally hover around 15-20% in most of the country. Same thing goes for cabbies. In cities where passengers can use credit cards, there are even gratuity suggestions (15%? 20%? 25%?). But delivery people have no such organized system. They must graciously accept spare change as often as a fiver.

After talking to friends - smart food fans who order out a lot - I found that there’s no consensus about how to tip the delivery person. Below are the 10 key questions we must ask ourselves before forking over cash to the man/boy/woman/snot/angel who finally appears at the door bearing brown bags or boxes - and a bill.

What’s the grand total?
The vast majority of people base their tip on the number at the bottom of the bill. I’ve also known families that create round-number cutoff amounts: $3 for up to $15 of food, $5 for up to $25, and so on. I think 10-15% is a good start. Restaurant employees, of course, will argue for more.

Is there a separate delivery charge?
Most folks figure that if there’s a distinct fee for the service already, why bother adding more, but your server may not see all (or any) of a delivery charge. Ask the person who takes your order. And just in case the establishment pockets the entire added delivery fee, you can always slip a few bucks into the hand of the deliveryman - distinct from the credit card total.

Is the food overpriced or dirt-cheap?
If you buy a $1,000 bottle of wine at a restaurant, no one expects you to add $200 more (20%) to the bill. Similarly, the extortionate rates for decent sushi in my neighborhood occasionally make me reconsider basing the gratuity on the grand total alone. I scale back to 10% in some cases, rationalizing that 15% of an obviously overpriced assortment of nigiri is too much—and it’s not my fault they overcharge. At the same time, if the dinner costs a measly $15 for two, I’m all for a relative splurge on the tip - I’d give $3 or even $4.

Is he delivering on foot, bike, or car?
I’ve heard people make the case that a man who drives a car to your house doesn’t exert himself as much as someone who bikes or walks, therefore he deserves less cash. This is a perceived sweat factor. Others, however, point out that the man who drives up to your front door has to pay for gas, parking, wear and tear on the car, and the occasional ticket. It may sound like a cop-out, but I don’t let the mode of transportation influence my tip.

How far away is the restaurant?
There’s more effort and expense no matter what transportation mode is used the farther the restaurant is located. Put another way: Do you tip the same amount if one deliveryman walks five blocks and another hikes 15? Sadly, yes I do. But I feel like I should give more to the guy who trekked a mile.

How’s the weather outside?
Nothing tugs at the heart strings like seeing the soaked deliveryman standing in front of your door, dripping as he hands you soggy brown bags of hot, delicious food. We do, and should, tip more when we know a person has trekked through inclement weather to bring us a warm meal. Add a buck or more for rain and $2 if it’s snow.

Have you ordered during peak hours?
We curse the restaurant that takes an hour and a half to deliver food even when we know we ordered at prime time on Friday night. Shouldn’t some credit go to a deliveryman who manages to prioritize our house early in his route? Speedy service makes me 5% more generous.

Did the food arrive warm?
At a restaurant, you can never be sure if the blame for a cold dish lies with the server or the kitchen. But when a deliveryman hands you food that’s still hot, you know you’re getting freshly cooked (or at least warmed over) sustenance, and that’s worth rewarding, isn’t it? Actually, no. I don’t reward food that arrives edible. Cold food, on the other hand, may get me to dock a dollar, even if I’m just shooting the messenger (maybe he’ll complain to the kitchen).

Did the food arrive within a reasonable amount of time?
Even if you ordered cold noodles, you still want them within 30 to 40 minutes. Any longer and it feels like an eternity - and the person on the other end of the phone really should have notified you about the possible delay. See above for how to score.

Did you get everything you ordered?
We’ve all experienced the tragic let-down of the no-show dish. The excitement of the delivery gives way to desperation as the hand reaches deeper into the bag, and then outright rage at the realization that your dish is still sitting, perhaps, on a counter back at the restaurant. Again: Take action here only if experiencing sins of omission. If the guy promises to come back later with the rest of your order, you can reward him then.

Do you want this person to come quickly next time - and not spit in your food?
Regular customers know that better tips make a difference when your deliveryman is deciding which house to visit first. Conversely, I’ve wondered if a pathetic tip gets logged somehow (“bad tipper alert”) on the merchant copy of the receipt and then in a database back at the restaurant - and if that can influence the future travel routes my orders take (i.e. “make this guy last”). More than anything, I worry that an under-tipped deliveryman will seek revenge by spitting on my food. For that reason alone, I would think, everyone should tip fairly.

Got an etiquette question Cury can address? Share it in the comments below.

More from Details:
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Tipping point – family locked in restaurant for skimping on mandatory gratuity
Visitors to the U.S. – avoid these tipping pitfalls
Give a snarky quip (and no tip) and thy receipt shall end up on the internet

soundoff (995 Responses)
  1. Caroline

    No, if you order 1,000$ in wine or a plate of 60$ tuna you still should tip 20%. Usually at places where there are high prices like this you're paying for the presentation, not the food. ALSO in places such as these most servers have to tip out based on their SALES, not their tips. So say you tip 10$ on that 1,000$ bottle of wine and the server has to tip out 3% (which in most cases is what it is) which equals 30 dollars you have now cost that server money, 20 dollars of money. Meaning they paid the host or bartender money while they worked for free, NOT COOL! And side note, if you come into a restaurant using a 25$ coupon or any coupon in general, it's proper etiquette is to tip based on the original balance, not the discounted price. The server still served you 50$ worth of service so why would it be okay to tip on 25$???

    June 18, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Reply
    • Palaniappan Rajaram

      - Presentation is part of the cost of the product. Tip should be based on service and should be OPTIONAL!!!
      – We have heard this same song and dance a 1000 times that the servers are required to tip out based on their sales. Well, that is a BAD SYSTEM that they are willingly working in. That is not and should not be the customer's problem.
      – "they paid the host or bartender money while they worked for free" ... again, the waiter chose to do that. The customer didn't bring in that practice.
      – If you want to tip 20 or 200%, that is entirely your choice and feel free to do that. But, you do not get to make that a blanket rule and look down upon others who do not share your viewpoint.
      – How about if I ordered expensive caviar worth $5000? Should I fork out $1000 to the waiter who brought it over to me and may be while I'm at it, fund his/her new house?
      – "The server still served you $50 worth of service ..." The contract is between the customer and the establishment owner. It is not between the customer and the server. So, it doesn't matter whether he/she provided you with a product (not service) that is worth $50.

      June 19, 2014 at 9:21 am | Reply
      • John Irby

        Please, for the love of god DO NOT ever EAT OUT AGAIN! Servers live on tips. If you think tipping is optional than DON'T EAT OUT! PERIOD. Don't order delivery either. My fiance gets paid just enough on her delivery job to pay for gas, stiffing her means she DOESN'T GET PAID!

        July 30, 2014 at 11:43 am | Reply
        • Palaniappan Rajaram

          "Servers live on tips" .. This is the same story I have heard over and over and over again. Your logic is "I need the money, so pay me". That is stupid! Everyone needs to make a living but everyone should work towards putting together a system that is fair to EVERYBODY! Just because you find the customers easy to get money from, it doesn't mean that you should. The establishment creates that system because it is easy for them to push the responsibility on to the customer. Let them pay their workers a proper wage and bake that into the cost of the product.

          "DON'T EAT OUT! PERIOD" ... This, my dear Johnny boy, is not for YOU or your fiance to say. My contract is with the establishment and not with the server or the delivery person. Tipping in general is getting waaaaay out of hand. Ever increasing percentages, expectation of tip even when it is carry out .... it never ends.

          Ask your fiance to tell her employer that he/she needs to pay for gas. Ask her to change the bad system that she gladly accepted. Stop crying to the customer.

          I do tip and tip well but this DEMAND that you be tipped is very off-putting and I will never tolerate that. If you don't like it, do find another line of work.

          July 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
        • me,myself and i

          contract between you and server = tip
          contract between you and restaurant = subtotal + tax

          July 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • Palaniappan Rajaram

          Yea? Show me that contract which you claim exists between me and the server. You demand and you will get NOTHING!! You do your job and go on about your business, may be I will give you something. Got it?

          August 2, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
  2. sununderclouds

    Today after I tipped my regular standard $5 for driving down the street to where I work I jumped online to see if I was tipping too much or too little. This driver said, thanks for the tip. No driver has ever thanked me before.

    As to some prior comments – yes ordering online keeps my fat a$$ from having to cook or multi task beyond what I choose to handle. But sometimes I second guess whether I should even order with all the spitting comments. The thought grosses me out.

    And to those who don't tip – get off your fat a$$ or high horse and get tipping.

    I once worked as a waitress in the same company (diff location) as I now order from and the other waitresses ALWAYS sat the non-tippers in my section b/c I was ALWAYS polite and respectful and never treated those people or their children any different from those who tipped – but who do you think had to get extensions on the light bill or go with out groceries at home? It wasn't the other waitresses or the non-tipping customers.

    I will keep tipping the usual $5 for now.

    May 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  3. XXX

    This is really inaccurate. Most of this sounds more like what to tip if you want spit in your food. I had to stop reading because it got worse and worse. We usually deliver 15-20$ worth of food and 3 is the absolute minimum that doesn't get spit. And yes there is a "no tip list' hanging in our store with all the names/addresses of those who continuously tip bad.

    April 14, 2014 at 1:49 am | Reply
  4. JD

    The fact many non-Red states even waiters make at least minimum wage. There isn't a special lower rate like in say Texas were it could be as low as 2 something an hour. In California, New York or basically any state that voted Obama they get at least minimum age. So ask yourself, do these people deserve more than say someone who's working in some movie theater or fast food restaurant.
    I think delivering things is an easier job, at least you're in your car and can listen to music along the way. As long as they are getting compensated for gas, etc. And that's probably coming from the delievery fee.

    April 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • GG

      You clearly have no clue what you are talking about. Waiters in NY make below minimum wage (it's like $5 and change I believe). Waiters rely on tips to make a fare wage.

      Experience as both a waiter and restaurant owner

      April 25, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  5. KLJ86_SadDriver

    OK I do agree with most of it to an extent.
    As a delivery driver I don't get more then
    $20 a day as my min. wage. After that its up to you.
    When you travel 10 miles for a 60¢ tip on $50 order it tends to make you want to tell them a thing or two. But as a representative of a company you keep your mouth shut to keep your job. Especially in this economic downfall Obama has put us in we really need to appreciate this service everyone takes for granted.

    This is what I go thru on a daily basis.
    Surviving the idiots on road for 10 mile to the destination, using up half a gallon of gas just to get there, once I get there I either watch them count pennies or stand there for 20 minute for the customer to come out of their office building. Once I have received money I head back to the restaurant. Using up the rest of that gallon of gas.livew gas these days are anywhere between $3-$5 depending on where you live.

    Today my thermostat on my truck when that cost $18 there goes my base pay, oh and my day got cut in half because of this issue so cut that base pay in half. My first 3 tips of the day were 60¢ on a $50 order, 1.77 on a $25 order and a big fat $0¢ on a $60 order. I made a whopping $15 tonight.

    Now I'm glad that I don't have children because this IS the ONLY job available for the last 2 years and a driving position was my last hope. I love my job, I meet wonderful new people everyday, I'm saving that single mother of 4 from cooking dinner after getting off a 12hr shift. The host of the party that forgot to feed the guests, that class full of 8 year olds that all got 100% on their spelling and math tests. I'm not by any means. Over glorifing a job any idiot can do. But I would like to point out that if it wasn't for me your fat a$$ would have to cook and clean and still manage everything else you had to do. Or maybe you would have to take your moo moo off and get your food your damn self. Ill trip over something in your yard and knock on the door again to apologize for breaking it, or tell you to becareful because the bag is full of wing grease that the ash hole that loaded the bag did. (And yes most times someone else bags the food not the drivers) Like ruining my upholstery because some didn't check the Togo box for the giant hole in the bottom. I'm the one that helps you catch your dog when it gets lose, I'm the one that makes sure your baby dont run in the street because you left your door open. I'm the one that grabs extra dressing for your salad because you've told me you like it.

    I was brought up by hard working americans that taught their children about respecting each other and to be generous especially when it comes to your food.

    Basically no one should ever receive less them $3 tip. And for those of you who don't think I deserve a tip...everyone has to start somewhere, especially if your one of the that have start all over from the bottom.

    March 29, 2014 at 6:24 am | Reply
    • Delivery driver

      SadDriver, if I might ask, what part of the country do you live in? I'm asking because your hourly wage sounds ridiculously low. I'm in Florida and the lowest wage around here for delivery is like 4.50hr, while on delivery and 7.50hr, when working inside. Just wondering so I can make a note to never move there. Btw, a 10 mile delivery area is completely stupid. Without some sort of hourly raise and/or a delivery fee for you to keep, by my calculations, I think you may be spending money instead of making it. Also,what do you deliver?....pizza, steak,chinese? Lastly, don't sell yourself short, I've been delivering a long time and trust me, "any idiot" cannot do your job. I've seen quite a few intelligent folks give up after the first day.

      March 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  6. ryan

    I usually just give them the chang if a order is $42 I give them a 50 and say keep the change this is because its easier and a lot of times the tips are what delivery drivers count on

    March 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  7. comida a domicilio


    IT seems like every week now where there’s one holiday or another to celebrate, cook for or plan around. This time we’ve got Valentine’s Day popping up on the calendar, which means for those of you with significant others it’s Go-time for hurriedly surfing Amazon, checking out how many month’s salary a bouquet of roses is going to cost and subjecting yourself to the frustration of trying to make last-minute reservations. Well, from the team here at Delivery Hero, we wish you the best of luck! This guide, however, is for those of you that will be staying at home and commiserating over a bucket of Cookie Dough ice-cream. We’ve got a few takeaway suggestions to go with some classic movies that will help you win at Valentine’s Day…

    February 27, 2014 at 5:19 am | Reply
  8. Thinking things through

    I seldom get food delivery, but i did last week in western Pennsylvania when I was travelling through, and had to stop due to snow at a motel earlier than I thought I'd stop. I was informed by the desk that several establishments delivered food, so I ordered pizza. I overtipped for the convenience. (I can tell, because the guy smiled happily on receipt of his tip, from someone at a motel he was not likely ever to see again.)

    February 23, 2014 at 9:01 am | Reply
  9. adam

    Gas is $4 a gallon where I live. I get minimum wage, none of the delivery charge, taxed, my tips are taxed, we pay for insurance, taxes on our cars, wear and tear, drive through bad weather and dangerous areas, you need to tip. I took an $800 catering order the other day and got a $30 tip. That sort of thing makes us go slow. If we know you're a bad tipper we take everyone else's orders first, drive legally slow to your house, and are curt. Why bother? If you show us you don't respect us we'll return the favor.

    February 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Adam, you are absolutely correct. However, until restaurants make it a priority to explain the tipping system to its patrons (and even that won't have a huge impact) people will continue to game the system. I have delivered for years, (pizza, Chinese, steak houses) if people aren't told (about the need to tip) from a young age or have never done or know someone who has delivered they will never tip. It is simply seen as money they are saving, if they even think about it at all. In fact I would wager that if the restaurant gave them free food delivered for life, they still would not tip. Shameful

      February 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
      • Palaniappan Rajaram

        What is shameful is that you have been raised to expect that if you are nice to people then that action should translate into $$s. Instead, if your parents had taught you to be nice to others without any expectation and then ask the appropriate person for a raise when and where you deserve one, you wouldn't be going around talking about how shameful it is not to tip or to tip "poorly" according to you.

        People, I believe you meant the customers, are not gaming any system. The one who is screwing you royally is the employer to whom you don't have the guts to complain. The restaurants don't have to explain the tipping system to its patrons. They just have to add a service fee to the check and pay you at least the federal minimum wage. Then, the customers can decide where to eat. What you, the waitstaff or the delivery drivers, want and like are the higher returns which accompany the unknown i.e. the tip being optional and people tipping you an increasingly higher percentage. You should know that with any unknown with higher rewards, the risk is higher as well i.e. some people will either not tip or tip an amount that YOU deem as inadequate. The contract is between the establishment and the patron and NOT with the service folks. It is not a very difficult concept to understand.

        Other than you people's expectation that the customers should absolutely tip, no matter the service quality, what I find more laughable is this expectation that the tip has to be 15..18% or higher! Not one person has provided a rational explanation as to why the tip percentage has to climb.

        February 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Reply
        • Dan

          I never said anything about being nice translating into $, it seems you came up with that on your own. No matter how much it pains me, I'm nice to my customers whether they tip or not, that's just part of the gig. Believe it or not sometimes it translates into $ in the future. When I was growing up, I guess we were sort of poor because I can only recall getting food delivered a few times, it was definitely a rarity. In the beginning of my working career, I did jobs that were considered "raise worthy". Generally jobs based on tips are not classified as such. In fact, recently most pizza places no longer pay minimum wage but instead, about two-thirds of that(while physically out on delivery). There is basically no possibility of a raise unless you go into management(which is not worth it, I've done it). As to your remark about "us" looking for higher returns, that's true, but take this into account: A fair wage for a delivery driver or wait staff member would be somewhere between 15 and 20 $ an hour( considering what those two jobs intail). In order for the employer to pay that much the price of your food would have to double, possibly triple. Would you be willing to pay as much as three times what you currently do, just to avoid a tip? Finally as tipped workers we do not expect a tip every time, we know when our service may be considered inadequate(hey,nobody's perfect). However, when the service is good, and there is no tip, that's not right. If you're trying to save a buck avoid restaurants and delivery entirely, there are plenty of other options. Thanks for your input on the subject, however misguided it may be.

          February 22, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
    • Delivery driver

      At my place if we are dead slow and I get a delivery to someone I know has never tipped in years, I will quote them 45 min delivery time and even if they are 2 blocks away, I'll drive around until its almost late and arrive just in time. I'll give them dozens of chances to tip before I resort to this practice. Having been around drivers in numerous different places, i can tell you this is a very mild retaliation, however I've heard many others say that they have done far worse, I'm just too nice to ever spit in anyone's food. Anyone out there who doesn't tip needs to be well aware of this and either start tipping or pick it up yourself. Not all drivers are as nice as I am.

      February 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
      • Palaniappan Rajaram

        That is passive aggression. If this is such a big problem for you, why don't you, with the same amount of aggression, talk to your employer and DEMAND that he/she charge the delivery customers a specific amount that is set aside for the driver as tips? If you don't have the stomach to do that, then you should continue to let yourself be at the mercy of the customers and accept whatever tip (you know, the amount which is entirely OPTIONAL and at the discretion of the customer) they give you. You may be better than those other drivers who spit on the food or do other things which are indicative of their very poor and classless upbringing but your behavior is not so much better than theirs that you can feel proud of it.

        "Anyone out there who doesn’t tip needs to be well aware of this and either start tipping or pick it up yourself." <– This statement is not yours to make i.e. the delivery drivers. The company which hired you offers a service and doesn't tell the customers that a tip is not a tip but a mandatory service fee. If they did the latter (you should tell your company to do that) then you won't be begging for tips. All of you waitstaff and delivery folks are barking up the wrong tree. TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYERS!!!

        February 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Reply
        • Delivery driver

          Before gas went way high, (4$ a gallon) my place didn't charge a delivery fee. Now it's a 1$ charge, of which I get half. Even though gas has gone down a bit, the delivery fee has stayed in place. There were just as many customers not tipping without the fee as with the fee. I,along with many others,have requested that we receive a fair charge from the customer that we would get to keep, so as to not have to rely on a tip,but without some kind of union being formed, that will never happen. I enjoy my job,even when I don't make much money. I like to drive around and not have a superior constantly breathing down my neck. Like any other position, it has pros and cons. By and large I do much better than others with similarly low skilled positions. You seem to be trying to justify to yourself that you are indisputably correct when in reality you are just a cheapskate. If you don't want to tip a driver, buy a car so you can go pick up the food yourself. If you don't want to tip the waitstaff learn how to cook for yourself. Somehow I get the feeling that I won't be convincing you any time soon. It's a bit difficult to imagine that there are many others with opinions such as yours, I can only assume that you have never worked a similar job or had a close friend/family member that did. If you did,perhaps you might have a better understanding .

          February 23, 2014 at 2:54 am |
      • What?

        So you'd rather waste the company's and other patrons time, your gas, and durability on your car just to spite a non tipper? Sounds like a bad employee. Be thankful you have a job in this economy you unimaginable shit.

        March 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Reply
        • Delivery driver

          I am grateful to have a job in this economy. Had it for 15 years. I think if I was wasting so much time theyd have fired me by now.Yeah, I know it sounds horrible but believe it or not,sometimes the non-tipping customer will stop ordering, making my actions justified. Obviously i dont have to resort to this very often but its effectiveness is undeniable.The owner of the establishment has had his/her time wasted by customers who don't tip as well. What's that you say? Why would they care? Here's why. First, people who don't tip, usually order the least amount of food they can. If most of the delivery orders that come in are for small amounts, the restaurant is doing a lot of work for very little profit. Second,if customers don't tip much or often, the drivers will quit. Delivering is an expensive job. If you don't manage your money and save for repairs and maintenance your done. Without enough tips you can't save anything. For every 5 drivers we get 4 of them are done in less than a year. Hiring and training people is not free. I am not a bad employee, I'm the best employee

          March 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
  10. Private personal training Long Island

    I'm a 20% to 25% tipper.

    January 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  11. jelo

    Tip should be whatever the current price per gallon of gasoline plus a few bucks.

    January 19, 2014 at 12:20 am | Reply
  12. Food Delivery Guy

    I worked for a restaurant as a food delivery guy. I am not a racialist, however 9 out of 10 Obama’s relatives don’t tip even in a very bad weather conditions.

    January 18, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • keem

      obama relatives..do you mean his White side, in which he was raised? or his african side?
      i think its economic scales. pretty sure if you deliver to a middle class- mixed ( all races) they will tip about the same. but if you are delivering to working poor, or lower class, whether black, white or whomever, or projects to trailer parks- they will tip the bare minimum.

      February 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Reply
      • Jamie Jane

        My sister used to work at a bar, she said she hated it when black guys came in because they never tipped you unless you too were black. This was a college town, had nothing to do with economic conditions.

        February 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Reply
        • Delivery driver

          In my experience it is somewhat true that African-Americans are less-likely to tip but I don't believe that it's based on economics. I think it's more of a philosophy, that is, its something that is not required, so they simply don't do it. Of course with anything this is not always the case. Many of my minority customers tip very well, it's just that by and large a majority of them do not. I've delivered to many lower class individuals who in fact tip much better than upper class ones. I've considered the reason for this over many years and have come to the conclusion that the lower class identify more and have more respect for the type of work I'm doing, while the upper class tend to look down on me. It is far more rare that I get a decent tip from a "rich" person than from a "poor" one. If anyone is wondering why I continue to do this job in spite being looked down upon, it is because I truly enjoy it much more than previous higher paying positions I've occupied.

          February 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  13. Bobby P

    One daughter's first real (Non-babysitting) job was as a waitress. Often, after I picked her up, she would talk about customers and tippers and jerks and such, on our way home. That gave me (A cheapskate, even when I wasn't too broke to add a tip.) a new perspective on tipping, and a new appreciation of those who should be tipped.

    For the past decade or so, my wife and I have arbitrarily left grossly disproportionate tips on occasion. One time, we even did the sort of trite $100 tip on a trifling check.

    That said, we usually have a closer to conventional approach to tipping on a day to day basis. We still lean toward generosity, rather than hewing to some mathematical formula. 20% has been our basis for a long, long time. Occasionally, if the job isn't all that hot (no pun intended), we may slide down toward 15%.

    To give a bit of an edge, in case my math might slight someone, I round up all totals. Check for 3.98 or for 3.08 – rounded up to $4.00 - THEN the tip is calculated - and rounded up again - for a $5.00 total. Obviously, in this instance, there would be a significant disparity in the two tips. However, if you factor in the concept of arbitrarily over tipping, it all works out. And, on a more normal bill of $20 or $50, the extra $1 or $2 dollars isn't that significant. This rounding has an added benefit. If a restaurant charge shows up with any uneven amount, it is a target for scrutiny, and thus easier to notice/catch a fraudulent charge. Or a careless spouse. :)

    More often than 15%, but still infrequently, we may slide toward a target of 25%. Even higher, with the rare 50 – 100% on a small bill. If we would tip the same waitress in the same restaurant $10 on a $50 meal, it seems wrong to tip only $1.00 on a $5.00 dessert.

    So, for pizza delivery, I think around $5.00 should be the minimum. I live in suburban Houston, and driving here from the store is neither quick nor cheap. The average cost to operate a motor vehicle (Tires, Taxes, Insurance, and such in addition to gasoline.) is 60 cents per mile. $.60 X 4 miles = $2.40. So, if the distance is only two miles, the operating costs will gobble up half of a $5.00 tip. Obviously, if the trip is 8 miles round trip, the driver only winds up with a dime or two.

    Think about it: YOU would be paying the same 60 cents per mile, if you went to pick up the pizza!! So, as a minimum, the driver should get his mileage plus a couple of dollars. On a large order, there should be a large increase in the tip.

    If you would tip 15 – 20% in a restaurant, you should tip that PLUS the mileage. After all, you're sitting in the comfort of your home, and someone else is not only physically bringing you the food, as they would in the restaurant, but also paying the cost of the trip out of his own pocket. In a restaurant, a waiter/waitress can cover several tables at once. While a delivery driver may be able to make several stops in a given trip, the number of deliveries per hour is probably lower than the number of restaurant customers per hour.

    It's easy to think a delivery person should get the same - or less than - a server in a restaurant. It's easy to be wrong about a lot of other things, too. Use Mapquest. Find out how far the driver has to drive to you from the store. Pay for the operating expense - then add a tip.

    It's already been mentioned, but also easy to forget: Weather. As I was reading the article, while waiting for a delivery, I realized it was raining. Grabbed a bit more cash to hand the guy. The night before we - like everywhere else in the country - were beset by a record setting vortex of frigidity. I hope I would have considered that, if my order had been 24 hours earlier.

    January 9, 2014 at 9:18 am | Reply
  14. bob

    "Shooting the messenger," as you say, is completely ridiculous. Other have mentioned it is often the employees who work the counter or in-store who misquote times and forget to bag items for the driver(s). So lets say its snowing and the roads are sh!t and there is only one driver working... yeah, your order is going to take longer and if you didn't speak to the person bringing your food then you aren't getting an accurate time. Quoting accurate times can actually be quite difficult if you don't understand the delivery area, road conditions, etc.

    Delivery fees typically do no go directly to the driver. The store I work at charges about $0.50 per item which I receive one of. For example, someone orders 10 things I do not receive $5.00, I receive $0.50 (on my paycheck, not in my hand).

    Tipping a person who is using a bike/walking more than someone using a vehicle is also ridiculous. For one, its not always feasible to use a bike or walk depending on the delivery range.

    Where I work receiving a $2.00 tip can be considered "decent" because people typically tip less than that (often times if a person's order is something like $19.14 they will hand you a twenty and basically tell you to f**k off). Its ridiculous that people still ask, "is it customary to tip?"

    "$3 for up to $15 of food, $5 for up to $25, and so on. I think 10-15% is a good start. Restaurant employees, of course, will argue for more." – This is an excellent scale and the people who are arguing for more? They are morons and don't realize how good they actually have it.

    Bottom line: if you can't tip don't order because you can't afford to eat at a restaurant. And if you live close to a store where you are ordering delivery and don't tip go pick it up yourself you lazy piece of sh!t.

    December 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Reply
    • Josh

      Like your analysis. I worked delivery for a while in my late teens and into my mid twenties. I was pretty good at it. We had a 5 mile radius (maybe more?), and delivered in all sorts of conditions. While a buck or two was okay, three+ was really what made the night worth it. We also did work in-store, including dishes, floors, phones, making pies, etc... Made about minimum wage at the time +tips. There were no delivery fees at the time, but I did get $0.50 per run. Vehicle upkeep can be expensive! I was putting a lot of miles on my vehicle(s). I'm seriously glad I am not in the service industry any longer, and I try to remember those days when it comes time to calculate a tip....

      December 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Reply
      • Josh

        ***Don't forget that technically, if you talk to your insurance company, you're supposed to carry commercial insurance (at least that's what they told me back then), which is A LOT more expensive than personal vehicle insurance.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • springsgranny

      BOB> Maybe your biggest problem is your gutter mouth!

      December 26, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  15. Ty

    As a delivery driver myself i have a few comments on this. Most of us only make 3-4 dollars an hour. Most of us do not see any part of the delivery charge added onto a bill. A lot of times late deliveries are a result of understaffed stores or overworked drivers. Most drivers know what their doing and route themselves, knowing the quickest and most efficient order to deliver the food. Most counters or phone staff do not have any knowledge of where a driver is at any given time, therefore they are generally trained to quote times depending on amount of orders, not location of the delivery. Example, normal quote time is 35-45 minutes. if its busy it goes up to 45-55 minutes. This can sometimes result in multiple deliveries scheduled to arrive at the same time, usually leaving a customer or two irritated by a slightly longer wait than quoted. We try to make up for this on the road by using driver techniques we learn over time, but those can only do so much. The biggest thing, and i can't stress this enough, is most drivers remember both good and bad tippers. Whats more is we talk to our fellow drivers about those tippers and make mental notes. I still rush on all my deliveries, but good tippers do take priority over bad tippers when planning a route. I cannot speak for all drivers, only myself and those i have spoken to, but i will never tamper with any customers food, no matter how many times they have given me 2 dollars and change on a 50 dollar order. Understand we do it for our customers and enjoy what we do, but if everyone only tips a dollar or two we barely cover gas. If six employees at a store are ordering food and those six chip in a dollar each for tip it makes for a happier and faster driver.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  16. capriciousArachnid

    On the one hand, I really think a lower minimum wage and having the difference (supposedly) be made up by tips is a pretty lame idea; but, since tipping just *is* a thing, I always tip at least 20%, sometimes between 21% and 30% and if I can't tip at least 20% of the total bill (tax included) I don't order food. I just feel like tipping is a nice thing to do, and I like to be nice.

    December 6, 2013 at 12:39 am | Reply
    • capriciousArachnid

      Oh – forgot to add this, but the food delivery people always come in cars, not on foot/bicycle; the latter would most likely lead me to tip more~

      December 6, 2013 at 12:42 am | Reply
  17. Lili


    as someone who frequently bikes the streets of new york and frequently orders out, i have to say that every time a delivery man arrives via bike–which is almost always the case– i tip extra because i know that he/she puts his life in danger every day just to bring lazy people like me food.

    Also, if they do not have change I will tip extra for making him/her wait while i get it. I think i may be a little too liberal with tipping ,but i really feel that to tip anything less would be wrong.


    November 29, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • RavenLette

      Even in a car, the driver is still risking their life for someone else's convenience. But whether it's a car or bike, you're still one of the few who realizes that.

      December 10, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
  18. Marcene Tatevosian

    yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today.|


    November 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Reply
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