Now This Log

Monday, 18 February 2002 : "Tipping for pickup"

Tipping: I'm unclear on a social norm. Someone brings you food to your personal habitat (house, dorm room, whatever), you tip them at least 15%, probably more. If you go to the place-of-food and pick up your own meal with a credit or debit card, there's still a blank on the slip for "TIP _ _ _ _ _". Is there a convention that one should put something there (And for what? Carrying my food to me from across the room?), or can it be left blank without one being thought rude?

Replies: 19 comments so far

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COMMENT: AUTHOR: Donny EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/18/2002 2:25:00 PM It can be left blank, as it does not apply. It's a standard credit/debit card prinout, and the TIP line is on every receipt. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Dave T. EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/18/2002 5:48:00 PM I give 5%. Obviously the service you receive is limited but it is not quite non-existant. The money will go to the server who brought you the food and who perhaps even carefully packed it for you. Tip money usually gets sprinkled around the restaurant, so conceivably the person who cooked your food will benefit from your generosity too. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Dave T. EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/18/2002 5:51:00 PM nonexistent (yikes!!!) (guess that's what preview is for)*sheepish grin* -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Neil EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/18/2002 8:42:00 PM My policy: if someone brings you the food (delivery, table service, or the like), you tip. I usually tip 20%, but that's mainly 'cause I've been in their shoes. If you go & get the food, no tip. Why the distinction? People who don't bring you the food are not dependent upon tips for part of their wages. Delivery drivers & waiters/waitresses are paid a lower hourly rate, assuming that tips will bring them up to par (or above) with the rest of the staff. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Eric EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/18/2002 10:36:00 PM A few thoughts... 1. Think of tips as incentive pay. In a service field, putting pay at risk gives them incentive to provide good service and ensure that customers are happy. Hmmm... I wonder what other services would benefit from this model (customer service reps???) 2. It is a way (allbeit inefficient) to ensure that waitstaff are paid a living wage. The proprietor will generally try to maximize profit and may consider the waitstaff to be a commodity (thus underpaying), so we pay the waitstaff directly, removing the proprietor's discretion, so the waitstaff earns a better living. This allows people to make a career out of a profession that might otherwise be a fallback, minimum wage job. 3) In some jurisdictions, waiters/waitresses are actually taxed assuming they received 15% tips, regardless of the actual tip. If their total tips are less than 15%, they pay taxes on income never received. In practice, I tip 15% for OK to great service. For poor service, I will tip 0-5% & mention to management. For spectacular service, I tip 20% and may request to be seated in their section on my next visit. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Mrs. NowThis (aka Medley) EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/18/2002 11:08:00 PM My philosophy and percentages are roughly the same as Eric's for sit down meals in restaurants. And I agree with Dave T. about the roughly 5% for food that's picked up -- someone did prepare and pack it, it's true. Although I suppose I might go lower than 5%. Thing is... all of this fuzziness and debate just goes to show that tipping isn't perhaps really such a sane way on which to run things. Also, check out Stained Apron for the scoop on what waitstaff do to customers they don't like. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: rf EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/19/2002 10:15:00 AM I'm interested by the fact that you tip 15% for simple *delivery*. I tip somebody who has to make one trip (pizza delivery, etc) something like 10%, in part because that service seems substantially different from the service of a wait-person at a sit-down restaurant, who has to take your order, get your extra sauce, check back on your satisfaction, and generally keep an eye on you for multiple visits. in a somewhat related notion, I haven't always tipped the same for counter service as for table service, because all the "server" does is pass it from the kitchen counter to yours... all that said, I would never tip at all for food that I went to pick up, allying myself with the person who pointed out that the form is multi-purpose... -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Brennan EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/19/2002 12:10:00 PM I try to be a fairly good tipper (15-20% unless the service is notably bad) both for table-service waitstaff and delivery folk, but I've never seriously considered tipping when I pick food up myself. I agree with the "general-purpose form" school of thought. I have another question about tipping etiquette, though: Is a tip expected at self-service restaurants? I'm talking about buffets, cafeterias, and the better counter-service restaurants. The kind of places where you get the food yourself, but there is staff walking around offering refills, handling special requests, and cleaning up afterwards. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: czarownica EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/19/2002 5:31:00 PM Re: Brennan's question about buffet-type restaurants where -- at such places, I usually leave a buck per person. The China Buffet staff near where we live don't seem to wince when we come in, so I hope that's all right. :-) What always confuses me are the myriad other tipping situations. How much am I supposed to give the guy who carries my luggage to my hotel room? The guy who retrieves my car from hotel valet parking (which was the only parking option)? Not that I stay in those kinds of places that often - sometimes work requires it. Then there's the taxi driver, or what about when you take a hotel-provided free shuttle from the airport? And how about the kid who delivers the newspaper? Or the woman who does such an excellent job cutting my hair (especially when I may come in with a different magazine picture every time . . . )? I've found that one particularly tricky, as I had always told you never should tip the owner of a beauty shop. But then I had a friend whose mom owned a shop, and she said, hell, yes, the owners appreciate a tip just as much as their staff! So now I tip 20% for hair cut, even though the shop owner cuts my hair. Sometimes I give her even more if I've asked for or received something special. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Mrs. NowThis (aka Medley) EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/19/2002 7:19:00 PM I'm right there with you, czarownica, wrt all those other tipping situations. Example: I'm always at a loss at hotels as to whether the doorman is thinking I'm a bitch if I don't give him a dollar, two bucks? 5 bucks? And I'm neither rich enough nor do I travel enough to stay in such hotels often enough that I'm in the habit of always having random cash ready to hand. And don't get me started on how much harder is it for women since our clothes aren't made with easily accessible pockets for such activities. . . -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Steve EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/19/2002 7:33:00 PM What I take from this discussion is that there is in fact no established norm. So I don't feel bad about not knowing. Another way to think about it: if I paid cash to the person at the counter who went and got the food from the kitchen, would I feel (or am I) obligated to include a tip? Not especially. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Rafe EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/20/2002 12:21:00 AM Let's see, at sit down restaurants I generally tip 20%, basically regardless of the service. My actual strategy is that I tip a buck for every $5 on the bill, rounding up, so if the bill is $27, I tip 6 bucks. I'm not rich or anything, but I figure that the waitperson can generally use the money more than I can. I tip my barber a buck. I should probably tip more, but judging by the regular clientele, he gets a buck more from me than he does from anybody else by way of a tip. When I go to pick up takeout, I generally tip $2, regardless of how much the meal cost. When I eat at the Chinese buffet (costs about $9), I tip $3 to cover me and my wife. Otherwise at a buffet-style place, I generally tip a buck per person. I generally tip bartenders a buck and whatever coinage I get back. I have no idea whether my tipping customs are in line with any sort of de facto standard of etiquette. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: rf EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/20/2002 9:54:00 AM some of these do have norms. I was taught that a hair stylist should be tipped 10% (and that held from the local barber to the $200 cut at Elizabeth Arden). luggage, used to be 50 cents per bag, inflationed to $1 per bag. valets I would think would get a buck or two, scaled to the fanciness of the place and the deference with which you are handled. taxis I deal with all the time. I round up plus a buck -- on a $4.60 fare, I'll give $6 even; on an $18 fare, I might give $19 or $20, depending on the cheeriness/surliness of the driver. if the ride was *really* short, I might just round up ($3 on a $2.25 fare). however, I don't scale the tip on the size of the fare so much as on the crumminess of the hours -- I over-tip at 1am (the $4.60 fare will become $7, etc) relative to mid-day... the free airport shuttle is rather between boundaries, and I just don't know. frequently I grab my own bag to eliminate the ambiguity, as I've often seen them wait for a tip if they lift it to the curb for you... different chains seem to promote different approaches among their employees, so the lack of a "standard" is not entirely the fault of the confused customer... as for paperboys, when I was growing up there was no tipping for any such regular deliveries, but you gave your local paperboy (and milkman, and postman, for that matter) some kind of holiday bonus, in cash or gift form, depending on the person. similarly, the small business that I'm part of gives our building super a holiday cash gift for keeping us running all year. for what it's worth. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Steve EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/20/2002 11:53:00 AM Ah. You know, I really did already know just about all of those norms. I was just talking about the original topic. Let me less open to misinterpretation then in my statement from above: What I take from this discussion is that there seems to be no established tipping norm for when you go pick up your own food from a restaurant instead of having it delivered. Better? -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Amy EMAIL: URL: DATE: 02/22/2002 9:33:00 AM Here's a thought -- when you go to pick up your food at a restaurant, yes, someone packed it, etc. But typically it's sitting there behind the counter or (hopefully) under a warming lamp in the kitchen. How is this any different from purchasing a product from a store? You don't tip the people at the grocery store, and someone had to stock all that food on the shelves (or "face it", right Steve??). OK, I realize restaurant people don't make even mimimum and rely on tips, which is different from regular stores, but in this case I'd agree that actually *waiting* on me at a table is a lot more work than simply taking my credit card and handing me the food. I've never tipped for carry-out service, in fact it never occurred to me. And actually, the only time I "carry-out" is when the place doesn't deliver to my area, so in some ways, maybe *I* should get the tip for selecting their restaurant! (just kidding...) -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Dineen EMAIL: URL: DATE: 03/08/2002 8:08:00 PM I do NOT tip for pick up. I consider that line an artifact of the credit card system, which is set up for the restaurant's core business of dine-in service. I tip 10% for delivery, and 15-20% for eat-in. Besides, we do the two person tag team of you-call-Hunan Gate-and-I'll-pick-it-up-on-my-way-home-from-the-Metro-and-don't-forget-to-ask-for-chopsticks often enough that they make plenty of money off of us in any event.A tip is for service, and the service comes into play when they wait on me or trek to my door. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Aaron EMAIL: URL: DATE: 03/15/2002 3:43:00 PM I never tipped for pick-up unless the person went out of their way to do something for me. However, yesterday I ordered some takeout wings, and the guy at the register handed me one of those credit card slips. I just put a slah through the tip, but today when I was checking my statement I see that they gave themselves a 20% tip even though I didn't write a tip in the charge. To tell the truth it kind of pissed me off...the guy at the register didn't do anything other than punch my order into the machine. First, I never thought it was customary to tip on take-out...I tip well when I dine in. And Second, don't write in a tip yourself like I am an asshole for not tipping on a takeout order. If you're not receiving a working wage then put a tip jar at the cash register, and then perhaps people would know you work off tips. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Ben EMAIL: URL: DATE: 03/20/2002 5:19:00 AM Given the main point of the question, which I take as how much do you tip when the delivery is the span of the counter...I'd probably be considered cheap. Not that I go to many restaurants and not sit down, but the reality of the situation, in my eyes, is that the most contact I have in a carry out situation is maybe a minute by phone, and then when I pick up the pizza, dish, whatever. To me, that doesn't warrant a tip. A tip should not be the norm, it should be the exception. It should be a privilege that is a reward for excellent service over a period of time longer than the two minute warning. It shouldn't be an automatic payment to supplement a meager income. Furthermore, I used to even feel invaded whenever I walked into a Starbucks and saw that tip jar there. Presumptuous was one word that came to mind. Now, I just ignore it. -----COMMENT: AUTHOR: Becky EMAIL: URL: DATE: 06/18/2002 8:36:00 PM Ironically, when I see a tip jar, it tells me that tips are *NOT* considered a matter of course, and therefore makes me less likely to tip. After all, you don't see tip jars by the mint jars on the way out of decent restaurants. As for the carry-out issue, I'm glad we're trying to dispel the fog. I don't see how the service involved in carry-out food could possibly be comparable to wait-on-the-table service. On small orders, I don't usually write anything in the tip area, but I do copy the food total to the "total" total, to avoid them tipping themselves 20%, as described above. I am amenable to the argument that there is some work involved in the packaging, so if I've ordered more than a couple items, I'll add $5 for the tip. Has anyone noticed a new trend among restaurants? They're writing "suggested gratuities" at the bottom of the bill, and they're calculating it on the *POST* tax total. I find that obnoxious. Becky -----
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