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What should I tip on a large food delivery order?
March 24, 2012 10:53 PM   Subscribe

How much are you supposed to tip on giant food delivery order?

If I order $1200 worth of food for my upcoming wedding reception (off of a restaurant's catering menu), am I expected to tip the delivery driver $180-$240? I realize that 15-20% is standard, and as a former service industry worker, I make sure to always tip well. But $240 seems extra steep for 20 minutes worth of work (give or take), and we're on a super tight budget to the extent that this is the sort of detail that's going to make or break us. There's no service fee that I'm aware of, although I'm not 100% clear on that. Also, we're not using their staff for catering in any way, rather they're just dropping off hot aluminum pans full of food.

What have you guys done in this sort of situation?
posted by macrowave to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is negotiable. You should be up-front and ask them in-person or over the phone about this.
posted by jchaw at 11:01 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It sure doesn't seem like $200 worth of work to me, either It's appropriate to tip for effort and skill, but delivering 20 trays of food doesn't require any more skill than 1. There's some additional effort, but I don't tip the furniture guys 15-20%! In fact, that's a more analogous situation. Unless they help you set up or something, $20-40 would be a good tip for 45 minutes work, in my opinion. And I never leave less than 20% unless the service has been sub-par.
posted by wnissen at 11:05 PM on March 24, 2012


Short answer: I think about $100 might be reasonable.

Longer answer: I think the percent tip appropriate might go down as the amount of an order goes up.

So if there's a $5 delivery that you're making them go out specially and be delivered, you better still be giving a few dollars tip, which could be well over 50% of the order.

Then, if there's a more standard/average delivery-- say, a $30 dinner for a few people -- than the ~20% seems appropriate.

Then, if there's a huuuge order that is little more work to deliver than a merely large order, then something like 10% might be reasonable.
posted by lewedswiver at 11:05 PM on March 24, 2012


Keep in mind here that on such a huge catering order, it's not uncommon for that tip to be distributed amongst everyone who helped prepare that order. And that's not just a few minutes of work. Basically what I'm trying to say is, even for the driver, there is a lot more than 20 minutes worth of work.

delivering 20 trays of food doesn't require any more skill than 1

Yes, it does. I suppose if you carried each tray in by itself, sure, but that's going to take awhile. I know that if I saw that I was only going to get $50 for this order, I may not be so rushed to get it to you. $50 is nice, but that's less than ~4%.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:24 PM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


As a former driver, I'd be happy with $150... any less than $120 and I'd be pissed.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:27 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you do it right, you're not just tipping the driver, you're also tipping the people who dropped everything else to fill your order. The driver lost money taking your huge order to the place you asked.

My advice, make an additional check out to the restaurant and put in the memo line: "a tip to everyone who participated in our order. Thank you."
posted by Sphinx at 11:27 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


%15 seems steep, but it's everyone working at the restaurant that should be sharing that tip, they all will be working for it. Since it's such a big order, I hope you will be giving them a bit of advance notice.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:36 PM on March 24, 2012


5_13_23_42_69_666: For sure. We're actually ordering over a month in advance.

XhaustedProphet: I think what you're saying is great, but in 10+ years of serving and tending bar, I don't think I've ever been aware of the back of the house being tipped for anything (disclaimer: I've never done fine dining). I guess it couldn't hurt to set a precedent, but I don't know this to be a thing. Thanks for the idea!
posted by macrowave at 11:42 PM on March 24, 2012


Follow up: Do you guys think it would make any difference if I sent someone to pick it up? It'd be inconvenient, but if you think it would justifiably save money and social graces, I'd be down. The distance from restaurant to venue is only about two miles or so.
posted by macrowave at 11:47 PM on March 24, 2012


Picking it up certainly is an option. It absolves you of tipping the delivery driver, but personally I would still tip the staff.

Think of a waiter in a restaurant. You are not just tipping the waiter; you're also tipping the food runners, bus people, and bartenders. You're right that you're probably not tipping out the kitchen staff. My experience comes from a pizza shop. It's always a nice gesture to throw your kitchen staff some cash at the end of a long night. They're usually not making much more than minimum wage. On the big pain in the ass orders though, a good tip from the orderer gets shared, because really they are doing most of the work.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:35 AM on March 25, 2012


I would tip at least a hundred. My husband says 150.
posted by spunweb at 1:30 AM on March 25, 2012


I am generally a very liberal tipper, but in this case I think it's okay to undertip your "usual" somewhat. If you are going to pick it up, then I would say you significantly lower if not eliminate the need to tip as well.

I don't know anyone who tips for takeout. The reason you are expected to tip in restaurants and for delivery is because waitresses and delivery boys often make significantly less than minimum wage, because they are expected to make up the difference from their tips. Thus, if you do not tip them, they are actually not making their wages for that day. (Another reason why yes, you do have to tip the delivery boy: he is losing business to take your stuff to you)

Did the restaurant staff drop things to make your catering order? Yes, and that's probably included in the price-as is the fact that it is a good deal for them, as it involves only food preparation, rather than waitstaff, bussing, etc.

Another point is that when you tip, you're tipping for service received. If you tip for food preparation immediately after picking it up, you're tipping sight unseen. You have no idea on the quality of food. For all you know, they've completely screwed up the order.

That said: most wedding books do warn that tipping is a major part of the cost of these shindigs.

What I would advise doing is sending someone to pick it up and load it, and then sending a check afterwards (when you're not in oh-shit-pay-for-the-wedding mode) if you enjoyed the food to the food preparation staff of the restaurant. Include an actual thank-you card, writing something about how they made your wedding great. This will ease the sting of the late tip, while still preserving your budget, and they may just assume you're slow at writing thank you notes.
posted by corb at 6:07 AM on March 25, 2012


@corb, you are meant to tip 10% for takeout.
posted by 200burritos at 6:10 AM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


10% is very common and acceptable.
posted by belau at 6:39 AM on March 25, 2012


10%.

It's take-out not table service right? You're just paying for delivery, a lower level of service than having the restaurant staff wait tables, buss, serve drinks for a couple of hours. That's worth a 20% tip. For food delivery only, 10%.
posted by bonehead at 8:03 AM on March 25, 2012


I find it hilarious that anyone considers $100 not a good tip for a half hour's work. Maybe if the driver also saved my life with the Heimlich maneuver.

Room service staff, delivery drivers, servers, they all work for tips, I get that. I tip 15-20% for delivery when it's a reasonable order, more (percentage-wise) if it's small order, a smaller percentage for a larger order. I also tipped 15-20% to the vendors at our wedding, because they are there providing not just a service, but there's also a lot of skill in the experience they provide. If the florist or DJ does a bad job, it affects the experience of the guests. Tipping for that is completely sensible, and the only tip I begrudged was for the officiant, who left shortly after the ceremony in which he introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Nissel.

If the food delivery driver shows up as contracted (I assume you must have this in writing, right, times, amounts, prices?) within ten or fifteen minutes, they are just doing their job. Trays of food don't weigh that much, and it takes a minute each to carry them to the site and put them in a stack. A high-functioning developmentally delayed person could do it perfectly well. $240 for that service? Not even in the ballpark.
posted by wnissen at 8:07 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reason you are expected to tip in restaurants and for delivery is because waitresses and delivery boys often make significantly less than minimum wage, because they are expected to make up the difference from their tips. Thus, if you do not tip them, they are actually not making their wages for that day.

Baloney. Restaurants are required by law to make up the difference between earnings and minimum wage. This is a terrible argument.

OP, I would tip as much as $200, no less than $150. You'll make the guy's day and it'll make you feel great. You're paying out the ass for the wedding (we did,) but I certainly made my tips generous. If $200 extra is going to bankrupt you, you've spent to much on the wedding.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:10 AM on March 25, 2012


Baloney. Restaurants are required by law to make up the difference between earnings and minimum wage. This is a terrible argument.

It may be required, but it's rarely ever done, at least from what all my friends in the industry tell me.
posted by BryanPayne at 3:54 PM on March 25, 2012


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