Should I tip if there's a delivery charge?
October 13, 2008 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I just moved to a new city and all of the restaurants charge a delivery fee, which often amounts to as much as 30% of the total cost, should I tip the delivery person on top of this?

Pretty self explanatory question but here's a few more details. My new city has a population of over a million and I'm living right downtown so it's not as if I'm living in some weird place that's a pain to deliver to. I'm talking about getting basic stuff delivered, chinese/thai food, pizza, etc., nothing fancy and no 3rd party delivery services, just straight up delivery from the restaurant during reasonable hours of the day (ie., not

I'm generally a pretty good tipper, but due to the delivery charges I feel like I'm getting gouged. Here's an example. I ordered $15 worth of food from a local (10 minutes away on foot) chinese food place. Delivery charge was $5 (33% of the price), and the extra $5 adds another dollar to my standard 20% tip (20% of $15 = $3, 20% of $20 = $4). Factor in tax and the total is over $25 for $15 worth of food. That means that delivery, taxes, and tip account for 40% of the total cost of the meal which seems unreasonably high to me. As such, I'm wondering if I can consider the delivery charge a "built-in tip" and only tip the delivery guy like 5% as I'm already paying for delivery?

I don't want to be a cheapskate, but don't want to feel like I'm getting ripped off either.
posted by mizike to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't. I even look to SEE if there's a delivery charge when deciding on the tip. ("Oh you already have the tip in there, great...")

I figure maybe the point trickles back up to the top that way.

(Note: I am usually a pretty liberal tipper. I hate when it's tucked in there for me. Baaa.)
posted by rokusan at 2:54 PM on October 13, 2008

(Also: Manhattan. It's still only a "some places" thing, so I don't think it's city size.)
posted by rokusan at 2:55 PM on October 13, 2008

Most of the pizza places here in Eugene charge $3 or so for devliery, and when I asked the driver how much of that they got, they said none, that it all went to paying insurance for the company, and that still didn't cover the insurance costs.
posted by The Castle at 3:01 PM on October 13, 2008

I usually throw in another two bucks for the delivery person. I also rarely have things delivered because I don't like paying an arm and a leg for something cheap and easily accessible by my own two feet.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:04 PM on October 13, 2008

Don't cheat the delivery guy. It's not $15 worth of food when it's delivered to your door, it's $25 worth of food. If you want cheap food, you have to get off the sofa and get it yourself. Delivery guys - like most service people - have it tough.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:06 PM on October 13, 2008

This is why places with free delivery make a point of advertising the fact. I don't think it's outrageous to pay more for food brought right to your door - if it bugs you that much, order more and eat it for a couple of days. Always tip your delivery person - if not for them, then for yourself - I used to tip my pizza guy over 15% and I never waited more than 1/2 hour for a pizza.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:31 PM on October 13, 2008

Don't count on the delivery guy getting a cut of that delivery charge!

I think the most pissed I ever got at a customer was this summer when a customer tipped me two cents for making her $45 worth of assorted smoothies, lattes, and cappucinos.

NEVER piss off someone who is handling something you're going to put in your mouth.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:40 PM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

If delivery drivers are getting stiffed by not getting the delivery charge, they should quit their jobs.

I have never tipped when there is a non-trivial delivery charge (which I define as greater than $1) nor do I ever plan on. The restaurant very well could be using that for profit, but that's their business, not mine.
posted by saeculorum at 3:45 PM on October 13, 2008

it is all about the karma...

frequent the same establishments, get to know the staff (including the delivery person), treat them well.....

I worked for tips once... the reality is, what goes around, comes around...
posted by HuronBob at 3:53 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, you should tip. But in the case of a place that is charging $5 delivery on $15 of food, you should look for a different place to order food from, or go pick it up yourself. I used to use a food delivery service here in LA, until recently I got fed up with their constant charge hikes and extra charges (gas charge, oh PLEASE). Finally they screwed up my order and were crap about fixing it - so that was it for them. I totally understand what you are saying about feeling ripped off, but don't punish the driver for the restaurant's ripoff policies.

Look around for other restaurants that offer free delivery, and tip the driver well. If you are a repeat customer they soon learn which customers tip well and which do not, and the good tippers often get faster delivery.
posted by Joh at 4:04 PM on October 13, 2008

Yes- tip please.

When I delivered pizzas for Round Table Pizza I never saw any of that "delivery charge" they stuck the customer with.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:18 PM on October 13, 2008

I would base my tip off the food amount pre-tax and pre-fee.

I also refuse to order from places with delivery charges.

And 20% is too high anyway. Did he check on you during the meal, make sure everything was as you expected, replace anything that was defective, keep your water filled, and offer dessert? No? Then 20% is too high.

We quit ordering from Pizzahut because they raised their food prices (acceptable since raw ingredient prices are up). And while I know gas prices are up as well, I'm just unwilling to take their hit twice.

I'll still eat there, just not delivered.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:19 PM on October 13, 2008

The delivery fee goes to the restaurant, not to the person who brings you the food. So yes, tip.
posted by emd3737 at 5:27 PM on October 13, 2008

Any charges such as that aren't something that gets kicked down to the delivery person. Those dropping of the food, just as in a restaurant are totally muling it around for you, unless you give them something. 15% of pretax total is generally considered the 'average' tip. Plus factor in the vehicle wear and tear, insurance, gas, etc. In a delivery instance, if you don't tip them they may actually 'lose' money in the end. Same goes for a lot of servers/bartenders. We have to tip other people out, generally, at the end of our shifts: managers, kitchen staff, food runners, bussers, dishwashers.

If you don't tip, you cost the person helping you money. So don't be a dickhead.
posted by ZaneJ. at 5:33 PM on October 13, 2008

Can you ask the restaurant(s) how the delivery charge is allocated? If as much of it goes to the driver as you would have tipped without the charge, then I'd say you're okay without adding a tip.
posted by winston at 5:36 PM on October 13, 2008

The delivery charge is NOT the tip. The delivery charge goes to the restaurant (they use it to offset the costs of "to-go" packaging for your food, the insurance and liability costs of sending the delivery person out into traffic, etc. - which may or may not be justified by their actual costs) If you don't like paying a delivery charge then use another restaurant, but don't punish the delivery person by withholding their tip.
posted by amyms at 6:44 PM on October 13, 2008

As a delivery driver for Pizza Hut:

- Currently we have a $2.50 delivery charge. It's gone up from $1.50 last January.
- Back when it was $1.50, we got $0.91. It jumped to $2 and our cut went to $0.96; when it jumped to $2.50 we started getting $1.01, but now that gas prices are going down we only get $0.96 of the $2.50.
- That cut goes directly into my gas tank, and the company specifically does the math so our cut is (average gas price)x(average delivery distance)/(average mpg). They keep the rest to cover their rising cost of doing business, or at least that's what we're told.
- Once delivery got expensive enough that the math started not making sense to people (I don't recall anyone noticing when their order was $1.50 more, but a lot of people notice the extra $2.50), we started getting stiffed a lot more. People started getting indignant about being charged extra, and they assume we get all of it.
- We complain about it, but the recent drop in compensation without decreasing the fee makes it kind of clear how likely any kind of a "trickle up" is.

@ saeculorum - Just because you "don't know" where the money goes doesn't change where it goes. And I spent the better part of a 18 months unemployed before this job, so I'm can't exactly quit just because my customers are becoming less courteous. Job markets are tough right now. Hell, they've always been tough here (Lawrence, Kansas, USA).

@ cjorgensen - Does typical restaurant waitstaff bring food directly to your door, using their own car? Do they drive back to your house without compensation if something gets screwed up? Try putting an extra 60-100 miles on your car every a few times a week and see how quickly it start to need maintenance. A waiter's job might not be easier than mine, but I'm not sure it's fair to say it's harder.
posted by worstnerdever at 7:09 PM on October 13, 2008 [5 favorites]

You are paying an extra $10 to not have to get off your ass and use your own gas to get the food. If you don't like it, know what to do. This is how America works, unfortunately.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:49 PM on October 13, 2008

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