Tipping the Driver, the Baker, the Cake Decorator?
September 2, 2010 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Should I tip the person who baked, decorated, and is going to deliver the birthday cake I ordered for my boyfriend?

So I ordered a custom birthday cake--not a fancy sculpted cake, but still, one with a custom design--from a local husband-and-wife bakery that only does delivery orders. The two people who run the business are the ones who took my order, baked and decorated the cake, and are going to deliver it today. The price breakdown I was quoted included a base cake fee, a decorating fee, and a delivery fee. In general, tipping cake decorators isn't customary in my area, but tipping delivery drivers is, and I tend to tip anyone who brings food to my door pretty generously. However, I was always taught that it isn't appropriate to tip the proprietor of a business, and that in most (but not all) cases, an additional tip isn't required when there is a fee for delivery. And since they're delivery-only, it's not like they're providing a special/additional service by delivering something I could have picked up myself. I'm not trying to justify not tipping them--in fact not-tipping would feel kind of weird--but I also don't want to tip inappropriately. So should I tip them? If so, how much?
posted by rhiannonstone to Society & Culture (29 answers total)
I seriously doubt they would consider a tip inappropriate if you're happy with their service and want to show them some gratitude. Not necessary, but probably welcome.
posted by lizbunny at 1:13 PM on September 2, 2010

Paying for their cake is an expression of your gratitude. Don't tip them.
posted by xmutex at 1:14 PM on September 2, 2010

Agreeing with Xmutex.

If it were me, I wouldn't tip them.

I view it in the same realm of not tipping the man who delivers your new fridge.
posted by royalsong at 1:17 PM on September 2, 2010

I disagree with xmutex; custom is not gratitude. My rule of thumb is like yours: if something is delivered to my house, I tip, regardless of whether there was a delivery fee. You don't know how money is divided or where the delivery fee is going, but you do know that this specific person carried something over your doorstep and into your house.
posted by griphus at 1:18 PM on September 2, 2010

Best answer: I'd offer a $5 tip. Assuming that the cake's kind of unwieldy and that the drive is about 15-20 minutes.

It's not a whole lot of money, and it greases the wheels for your next order, especially since its a small company. The proprietor might turn it down anyways, making it an act of goodwill both ways.
posted by Mercaptan at 1:18 PM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

If the delivery where from a delivery driver vice the proprietor of the business, I'd tip. So in this particular case... no.
posted by matty at 1:19 PM on September 2, 2010

posted by matty at 1:20 PM on September 2, 2010

I say offer $5 for bringing it in, but no more than that and be prepared for it to be politely declined.
posted by inturnaround at 1:21 PM on September 2, 2010

Best answer: I seriously doubt they would consider a tip inappropriate

No, but that seems beside the point. These are the proprietors of a business, and their business includes delivery of their goods. I don't think it is necessary to tip the owner for deigning to deliver what you purchased.

I would tip an employee, however, per custom--and $5 seems appropriate, assuming the cake gets there in one piece. But the owners have the privilege of setting their prices to what fully compensates them for their time.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:23 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Absolutely tip them. The basic rule is, if you think you might want to, just do it. It isn't ever inappropriate to be nice.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:26 PM on September 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Tip 5 dollars. They'll pass it on at some point. The world will be a better place.
posted by milarepa at 1:28 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I ordered cupcakes from a baker / decorator / deliverer once. When I tried to tip her, she declined, and was pretty clearly displeased. It was a very awkward moment. So I vote no.
posted by charmcityblues at 1:31 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I completely disagree.

When I cater, the client tips me.

I recently tipped the pastry professional who made and dropped off the desserts for an event I organized. I would have tipped the baker (who was also the delivery person) even if it the client hadn't paid enough to make a generous gratuity possible -or- if the event had been mine.

I sympathize with the dilemma, tho. My new stylist is also the salon owner. The first time, I didn't tip on the principle of not tipping the owner. I felt so shit about that for 2 months, I triple tipped her last Friday when she did my color and cut.

If you have to post an AskMe about it -- TIP!
posted by jbenben at 1:34 PM on September 2, 2010

If you have to post an AskMe about it -- TIP!

Then it's not a tip. It's an obligation.
posted by xmutex at 1:38 PM on September 2, 2010

Just ask -- would you take it amiss if I gave you a tip for the fabulously helpful delivery service? And then produce your tip or not depending on the answer. (Maybe tuck or not in pre-prepared nice thank you card.)
posted by bearwife at 1:38 PM on September 2, 2010

If you plan to order again, why not tip?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:39 PM on September 2, 2010

When I tried to tip her, she declined, and was pretty clearly displeased.

I have never heard of this happening before and I once tried to tip the dude behind the counter at Swarovski. I think that may have been her disposition as opposed to any sort of principle in play.
posted by griphus at 1:40 PM on September 2, 2010

You are paying a specific fee for the delivery of the cake, they are explicitly not going out of their way to bring it to you. I say don't tip in this case.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:46 PM on September 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for all the thoughtful responses! What I'm getting from the aggregate is that I probably don't have to tip--they likely set the prices such that the delivery is worthwhile for them, and probably won't think I'm a horrible person and spit in my next cake if I don't--but a $5 gesture of gratitude and goodwill isn't a bad idea. I'll go with that and report back after delivery!
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:47 PM on September 2, 2010

Best answer: Regarding delivery fees, usually for a pizza place, I realize the driver isn't getting that money, so I tip them well. But these people own their own company, so they're getting the delivery fee.

Instead of a tip, I would write them a thank you letter or card after the fact telling them how much you enjoyed the cake - maybe send them a picture of the recipient with the cake. That's going to be a little more valuable to their business than $5.00. I know when I walk into a business and they've got a lot of thank you cards hanging up, that they're probably pretty good at what they do, hence the appreciation.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:51 PM on September 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, I like the picture/thank-you card idea, too! I also love seeing cards hanging up when I visit stores and restaurants.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:54 PM on September 2, 2010

They own the company, so rather than tip them, if you're happy with the cake send a brief handwritten letter saying how happy you were with the cake and that you'd do business with them again. Small business proprietors always appreciate being able to have a satisfied customer file.
posted by davejay at 3:12 PM on September 2, 2010

Or, uh, exactly what NoraCharles said. So there.
posted by davejay at 3:12 PM on September 2, 2010

I agree that a $5 tip is much lower than I'd give. I'd tip, or try to (at least $10, if not $20), and if they refuse it, so be it. I'd also ask for a few of their business cards so I could recommend them to friends, they may appreciate that more than money.
posted by lemniskate at 5:38 PM on September 2, 2010

$5 tip...thats more of an insult than anything. If you're going to tip, tip well.

hal_c_on, you are easily insulted.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:44 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I work for a local husband-and-wife team bakery that does a lot of cake deliveries. If you can afford to tip and would like to, I think it would be a lovely gesture. Depending on how much you are paying for the cake $20 sounds reasonable. I have never seen my bosses get upset when offered a tip. If you don't want to or aren't able to tip, I think that's fine too.

Whatever you decide to do, just be excited to see your cake. At the bakery where I work, we often spend a whole day on custom cake, and if it's just two people in the operation it might take even longer. A lot of time and effort (and occasionally tears) goes into a well made cake. We LOVE it when people are really happy to see their cake. That's an awesome tip.
posted by reBaker at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2010

I manage a bakery/coffeeshop combo and deliver cakes most weekends. I agree with others that stated if the delivery person is a regular employee (driver or entry-level employee), please tip them for delivering. But if they are the proprietor (or manager of operations), do not.

Also, those thoughtful cards with pictures sent to us after the event really so mean a lot to us...a lot! Also leaving positive feedback (on Facebook or Urban Spoon, etc) is better than a money tip.
posted by ms.jones at 8:12 PM on September 2, 2010

If it were me, I wouldn't tip them.

I view it in the same realm of not tipping the man who delivers your new fridge.

WTFBBQ? That dude should totally get tipped!
posted by StarmanDXE at 9:15 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So the cake was delivered yesterday evening. After a lovely conversation with the woman who baked and delivered it, I showed appropriate, genuine enthusiasm over how awesome the cake looked and handed her price quoted + tip. She asked me if I needed any change and smiled big and thanked me when I said no. I consider the transaction a success!
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2010

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