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Things I Hate #12: Round-Up “Tipping”

In almost two years of working as a pizza “delivery expert”, I’ve probably seen every conceivable tip amount within reason; in fact Sunday I got a personal-best tip of $25. Granted, that was a $238 order, but you’d be surprised how many people think $2-3 is a good tip, no matter how large the order. As a quick summary, there are three reasons to tip your delivery driver, and well:

  1. Just like a waiter, he doesn’t make minimum wage unless you tip.
  2. Unlike a waiter, he has the substantial operating expenses of gas and wear and tear on a car (currently $0.585/mile).
  3. If you don’t tip, he might spit in your food.

The minimum adequate tip would therefore be one that would enable the driver to make minimum wage during the round trip to and from your house after covering his expenses. Even for a 15 minute, 5 mile round-trip delivery, that’s about $3.50. Very few people actually tip enough.

That said, I’ve pretty much come to accept that a certain fraction of the public simply doesn’t tip. Where I work, it seems to be about 10%. That number increases dramatically, however, if you define a non-tip to include rounding up to the nearest dollar. With cash orders, this makes sense: I don’t carry change, so unless you have exact change ready for me (about 5% of deliveries) you have no choice but to “tip” me the remainder. Just to be clear, telling the driver “keep the change” is not a tip, it’s an insult.

Doing the same thing on a credit card receipt, though, is doubly insulting. It tells the driver in no uncertain terms that you want NOT to tip, but feel obligated, although your guilt can be assuaged by an amount that likely won’t pay for the gas required to bring you your food. The driver will therefore return from the delivery with LESS MONEY than he had before. Some people will try a variation on this theme by signing the credit card receipt without filling in the “Tip” and “Total” lines, hoping I won’t notice. I actually prefer customers who boldly write “0.00″, standing up for whatever warped philosophy they think they’re defending. If you’re going to cheat me out of my livelihood, the least you can do is be honest with yourself.

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