A reader asks how to figure out what to tip on a food delivery3 min read
QUESTION: How much are people tipping for food delivery these days? I heard that pizza delivery people pay for their own gas, so should they get more? Do delivery places ever add a tip to the bill? For the last year I have been adding a little more when I had food delivered to the house, but now I want to go back to a general amount of money that I gave before the pandemic. What should I do?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: When I think of tipping, I sometimes think of giving. If you are able to tip more, I’m sure it’s appreciated. If not, go back to what you feel comfortable with.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think tipping is always tricky and personal, especially when you consider that tips are calculated into restaurant workers’ wages here in the United States — so a worker might get paid very little salary because salary decision-makers (like business owners or lawmakers or what’s custom in a community) expect that their tips will offset it. And in many cases it does, but it is hard for the consumer to know what’s fair and what’s not fair.
Tip as you are able, and keep that in mind. In my mind, delivery drivers get at least 15% for bringing you the food in their own cars, but I don’t know if that’s enough or just right. If I drive to the restaurant and walk up to the counter to get it, I usually tip 10% to 15%. I am sure any amount is appreciated and put to good use, especially as prices of gas and food and everything are going up. But they’re going up for us as consumers, as well. As you budget for eating out, though, include some amount of tipping in that budget and not just the price of the meal.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Sometimes there is a written suggestion on your bill about what amount you should tip. Whole Foods and Instacart have tip estimates of what is appropriate.
There are people who have tipped more during the pandemic, but like you, wish to return to the tipping that was required before that. Then, there are those people who are tipping 20% of the bill no matter what the service. There are also those people who pick up food items from drive-ins and don’t tip anything. (Readers, do you have an opinion on this one?)
Twenty percent of the bill for extra-good service is still an appropriate tip in restaurants. Call the pizza restaurant to ask about their tipping policies and ask about how the delivery people pay for gas. They might need a little extra. Really, tipping is a private matter, and only you can make that call about what you can afford.
GUEST’S ANSWER: RICHARD ROSSER, creator of Color Surprise and Piggy Nation: With all of the delivery options available, tipping has become a science unto itself. Each delivery service adds its own fees and many times the actual deliverer receives little or none.
So … There’s no blanket answer to your question. I’m afraid you’re going to need to do a little research for each type of food you eat.
For delivery apps, you’ll have to look through the fees and charges to determine if an extra tip is needed to compensate the driver. Regarding pizza deliveries, I suggest calling your favorite pizza place and speaking to the manager about drivers having to pay for their own gas. Kudos to you for considering folks who are working hard and deserve to be compensated.
Since 2009, Callie, Lillie-Beth and Helen have written this generational etiquette column. They also include guest responses from a wide range of ages each week. So many years later, Callie is 20-plus; Lillie-Beth is 40-plus and Helen is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email [email protected].