How Much Should You Tip the Delivery People?

Published on January 25, 2014

Pizza Hut Delivery

Tipping at restaurants is fairly clear-cut. The standard number is 15 percent, and it’s recommended that you increase or lower that by five percent depending on the quality of the service. The reasoning is that waiters and waitresses are usually paid less than minimum wage, and they rely on tips to keep themselves above water financially.

The same isn’t always true for delivery people. It’s much more common for them to get paid a flat fee for each delivery, and the extra cost is included in the price of your food. Whether that fee is enough to meet or surpass their costs will differ according to state laws and company policies, and sometimes they don’t see a dime of the extra fee at all. You’ll need to do some research on your local businesses and corporate chains to get the exact numbers, but there are a few general things to keep in mind when calculating tips.

Cracking the Guessing Game

Nearly every worker in the food service industry gets at least minimum wage for the work they do within the store when there aren’t any deliveries to be made. While some places will provide a vehicle or a bicycle to their workers, they’re generally expected to use their own transportation for deliveries, and the usual compensation is between $0.50 and $0.80 to cover their gas mileage as well as wear-and-tear on their vehicle. Normal pay is sometimes suspended during this period because employees are expected to get enough in tips to cover their usual wage, and it’s best not to assume that just because delivery costs extra that they’re going to see any of that money in their paycheck.

So How Much Should You Tip?

The standard numbers for restaurants work surprisingly well in these scenarios. The system is complicated and varied, but the end result is that most people within the food service industry aren’t paid enough for what they do. Tipping any less than 10 percent will drastically lower someone’s hourly earnings, and unless the service is unusually bad or that company’s system is substantially different from the norm, there’s no justifiable reason to tip less.

Fifteen percent is a fair tip for most delivery people, and since it usually translates to only a dollar or two more than a ten percent tip, it doesn’t increase your cost very much but it can make a world of difference for the person who brings you your food.

Sometimes there may be exceptions. For instance, if you have made an exceptionally large order, anything less than twenty percent would be unfair to the delivery person. That’s especially true for orders that require multiple trips. For them, fulfilling your order is an opportunity cost because they can’t make as many deliveries within the hour as they’d be able to otherwise, so getting a small tip on an order that takes a half an hour to complete is almost like working for free.

Be Kind to People in the Food Service Industry

Waiters, waitresses, and delivery people all rely on you for their wages over their employers. They do relatively thankless jobs for inadequate compensation. They’re average people trying to get by, and making the experience more pleasant and profitable for them won’t just make them happy, it’ll ensure that you get better service in the future.

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