The rules for giving a gratuity sometimes seem to change by the day. The standard of 15% before tax for a waiter is so far out of date, it is almost considered insulting for anyone under the age of 50 to give such a tip. Similarly, the rules for tipping differ depending on whether you are tipping a cashier, waiter, or delivery driver. If you are confused, here are some rules to tipping delivery drivers.
Treat Delivery as a Luxury – Twenty years ago, food delivery was practically unheard of. If you wanted food quickly, you ordered it and then drove to pick it up. Very few places delivered and those that did usually charged significantly for such delivery. Today free delivery is the standard. Despite being standard, it doesn’t mean you should treat it as if it is unimportant. It is as much a luxury today as it was 20 years ago. Delivery saves you time and effort. It allows you to relax in your pajamas and eat food, rather than having to shower, change and drive for 20 minutes. Also, with the high cost of gas, you are saving meaningful money by getting delivery. By tipping as if it is a luxury, you are likely to give an appropriate tip.
Minimum Tip – Honestly, if you can’t afford to tip the driver, you probably can’t afford delivery in the first place. But, if money is tight, you should still always give a minimum tip. The minimum tip you should give is the highest of one of three values: $2.00, $1.00 per mile from your home to the restaurant, and 15% of the total price. For the first two values, anything less and the driver is probably spending more on gas and wear and tear on the car than you are tipping. For the last one, bigger orders are cumbersome to carry which means the driver is doing more work. If your order is very large, 10% is acceptable once the total tip reaches at least $10.
Tip Better in Bad Weather – If it is wet, hot, or cold out, you should give a better tip. You may be home and comfortable in your air conditioning or central heating, but your comfort is due to the driver. For mildly uncomfortable weather, an additional $1 is enough. If the weather is so bad that you would be unwilling to go out in it, double the tip or possibly even triple it.
Good Tippers are Rewarded – If you order from the same place consistently, drivers will remember if you tip well. Your orders will be prioritized when the driver has multiple deliveries and you will likely receive occasional discounts or extras. In order to get this kind of treatment you truly need to tip well. It may seem high, but good tippers tend to tip roughly double the minimum expected tip and that is how high you should tip if you want to get a good reputation. If you don’t tip quite as well later, you will still be remembered as a good tipper, as long as you are still an above average tipper.
Bad Tippers are Punished – In most restaurants delivery drivers have duties other than just driving. Usually they take orders, prioritize orders, calculate the prices, and add napkins, plates, plasticware, condiments, and fortune cookies to an order. Bad tippers don’t just suffer late deliveries, but also are likely to not receive these extras. Luke warm food is practically certain for bad tippers and soda bottles will probably be at least partially shaken. Consistently tipping under the minimum is likely to get you labeled a bad tipper. Failing to tip at all, especially the first time you order is a sure way to get identified as a bad tipper.
No Coins – You can tip $10 on a $5 order that is just down the block. If you do it with dimes and nickels, the delivery driver will always remember you as a bad customer. Coins are inconvenient to carry and take a long time to count. No matter what the check comes to, you should never give coins to the driver. Even if the total is $10.01, tip the extra $0.99, rather than give the driver a penny. Every driver ever will tell you it is better to get stiffed a few cents on a tip than to have a pocket full of change.
Don’t Play Math Games – When paying cash, most customers will pay in bills and then tell the driver to keep the change. This works great for cash, but works terrible for credit cards. No matter how good you are at math, when you are trying to calculate how much the tip should be in order to make your credit card bill exactly $15, you will eventually screw up and be off by a dollar. This gives headaches to the driver and can easily screw them out of a tip you intended to give. Always tip in $1 increments on credit cards in order to keep the math simple.
Calculating 15% – You probably won’t have a calculator when the driver shows up and not all drivers are mathematical geniuses. If you are trying to figure out how much is 15%, there is an easy trick. Divide the total bill by 10 (remove the last digit of the bill) and then add $1 to that amount. For any bill up to about $30, that is close enough to 15% that the driver generally won’t be upset. Beyond $30, you are probably ordering for multiple people and at least one person in the group should be able to do the necessary math. If not, tip $10 and get a reputation for being a good tipper.