By now many of you have seen the item that was started on reddit.com about a $1,453.93 pizza delivery, where the recipient tipped $10. You can see the Receipt Image here

There have been several of these kinds of stories of late (and reddit.com seems to be a nexus of them for some reason). Whether it is the preacher questioning why she had to give 18% to a waitress when she gives 10% to God, or the person who simply told the wait staff to “get a real job”, each of these stories sparks a heated debate.

As the father of a former server, when I eat in restaurants, I am generally more guilty of over-tipping than anything else. I have gotten horrific service, and still tipped 15% because I felt bad for the server. A great experience will have me tipping a tad over 20%. I know that the servers work very hard, and are poorly paid. They are exempt from minimum wage, so if they aren’t tipped, they are basically unpaid. I also know that poor service in a restaurant is not always the server’s fault. Reasons can range from a slow kitchen, to poor planning on management’s part, and anything in between. When I have an issue with food quality, or speed of delivery to my table, I take it up with the manager, and I do my best to make it clear that my issue is not with my server.

Bottom line, if I am in a restaurant, I tip, and I tip well.

In this particular case, though, I think there are a couple of points worth mentioning.

What else is on the bill? All we know is what is in the picture and what was said. The picture shows only a part of the bill – the total, with the gratuity added. It is basically just the credit card receipt. What we don’t see are the line items on the bill. For an order of that size, couldn’t there have been a gratuity already factored in? If so, then this $10 is over and above and shouldn’t be subject to the same scrutiny and ridicule.

Too often when people are posting things on sites like reddit, facebook, twitter and the like, they get reactions that may or may not be based in facts. Before I am willing to say that this person “stiffed” the delivery guy, I want to see the rest of the bill.

What is the customary tip for a delivery person? This particular case is an extreme example. Few of us will ever order up 85 pizzas with a bill of $1,453.98 (which – by the way – is $17.10 per pizza. That must have been some pretty darn good pizza). Because most of us won’t be in this situation, we probably won’t be doing this level of pizza delivery math. In my home I am typically ordering delivery of pizza, or other food, that is in the $20 to $40 range. If it is a simple, $15 pizza, I tend to tip $3.00 or $4.00. I wondered if that was enough. So, I did some research to find out what pizza delivery people make. What I found is that it varies widely. The general norm seems to be that their wage is in the $8.00 to $10.00 per hour range, with some kind of compensation for use of the vehicle. This is a far cry from the $2.50 per hour that wait staff makes.

Also, to be honest, the pizza guy doesn’t give me as much service as wait staff in a restaurant. He doesn’t fill my drinks, take my order, make sure that the order is complete properly, deliver it to my table, check back to see if I need anything else, etc. Basically, he picks up a box and drops it at my house. On the rare occasion that something was incorrect on my pizza, he was as surprised to see the contents as I, because he had no reason to look inside the box. As a result, he doesn’t get the same tip as if I were seated in a pizzeria.

This made me think about other types of delivery. I have had furniture and appliances delivered to my home. Some of those items had four-figure price tags. I can say that only once did I ever think about tipping the delivery person. When my refrigerator was delivered and installed, I gave the two guys $20 each. That was on a four-figure item.

What I am saying is that you can’t apply a standard 20% number for all tips. Some get more, some less. If I were to hit the Irish Sweepstakes, and bought a $2,000 television, I wouldn’t tip the dude who delivered it $400. That would be absurd.

The bottom line for me. From this whole thing I take away two main items:

  1. Don’t react to a situation until you have the facts
  2. Not all tips are created equal.
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3 Responses to Tipping

  1. Alycer says:

    We were at a restaurant in January, a table adjacent to us with 7 or 8 people, including kids left a $3.00 tip for an $80.00 tab. One of the kids LICKED the salt and pepper shakers ( enough said about that disgusting act). No parenting involved, at all. They left before we did and I said to the bus boy that the kids licked the salt and pepper shaker, and he thanked me and took them away. While the bus boy and the waitress were finishing cleaning up, ( and no fault to the waitress), she said out loud to the bus boy what her tip was. 3 of our table heard what the waitress said. My daughter, having been a waitress in college was upset. When our group was ready to leave, she walked up to that waitress and gave her a little extra money, knowing that tips make up most of their income. She went to her serving station and started to cry knowing somebody cared. I was so proud of my daughter, you can not believe.

    Love ya Bob.


    • Bobby-C says:

      That is a great story, thank you for sharing it. It shows what a kind, caring person your daughter is (no doubt learned at the feet of her parents).

      I recall a similar situation. My wife and I were in a booth in a restaurant. A couple of booths down a foursome was giving the waitress a very hard time. Demanding, somewhat demeaning of her. I could see them clearly, and when the bill came they paid with cash. When the change was returned, they pulled most of it out of the folder and left her about $4.00. I know this because it was laid out on the table. I felt really bad for her, as did my wife. We didn’t want to call any undue attention to her, so I got up to use the bathroom and dropped an extra $5 on the table. I probably only raised her tip to about 10% for that table, but I felt like she shouldn’t have her night completely ruined.


  2. springs1 says:

    “On the rare occasion that something was incorrect on my pizza, he was as surprised to see the contents as I, because he had no reason to look inside the box.”

    There is a reason, it’s called a *TIP*, DUHHH! If the pizza delivery guy is too lazy to look in the box to check the order to see if you have the correct pizza, everything you ordered, then WHY should he get a tip, huh? I mean, that’s just lazy and uncaring service.


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