There’s one way to drive the Internet wild: admitting to scrimping on your tips. Spare a thought for this international student who tipped 10% when her food arrived due, she said, to a mixture of budget constraints, reluctance to overpay and her dismay over a pre-added delivery charge and sales taxes.
“I only tipped 10% today because I was running out of my free gift card that came with quarantine,” she wrote on Reddit. “The delivery guy proceeds to fight me over it, saying, “No one tips me like that. No one.” Sorry I don’t have $5 to pay you after service and delivery fees and et cetera. Why am I the one in charge of making sure this guy gets paid enough? Look, I get it. These people deserve better. But I don’t like getting shouted at in a public lobby because I only paid 10% out of a bowl of rice that I already paid too much for. Can’t enjoy biryani in peace.” She rarely orders food — and was not feeling well that day. “I barely eat one meal a day and that’s usually gonna be some sad cup of ramen or precooked rice I got from the store. And to those who tell me to pick up the food — I was on my period today, not that I should be explaining myself like this …it was painful to walk. And that’s not even the point of this post. Lastly, for those who say, ‘If you’re poor why are you ordering food!’ I swear some people don’t even read posts.”
“‘These people deserve better. But I don’t like getting shouted at in a public lobby because I only paid 10%.’”
The post is barely 24 hours old, and has already received nearly 7,000 comments and has been upvoted almost 27,000 times. The responses vary from people bemoaning the amount of digital guilt tipping at stores — you know when the screen asks you to add a tip for a $16 salad and the cashier is smiling at you from the other side of the counter — to allegations of being a cheapskate, and short-changing a delivery person who often works for minimum wage, has literally taken their life in their hands during the pandemic, and needs precious tips to survive on. Amid the outrage at the poster and the burden of tipping in the U.S. even at ice-cream parlors, one delivery person weighed in — and diplomatically gave some words of understanding for both parties. “Delivery driver here. Yes. That’s unacceptable. Thing with tipping is we get the opportunity to make above minimum wage. It sucks when you don’t make extra but you still walk away with more than a shift at McDonald’s no matter what. You don’t talk to customers like that about only 10%. You still got 10%. Better than nothing.” What should you tip? Before tipping, always ask the restaurant if the “delivery charge” on the receipt is actually going to the delivery workers or is merely an extra fee charged by the restaurant for the service. In New York, studies show people tend to tip 15% to 20%. It’s often less than that in other parts of the country. I have advocated for tipping delivery workers 5% above your normal tipping rate during the first year of the pandemic, if you can afford it. But not everyone is going to have the money to tip 20% or even 15%, and if your grocery bill is $50, I can understand why a customer may not wish to pay an additional $10 or 20% on a tip if money is tight. As this poster wrote in response to the woman’s story on Reddit: “God, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been broke and sheepishly said, ‘Sorry about the measly tip, I usually tip better and not one single driver has ever given me a hassle.’”
“Before tipping, always ask the restaurant if the ‘delivery charge’ on the receipt is actually going to the delivery workers.”
I asked Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, Fla. “Tip at least 15% to 20%,” she said. “I usually tip $4 on a $20 pizza, but it’s not going to make or break me by giving them one more dollar. However, I am also aware that there are a lot of retirees living in this state, and not everyone tips like I do.” But does everyone really tip 20%? One recent survey by Square
says people in New York and Florida tip closer to 16%, and closer to 15% in California and New Jersey. So it depends on the state, and the tipper. Case in point. This Reddit user commented: “I got into an argument with a Doordash
driver once who absolutely refused to take orders that didn’t tip 20% or higher. They had the right to pick and choose orders as a food delivery driver, so I didn’t have a problem with it. But then they posted on a nearby university subreddit, complaining about how little college students tip for food delivery.” Delivery people are facing hardship too. In fact, the New York City Council a week ago approved legislation — the first of its kind in the nation — that would guarantee minimum pay and regulate conditions for workers for DoorDash Inc., Uber Eats
and other delivery apps. Gustavo Ajche, leader of Los Deliveristas Unidos, a group of app-based delivery workers, said, “This package of legislation demonstrates the value of Deliveristas as essential workers.” The problem with Reddit stories such as this is that it pushes several hot-button issues — from “I’m being scammed by an aggressive tipping culture” to “don’t scam the working man.” In an ideal world, cash-strapped student and an essential worker who is delivering food, and navigating dangerous traffic are on the same side. More from The Moneyist: No, you’re not crazy. Yes, the CDC’s mask guidelines are confusing — should you wear a mask indoors even if you’re vaccinated? Jamie Dimon insists his workers return to the office — here’s why that’s a bit rich Is it ethical for cruise lines, venues, schools or Broadway to restrict entry to people not vaccinated against COVID-19?