How to tip your delivery driver

. September 1, 2017.
They delivered your food, but they don’t go home with enough money to feed themselves
They delivered your food, but they don’t go home with enough money to feed themselves

Look, delivery drivers could be fellow students working after class to try to make rent, or they could be older dudes working a third job to pay child support. Or they could be peers on a gap year (or three) trying to figure out how to become who you already are, a student taking a break from writing a paper to smash some savory nourishment from a local establishment.

No matter who they are, you gotta tip ‘em.

The math goes like this: most drivers make between $5 and $6 an hour, plus tips. If they don’t get tipped, they’re screwed. They delivered your food, but they don’t go home with enough money to feed themselves, or, worse, their families.

So, how much should you tip?

A good general rule for tipping is between 15 and 20 percent. Every driver knows if they’re late, or they mess up the order, they’ll lose their tip. That’s fair. But, look at it like this – on a good night, a driver makes three-to-four deliveries an hour. If the typical bill is sixteen bucks (for a pizza, say, or a couple sandwiches and a two-liter), and the tip is 15% ($2.40) for each run, then at an average of 3.5 runs and, say, a $5.50 per hour salary, the driver’s taking home $13.90 an hour. Not great, but a driver might be able to make regular car payments, or cover health insurance with that kind of take-home. But let’s say one customer doesn’t tip – now the driver’s at $11.50 an hour. Say one customer doesn’t tip and another one only throws in a buck, now the driver’s at $10.10 an hour. If two customers don’t tip, it’s down to $9.10 and bills aren’t getting paid. See how it works?

Also a lot of people think a couple bucks is fine, regardless of the size of the bill, or how long a driver waits at the door (or in the apartment lobby), so have no problem making a driver wait five minutes, and then tipping two dollars on a 28-dollar bill. If that’s one of the driver’s three-to-four runs an hour – well, better make it three because that extra five minutes cost her that fourth run – it makes for a lousy hour. And not all hours are created equally. Dinner rush between 6 and 8pm is when most drivers make most of their money. If you order a pizza at 10pm and don’t tip, or tip too little, you might have messed up that driver’s sole run that hour, the one time the driver had a chance to make some decent cash instead of just pulling that $5.50 to wash dishes in the backroom.

Also, don’t confuse the delivery or service charge with a tip. The driver doesn’t see that money. It goes to the employer. The driver works for a low hourly wage plus tips, period.

One last tip about tipping

Be careful when you pre-pay for an online-order. Most ordering systems (grubhub, eat street, etc.) allow for the tip to be added when you make your selections. But if you don’t add the tip when you make the order, a lot of times if you don’t have cash on hand, you won’t be able to tip because the driver typically can’t process a credit card. Remember, those drivers are out there in the night when you’re sleeping, studying, or Netflixing. They have to navigate traffic, all that construction that bugs everybody, and drunk people. They deserve the money. If you have it, tip it.

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