Tipping at an American diner was almost mandatory before the coronavirus pandemic. But as COVID-19 persists, customers have discovered a new requirement: to tip takeout – seriously.
And by “take out” I mean you pick up your order at the restaurant. No meals delivered to your table. No water filling. Just your meal in a paper bag.
More than half of Americans (56%) started tipping more for restaurant food last year, according to a new Bank of America survey. Just under 40% of all orders – onsite, pickup and delivery – included a tip before COVID-19. But this figure increased by 10% last year, according to Paytronix Systems.
Tips are also more generous. One-third of customers left 20% or more of the bill as a tip, on average.
“Before COVID, only a small percentage of customers tipped when they bought take-out,” says restaurant consultant Izzy Kharasch. “The pandemic has changed things. “
Take-out tip rules are unclear
But now travelers are confused.
Pattie Haubner was a generous dumpster at the start of the pandemic. She hoped her tip would support the restaurant workers behind the counter who were receiving less than minimum wage. But as the pandemic continues, she doesn’t know what to do.
“I’m put off by pre-service prompts, especially in cafes and take-out places where a $ 3 coffee makes you tip even up to $ 5,” says Haubner, a food professional. retired communications and frequent air traveler from West Nyack, New York. “But I’m afraid if I don’t dare to tip – even at a drive-thru – I’m going to get a mean look. Or worse.”
So what’s the right thing to do? Some etiquette experts say you should tip take out. Others disagree, saying customers shouldn’t tip if there isn’t table service. They are tired of guilt counseling and just wish the restaurant industry would end the confusion by paying their workers a living wage.
► Guilt tip: Travelers are under pressure for tips
Tip case on your take-out order
“Tipping takeout is the right thing to do,” says HG Parsa, professor of accommodation management at the University of Denver. “Even takeout involves a certain amount of service, and we should tip those employees.”
A tip is a token of appreciation for the service provided, and take out is a service, Parsa says.
Your tips also support restaurant workers and their employers during tough times. You may disagree with the restaurant industry’s compensation system, which allows employers to pay less than minimum wage and compensate the rest with tips. But now is not the time to protest.
“For now, I encourage you to tip takeout orders if you can, as restaurants are still understaffed and not operating at full capacity,” said Bonnie tsao, founder of Beyond the label, an etiquette consulting firm.
What is the tip for a take out order? Elena Brouwer, director of the International Center for Etiquette, says anywhere from 15% and more for the restaurant bill. “Twenty percent is even better,” she said. “And if you can’t afford to tip, order something cheaper so your caregiver can tip.”
The case against the tip
But travelers are baffled by how restaurants solicit a tip when you place your take out order. “Why do they ask for a tip before the service is rendered?” Asks Harry Clark, who owns a vintage car dealership at Phoenix.
Some etiquette experts say that tipping takeout is a bad idea.
“I don’t tip take-out,” says Adeodata Czink, label consultant with Moral affairs. “All they do is put it in a bag.”
She is also offended by payment systems that do not accept cash and that have fixed tips – 12%, 15%, 20% – programmed on the tablet. You have to push the button in front of the worker, which is annoying.
“And why?” she says. “They give you a cup of coffee in a paper cup. You can’t even sit down to enjoy it.”
Customers routinely refuse to tip a takeout order.
“To me, a tip is recognition of additional service beyond providing the food,” says Clayton Murtle, account manager for a marketing company in Brooklyn, New York. “It’s an interesting symptom of tip culture that we always feel compelled to tip when restaurants are doing the one thing that should be included in the price of food. “
He says friends have told him that even the employees who provide take-out are dependent on tips. “But why should I pay $ 18 for tikka masala just because the restaurant doesn’t bother to pay its employees a living wage?” “
So what should a traveler do? I asked Jodi RR Smith, owner of Mannerist Etiquette Consulting, for information. She says tipping a restaurant worker for good service is always polite. But payment systems that try to tip you off before your food arrives don’t ask for a tip. All that is billed before receiving the food is a service charge.
“I wish the programmers of some of these payment systems had taken the time to speak with etiquette experts before coding the choices and the interface,” she says. “Tipping happens at the end of the transaction, not before.”
In the end, it may not be good manners, but honesty in advertising. If a restaurant publishes the price of a main course, you should be able to afford that price without shame. A 20% tip on a takeout order is hard to justify, even now.
How to process a tip request for a take-out order
What do you mean as a customer? Even if you are offended by a payment system that requires a tip before you receive your food, you can still consider a take-out tip. After all, one of the reasons people tip is to recognize that the compensation system of many workers in the hospitality industry makes tips a vital part of a person’s pay. So if you want to make a statement about the unfairness of the system – and make no mistake, it’s unfair – “then go ahead and tip,” says Nick Leighton, host of the weekly podcast on the label. “Were you raised by wolves?“
Consider adjusting your tip. This is the advice of Lisa grotts, an expert in etiquette with The Golden Rules Gal. She takes care of tips on take out orders and recommends 20% by default. But if something goes wrong, some systems allow you to increase or decrease the tip. “I experienced a delivery service where a tip can be adjusted after the fact if something goes wrong,” she says.
Follow your instincts. At the end of the day, you have to do what you think is right, says Diane Gottsman, owner of texas school of protocol. “Just tap ‘custom tip’ or ‘no tip’ if you’re feeling strong,” she said. “Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable to press that ‘no tip’ button – but it is. important to follow your instincts. ” She notes that a tip is respectful in many circumstances, but not in all.