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 April 9, 2014

After talking to friends – smart food fans who order out a lot – I found that there’s no consensus about how to tip the delivery person. Below are a few key questions we must ask ourselves before forking over cash to the guy/girl who appears at the door bearing brown bags or boxes – and a bill.

What’s the grand total?
The vast majority of people base their tip on the number at the bottom of the bill. I’ve also known families that create round-number cutoff amounts: $3 for up to $15 of food, $5 for up to $25, and so on. I think 15-20% is a good start.

Is there a separate delivery charge?
Most folks figure that if there’s a distinct fee for the service already, why bother adding more, but your delivery man/woman may not get the delivery charge.  If there is a concern, ask the person who takes your order.  Just in case the establishment pockets the entire added delivery fee, you can always slip a few bucks into the hand of the deliveryman – distinct from the credit card total.

Is he delivering on foot, bike, or car?
I’ve heard people make the case that a man who drives a car to your house doesn’t exert himself as much as someone who bikes or walks, therefore he deserves less cash. This is a perceived sweat factor. Others, however, point out that the man who drives up to your front door has to pay for gas, parking, wear and tear on the car, and the occasional ticket.  Does the mode of transportation influence your tip?

How far away is the restaurant?
There’s more effort and expense no matter what transportation mode is used the farther the restaurant is located, don’t you think?

How’s the weather outside?

Nothing tugs at the heart strings like seeing the soaked deliveryman standing in front of your door, dripping as he hands you soggy brown bags of hot, delicious food. We do, and should, tip more when we know a person has trekked through inclement weather to bring us a warm meal. Maybe add a buck or more for rain?

Have you ordered during peak hours?
We curse the restaurant that takes an hour and a half to deliver food even when we know we ordered at prime time on Friday night. Shouldn’t some credit go to a deliveryman who manages to prioritize our house early in his route? Speedy service makes me 5% more generous!

Did the food arrive warm?
At a restaurant, you can never be sure if the blame for a cold dish lies with the server or the kitchen. But when a deliveryman hands you food that’s still hot, you know it’s freshly cooked, and that’s worth rewarding, isn’t it?

Did the food arrive within a reasonable amount of time?
Even if you ordered cold noodles, you still want them within 30 to 40 minutes. Any longer and it feels like an eternity.

Did you get everything you ordered?
We’ve all experienced the tragic let-down of the no-show dish.  Hopefully this doesn’t happen often, but if it does & the delivery guy/girl promises to come back later with the rest of your order, you can give a reward then.