Do You Tip on Carry Out?

by J. Money - Published November 16, 2015

chinese take out

For the second time in a row, I accidentally tipped on carry out.

The first time was two months ago when I originally meant to ask you guys about this (oops), and the second time happened over the weekend. Both at the same spot, and both times by habit because I saw that damn tip line on the receipt!

(I swear companies put this there on purpose btw, regardless if they serve anything – have you seen that? Where you’re like “Why the F do you have a tip line here when you sell socks and candles??”)

Now many of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know I have an automatic 20% Tipping Rule no matter the service (to save me both time and mental energy), but it looks like my own set of rules is starting to backfire a little. They’re so engrained that I go to add a tip at the mere sight of a tip line! No bueno! And although I did think about going back and saying I made a boo-boo and asking if they can correct it, I smartly passed so I could show my face there again ;)

Here’s my whole list of tipping rules around food btw:

  • Restaurant take out –> 0%
  • Restaurant delivery –> 20%
  • Restaurant eat in –> 20%
  • Beers at a bar –> $1 per beer (or $10 when I’m an idiot)
  • Beers/drinks at a wedding –> $1 per drink (while they’re technically free, I find throwing in a few bucks throughout the night makes for a much more pleasant experience, as well as better made drinks and special attention. Like when they close up and you’re still quite thirsty :))
  • 25¢ lemonade stands — $1.00 per cup (boy do those kids’ eyes light up!)

I feel like I’m a fairly decent tipper all in all, but whenever it comes to take out I just can never be fully convinced. I get that they had to prepare it and put it in the boxes and make sure it all comes out within a relatively reasonable time, etc, but it still doesn’t seem like I should pay extra without the service part. Which is the whole point of a tip, yeah? Going back to my socks and candles reference (because who doesn’t buy those at the same store? ;)) you’re there to pick up something for sale and then you’re off on your merry way. We don’t tip the cashiers to bag them up for us do we?

Anyways, there are worse problems in the world, but thought I’d run this by y’all as it’s very possible I’m missing something here. Plus, the “tipping” debate is our version of politics or religion for non-money nerds ;) Only we actually care to hear the reasoning in case it improves our ways! When was the last time someone you know asked to be convinced to switch parties or faiths? Haha… Especially on Facebook? The worst place to battle!

So what say you out there? Do you tip on take out? And if so, do you add the same amount as if you were dining in or a different one?

I’ve thought about tipping just a dollar or two out of courtesy, but I always feel like it would be more insulting than anything so I never do… Instead, I apparently just tip 20% even when I don’t want to ;)

————–
PS: I also have a universal wedding gift rule too: $100 no matter the relationship. You totally need to invite me to yours :)

UPDATE: Fellow reader jestjack pointed out something important: Anytime you don’t tip MAKE SURE TO CROSS OUT THE TIP LINE! That way servers don’t add something in there when you’re long gone.

[Take out box by Scott J. Waldron]

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster November 16, 2015 at 5:53 am

OMG, I totally do the exact same thing! They guilt you into it. In order to not be seen as a cheapskate, I completely fall into the “I’m a good patron/person category” and tip them for no reason. If it’s a small take-out order, I will automatically top $1.00. Larger orders (usually Chinese :P get $2.00. Insane! The funny part is that the coffee shop I frequent has the iPad app to pay. If I use my debit card (almost exclusively) they turn their iPad around and explain that the first screen is “optional”, which is the tip screen, set up with pre-selected amounts ($1.00, 5%, and 10%)! If I pay using my card, I am inevitably guilted into hitting the $1.00 tip! Cash means no tip and no guilt. We all need to stop this nonsense!

Rock on!
Mrs. Mad Money Monster

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2 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:12 pm

At least they turn it around so they can’t see eh? :)

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3 Chris Muller November 16, 2015 at 6:18 am

I never tip with carry out, but that doesn’t stop the guilt. I always feel like I owe them a tip for some reason. When it comes down to it, though, you’re simply buying their product. At least that’s the way I look at it. It’s no different than going into a store and buying something. It’s like tipping a salesman for selling you a computer. Believe me though I’ve had the same thought as you. Here’s a zinger for you… Do you tip at those places that do curbside pickup? The ones where you park and they run it out to your car? Now that’s a tough one!

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4 Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster November 16, 2015 at 6:45 am

Chris – Ooh…you know, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped at one of those places. But I must say, I probably would tip :-| I CAN tell you this, after this post, I will no longer be tipping for carry out. Thank you, J. Money!

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5 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Haha… I don’t visit any of those places either but yes I’d say the likelyhood of me tipping there would be a solid 95%.

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6 Nic November 20, 2015 at 3:18 pm

I wish I could say I never felt guilty enough to tip for carry-out but it’s a constant battle inside me (and with my wife). I hate the idea of it but I love the idea of having someone make food for me and if I frequent the place I want them to make my food right when I go back…Usually I’ll tip once every few visits.

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7 Dee @ Color Me Frugal November 16, 2015 at 7:13 am

I never tip for carry out. Seems to me the tip goes along with table service. No table service, no tip!

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8 Jen November 16, 2015 at 7:19 am

If it’s a restaurant like Chillis or the like, those people are still considered servers and are legally required to declare a portion of their sales for the night in tips – whether they receive them or not. I believe they’re also paid the server wage (ie lower than actual minimum wage). So I ALWAYS tip around 10% to them – they’re not bringing me free refills or checking to make sure my food was cooked to my liking so they don’t get 20% but they did work on my order.

If it’s more of a sandwich or pizza take out place I usually don’t. I feel confident those workers are all making minimum wage and aren’t required to declare tips so don’t feel like my not tipping impacts their financial situation.

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9 bambi_beth November 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm

This is me too. I have been a server a number of times (side hustle what!!) and packing up a to go order can be more time consuming than waiting on a table because it’s all at once and you don’t realize everything the server preps for you when you order. Also, you get into such a system with a table: first drinks and silverware, then order, next salad or soup, then you prep sides and sauces for the kitchen prepared entree… It’s more than you think.

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10 Nick December 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Exactly. Also, the server who provides your carry out order will still have it in their sales at the end of the night, which they use to tip-out other staff. So without providing a small tip, you may be making the server lose money simply by providing your carry out order.

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11 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers November 16, 2015 at 7:21 am

Call me cheap but no way do I tip for a carry out. Them preparing your food in a reasonable time is what you’re paying them for in the first place. I’ve never been tipped just for doing my job correctly. We rarely eat outside of our home because it’s so expensive but part of the reason that we get carry out is so that we won’t have to feel the obligation to tip anyone.

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12 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm

It’s kinda like coworkers bitching about not getting a raise when they feel like they’re owed one just for doing their job decently. That’s what you get paid to do! Your job! (Though fortunately the slackers help keep the bar low so when hustlers come around we look a lot better and end up getting those raises ;))

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13 Velvy November 24, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Unfortunately, the job of packing up to-go food usually falls to the servers, and at the expense of serving their tipping tables, usually in the middle of a rush. It is a lot of time-consuming work if they do even a decent job. And servers often have to split tips with the other employees.

I think it’s crap, for what it’s worth, and don’t order carry-out food from restaurants because I hate the system. But if I did, I’d tip.

Vote for tipping bans, it’s a rotten system. They’re already not getting paid for a lot of the work they do. But in the meantime, find out who’s actually working for you and pay them right.

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14 Chris November 16, 2015 at 7:24 am

My rules are almost exactly the same, but if I feel a waiter/ress is downright rude or creates a BAD experience, I am not afraid to tip 10%.

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15 jestjack November 16, 2015 at 7:24 am

Couple of things….IMHO…tips are a reward for a job well done. For me anyway, you provide excellent service and you are rewarded….you don’t …not so much…And please alert your readers to be careful to not leave the tip line blank but draw a line thru it on CC payments. I had lunch at a Pizza Hut and the service was fine. I tipped the waitress in cash and paid with a credit card. Well the waitress added $5 in the tip line to the receipt after I signed it. I realized this when I reconciled my CC bill and brought it to Pizza Hut’s attention who promised to do something but did nothing. My CC company on the other hand was VERY concerned and addressed it promptly and effectively. Needless to say we no longer go to Pizza Hut or drink any Pepsi products. And finally a while back I had an excellent waiter who was a student. We struck up a conversation and he explained that many times “the house” (restaurant) keeps a portion of the tips from staff if and when paid by a credit card. But if tipped in cash they usually do not touch it. Hence forward I have tipped in cash. He was an excellent server and was rewarded for his service. Carryout?….no tip…

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16 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm

GOOD POINT ABOUT THE TIP LINE!

Going now to make an update -thx :)

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17 Elle November 16, 2015 at 7:37 am

I’m with you J – I have no problem tipping 20% when we go to restaurants, but I just don’t feel like tipping for carry out. If I get extra service or help, then sure I’ll tip but most times, it’s a straight pick up.

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18 Michelle November 16, 2015 at 7:53 am

Nope not tipping on take out. I skid don’t tip bad service. Ex: I was a totally empty Buffalo WW once and my server didn’t come by once. I had to even get someone else to bring my check. She finally comes as I’m walking out and asks if everything is ok..,*blank stare – no tip

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19 Michelle November 16, 2015 at 7:54 am

Excuse the typos Its time for a bigger iPhone

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20 Darlene November 16, 2015 at 7:57 am

Yes I tip on take out. I was in the restaurant industry for a long time. As a server we had to tip out a percentage based on our food sales whether it was dine in or take out. So we tipped the bar, the host, the kitchen, the busser, & the runner all based on money we potentially didn’t make i.e. Take out food that we weren’t tipped on. It was frustrating. But it also happened so often (people not tipping on take out) that it was expected and in turn a very nice surprise when someone actually did tip out on take out. So glad I’m out of that industry, and out here in Cali there is a LOT of talk about many upscale establishments taking tipping out of the picture and paying servers by the hour. Again, glad I got out of that industry!

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21 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Man that sucks :( I wouldn’t be upset if they just charged more for meals and did away with tipping altogether to be honest… I love the places abroad who don’t allow tipping!

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22 Hannah November 16, 2015 at 8:00 am

I don’t do take out because of the whole tipping thing. When I waited tables, take out was a huge PITA because the cooks would cook and box up the main course, but waitresses had to box up salads, bread, and deserts. We would also ring up the order. About 5-10 minutes of time taken from my tables (always during peak busy hours) with an average tip of about $1. This restaurant was poorly run, but most are, so I think take out is a disaster.

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23 Des @ Half Banked November 16, 2015 at 8:06 am

This is an awesome question! (PS. I *love* the wedding gift rule, and may end up stealing that. At the very least, I’ll be blogging about surviving wedding season, and that’s getting a post for SURE.)

As a general rule, I won’t tip on takeout, with one exception I’ll always remember. When I was newly out of school, I lived right down the street from this amazing family-owned Vietnamese restaurant. Their food was uber-reasonably priced, but even still, I spent wayyyy more of my income there than I’d care to admit. I was there probably twice a week, either to pick up dinner or to eat there with friends, and they knew me by name. When my then-boyfriend and I broke up, they noticed within a week and gave me free fortune cookies with my takeout for the next few weeks. (How cute is that?) Anyways, I always, always tipped on takeout there, because I knew them so well, and because the food was out of this world. But at most places, no – I won’t tip on takeout.

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24 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Awwww that is so sweet :) I catch myself tipping a lot more to people/places I know and visit more frequently too. Cuz then it’s like you’re helping support friends vs just another business. And please do blog away or steal my rule! It’s been a great way to not have to think about anything anymore haha…

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25 Emily @ JohnJaneDoe November 16, 2015 at 8:14 am

I might tip on take out if it’s a place I go all the time. Back when I had a latte a day habit, I’d throw in a buck on coffee whether I was going or staying at “my” coffee shop, but they saw me at least 4 times a week. Now that I might go out for coffee once every 2 months, not so much.

We don’t really do takeout from regular restaurants, and at a place where I’m sure the staff makes regular minimum wage and not server wages, like Moe’s, I don’t tip unless I did something that caused the staff to do extra work. (When my kid was small, she sometimes made big messes and I felt the need to make up for leaving the mess.) The amount was usually commensurate with the extra work.

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26 Justin @ Root of Good November 16, 2015 at 8:25 am

I’m a cheapskate when it comes to tipping.

15 to 20% at dine in restaurants (at least a buck a head minimum, since kids are sometimes cheap/free).

Nothing at take out places. I might throw them a few bucks if I was doing one of those drive up take out things like Outback and Chilis have AND I was ordering a massive catering order. I figure those guys are making a regular wage, unlike waitstaff that get a few bucks per hour and need tips to get above min. wage.

I rarely order beers at a bar (because I host awesome parties at home! :) ), but yeah, a buck a beer is what I usually do.

I really don’t like tips but do it out of obligation. I wish restaurants would just pay the waitstaff a reasonable, market-based wage and include the tip as a service charge or increase menu prices to cover their own employees’ wages. I want to go out to eat and have reasonable non-intrusive service. When it comes to tip time, there’s always the anxiety of evaluating how the server did, what % should I leave, and does that make me look cheap? The restaurant management should be responsible for ensuring waitstaff can provide adequate service, not individual patrons who incentivize through tips.

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27 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Agreed… and exactly why I now do 20% across the board – no more thinking/anxiety anymore! It doesn’t even bother me either whether the service was great or horrible because it’s all a wash in the end.

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28 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life November 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

Ugh, this drives me crazy. And now with the new ipad square payments the tip option is included on everything! I feel like an asshole for looking for the tiny button that says no thanks.

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29 Kalie November 16, 2015 at 8:39 am

Wow, it’s been a while since we got take-out. But as I remember, we didn’t tip on it. Of course we firmly believe in tipping well otherwise. Once we forgot to tip our regular waitress at a Chinese place we frequented while dating. We went back & more than made it up to her the next time, but our friends still tease us about that incident.

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30 Heather November 16, 2015 at 8:45 am

If it’s a carry out only place or I know a counter person is handling my order no, or a small token. If it’s a restaurant it’s generally a server or bartender that is putting together the order and they are required to claim tips on that income regardless if they’ve received tips or not and are also required to tip out busters and bartenders based on their sales. I’ll tip 10-15%. I know I appreciated the tips when that was my job.

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31 Kate @ Cashville Skyline November 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

Honestly, I do tip on carry out. Is it mandatory? No. Maybe it’s because of my years in the service industry, but I tip on anything food service related. It’s kind of like a laziness tax for me. And the upcharge motivates me to do it less often!

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32 kristin November 16, 2015 at 2:55 pm

i like your idea of a laziness tax in order to eat out less often :)

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33 Alex November 16, 2015 at 8:59 am

I disagree about tipping on take out. If i’m picking up a pizza, quick chinese or fast food, then no, i’m not tipping. If i’m ordering $70 of take out from the french bistro down the street then yes i’m throwing in $5 or something in the 10% range. Having worked as a busboy/runner is a nicer restaurant I can tell you that a lot of work goes into preparing and packaging a large take out order at a nice restaurant, probably more work than just putting food on a plate and walking it out to the customer’s table.

I also strongly disagree about tipping the bartenders at weddings/events. Your hosts, no doubt are paying a 20% service fee which goes to staff, including the bartenders (which when you have 200 people at $100 a head you’re talking about a $4,000 tip). I feel that by tipping a bartender at a wedding (same w the coat check or valet) you’re basically implying that your hosts are cheap and that its on you, the invited guest, to take care of the staff.

At my wedding I put it in the contract with the venue that the bartender and coat check could not leave a ‘tip cup’ at their respective stations. I noticed a few people still threw down a couple of dollars here and there, and if thats their preference, so be it. For everyone else, let them enjoy the event they were invited to without stressing about having enough $1 bills to cover everyone for tips.

Then again, i’m just one person’s opinion. The fact that everyone here views tipping differently makes me realize just how bad a system is. I’d be so much happier if tipping were abolished and staff was just paid a living wage (which would certainly result in higher prices). Staff who provided good service would have jobs, those who didnt would lose their jobs. Simple enough. I love visiitng Japan. Amazing service, no tipping. Waiters are compensated fairly and take pride in doing a good job

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34 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Interesting about the wedding stuff – I don’t think I’ve heard of that before? I have been to some though where they say “thanks but no thanks” as they’re not allowed to receive them, so perhaps they might have had a contract in place similar to yours? Either way I agree it would be nice to do away with tipping altogether…

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35 Lisa O November 16, 2015 at 9:00 am

No I don’t tip on take out. My thought is a tip is for the table service and I usually tip 20%. I also usually tip in cash because of the way the wait staff needs to claim income and the restaurants rules.

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36 andy November 16, 2015 at 9:01 am

i heard in the news recently that joe’s crab shack went to a ”no tips” policy. i’m curious to see how the service is there now.

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37 Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels November 16, 2015 at 9:03 am

I don’t tip on carry out food, but I always tip any other time when I eat in or it is delivered to my house. In that cases it is 20% as well.

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38 Shannon @ Financially Blonde November 16, 2015 at 9:11 am

I do not tip on carry out and despite the fact that they provide the tip line and try to make me feel bad, I brush it off. Tips to me imply a level of service that goes above and beyond what you are supposed to pay for. Producing food and beverages is the natural part of any food business and that’s why you pay for the food, there isn’t anything above and beyond that needs to be be compensated for this. However, when you dine out, your server is responsible for delivering food and drinks to you throughout the meal, plus cleaning up after you. When you carry out, no one needs to clean up after you.

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39 Alex November 16, 2015 at 11:05 am

I dont think the tip line on take out is there to ‘guilt you into tipping’ rather that they’ve program their credit card receipts to print out a certain way and thats what it shows regardless of eat in, carry out or deliver.

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40 KeithC November 16, 2015 at 9:20 am

I always tip on carry out! The take out place I most often go to is very busy, the woman that takes orders and works the register is communicating in language that is not her native tongue. Also, as a rule of thumb, I tip anyone who has unsupervised access to my food. I would not want anything gross in my mu shu. My wife worked as a front house manager of a very nice restaurant for about 10 years, you would be surprised what kinds of things servers will do to food if they are angry with a customer or if that customer is a regular with a bad reputation for small tips. Granted, when caught they got fired on the spot but they don’t always get caught.

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41 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm

That’s a legit fear, yes! Haha… Remember that move Waiting? :)

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42 Ashley Chorpenning November 16, 2015 at 9:22 am

I tip at least a dollar on carry out. I used to work in the restaurant industry and I know that of you are busy and putting together a carry out order it can be challenging. I like to show my appreciation for the restaurant staff whenever I can.

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43 carlotta November 16, 2015 at 9:24 am

I’m european.
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
:)

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44 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:38 pm

I know, you lucky bastard! :)

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45 Tara November 16, 2015 at 9:26 am

I usually do about 5-10% on carry out, especially if it’s a large order. Packing food up neatly in a bag and ensuring everything is there and not spilling all over the place does take some work for the crew member who might otherwise be making tips doing in-house orders. You can’t always tip on carry out, but when you can, I do try to do it.

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46 SavvyFinancialLatina November 16, 2015 at 9:32 am

I don’t tip on carryout.

I am starting to see tip line on everything now. Even when I’m at a fast food place. Crazy….

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47 JennieKR November 16, 2015 at 9:37 am

I researched this a while back (ha, money nerd) and determined that it was appropriate to tip 10% for carry out when the worker is doing something special for you, or is handling carry-out orders in lieu of regular work where they would receive tips. For example, we tip the sushi chef on our carry out orders, and the curbside to-go places as it’s regular wait staff that handles those. I don’t tip if I carry out a pizza, or other places where handling carry out is the worker’s primary job. We always tip 20%+ everywhere else and feed the tip jars!

Our mantra is that if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.

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48 Kim November 16, 2015 at 9:38 am

I usually tip a dollar for carry out if they bring food to the car – you know, when you park in the carry out spot and they deliver the food and take payment.

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49 Mr. & Mrs. Dibidend November 16, 2015 at 9:39 am

My husband often puts a tip when we take out. I always get upset because I don’t think that people should tip on take out. The whole point of take out is to NOT pay tip. We actually take the time to go there and pick up the food, so I think it’s outrageous that the tip line is even there. Now hubby consults me on tipping ;) I’m not cheapo, if there is a service provided like when we eat a restaurant, we also tip 15-20%.

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50 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I know – take out is supposed to be cheaper than sitting in! :)

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51 [email protected] and the Beach November 16, 2015 at 9:55 am

I tip on carryout, but it’s usually just a couple of bucks.

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52 Kim November 16, 2015 at 10:09 am

I usually don’t but we don’t get take out that often. We always do 20% or more on dine in food. Once or twice a year, we tip 100%, usually around the holidays. I’ve never stuck around to see the reaction but I hope it’s a nice boost to their day.

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53 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

That’s such a fun idea!! :)

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54 mollyjade November 16, 2015 at 10:26 am

I tip 10% or $1 per main dish. It usually comes out about the same. The wage system for servers is messed up. It’s not our fault, but the server doesn’t deserve to make less than $3/hour. I can afford to lose a few dollars more than someone living on such a low wage. For me, it’s a human decency. (Not implying anyone else is indecent. Just my personal standard.)

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55 Max November 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm

This is my standard, too, though I live on the west coast, so the servers are making at least normal minimum wage. Can’t deny I pat myself on the back for being generous, which is worth more than the $10 a month I could have saved not tipping on takeout (or, yes, even the ~$24k I could have by retirement if I invested that $10 every month instead).

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56 Vic @ Dad Is Cheap November 16, 2015 at 10:33 am

I don’t tip for takeout either. The way I get around the guilt of seeing that tip line? I pay in cash at places that I know have that tip line even though it’s take out or one of those quasi fast food places where you order at the register but they don’t really serve you besides dropping off the food at your seat.

Normal restaurants I pay my 20% unless the service is really terrible.

I’m all about giving $100 cash/check in gifts at a wedding. Since most couples are already living together by the time they’re married these days, they don’t need a bunch of plates!

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57 Deborah Kulish November 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

If it’s a restaurant that I get carry out from a lot – then yes. My hope by doing that was to get better service, maybe throw in an extra chip or cookie. However, that hasn’t happened yet. So, now that I know no one else is tipping for carry out – guess what – I’m not going to tip for carry out either. (Somebody’s financial standing is gonna go up ; )

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58 Mysti November 16, 2015 at 11:31 am

I don’t tip on carryout. Generally I tip 20%-ish (I adjust the cents so that the total comes out to a whole number) for a sit down restaurant, but I will throw an extra $5 in for great service (like the guy who remembered that my son with Autism doesn’t like ice in his water, and brought him a plain water just as we were sitting down)….or I will tip $1.00 for really bad service (that way they know it was intentional. This has only happened 2-3 times ever.).

Weddings are generally $100. But I went to a wedding over the summer and never received a thank you. That irks me.

As for your lemonade stand….my daughter had a bottled water stand a few years ago when we had a HUGE yard sale. It was 90 degrees, and we bought her 2 cases of water and some ice, and told her she could keep whatever she made. You know what….not ONE person bought from her. We were selling the bottles for $1, which is less than if you bought a bottle at a conveinence store. And she was a little kid!! The only one who even came close was the mail carrier (we have a walking route), and we told him to put his money away and just gave him a bottle. My poor kid was so sad. She worked very hard helping us carry things inside and out, and sat outside all day. She played with the little kids who were their with their parents and she offered to help people carry stuff. We gave her $30 because she worked so hard.

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59 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm

That is messed up!!! Poor girl, I hope she didn’t quit trying to be a little entrepreneur later :( It would have been an interesting experiment dropping the cost to like 25 cents or 50 cents and seeing if they just gave a dollar and said keep the change :) Yard salers aren’t known to be the most generous with their cash, haha…

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60 Aleta November 16, 2015 at 11:57 am

Take out = 10%
Eat in = depends upon the service. Anywhere from 10% if the service is horrible to 20% if the service is awesome.
Bar = 0.50 a beer (I don’t order wine or cocktails)

We never have food delivered. Both me and my husband worked in food service so we always tip something and if the service is horrible, we chalk it up to a bad night.

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61 Trea November 16, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Haha, this was an awesome post. I’ve definitely tipped 20% for carry out by mistake because I was on automatic. I typically don’t tip for carry out unless I’m on a guilt trip, and then it’s just a couple of dollars. I like the idea of tipping for carry out if they’ve done something special for you (what JennyKR mentioned). Other than that, I find it hard to justify :-/

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62 Free to Pursue November 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I never tip for takeout or at any other cash and carry where no service is offered. I find the request/suggestion insulting, sometimes even infuriating.

When I do receive a service where tipping is the historical norm, I tip 15% and up to 30% (the 30% also includes a note explaining what made for outstanding service from my perspective so that hopefully the server can make it again). BTW: I have on rare occasions (twice so far) left 0% when I felt the person offering the service was going out of their way to be an absolute jerk.

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63 Crystal November 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I tip based on service. So if I take a look in the takeout bag and everything I want is in there, including sauces, I tip $1 per order. I tip 15-25% when sitting down at restaurants. I tip $1 per alcoholic beverage at open bars or casinos. Or I tip them $5-$10 up front and drink away.

I’ve only skipped out on tipping when the service sucks, the servers are just rude, or if my take out order has necessary stuff missing like the yummy fish sauce with Vietnamese vermicelli bowls. Oh, and I tip slightly better at the local restaurants we go to a lot. They are like my food family and I don’t mind donating extra to whatever rocks their boat.

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64 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Casinos! Forgot about those! I’ll tip like $10 up front too just to get super good service and so you don’t have to keep tipping a dollar every dang time haha…. Man I miss playing poker.

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65 Gary @ Super Saving Tips November 16, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I don’t tip on carry out, but I do feel a bit guilty not filling in that tip line. A friend of a friend on Facebook was a carry out service person at a chain restaurant where they have a dedicated carry out desk, and I saw his posts about not getting tips when he’s paid the same as the wait staff. That gave me pause, but I rarely get carry out from places with a carry out station. I really resent the whole tipping system where I’m forced to guess how much the staff makes and whether it’s necessary/appropriate for me to provide a tip on top of the food charges. I can’t wait until the no-tipping system makes it’s way across the country and a semi-decent wage is included in the charges.

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66 Jim Wang November 16, 2015 at 1:33 pm

I don’t tip on carryout.

When in doubt tip more, no one ever went broke tipping.

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67 Tawcan November 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Don’t get me started on tipping. :)

I think the North American tipping concept is becoming a granted practice. Tipping should be based on service.

For carryout I don’t tip.

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68 Carly November 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm

As someone who used to work in several restaurants I ALWAYS tip for pick up. If there is a person who is specifically designated to a pick up position they don’t make tips elsewhere during their shift and if their not then they have to spend time neglecting their tables that WILL tip them to service your order. A lot of time goes into take out as you have to make sure everything is perfect and all necessary items included before the customer leaves. Sorry to inform all of you who voiced your unwillingness to tip, but the staff will remember you if you stiff them and think you’re cheap. If its a place you order out from frequently you might notice a decline in quality once they come to recognize you and deem you unfit to prioritize over their other duties.

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69 J. Money November 16, 2015 at 3:51 pm

That’s the downside, yes :) Though I feel like the majority of people don’t even think you’re *supposed* to tip for take out? So in a way they’re getting punished for not understanding how the game works. Hell, I’m still confused as to who gets tipped when and where and how much servers make vs cashiers/bartenders/etc… and a half dozen people here have already tried explaining it on this thread! I don’t think most people want to screw anyone over, it’s just a big ol’ clusterf*ck.

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70 Debt Hater November 16, 2015 at 3:03 pm

I’ve actually never tipped on carry out, and it’s never even occurred to me. I do like the rest of your tipping rules though and I follow those pretty closely for restaurants and delivery as well as tipping $1 per beer (and then slightly more if it’s mixed drinks). I’ve actually started to see some restaurants are removing tipping in the news recently.

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71 Michelle November 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm

I always tip on takeout and usually tip around 15% to 20% on it. We don’t get takeout a ton (we usually either eat at the restaurant or get it delivered), so it doesn’t really impact us.

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72 Stephanie November 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Someone may have already mentioned this in the comments but you ABSOLUTELY should be tipping for carry out orders. The bartender or server who rings this up is still responsible for paying taxes on this sale (and the government assumes a certain %of tips/sales). Plus they have checked your order and packed it and made sure you have utensils and condiments etc. Sorry but not tipping on carry out is bad form.

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73 James Pollard November 16, 2015 at 6:03 pm

I’ve never even realized that tipping on takeout was a “thing”. I’ve never tipped on takeout, and tipping $1 per beer seems a little ridiculous to me. If it takes 10 seconds to prepare the beer, this means that you’re giving the bartender the equivalent of $360 per hour. That’s nuts. I stick to a solid 15-25% for all table-side and bar-side service.

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74 Tristan November 22, 2015 at 7:54 pm

So what is 20% on a $5 beer? That’s right: $1.

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75 J. Money November 30, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Haha…

I agree it does sound odd to tip a dollar for someone passing you over a beer, but for whatever reason it just feels “right.” Or maybe because you’re so excited to drink one that you don’t even feel the loss of the dollar! :)

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76 Jan November 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm

I thought tipping unnecessary for take out until my daughter became a server at a restaurant who takes phone in orders for take out. She goes out of her way to make sure the orders she takes are done when she promises them rather than assuming someone else is doing it. She gets paid the same wage for that service, so she is counting on your tip just as she would if she were waiting on your table in the restaurant. (Also, now that I know my barrista makes considerably more than my daughter, I no longer always tip my barrista either!)

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77 Taylor @ Freedom From Money November 16, 2015 at 6:56 pm

As someone who worked as a host at Coco’s Bakery (definitely not my most glamorous job ;) haha) I can attest that a dollar or two is more than enough! Most of the time, the food is already ready to go because the chefs place it in the boxes, etc and the host or cashier person simply puts it in the box. Most people wouldn’t tip me but I would occasionally get tips and they tended to add up to about $10-$20 per shift. I never expected it and knew it wasn’t something that was part of my job/earnings. It was just a nice perk from nice people that happened occasionally :)

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78 Ryan November 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm

For me tip is about the additional service the person adds to the food.
So if it’s a quick thing like a sandwich or a cup of coffee to go, I don’t leave a tip. There’s no service.
However, if there’s some kind of service with my to go order, I leave a small tip. For example, if I get extra cheese containers for a pizza, silverware and paper towels, additional bread, etc… then I do tip.
In general, I would say that if it makes someone feel bad not tipping, then he should tip. A good conscience is a great pillow and that’s definitely worth a few dollars :)

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79 Karl November 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I usually don’t tip on carry out but I have been thinking about starting – maybe some sort of rule like half of what I would tip for dine-in.

Do you have a graduation gift rule?

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80 J. Money November 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm

I don’t have a grad rule yet since I’m not in that stage of life where people are graduating around me, but if I had to make one up on the spot I’d probably give $50 in cash. I love giving/receiving cash even though it’s a faux pas :)

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81 Michelle Marcus November 16, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I did not ever tip on carry out until one time someone at the sushi place WROTE IN THE TIP. I was so pissed! So I figured that I should leave $1-2. I have not returned to that sushi restaurant.

P.S. I tip the same on beers, drinks, and weddings!

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82 Jay November 16, 2015 at 11:26 pm

I tip on take out if she’s cute.

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83 Mr. SSC November 17, 2015 at 8:50 am

I’m pretty much tipping along those same guidelines. To the point that when the service is bad, Mrs. SSC will say, “I’m getting this one.” because she knows I’ll still tip decent. That’s when I know they’ll get a tip based on service… Otherwise, I’m the same as you on tipping.

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84 Brian November 17, 2015 at 10:21 am

I go more of a round up for carry out tipping. So if it is $14.25 they are getting $0.75. I would feel bad, but in the end, the cooks did all the work on that one. You just brought my find out from the back… much like a McDonald’s.

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85 Christine @ The Pursuit of Green November 17, 2015 at 1:14 pm

If I’m a regular at a restaurant I’ll tip a little bit since I intend to come back!!!! Usually I try not to but the habit does kick in every now and then and I leave a dollar or two. Rethinking…perhaps I need to have a stronger will!

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86 Annie November 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I’m offended by this post.

I was a server, and when I had to prepare takeout for someone, I was taking time away from my tables to do so. Ensuring that the food is ready ON TIME, that you have everything you need, including little extras like bread and utensils, is also a part of it. A small tip – 10% – would be very nice. Or, if you had a big and complicated order, then what would YOU like to receive???… And crossing out the line is seriously insulting. It implies that servers aren’t to be trusted. You would get FIRED for adding a tip. You’ve obviously never been a server. This entire article is awful, and people are READING you! Good luck with your dining. If things start getting forgotten or late, then I can’t imagine why someone getting paid $2.09 an hour would care.

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87 J. Money November 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Sorry that you were offended. I genuinely wanted to know what people thought about this so threw it out there for discussion which is the purpose of my blog. As you can see from the comments there seems to be a lot of confusion over the “rules” and who gets paid what, and when, which is the reason people like me are never sure what to do. So while you’re upset from it, I am glad you took the time to share as it’ll be comments like this that will get us to stop and think more the next time we go to tip (or not).

As for the crossing out part, well, unfortunately people DO illegally fill that part out – as evidence of a couple of comments here in this thread itself – so while 99.9999% wouldn’t even dare I think it’s perfectly acceptable to protect yourself if you can. It’s the same reason you lock your doors at night and have passwords for all your financial accounts. Most people wouldn’t think of stealing from you but why risk it?

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88 Steve Miller November 17, 2015 at 5:36 pm

I never tip for carry out unless I do it by mistake like you did (it happens sometimes). On good service, I tip 20%, on mediocre service, I tip 15%, on not that good of service, 10%.

By the way, I’m having a virtual wedding, send $100 my way…

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89 J. Money November 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm

As long as you find a way to provide me (real) beer! :)

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90 Mikki November 18, 2015 at 1:45 am

I remember my roommate in college was a server and if you had the takeout orders you had fewer tables so you were losing tips to do that work, I don’t tip 20% but at least a buck or two about 10%

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91 Yasir Khan November 18, 2015 at 3:23 am

Giving a tip shows appreciation to the workers. It means that they had done a good job and you love the service offered. I never give tip to those service crews that are rude because why give them if they are not giving the right service that you need as a customer. You are paying, right?

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92 Jennifer November 18, 2015 at 4:29 pm

I asked once while the girl was finishing packing up my food and she said it’s always appreciated but they don’t expect them. I usually add a buck or two, but I don’t tip the 20%+ that I would if I were eating in the restaurant instead of picking up.

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93 J. Money November 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

I think that’s what I’m going to do from now on – just leave a cple bucks. Feels like a happy medium.

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94 Carrie @ Season It Already November 19, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I usually tip 10% on a take-out. I have a friend who is a bartender and server. I asked her this question about tipping on take-out once. She said she understand why people don’t tip or feel awkward about it. However, the take-out $$ do go toward the total sales of the person ringing you up that day. So if she’s behind the bar and doesn’t have a lot of customers, but a lot of take-out, she might have a low tip percentage. She said she generally will tip 10% when she is ordering take-out, especially if they offer you something to drink (if you are waiting) or really make sure you get everything you need (i.e. plates/forks if you are staying in a hotel.)

That’s just my rule of thumb!

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95 Steve @ Think Save Retire November 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm

I tip when somebody actually serves me a meal at a restaurant and cleans up after me, but not when I get take out, no. That means I will generally tip even if I only order a single beer at the bar, but usually only something small.

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96 Emily November 21, 2015 at 7:09 pm

I used to be a server, and taking and putting together take out orders is a huge pain. People usually want the specials read over the phone, whereas if they’re there in person they can read them while the server waits on other people. The server also has to get take out cups and fill them, put in straws, put condiments, rolls, salads, etc. in separate take out boxes, then bag the order. I think that should be worth at least 10%, especially if it’s a place that generally does eat in and occasionally does take out. Probably at a place where take out is the norm, the people who work there are paid more than a few dollars an hour.

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97 John Edwards November 22, 2015 at 1:49 am

I do, about 10-15%. After working in the industry, and one place in particular that had sales evenly split between dine in, delivery, and take out (pizza place), the tip I got for pick up meant I remember them the next time they popped in. So their next order got in the line asap. Ended up saving them up to 10 minutes per visit thereafter, which then created more tips.

So I do. What’s a dollar or 2 when it saves me time or get a free goody here and there.

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98 J. Money November 25, 2015 at 6:33 am

I’m slowly being convinced :)

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99 Redra November 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm

I like the way it feels to give a buck to the teenager who scooped my ice cream, etc. My bigger goal though is to rarely have others prepare my food. Scooping your own ice cream at home is the way to go!

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100 J. Money November 25, 2015 at 6:36 am

I def. tend to tip more graciously around kids/teens too. Even those who walk around the neighborhood trying to sell stuff. I never buy the stuff (minimalism!) but I’ll always tip a few bucks or more just to help out… Maybe restaurants should hire kids to do take out going forward :)

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101 LeRainDrop November 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm

I didn’t used to leave any tip on take-out food, but in more recent years, if it’s a true sit-down restaurant, then I will usually leave a buck or two (on a one-person order) as long as they greet me inoffensively. This is fresh on my mind because it just happened 15 minutes ago — if the restaurant charges a line item for “packaging” that is a guaranteed way that I will tip nothing instead of the buck or two that I would have otherwise.

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102 James @ JPCashFlow.com November 29, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Good article. There are plenty of ways to save money. Trying to do so on gratuity isn’t the way to do it. I think generosity encourages personal growth and a “abundance mentality” that helps us achieve our goals. With that said, agree with you 100% that pick-up takeout orders don’t warrant gratuity. I worked in the restaurant business when I was in high school and I would have never expected that.

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103 Chris December 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm

From my experience working in To Go at an Outback Steakhouse, I was expected to make at least 10% in tips. I was paid $4.25/hour (more than regular wait staff), but also expected to earn these tips. I literally had the same job as the waitstaff, except I only had ONE chance to get everything right. I would take your order on the phone, repeat it over to make sure it was correct, send it back to the kitchen, then wait 20-25 minutes for it to get done. Much like the waitstaff had to do, I had to wait until the food came up, box it all, make it presentable, mark the contents on each box, put it in the bag, then bring it out to cars. It’s never fun getting an order of $100 or more and not getting tipped at all after sweating and running around the kitchen preparing the food, running to and from the computer and phone to take orders, running outside to bring food out, repeat. We were expected to claim 10% at the end of the night, however, I’d always be happy with 5%.

I don’t work there anymore, but I have some friends that do still. It’s discouraging to see that the majority opinion is to not tip take out at all.

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104 J. Money December 7, 2015 at 10:31 am

They expected you to claim 10%? Man, that sucks, I’m sorry… At least with wait staff the majority of people KNOW to tip them, but with take out it’s such a gray area and most people have no idea what’s expected or not to do :(

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105 Mike December 4, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I don’t tip on take out orders, nor do I tip at restaurants where I have to stand in line to order, go pickup my food when the numbers called, and am expected to bus my own table (Caliburger). However, I do I agree that the tip line makes you feel guilty for leaving it blank.

I don’t tip at weddings either. I’m still jaded at the whole wedding industry. Plus, the bride and groom was already forced to pay that 20% service charge anyways. They’re just double dipping with those tip jars now.

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106 Cory April 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm

I haven’t read through all of the replies, but I compare it to fast food. If I tip for carry out at a full service restaurant then I feel like I should be tipping at McDonald’s, and nobody does that, right? (Maybe a rare few, but not common.) What’s the difference? Someone in the back makes the food. The person in front bags it up and I pay them.

Yes, I would allow for a small tip for extra service for curbside pickup or a complicated order, but it’s $1. It’s still nowhere near the service level of if I was eating in.

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107 Craig Dean May 19, 2016 at 12:15 am

I work in a restaurant as a server and I hate taking take out orders. I have to tip out 10% of my total sales to the other waitstaff/bar at the end of my shift. So if I take $100 in take out orders and receive no tip from the orders then I have to tip out $10 from my tipa for the night and I wind up paying out of my own pocket for the people who ordered by phone to enjoy their meals. If you order take out from a restaurant where you have the option to sit down and eat and would usually tip then you should always tip at least 10%, if not more, to cover the tip-out that servers have to do at the end of the night. At least they won’t have to pay for your to pick up your food.

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108 Licha July 31, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I’m a cook. Back of the house makes out with half or less of what a server or bartender makes. This has been a consistent throughout 10+ years of experience. I wish the cook could get a tip because it would make a huge difference. I think everyone in a restaurant should be paid the same. They are all expected to do a good job and work hard. I always thought it was bull that the dishwasher makes the least amount of money when that’s the hardest job, especially when they have you cleaning grills, doing leaf blowing, dumping out grease, and extra stuff a boss wants to tack on.

But let’s get back to this question, I get that if I want to go out I should be tipping. I think the bartender makes plenty and don’t see how they need another tip for giving you the order. Someone has to answer the phone, a cook has to prepare it, and it makes no sense unless your tipping everyone involved. I always do 20% even on drinks but not for carry out. Unless the bartender or whoever gave me my order charms me a little bit.

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109 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 11:10 am

Really interesting reading all this from those of y’all in the industry. Appreciate you stopping by to continue the discussion!

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110 korgy September 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm

give or don’t give , as one choose’s — i generally give less to a takeout than i would to a table service restaurant — but what concerns me more is that some types of takeout places (like Chinese, eg) i am pretty sure do not give the “tips” to the people working in back. this infuriates me. sometimes i ask them — “you are going to give this to the guy cooking back there. right?” sometimes they give me a BS answer about it being a “family-owned business” blah blah blah. sad.

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111 Jenny Bradley October 17, 2017 at 4:48 pm

If you ordered through an app, maybe not. But if you called in a someone patiently took your order, added all your picky modifications to the order, had to explain to the kitchen what all your modifications meant, double checked your order to make sure everything was right, sent back any food that wasn’t, wrote everyone’s names on the boxes if that’s what you insisted on, packed it, and then gave it to you with a smile, it’s kind of douchey not to tip. It doesn’t have to be 20%, there was no table service, we understand that.

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112 J. Money October 23, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Good call on all the modification stuff – I can see how a tip would help make up for how annoying it is :)

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