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20-40-60 Etiquette: More questions on tipping

Reader asks about tipping for grocery delivery. 

Reader asks about tipping for grocery delivery. 

QUESTION: Thank you, I always enjoy your column. On the question about tipping and delivery from restaurants, I hoped to get my question asked, but it didn't make it.

I always add a tip (proportional, I hope) to the order for delivery (I ordered online), but, sometimes the delivery person pauses, as if waiting on another tip. Do we have any assurance that the tip we add to our online order gets to the person who has delivered it?

Also, in the tipping conversation, what about the person who (I was told) puts together a grocery order and delivers it? I had always assumed that the shopper and deliverer were not the same person but was told that they are. Is that believable? Is there a way to know?

Keep up your excellent work!

CALLIE'S ANSWER: If you're concerned, call the company and see about the deliverer and preparer. Very thoughtful of you to be this concerned! Enjoy your food!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: It never occurred to me to question whether the person delivering takeout food gets my online tip. I always assumed they did. That's a good question. To find the answer, you can ask at the time you place the order, or you can tell the delivery person who appears to be waiting for a tip that you already tipped online and ask if they usually get those. It's also nice of you to think of tipping like that at a grocery store for online orders. Opinions vary on this from $1 per bag to 10 or 20 percent of your order. I'm not sure that's required, etiquette-wise, but tipping for excellent grocery delivery service or service in bad weather is a nice touch. Be generous if you can to those who help you out. Yes, you're paying the company for the service and you hope that your fees get passed down to the employees. We'd like to think that employees are compensated fairly. If you really want to know how employees are paid, call and ask.

HELEN'S ANSWER: Thanks for keeping up with us, and for asking the question. When you are ordering and paying online for your menu items and having it delivered to your home, it seems like you tip the delivery person. But, it is wise to call the store and ask the question, rather than tip for the order and delivery.

Also, I would always tip the person who delivers rather than the grocery store online order. But again, call and ask at the store what is proper.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Patti Leeman, community volunteer: There was a time in polite society when tipping and gratuities were given for outstanding service as a genuine thank-you to a waiter or delivery person based on a personal evaluation by the customer. Somewhere during the 20th Century this morphed into expectations by waiters, delivery service people, maître d's and attendants for a percentage of the dinner, wine tab, home delivery of food or parking the car.

Unfortunately, the only way to know if the tip goes into the pot or to a specific waiter is to ask him or her. Wait persons are very candid about the policies of that particular restaurant. Occasionally the tipping policy may be printed on the menu or ticket, but if not, there should be no embarrassment in asking.

Generally, tips at restaurants are 15-20 percent of the nontaxed order. As a short cut to figuring that, I often double the tax for both food and drinks and throw in additional cash if the service has been particularly gracious, Home delivery and takeout usually call for a $2 minimum for pizza and a 10 percent fee on orders of $50 or more.

Sorry that I cannot help with tips for orders and delivery for groceries since I do not use this perk. However, I would use it and would tip generously if these stores would send somebody home to put up the groceries.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email helen.wallace@cox.net.