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Dear PoPville – Anyone Else Experiencing Issues with Tipping Delivery Drivers?

by Prince Of Petworth January 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm 41 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user DooleyPhoto

“Dear PoPville,

A couple people I know have been ordering food for delivery around the district and paying with a credit card. They have been adding a few extra dollars for the tip before the card is charged to not mess with having cash, adding more to the bill afterwards, etc. Then the delivery driver comes to your home and is looking for a tip, even though you already paid one. He will just say you didn’t pay a tip, you need to pay a tip, almost aggressively.

I thought this was ridiculous and petty when I first heard… until it happened to me. Twice.

I dont know what it is, but twice now I have ordered delivery, paid a tip beforehand, and then gotten the driver to almost heckle me to the point of tipping him. Now, I tip pretty well, and even if it is only a few dollars, why would you want to tip twice? Are these drivers hustling large number of people out of tips, and getting twice the amount?

I would assume much of this happens last at night when people are more inebriated and most likely forget they already paid a tip, or just say forget it and pay it anyway. But! I thought this was something to bring to your attention. I definitely want to hear if this has happened to other people, especially late at night and see if it is a growing hustle in DC. It just seemed to me, and the others who it had happened to, that the drivers knew they had gotten a tip and were so adamant about no tip, it almost seemed suspicious. Maybe I am over-thinking heavily, but wanted to know what you think.”

  • Anonymous

    Explain the situation calmly to the driver and followup with the restaurant. I never have cash so that would be my simple (and only solution) for the driver.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, don’t tip them – tell them it’s on the card. Then call the place, explain the sitaution which will a) let them know what the driver did without being tattletail-y about it, b) remind them to make sure he gets the tip. Not that big of a deal.

      And if you are so upset by it, stop ordering from those places.

  • I doubt this is a “growing issue” simply because you just now experienced it. You owe a driver literally zero tip, by law, so it’s not like they can refuse to give you your food even if you were actually not tipping them. I would suggest not getting into an argument with someone who now knows where you live, and alternatively asking him to wait while you call the restaurant and resolve it before he leaves.

    • It’s not just the OP who experienced it – he starts off the letter with “A couple people I know” too

      • Yeah, but it doesn’t seem like he really perceived it as an issue until it happened to him personally…

        • Anonymous

          What difference does that make? You don’t believe that it might be an issue?

          • I don’t believe that now suddenly, as opposed to something that’s been transpiring for years, that the occurrence rate has for some reason spiked. It would be more helpful in my mind to say “it’s occurring specifically from these restaurants, have any of you experienced the same” so it can be determined whether it’s a restaurant specific thing, driver specific thing, or just another “city life” thing.

          • Anonymous

            Maybe it’s a Thug Life thing.

          • Anonymous

            your comment has been noted. thank you.

          • “the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data'”

  • Anonymous

    Why would you assume that the delivery drivers already know that they’ve been given a tip? Do you think that the cashier, or whoever takes your order, tells the deliver driver — with each transaction — “Oh, 10th and P put you down for 18%”? While tips are optional, and rudeness is not a great way to convince me that the service warrants a tip, I would at least consider the possibility that when you tip via credit card, your payment doesn’t always make it to the person who’s providing the service — who likely depends on tips for a major part of his/her income.
    I’d love it if we got rid of tipping, raised prices, and paid fair wages. Although I’m sure that many people who benefit from tips at high end places would vehemently disagree. Just my two cents….

    • read?

      If you’ve given a tip it should already be on the receipt, since you are signing and authorizing the full charge to your card. So if a driver tried to question their tip I’d point to the receipt, case closed.

      • I was going to suggest the same thing, but lots of places (especially ones who do the majority of their business in the carryout/delivery variety) have really antiquated receipt generators that may only display a total and a tip line. No itemization is provided.

    • Anonymous

      If they are getting the tips paid is a very legit question. If they are getting them in a timely manner is another legit question — lots of these folks don’t have the kind of bank account that can wait a few days to get paid, it is as much a liquidity issue as it is a getting paid at all issue.

  • RV

    Remember that there is a lot of exploitation in the food service industry, and just because you’re paying a restaurant a tip via credit card does not mean that the actual driver will see any of that money. Sure it’s not your fault that your tip may have been embezzled, but it also isn’t the driver’s. And while they should never aggressively demand a tip, you should probably keep some petty cash around for tips if you frequently order delivery. That will solve the problem.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, this is exactly what I was thinking.

      • Anonymous

        So your solution would be to have cash on hand to plan on tipping twice, in case the system isn’t sophisticated enough or the company does not give their employees their rightful tip? That sounds like a worse problem than this one posed. From the sound of it, it doesn’t seem as though there was any real altercation. But more a disconnect between the driver and the recipient. Also, most delivery spots in the city I have gotten from have not had an itemized receipt, just a total as @JustinBC pointed out

        • Anonymous

          I think the previous poster is suggesting you tip in cash and not add it to your credit card charges because you don’t know where the latter is going.

          • not_scott


            Don’t trust the restaurant owner is passing the tips along. Just tip the delivery people directly.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, this. You might not have thought of it before, but now that you know that plenty of restaurant/ carryout owners keep their employees’ tips (and it really does happen, more than you’d like to think), or have them work for tips only (no hourly wage), just keep a few bucks on hand. Stick $20 worth of singles in a drawer and forget about it. That’s your delivery tip money.

  • A

    I try to use the online ordering systems as much as possible for delivery. They always include a separate section for the tip and there has never been any confusion.

  • Anon

    Good lord. Just keep some dolla-dolla bills around.

  • Anonymous

    Why would you tip beforehand anyway? I’ve never gone about tipping this way, and always add the tip to the credit card receipt they bring you to sign. You tip once the service was rendered.

    • Meg

      Agree – just pay by credit card and then when they bring you the receipt, add a tip under the “tip” line on the receipt. No need to have cash and the driver can see he got a tip – why would you do it any other way?

      • Anonymous

        This is what I do. I would never tip in advance!

      • Park

        Because when you order online, you can either add the tip to your credit card when you place your order or tip with cash when it arrives. You don’t sign anything when it’s delivered.

  • Anonymous

    Stop adding the tip over the phone when you order food. There is a system in place (to add tip to your CC bill or to give cash when the driver arrives) and you are messing with it which is causing confusion. YOU are the one doing something unconventional/odd and blaming your delivery driver…..

    • KMB

      Whoa, I think you’re jumping to conclusions here. Admittedly, I am, too, but my assumption is that the OP is placing these orders online, not by phone. The majority of online ordering systems (Seamless, Grubhub, etc.) offer a place to leave a tip online, as do many individual restaurants (Papa John’s, etc.). Actually, many of the restaurants that offer ordering through Seamless/Grubhub either don’t have the customer sign the receipt upon delivery or don’t offer a line to leave a tip on the receipt, so if you want to tip, you do it either by adding the tip when you order or by tipping in cash. It’s not unconventional or odd in the least.

  • LP

    I also had this issue with SuperShuttle. I put the tip on my card when I scheduled and paid for my ride, and the driver expected a tip when I was dropped off at the airport, not knowing I had already paid one. I realized this after the first time it happened, so I always marked $0 for tip and gave cash to the driver in person. Problem solved.

    • Anonymous

      Super Shuttle is shady around here though. I wouldn’t use them to judge if anyone else is doing it.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, just to get an idea of who you’re dealing with, those are the guys who can’t get a cab license.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Every takeout credit card receipt I have ever received has a separate line on it with the word “TIP”or “GRATUITY”, followed by a line to put the “TOTAL.” If you and/or your friends have already paid a tip in advance, the tip you paid should be on the credit card receipt in the “TIP” or “GRATUITY” section. I don’t see how a delivery person can argue with that. If there is no separate line, or if the line is empty and your “tip” has been added to the order total, the restaurant may not be counting it as a tip and may be keeping it as a “delivery charge.” That’s shady on their part.
    In any event, if you and your friends experienced aggressive behavior from delivery persons, I hope you called the called the restaurants these delivery people worked for to complain about it.

  • wylie coyote

    No one is going to “aggressively” convince me to give them anything. They can ask nicely and if I say no, they can go kick rocks. Methinks the drivers in question are just picking on people who they think they can get over on.

    • BitterElitist


    • Anonymous

      Methinks the drivers in question may be frustrated by repeatedly having people stiff them on their tips. And the OP said “almost aggressively” — which could mean a lot of things.

  • Boom

    Keep a money jar in the house and tip the driver a couple of dollars when he/she delivers as opposed to putting it on your card…problem solved.

  • well

    I know a delivery driver in downtown near GW. He says most of his runs the people never tip… NEVER. Even if ordered. I know it may surprise some people on Popoville but there are so many cheapskates in DC that don’t tip and it gets worse the closer you get to colleges. Some don’t think you have to tip…like the delivery drive just brings him food like mom and dad did.

    • Well, technically, you don’t have to tip.

      • Well

        Well not tipping makes you cheap. Some people gain half of their paycheck from that tip. If you are to cheap to sit in the diner and tip the waitress but you want the same food then i would suggest walking down and picking it up yourself and then you can keep being a cheap individual with risking someone else gas, life, job because you have a warped idea of what you may believe this is how life works for the rest of the “Normal” folk, normal folk tip.

        • By your own accord there are numerous people who don’t tip. I’m certainly not one of them, but perhaps to them they are “normal” and we are just the ones throwing our money away.

  • Trixie

    I can’t believe anyone would give more money to someone who aggressively came BACK to your house and demanded a tip. As a former waitress, I will always tip – and usually overtip – but if someone pulled that crap, I’d call the restaurant immediately because it’s harassing behavior.


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