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Tipping: What’s The Deal? Or, To The Guy At California Pizza Kitchen: Sorry for Stiffing You The Other Day

Tipping: What’s The Deal? Or, To The Guy At California Pizza Kitchen: Sorry for Stiffing You The Other Day

The other day, I ordered some food from California Pizza Kitchen’s Curbside Pickup Service. If you are unfamiliar with this service, it is basically a kind of time-optimized version of ordering food “to-go” from California Pizza Kitchen. You order from your phone at home, and then go pick it up at the restaurant, where there is a little kiosk outside the restaurant and the guy will come out and give you your food and take your payment, etc. Nice service, since I am super lazy and hate getting out of my car. Also, because I rather enjoy the Miso salad they have.

So anyway, I don’t know about you, but it is generally not my practice to tip people for getting my food ready to go. Even if I’m ordering from a restaurant. I’m not sure if this is standard practice or not, but usually the hostess is the one who takes your payment and hands over the bag of food, right? And we don’t ordinarily tip the hostess, as far as I know. I guess I just feel like a tip is paying the waiter/waitress to go schlep stuff back and forth from the kitchen, and clean up after me. And deal with all the crap Mini leaves under his chair when we leave. So, if we get the food to go, it seems like there shouldn’t be a tip. And actually, this comes up a lot these days because we’re in a limited restaurant capability stage with Mini.

On the other hand, when you order food to go and pay with a debit card, they always put that little “tip” line in like they do on all restaurant checks. Maybe they just put it in because that’s how all their checks are done, I don’t know. That’s what I’ve always assumed. But it’s always an uncomfortable moment when I kind of ignore the tip line and just rewrite the total amount, and sign it. But I do it anyway, and always feel slightly guilty, and then reassure myself that this is the right thing to do. Probably.

Well, back to CPK: the dude brings the stuff out, which is admittedly much more than the usual to-go situation. Still, I’m in my usual “they-don’t-get-a-tip-at-McDonald’s-right?” stage, so I don’t leave a tip. And the guy kind of brusquely takes the check from me, and says, “Have a GREAT day,” kinda sarcastically, so I know I fucked up! Damn! I didn’t mean to stiff him, I just don’t know the protocol. I came home and asked Mr. Right-Click, and he claims that OF COURSE I should have tipped him, and I should always tip the to-go orders that the hostess puts together, too! Well, color me surprised. What do you guys think? What is your rule for tipping in these kinds of situations? Do you find it equally confusing? Or am I just a dumbass?

Comments (8)

  1. Feb 20, 2009

    I would’ve done the same as you. And then felt guilty. 🙂

  2. Feb 20, 2009

    Servers generally have to pay taxes on a percentage of their sales, so if you don’t tip, they’re out that money (I’ll also say that servers as a whole underreport their tips, so it works out in the long run). Depending on the restaurant, a server might have to ring up your to-go order, so that sale goes towards their total. If the guy’s station for the day was the kiosk and no one tipped, then he would have a pretty bad day, money-wise.

  3. Feb 20, 2009

    @J., interesting. If the check is rung up by the hostess, though, whose “sale” is it? Also, you couldn’t work the kiosk exclusively. There aren’t enough people to do that. They probably get one or two orders a day.

  4. Feb 20, 2009

    This does not absolve me, by the way, of being a tip-stiffer. I still suck.

  5. Feb 21, 2009

    The tip line is always on the check – regardless if it’s an eat-in or to-go order. So now servers and hostesses are using it to their advantage. It’s there, people see it, they feel guilty, they leave a tip. Enough of them do it and soon waiters come to expect it. That waiter who brought your order out put your boxes in a bag, threw in some napkins and plastic cutlery and printed your check. I don’t tip on take-out orders. Call me cheap. That server waited on enough actual tables to make money his shift.

  6. kate
    Feb 21, 2009

    At the restaurants I’ve worked in, the to-go people did expect tips, but not necessarily 20%. They take the order, make sure the order is correct (which, depending on the quality of the kitchen could be easy or difficult), get everything ready to go and often deliver it to your car. They’re usually getting paid a little more than the regular servers but not a lot, and they’re taxed on their sales like everyone else. And they get stiffed a lot.

    It’s also worth noting that if the bartender is also the to-go person, you should definitely tip them; they’re getting paid the same paltry hourly wage as the servers ($2.35 an hour in my state, at least two years ago), getting taxed on their sales AND they’re doing all of it in between serving their customers and making drinks for the whole restaurant. Most bartenders hate to-go orders with a passion.

    I usually leave about 10%; more than that isn’t really necessary.

  7. AKD
    Feb 23, 2009

    We’ve got a middleman service we use at work called “EZ Dine In” that plays the role of the delivery person for restaurants that don’t normally deliver. They charge a delivery fee (I think it’s about $8) on top of the food charge (which may be inflated a little as well). I always wonder if I should be giving them a tip in addition to the delivery fee already included in the bill.
    My husband thinks you should leave a tip in the hotel room for the maids. Do other people do this? I don’t remember my parents ever doing this when we stayed in hotels.

  8. Chanel
    Sep 29, 2017

    0_0 you really don’t seem like someone who’s been in the service industry. It is absolutely expected of you to tip and with good reason. 1st of all that delivery fee goes to the restaurant, not your server. 2nd of all it really depends on whether you trust them to pay taxes correctly or not. If they do claim what they’re supposed to in taxes, then even if they are payed hourly at minimum wage plus tip their paycheck comes out to less than half of minimum wage. You should also take into account what you listed is only what some waiters/waitresses/delivery men do. People who good at their job are also checking to make sure your order is correct and prepared correctly. They also make sure your food doesn’t get too cold/warm before it gets to you and at a restaurant they answer your questions about the menu, make you feel comfortable and again check your food and keep it prepared. That being said there’s no way to check taxes on tips. the government has no idea how much servers make in tips so they can claim whatever they want. They constantly deal with angry, hungry, and irrational people and take the blame for everything whether it’s their fault/job or not. Morally you should tip something. Luckily California Pizza Kitchen is one of the few restaurants that pay their employees minimum wage(most pay $2-$3/hour), so if he’s the type who doesn’t report his taxes correctly it doesn’t affect him. However if he does, then if multiple people don’t tip him at all he can not afford rent anywhere even with an hourly minimum wage.

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