Delivery Tales: Tips

I was asked recently if I had any more crazy stories to share, and sadly I have none. Nothing wacky has happened lately at all, and it’s really pissing me off. All of my customers have been regular, everyday people. Not rabbits or prostitutes. Not that rabbits and prostitutes aren’t regular everyday people.

I would like to talk about getting tipped though, and this is a lengthy post, so if you’re not into it, skip it. But I suggest you read it if you’re someone who has ever ordered food for delivery, whether you tip or not.

I’m lucky that I get to deliver in a very nice area. I used to not, and the differences are amazing. Sure, I still get stiffed from time to time, but typically a five dollar tip is almost guaranteed. When I used to deliver on the other side of town, I was lucky to get two bucks on each delivery.

I’m completely grateful for it, and appreciate the hell out of anybody who tips well. The area where I deliver now is mostly nice, upscale homes, but there are many apartments and lower class places I go to, and even those places aren’t too shabby with tips. Typically it’s the more expensive houses that don’t tip so well and that can be said about any neighborhood. There’s a subdivision I go to now made up of $800,000 to $2 million+ homes. I’ve only been back there four times or so, and I’ve never got more than a $4 tip, and I only got $4 once.

The thing is, that’s okay, and for the purpose of this article, it’s okay because they’re in our delivery area. They’re our customers. They’re not that far away.

The reason I bring this up is, occasionally we’ll be nice and take a delivery that is outside of our delivery area. I’m typically the go-to driver for those, because I like the drives and don’t mind taking those orders. Unfortunately most of the time they’re to places that aren’t upper class like our regular delivery area, and most of the time it blows up in my face.

There was one guy who was a few miles out of our area who ordered for a while and he always tipped $10 because he knew we were making a special trip for him and he took care of the drivers.

There was one order I took to downtown Cincinnati one night, which is very much out of our delivery area, but I was tipped $14 for that delivery. They were so drunk they thought they were giving me $8, which would have been fine too, but $14 was really nice.

Then there was a kid who lived in the area where I used to deliver. He tipped rather well too.

Aside from them, I’ve gone on a lot of long distance deliveries for little to no tips. And almost every time, this is how the conversation goes when they order.

THEM: Do you deliver here?
US: No.
THEM: Could you please? We’ll take care of the driver.
US: Ok.

And then they don’t take care of the driver. We’ve actually completely stopped delivering to a particular area right outside of our delivery zone because of how bad it is delivering there, and we’ve stopped delivering to a few good customers because of it. Three times in a row (over the course of a few months) to three different customers, I took deliveries and was given a dollar tip on one and stiffed the other two times. Each time they said they’d take care of the driver.

Well, last night somehow someone took an order for an area we do not go to. Our delivery area is about 7 miles out from the store in any direction, and this particular delivery was 7 miles past our limit. Of course I got to take it. To make matters worse, I had two deliveries in my area before going to them, and those two deliveries put me far enough away from the highway that it would have taken me the same amount of time to go back to the highway and then to the customer as it did to not use the highway.

It took me 30 minutes to get to them after delivering the first two deliveries. They had been waiting a while.

They filled out the credit card slip and sent me on my way. The bill was $18.25, they put a $3 tip on the slip and then, math skills be damned, they put the total as $19.

We’re supposed to go by the total, not the tip amount, so I basically got a 75 cent tip for driving way out of my way to do them a favor. Had I not gone to them, I could have quickly been back to the store and taken more deliveries in my area and made more money. So it’s like a double FUCK YOU. My boss was cool enough to give me the $3 tip.

A three dollar tip isn’t too terrible, but I can get that or more (usually more) all night long delivering to my customers. Hell, it probably cost me at least that much in gas just to get it to them.

It’s because of people like them, and others, that drivers who have been in the game for a while believe in one rule, among others, and that is: The harder it is to get the delivery to the customer, the less likely you’re going to get a tip.

Seriously, if I go to the address the customer gave me and I have to hunt them down, whether it’s because they don’t hear me knocking, or ringing the doorbell, or they left the house to go to the store after they ordered, or they’re in the back yard not paying attention, or they’re having sex, or whatever the reason, and I’ve called their phone and got their voice mail, or whatever… I’m probably not going to get a big tip, if I get one at all.

That’s how it works. Those who should be tipping more because they’re a pain in the ass, are the ones who won’t tip. If they’re going to be a complete asshole, might as well go all out, right?

So keep that in mind the next time you order a pizza for delivery. That driver is trying earn a living and pay some bills. You don’t know their story. Maybe it’s their second job, maybe they’re working their way through school, maybe whatever. If you’re relying on them to bring you your food, be kind enough to give them a decent tip.

Oh yeah, we’ll remember you too. We control when you get your food. Now, I don’t spit on food, but some drivers do. Some may shake the box, or drop it on the ground and step on it before delivering it to you. We remember who tips and who doesn’t. If you’re going to piss the driver off, you’re only fucking with your own food the next time you order. And we talk to each other, so we all know what you’ve done.

There’s an entire apartment complex we deliver to ALL THE TIME. It’s made up mostly of college art students who have no money, and the apartments aren’t cheap, so they’re extra broke. But they’re not starving artists, they eat well. At least when they order from us. They also habitually don’t tip at all. There are a couple there who do tip, but they don’t order much. The rest of the time it’s stiff central. And every driver who works at my store knows about that apartment complex, and we all hate it. The point? We remember who tips and who doesn’t.

When I say we control when you get your food, don’t take that the wrong way. Here’s an example on both sides of the coin. If you don’t tip because your order is late, it’s not our fault. It’s not like we’re driving around for an hour with your food in our car, just because we like wasting gas. EVERY SINGLE TIME I’ve delivered a late order, it only took me the time it would normally take to get to their house from the store. Five, ten minutes max. So consider that. If they told you 30 to 40 minutes and it’s been over an hour, that means it was already late before the driver got it, and it’s not the drivers fault. If you stiff the driver to get back at the store for a late order, the message won’t be received by the store. They don’t know you stiffed the driver, and they don’t care either.

On the flip side, how we control when you get your food, if I know you don’t tip because I’ve delivered to you before and you never fucking tip, if I have to deliver your order with another or a couple more, guess who’s getting their order last, even if their house is the first one I come to on my trip… Oh, I’ll most likely still be on time with it, but you won’t get it for five to ten minutes after you could have had it. And even if I’m not on time? What does it matter? You don’t tip anyway.

Here’s another reason it could be late. The employee who took your order is new. Some pizza chains have good systems in place for determining how long your order will take. The company I worked for at my first two delivery jobs has a great system in place. The MOD takes a look at the business and how long it’s taking for orders to go out, and he logs on to the computer and changes the times. Then, the call center that takes all the orders for all the stores then transfers the order to the right store, sees the times and tells the customers that. It’s damn near perfect.

At my current store, customers call us directly and the employees take the orders. The system we use to place orders is terrible and needs to be redone from the ground up, but the company doesn’t give a shit and won’t bother with fixing it. The system analyzes how many orders have been placed with how many employees there are and blah blah blah, and generates a time for us to tell the customer. It’s almost never right, especially for deliveries. I once worked a night when we had no orders at all, and both drivers, myself included, were at the store. When I finished taking the order over the phone, the computer told me the delivery times for that order were 451 to 461 minutes.

So as employees, we’re supposed to make judgment calls on our own. I’m fairly good at it, but I’ve been in the business for a while. Others, like new employees, will actually tell the customer what the computer tells them to say, or they’ll just say 30 to 40 when we’re more like 50 to 60.

You never can tell and you shouldn’t assume. If your order is late, ask the driver if they’ve been busy.

At my old job, the time the customer was told was printed on every order’s ticket. When I got the delivery and left the store, I could see when the order was placed and how long the customer was told it would take. I could then figure out if the order was, or was about to be late and I could drive a little faster to get it there on time. At my current job, I have no idea what time the customer was told over the phone unless I took the order, so most of the time I’m going at it blind. Hell, sometimes as I pull into the parking lot after a delivery, my boss runs my next order out to me. And that’s that. I don’t know shit about it other than where it’s going. For all I know, I have 20 minutes to go a half mile down the street, when in reality, it could be already 20 minutes late when I got it.

Now, on to some things you shouldn’t say. Unless you’re just an asshole or trying to be one, don’t say this shit.

Never EVER say to a driver who you are about to tip very little or stiff completely, “I’m sorry, I normally tip more but I’m a little light today.” Or, “Sorry I can’t tip you, I’ll get you next time.”

Fuck you, you lying sack of shit. There’s one customer I deliver to every now and then, and I bet I’ve delivered to him a half dozen times already. Never a tip. The very last time I delivered to him he says to me, “I didn’t order this, my dad did, I’m just getting it for him. He didn’t leave money for a tip. If it were me, I tip.” Uh, you know I deliver to you regularly, right? I’ve been here before. You just blatantly lied to me, and terribly. That’s not he first time I’ve heard that, and he’s not the only customer to say that. I’ve caught many regular customers on that lie.

Just the other night I delivered to a woman. Her order was $37.78 and she asked for the driver to bring change for $100 bill. She was my first delivery of the night, so I had my regular $5 in singles on me, and I brought $60 from the store. She took her food and handed me the $100, then said… “Just give me $62 back.”

Oh really? Just give you the entire amount of your change back to you, minus the 22 cents? In reality she said, “Just fuck you.”

This happens A LOT. Another driver was handed back a filled out credit card slip and the customer said, “Here you go. Keep makin that big money baller.” When the driver looked at the slip, the customer had completely stiffed him.

So this woman who only wanted all of her change back, at least the important stuff, do you know what she said to me afterwards? “I hope you make a lot of money tonight!” Is that right, bitch? Do you? Well guess what…

Business was slow that night and her delivery was the only delivery I took. That’s right. I drove 20 minutes on the highway and used a quarter tank of gas JUST TO GET TO WORK, so that I could make 22 cents. I was then let go for the night and drove 20 minutes home and used another quarter tank of gas. I effectively lost money that night. Is that her fault? No, but she contributed in a huge way… by not contributing in a huge way.

This is why I eat Combos for dinner (as I’m doing right now). Because at $2.50 a bag, I get more full on them than anything I can get at McDonald’s for the same amount of money. Bills? Forget ’em. I try to. My car is about to be repo’d, which is fine because it’s about to break down and I can’t afford to fix it.

Yeah lady, I hope I make a lot of money too. Thanks.

So those of you who say I should get a better job. Well, I’m looking, and have been. After I last delivered pizza I never wanted to do it again because it’s too risky. It’s not guaranteed money, and I’m sick of dealing with the assholes. The good customers are awesome, but one asshole can ruin a great night. Before this job I was unemployed for 7 months and I took this job because it was available immediately and I needed to work. But sometimes, like the 22 cent night, I lose money when I work. So yeah, I’m trying to get a better job, but nobody is calling me back. There are better candidates out there, apparently. I’m doing my best right now. At least I’m working and not sucking off the government teat. But damn, I make $5 an hour because I’m in a position to get tips and commission. Well, if I don’t get tips and commission, I still get $5 an hour. Just like those servers at your favorite sit down place. If you don’t tip, they’re still making less than $3 an hour. Hardly a wage to live on, unless you’re living in a box, which I might be if this continues. So at least I got that going for me.

10 responses to “Delivery Tales: Tips

  1. Sucks for sure. If you order the pizza with delivery, an awesome tip better be factored into your budget…or karma. After your last post, I’ve done specific instructions with the waving crazy lady who wants the fucking pizza. Tips never less than 5$.

  2. I normally tip $3. I never know what’s appropriate unless I’m at a restaurant…

    • And that’s fine. Nobody can really be pissed at $3 unless they’re driving 10 miles to get to you. That’s a standard tip, I’d say. The only reason I’ve come to expect $5 is because of the area I deliver in. Hell, it took me almost a year of delivering there to get used to the tips I get, and sometimes I’m still amazed at what I get there. But $3 is good.

  3. I’m thinkin you shouldn’t run that guy’s pizza out 7 miles farther anymore! I tip well. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — if you can’t afford a decent tip, make your own fuckin food.
    We order from a small, locally owned place about a mile from our house. My in-laws used to live just down the street from the place, so I’ve been eating this pizza for about 20 years. We’ve lived here a year, we’ve ordered about once a month, and 90% of the time, Jake picks the pizzas up. But when they deliver, I tip well, because I’m going to live here forever, and I want to have their pizza forever!
    I’m such a loyal customer 😀

  4. I used to deliver Chinese a few years ago, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. In some ways it’s worse because you get fewer orders to take than you do delivering pizza.

    In my opinion the worst tippers are the people who call ten minutes before the restaurant closes, so when you should be going home instead you’re freezing your ass off delivering to them after hours, and you know what? They never tip. At most you’ll get the change to the nearest dollar.

    Or did you ever get someone who wants to pay you with big handfuls of change? I had a guy order about $20 of food and paid me entirely in fistfuls of quarters, nickels, and dimes. It was late and the guy gave special instructions to call when I got to his house instead of ringing the bell to avoid waking up his family. It was dark out, it was cold, and he claimed he gave me a $5 tip, but when I had a chance to sit and count it turns out he had not only completely stiffed me on tip, but had actually given me less than the cost of his order. I should have turned right the hell around, pounded on his door and told him he owed me more money, but at that point I was just so cold and miserable I wanted to go home, so I just paid the difference myself.

    Long story short, deliveries suck and people who don’t tip suck more. I’ve heard people who think delivery guys don’t deserve a tip when if anything they deserve more tip than servers at a restaurant do. They don’t have to put mileage on their car and spend their own money on gas to bring you your food. They don’t have to stand outside with frozen fingers and dial your number three times because you aren’t answering your damn door. They don’t have to drive to potentially dangerous neighborhoods or go through rain and snow to bring you your food. Delivery drivers not only deserve a tip, they deserve at least the same tip you’d give a waitress if you bought the same amount of food at the restaurant.

    • Yes sir. Although I will say where I work now, 9 times out of 10 if I get a last minute delivery, it’s a big tip because they’re completely wasted and appreciate me coming out so late. That’s the kind of neighborhood I deliver in. On one occasion I delivered to someone 45 minutes after we closed because they literally called fifteen minutes after we closed. They were regular customers (and good ones at the time) and they ordered $120 in food, then tipped me $40.

      However… as far as delivering in the rain and cold, this past winter when it was 30 below zero out at night, I had one delivery where the guy wouldn’t answer his door and I could feel my hands starting to hurt from the cold. I had to walk back to my car for my phone and call him and when he finally came out he had to mention how cold it was as I felt the heat coming out from his house. Asshole.

      With the change, I’ve had that. At least typically they’re kind enough to put it in a sandwich baggie. But we had a deal where for a week we were giving out free pizza if the customer had been mailed a coupon for it. It was to drum up business. We sent out 5000 coupons and we got hit hard with business. We got hit with all kinds of new customers, most of which I’m glad only ordered when the pizza was free. A $2 delivery fee still applied, but they were getting whatever large pizza they wanted for free. One guy ordered every topping we had, like 22 toppings. The pizza was so thick the middle wasn’t cooked all the way. He got it, a $45 pizza for free. But others, like one guy, bitched about having to pay the $2 delivery fee, and handed me a $5 bill only to ask for his $3 back. A whole lot of other customers in one particular apartment complex paid their $2 in coins, unrolled pennies, and of course no tips. There was one night when I had so many customers pay me in coins I had to eventually pull them all out to continue working because they were pulling down my pants and it was hard to work.

      • That’s actually pretty funny, though I doubt it was at the time.

        I’ve no doubt you have a lot more delivery horror stories than I do since you’ve done it for a lot longer and at busier places than I have. I will say I think the biggest tip I’ve ever gotten was around $10 and even that is very rare. My standard tip was around $3, and I probably averaged a bit lower than that thanks to the occasional jerks who would tip like a buck, or that one kid I mentioned before who would just give the change to the nearest dollar even if it was only like ten cents.

        On the other hand, I almost never got sent out of our delivery area. There was only one place I would get sent that was outside of our normal delivery radius and that’s only because she was a former employee and her sister still worked at the restaurant. She usually tipped decently well but not amazing.

      • Yeah, I have plenty of horror stories, but they’re all mostly the same. I don’t remember much from the last two times I delivered because they were years ago. Except they were in regular neighborhoods and tips weren’t that great typically, but I was much busier, so I had to drive a lot more to make regular money, so I used more gas.

        The first time I delivered was back in 2000 and I had a Neon, so gas wasn’t expensive and I wasn’t using much, so I made a lot of money. A LOT of money. It really boils down to how much gas costs and how much I have to use lol.

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