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Delivery apps make our lives so much easier, but when it’s time to leave a tip, calculating the right tip amount can be difficult.
How Much Should I Tip My Grocery Delivery Person
Recommended tips can vary greatly depending on what you order, what platform you use, and what happens in the shipping process.
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So, how much should you tip a driver when things go well and when things go wrong?
In this article, we’ll answer that question by taking a deep dive into tipping etiquette for modern delivery apps that connect you with independent contractors instead of full-time or part-time employees.
Consider gig economy platforms like Uber Eats, Instacart, and Grubhub, which are changing delivery — and, in some ways, tips — as we know it.
Read on as we explain what normal tipping is and when it’s okay (and expected) to tip more or less so you can tip more fairly in your market.
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Because modern app delivery managers are often classified as self-employed, they are responsible for all of their own expenses, sometimes earning or making less than the local minimum hourly wage before being tipped.
Therefore, standard tipping etiquette calls for tipping at least 15%—just like you would a traditional pizza delivery person, restaurant server, or even a Lyft or Uber driver.
Whether you’re ordering from DoorDash, Uber Eats, or another food delivery service, tipping etiquette usually falls right around the standard 15%.
However, this is really only a standard for small orders – those that are easy to pick up and drop off.
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If you are requesting a large order, such as a catering order or a request involving more than two bags, we recommend a base tip of 18-20% so that your driver is properly compensated for their efforts.
When you save on going to the grocery store with Instacart or Shipt, you’ll usually have to bump your base tip up to 20%.
Grocery delivery orders tend to be larger — often significantly — than food delivery app orders, which means the service itself naturally requires extra effort.
In addition to the size of your order, you may also want to tip more because your driver will give you a lot more time as he spends time buying the products you want.
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Although it is debatable whether this time is included in their salary, grocery delivery drivers often have to provide more service than any other type of delivery driver.
They’re trained to contact you when they’re at different points of contact—for example, when they’re on the road or when they’re out of stock—and pick out the freshest products possible.
This special service is definitely worth adding to your base tip, although 15% is still good if you’re placing a small order that doesn’t require much interaction.
While tips aren’t expected for traditional courier services, package and mail delivery services are on the rise in the gig economy.
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If you choose these alternative courier services, a 15% tip is still a great rule of thumb – especially if you’re only delivering one envelope or small box.
However, if you are delivering a heavy package or multiple packages at once, you may want to tip at least 18-20% depending on the exact size, weight and volume.
Tipping is only required by the person requesting the courier service, so if you’re on the receiving end of a package, don’t feel obligated to reach for your wallet, although your delivery driver will certainly appreciate an extra dollar or two.
On apps like TaskRabbit, you can request the services of a driver to help with a number of tasks, including package deliveries, store pickups, dry cleaning pickups, and more.
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In these cases, you usually don’t have to worry about tipping just because your driver goes to multiple locations.
Start with a higher bottom end if you expect to do a lot of lifting or other heavy effort.
If your driver goes above and beyond the basic requirements to finish the job, turning good service into great service, it is customary to leave a larger tip.
We’ve already covered how big and difficult requests can warrant higher tips, but there are more situations where extra effort can warrant even higher tips.
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For example, if your delivery driver had to climb several flights of stairs to get to you, thank him for his effort by tipping at least 5% higher.
If your delivery driver makes your day with a positive attitude, communicates with you every step of the delivery process, or otherwise ensures you have the best experience possible, again, increase your tip by at least 5%.
No matter how much you love the delivery app, there are still two situations that call for a reduced tip.
Most of the time, poor service is the only reason you tip less than your normal tip.
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We usually don’t recommend doing away with tips entirely because independent contractors often depend on tips to support their families and sometimes even make minimum wage.
However, if poor service escalates into harassment or other serious issues, stop tipping and report the situation in your app.
Remember that delivery drivers should not be penalized for poor service due to bad weather, traffic or other circumstances beyond their control.
Another situation where you can tip your delivery person less is if they actually damage your purchase.
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For example, if they spilled your food in your car or broke a breakable item by dropping it on your doorstep, you may tip less or not at all, depending on the extent of the damage.
In most cases, you should be able to report the situation to the company your driver is contracted with and receive a discount.
For example, if your Uber Eats driver delivers melted ice cream despite you putting it in a cooler, they’re probably doing everything they can to keep your items cool and don’t deserve a reduced tip.
The answer to our original question – “How much should you tip a delivery driver?” — may vary from situation to situation, but once you have basic tipping etiquette, calculating the correct tip isn’t that difficult.
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Here are some frequently asked questions to help you navigate tipping during your next delivery service request.
While most delivery apps are designed to allow you to pay and tip with a credit card in the app, there’s nothing stopping you from tipping your driver in cash.
Some drivers may prefer cash tips because they can spend them immediately instead of waiting for payments to be processed.
When tipping in cash, the same tipping etiquette applies, although you may want to round up to avoid tipping with both the bottom and coins, which can be awkward.
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Most, if not all, apps match their contractors with delivery orders based on what they can safely handle, so you don’t have to worry about leaving a larger base end for a rider who had to handle a particularly large order.
These fees don’t go directly to your driver, and some actually go directly to the delivery person you ordered from.
Your driver’s tip is the only part of your payment that goes 100% to your delivery partner.
Amazon, which uses contract drivers for many of its services, is a unique delivery platform where tips are only sometimes accepted.
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Amazon drivers are paid significantly more than most contractors for gig economy applications, and tipping for Amazon services is not customary.
However, if your delivery driver took care to hide your package in a safe place, feel free to tip them the desired amount.
Whether you tip at checkout or after delivery, when requesting delivery service it is imperative to ensure that you leave as fair a tip as possible.
Modern delivery platforms, from Uber Eats to courier platforms like GoShare, all use contractors who depend on your advice for a living.
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When you use gig economy apps to request ride-sharing services instead of delivery, tipping etiquette doesn’t change too much.
Learn more about Uber’s tipping expectations to ensure you tip your Uber driver the right amount.
Brett Helling is the owner. He has been a ride-sharing driver since early 2012, completing hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft and Postmates. In 2014, he acquired in order to share his experience with other managers. His insights are regularly cited by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC and others. He is currently working on a book about working in the gig economy, expanding his skills beyond the ride-sharing niche. Read more about Brett here.
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