There’s no question that the on-demand food delivery app economy has made eating easier throughout California and the rest of the country. In a study done in 2016, 20% of respondents said they use food delivery at least once a week. The three most popular food delivery services in Los Angeles are DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates.
There’s no longer a need to leave your home to go to crowded restaurants or even groceries so you can make a meal at home. Food delivery is now simply a few clicks away. Even tipping has been made easier through these apps, being given options of several percentages and even the ability to set your desired amount.
However, those tips don’t always make it onto the driver’s account as an extra for their work. Oftentimes, food delivery drivers earn less than the minimum wage because tips are considered part of their compensation. On top of that, they usually pay for their own gas and car insurance. And to complicate things further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics once rated food delivery driving as the fifth most dangerous job in the U.S, adding to the burden of the job.
In 2019, DoorDash’s CEO announced the company would no longer use customer tips to subsidize delivery workers’ base pay. Before the announcement, the company was using gratuity to supplement what it promised it would pay workers. Let’s say that, for example, Marianne works at a restaurant making $4 an hour plus tips, but her tips went toward that $4 an hour too. That’s not what a tip is. That’s what DoorDash was doing pre 2019.
Postmates, for its part, doesn’t use tips to subsidize delivery workers’ pay. Nor does Grubhub or Seamless: all of the tip goes to the delivery person and it is not used to subsidize workers’ pay either. Uber Eats also gives the full amount of tips from customers to its delivery workers on top of whatever they earn for the order.
On the grocery delivery front, similar to DoorDash, Instacart also recently stopped counting customer tips toward couriers’ base pay. Also similar to DoorDash, the change came following the public outcry from workers and customers when shoppers started sharing stories, like one receipt of receiving $10.80 for a delivery despite receiving a $10 tip. But now, all tips to shoppers go directly to the shoppers.
Caviar delivery workers keep all of their tips, which don’t count toward base pay. And considering that people working for this company do the deliveries on bicycles, increasing the risk of accidents, their tips are more than well earned.
Despite everything mentioned above, it’s important to keep the following in mind — just in case! If you must use a food delivery app or any other service that subsidizes worker wages with their own tips, the best course of action to ensure that your money reaches the driver who delivered your food is to be aware of that ahead of time and tip with cold, harsh cash. Tipping in cash is the only real way to know your gratuity is going to them and not the company.
However, we understand that these days, it has become more rare for the average person to carry cash on them. As a suggestion, it could also be a good idea to ask the food delivery person for their personal Venmo, Cashapp, PayPal, or Zelle account in order to ensure they receive the full tip on top of their full paycheck — as it should be.
And just how much should you tip a food delivery person? If you would tip a server in a restaurant, it makes sense that as a consumer, you’d tip the person delivering food to your door. Etiquette-wise, it is customary to tip 10 to 15% and at least $1 to start off. If the weather is bad or it’s during a special circumstance like a holiday or a big game night, the tip can go up to 15 to 20%.
Furthermore, considering we’re currently living through a global pandemic due to COVID-19, as consumers, we should probably be tipping even more considering food delivery drivers are exposing themselves to the virus in service to us. Moreover, at a time when the unemployment rate has spiked to reach an all-time high throughout the country, this is another reason to consider starting to tip at 20%.
Other things to keep in mind when tipping:
- It's rude and foul to leave an intentionally small tip, like spare change or a couple of dollars for a $60 meal.
- Leaving no tip is only appropriate in extreme cases. Situations outside of the food delivery person’s control or a bad experience with the food don’t qualify as such, usually.
- Tip to acknowledge the work or service that was done for you.