When it comes to takeout food, leaving a tip is considered good form by many etiquette experts. Real Simple magazine, for example, publishes a tipping guide that suggests an average tip of up to 10 percent for takeout orders.
"For an extra-large or rush order, or if the cashier helps you to your car, tip 10 percent or more. If you’re a regular customer, tip the cashier well to ensure the timeliness and accuracy of your orders," the magazine reports.
Yet, when posed the question of whether to leave a tip for takeout, readers resoundingly disagreed. More than 30 e-mails came in from readers, and more than 90 percent of respondents disagreed (many vehemently) with this practice.
Here are some of the responses:
"One reason to get food to go is to save time as well as money on tipping. I mean, I not only end up serving myself, but sometimes I have to even re-heat the meal."–Dianne
"The word ‘tip’ is generally believed to be an acronym meaning ‘To Insure Performance.’ It stands to reason the tip should be in line with the quality of services rendered. What do they do that goes beyond the call of duty? Nothing. So I tip nothing." –Brad
"What’s next. Tipping at the McDonald’s drive-thru? Ridiculous. I’m tired of the whole tip-jar mentality. Where will it end?" –B.W., Seaside, Calif.
"Why in the world should a customer be expected to hand over their cash – other than for the food – to someone who has given no more service than to walk from the kitchen to the cash register? I sometimes pay for things on a credit card. There is a place to add a tip on the merchant’s copy and, feeling intimidated, I have added a tip, then left with my ‘takeout’ feeling angry with myself for doing so ... At what point does tipping stop and greed start?" –Shirley C.
"I usually tip when getting Chinese takeout but I’m always wondering if the cook receives it, or whether the hostess who packaged it does. In my mind, it’s meant for the cook. The other question is, should it be the customary 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, or less, due to the lack of service? Also, I’ve found that you can get home and not have your entire order. Presumably, a tip should ensure against this happening. So then you’ve tipped for lousy service. A dilemna indeed!" –Heidi S.
"If I order a meal at a takeout restaurant, it is implicit in the purchasing act that I’m paying not only for the food, but for its preparation, and delivery from the (kitchen) to my hand. The counter help is not going to deliver the food to my car, or bring it to my home. There’s no reason whatsoever to tip. We tip in sit-down restaurants as a way of acknowledging the professionalism of the wait staff that has ‘served’ us. What training and professional knowledge is necessary to collect our money at the counter and hand a bag of food to us?" –Mark C.
"I used a debit card at a local Chinese restaurant. When signing the receipt, it clearly had my food total and a space to write in a tip amount. I left the tip line blank as I don’t believe in tipping for takeout. Once I checked my bank account transaction, I unexpectedly found that because I left the tip line blank, the restaurant added the 20 percent tip amount to my total – after I signed the receipt and left the restaurant! Wasn’t sure if it was worth complaining to them after the fact, but for those who purchase this way, please remember to line out or put an X on that tip line so that the restaurant does not take the liberty of filling it in for you." –Anne B.
© 2005, The Monterey County Herald (Monterey, Calif.).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.