Letter: Tipping 101 for shopping and delivery services

Graphic by Lori Deaton

A customer in the Asheville area encouraged me to write this because she believes people don’t understand how to tip for shop/delivery services like Shipt or Instacart. In the service industry, tips provide most of our income. As a subcontractor, I can’t reveal my pay, but I can tell you it doesn’t cover vehicle maintenance, gasoline and time to return from a delivery to the next store to shop. We must absorb those costs.

Occasionally, I get a much-appreciated generous tip; however, it’s not enough to compensate for nontippers (about 50% of my customers). I want to provide the shopper’s perspective. Restaurant servers receive 15%-20% tips. In return, they take your order, bring food, refill drinks, generally be attentive and do side work. What does a shopper do? Drives to store, shops, communicates with customer about substitutions for out-of-stock items (which happens frequently), picks up items customer adds last-minute, checks out/bags items and uses personal vehicle to deliver order.

We devote the entire time to you, providing a highly personalized service. We’re not tending to five or six groups of people simultaneously. Even so, we’re only asking for the same tip — 15%-20% of the total spent. For delivery-only orders, maybe $5.

If you are sick or elderly and can’t get out, I’ll serve you without expecting a tip as a community service. Otherwise, as a rule of thumb, if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford the service. Please consider adding an additional percentage if you are not on the first floor or more than 15 minutes from the store. (Most restaurants limit how far they deliver due to time/costs involved.) All we ask is fair compensation for services rendered. Side note: Shipt treats their subcontractors fairly, so choose your service wisely! Thank you big time for your consideration!

— Mary Summers


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One thought on “Letter: Tipping 101 for shopping and delivery services

  1. Michael Hopping

    Thanks. I’m one of the people so far out of the loop that I’ve wondered about this. Next up, figuring out how to access a delivery service should the need ever arise . . .

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