(NEXSTAR) – Tipping a take out order has always been the generous thing to do. But during the pandemic, that pretty much became the norm.
How much we should give, however, remains a subject of great confusion.
“There are times when take out doesn’t require the same effort, but there are other times when it does,” says Diane gottsman, etiquette expert, author and founder of the Protocol School of Texas.
Generally, according to Gottsman, customers should put at least a few dollars in the tip pot for small orders, but up to 20% for particularly large or complicated orders. It doesn’t have to be, she admits, but customers these days should take into account the added responsibilities of a waiter or delivery driver during the pandemic.
“We have to keep in mind the convenience for us of picking it up from the curb or having it delivered, or picking it up at the counter… at ease rather than going out,” says Gottsman.
Throughout the pandemic, not all customers have been so generous. While some polls, like this consumer survey commissioned by Bank of America – suggest more than half of Americans have started to switch more from the pandemic, others have found the exact opposite. In November 2020, for example, the non-profit group One Fair Wage, in collaboration with UC Berkeley, released the results of a survey of workers which indicated that tips were decreasing for most service workers, in part because of the need to enforce COVID security protocol on sometimes “hostile” guests. A follow-up report released in September 2021 suggested the problem had only got worse.
A separate survey, from Credit Cards.com, came to roughly the same conclusion in June 2021.
Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, says she heard reports from Colorado restaurants attesting to these findings.
“Tipping and overall customer behavior has seen a recent drop in generosity, unfortunately due to possibly longer wait times in restaurants and with take-out service, but this is due to the severe labor shortage the industry is facing right now, ”she told Nexstar.
According to Riggs, this “drop in generosity” isn’t just for takeout orders, either. Guests in person have also left small tips in recent months, which Riggs attributes to guests “sometimes [forgetting] that restaurants face exorbitant costs and a lack of manpower, which can lead to smaller menus and slower service.
Colorado’s issues appear to be national issues as well. The restaurant industry in general is still reeling from the losses suffered amid the pandemic, with a majority of full-service and limited-service restaurateurs claiming they are worse today than there were just a few years ago. three months, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by National Association of Restaurateurs.
“Now is not the time to be more demanding when dining out or ordering takeout; now is the time to be patient, empathetic and kind, as restaurant workers face increased demand with fewer coworkers, ”says Riggs.
However, even the Emily Post Institute has always suggested that customers shouldn’t tip more than their budget allows – a sentiment Gottsman agrees with.
“If you can give more and you’re inclined to give it, then do it by all means,” says the etiquette expert. “However, it is not a standard rule to tip over 20%.
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