The eternal question in the on-demand economy: What is a fair tip amount for a delivery person, especially one from an app?
The thinking varies based on the service and the app, but in this article we’ll look at Grubhub, a food delivery app, its tipping policy, how it differs from other competitors in the space, and what you should tip your Grubhub driver.
What Is Grubhub?
Grubhub is an on-demand delivery app that sends a delivery person to restaurants near you and gets food to your door.
The company was started by CEO Matt Maloney and co-founder Michael Evans in 2004 as a way to offer an alternative to paper menus, then pivoted to a food delivery service. The company merged with competitor Seamless in 2013, and went public the following year. Maloney remains on as the CEO of the company, and when it comes to tipping, he’s actually been a lot more vocal on the topic than other competitors.
He shared his views in an article in USA TODAY:
[Maloney is] a strong proponent of tipping, and Grubhub’s website recommends a $5 or a 20 percent tip, whichever is more. Maloney also said this number should go up if you’re ordering for your whole office or during, say, a blizzard.
This is a break from what most other companies in the field tend to push, which is the idea that tipping is welcome but not at all mandatory, or even necessary. While not making it a requirement, Grubhub (and by virtue of their merger, Seamless) are much more forthright in suggesting a tip, which we appreciate, as tips help delivery drivers make a living wage.
How Much Should You Tip a Grubhub Delivery Driver?
Before we get into what you should tip your Grubhub driver, it’s important to note that, yes, you should tip your delivery driver. Much like you tip pizza delivery drivers, ordering from an app doesn’t absolve you of the tipping practice.
Grubhub drivers are paid by the order (plus mileage), so if it’s a slow day, the company is only liable to provide a base pay of whatever minimum wage is in that area. Drivers do, on the other hand, get to keep 100 percent of tips. In a country where minimum wage can barely pay for rent in most markets, and can’t come close to reaching median rent in the majority of cities, those tips can be the difference between your driver making a living wage or not.
You should try to tip a few dollars per order at least, with $5 or 20 percent of the total order — whichever is larger — being a fair tip for someone delivering your food. If there’s good service, or when there’s bad weather, or it’s a large order, tipping a few bucks extra is well-deserved and appreciated.
Some people have issues with the entire concept of tipping, and Americans do have a weird system where many people in the service industry in this country are overly reliant on tips. But any qualms you may have with our system here doesn’t really justify ignoring the practice. It’s the way things work in the United States, like it or not, and problems you may have with the system don’t deserve to be taken out on a delivery driver trying to make ends meet.
Lastly, remember that drivers are almost always not responsible for slow delivery time. Sure, sometimes people get lost, but for the most part, the hold up in your food delivery will come from a slow cooking time, not from a driver bringing the food.
Can You Tip Within the App?
Yes, and easily. To tip with your credit card within the app, just go here during the checkout process and enter your preferred tip.
On the iOS app, it looks like this:
If you have the app for Grubhub sister company Seamless, have no fear, the screen is set up exactly the same way.
If you forget to tip with the app or prefer to just give the driver a few bucks, they always appreciate a cash tip. Just hand your tip to the driver when you grab your food and you’ll be all set.
Either way, the driver receives 100 percent of tips, so don’t worry about putting it on the credit card if you don’t have cash.
Aren’t Tips Included in the Cost?
Tips aren’t included in the cost of food.
Some restaurants charge a delivery fee, but that will go to the restaurant itself or Grubhub, and not the driver. Drivers only make a small amount for each order and get gas money based on mileage, and rely on tips to make a living. So even if you see a delivery charge on your order, don’t feel the need to stiff the driver. That charge isn’t going to them.
How Does Grubhub’s Tipping Policy Compare to Competitors?
Most delivery services are fine with tipping, and almost all the other major food delivery apps — including DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates — give users the option to tip within the app.
What’s slightly different about Grubhub and sister company Seamless is that they start users with a suggested tip, and if you prefer to give no tip, you need to make that choice by entering a custom tip and selecting $0.
Basically, they’re strongly encouraging you to tip your driver, and to not do so requires work. DoorDash similarly suggests a tip for drivers, but other companies start with no tip, and you’re free to add one if you want. (Uber Eats and Postmates don’t even give you the option to tip until the order is over, then asks if you’d like to.)
Making tipping automatic reflects a change in thinking when it comes to the practice in the on-demand app industry. In the early days of Uber, Uber drivers weren’t allowed to take tips in the app, and weren’t supposed to even take in-cash tips when driving someone. That changed thanks to lobbying from Uber drivers, who wanted to be rewarded for providing exceptional service.
Uber is still a little hesitant about strongly encouraging users to tip. Their official language is: “Tipping is not required on Uber Eats, but you can tip if you want to in the app with your credit card.” Compare that to Grubhub, which starts you with at least a 15 percent tip for many orders.
It’s Always Good Form to Tip
Basically, no matter which service you use to order food delivery, it’s good form to provide a tip. Grubhub and Seamless make it easy by giving you options at checkout, and if you’re OK factoring in that cost ahead of time, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. You tip waiters for bringing food to your table — it’s reasonable to expect to tip someone for bringing food to your house.
If you pick up food at the restaurant, tipping is by no means a demand. But if you are asking someone to drive food and deliver it to your door, regardless how you feel about the quality of service, that is work that should be rewarded. For you, it’s a few dollars and for these delivery drivers, it might make the difference between making a living wage or not.