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Should You Tip for Take-Out?

You're caught in the awkward space where you see the tip line and the take-out cashier is watching you as you consider it. Find out what to do here.

By
Richie Frieman,
June 19, 2013

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There have been many great debates in history: Coke vs. Pepsi, Jordan vs. LeBron (Jordan, by the way), thick crust vs. thin crust pizza. But one that’s near and dear to my heart is: Should you tip for take-out?

Thankfully, I’m not alone in feeling confused when faced with a “Gratuity” line on the receipt after I swipe my credit card. Here’s my biggest issue with this transaction: You only see the “Gratuity” section on the receipt when you pay by credit card. If I pay by cash, they just hand me the receipt, or place it in the bag, without a second thought. But when you have to sign the credit card receipt, you are caught in an awkward space where you see the tip line, and the cashier is watching you as you consider it. This is not fair. In fact, it’s a bit of trickery. They’re never going to say, “Where’s my tip?” but when there is a line for a Tip that you both know you plainly see, it’s hard to ignore it. So they are getting away with pressuring you without having to say anything. It’s like someone drooling next to you while you eat a delicious piece of cake, but who doesn’t want to ask you for a bite.

So here’s the rule, folks: You always tip based on the service that was done. Period.

And you are the judge of that service. For example, if someone rings you up, and all they did was hand you a bag—that doesn’t justify a tip.  Even if they got you a soda, while you pulled out your wallet, that doesn’t count.  If that’s the case, then the people at the movie theater concession stand do more! That guy actually has to scoop my popcorn, then get my drink, then take my money. The restaurant cashier just handed me a bag that someone in the back boxed up. In these situations, do not feel guilty for leaving the Tip line blank.

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