Not so many years ago I worked as a pizza delivery driver in Sedalia. Among many lessons learned, one in particular stands out: many customers don’t know how to tip!

That’s not to say the problem is across the board, as several customers are extremely gracious when it comes to tipping. But it’s worth noting that more than a few people are guilty of stiffing their pizza delivery driver.

In my time delivering pizzas, there was nothing more aggravating than getting a call at 10:30 on a Saturday night when someone wanted pizza and/or multiple sides delivered across town and then NOT receiving a tip.

Several of those trips across town occurred during wintery weather. Ice and snow on the roads are dangerous enough, but when delivering to a house on the outskirts of town late at night while traveling on gravel roads, not receiving a tip is adding insult to injury.

Granted, there is a common misconception that delivery fees are counted as part of the driver’s tip. The truth is, delivery fees are not tips! The driver barely sees a fraction of that fee. Drivers, like wait staff and bartenders, depend on tips to make a living and pay bills. Often times, the driver has to use tip money to put gas back into the vehicle, as many places don’t compensate for fuel cost. Although some pizza places do compensate for fuel, many do not. If a driver is working a 6 – 8 hour shift on a busy night, that eats up a lot of gas, not to mention the wear and tear on the vehicle.

At the end of the night, some drivers use a big chunk of tips received to put gas back in the tank. There were times that I actually came out negative. It cost more to put gas in the tank than the total tips received during a shift.

I understand that sometimes service is bad or the delivery takes a lot longer than the promised wait time. Maybe the driver is having an off night or simply had a bad day. Delivery drivers are human, just like everyone else. Bad days happen.

If it’s a small order, then tip accordingly. The same applies for a large order. If a customer or group orders $250 worth of food, then make the tip worthwhile.

I remember delivering $400 worth of pizza to a graduation party. The order was large enough that it took two drivers, as the amount of pizza would not fit in one car. We made it to the destination with time to spare. After receiving the order, the customer then wrote a check for $410. The extra 10 bucks was to be split between the two of us. Sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. Customary tips are 15% but 20% is preferred nowadays. Bottom line, tip your driver accordingly and take into consideration the time of day or night, especially during bad weather.

If you have money to order food, the assumption is you have enough money to leave a tip.