My parents are in their 80s. They love to eat out, but like many older people, they avoid restaurants due to the pandemic.
I downloaded the UberEats app on their phones for them so they can continue enjoying their favorite restaurants while being safe at home. But I was embarrassed recently when they mentioned that they never tip drivers. I have several friends who are driving to make ends meet and who rely on advice.
My parents refuse because they say the delivery charges are already too high. My parents were always stingy when it came to tips. They think 15% for great service when dining in a restaurant is enough. I know how hard it will be to get them to change, but I feel strong about it. Should I drop it or keep pushing here?
I am a proponent of the philosophy “if you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford the service”. This applies regardless of whether you dine in the restaurant or have food delivered to you. If you don’t like the fees on Uber Eats – or a grocery delivery app – this is an argument in favor of collecting the food yourself or cooking it at home. It is not justified not to tip your driver.
They don’t say how you reacted when your parents told you they weren’t tipping or if there was an argument. But if you went straight into their history as stingy dump trucks, I don’t think that’s a good approach. People generally don’t respond well to being labeled cheap skates.
However, I think it is worth educating your parents about how drivers for apps are paid for grocery delivery. If you’ve just started using Uber Eats, you might be a little shocked by all of these exorbitant fees. (And I’m only calling Uber Eats because that’s the service you mention by name. All I’m going to say is about food delivery apps across the board.) You may be mistakenly thinking that all of these fees fill the driver’s pocket.
Here’s what you can tell your parents: Drivers are generally paid by the order and not by the hour. If they wait 20 minutes because the kitchen is secured, that’s 20 minutes that they are essentially not paid for. Because drivers don’t earn an hourly minimum wage, they do Rely on tips.
Unfortunately, many drivers will tell you that non-dump trucks are common. Ask any of your friends who deliver groceries for an app and I’m sure they will confirm. Perhaps some of these customers are simply confused about how drivers are paid or whether tipping is the norm. I also suspect that it’s easier to stiffen someone when you aren’t interacting with them – and with contactless delivery, it’s not an interaction become the norm.
But tipping has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic. Before the coronavirus, we often asked people to deliver groceries just because we were too lazy to pick it up ourselves. Now we ask drivers to risk their health so that we can stay safe at home. Also, so many people have lost their jobs and are trying to make a living doing gig work. This is a time to be as generous as you can afford. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but the general consensus seems to be that 15% is fair for food delivery.
All in all, I think this is a conversation you had once and only with your parents. Furthermore, you won’t make a difference. It is about as likely that you will change your parents ‘minds by repeatedly arguing about how you change others’ minds by arguing about politics on Thanksgiving.
My suspicion is that your feelings on this matter reflect a wider disagreement with your parents. Tipping has reached a new level of emotion in 2020 – even for those who have the luxury of making this a philosophical debate because they don’t depend on tipping for a living.
The pandemic has shown how weak the safety net is for so many workers, particularly in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Hopefully, if you feel this needs to change these days, tip more generously.
Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do here. You will not solve the more general structural problems of the economy by making better tips to your parents.
Hopefully your parents will surprise you. You are not asking them to drastically change their habits. They only make a few extra bucks for the driver. In the meantime, tip generously and know that you are helping to make up for any non-tipping.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com