Every week, Pizza Girl (Diary of a Pizza Girl) stops by with insights and a behind-the-scenes look into the world of pizza-delivery drivers. Take it away, PG! —AK

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I get asked a lot how much you should tip on pizza delivery.

First, to stave off some objections, here's the situation upon which my opinions are based. I work in a suburban area (and recently in a fairly rural area) in Texas. There are large labyrinthine subdivisions and apartment complexes. It can take me upwards of 15 minutes one way to get to a delivery. I have no idea about tipping in any other part of the country or in urban settings.

"If you don't like paying a tip, please go pick up your pizza."

There are lots of different numbers floating around there from "$2" to "tip the same as you would a waiter"

Here are my rules (and why):

  • $3 minimum tip. This is 15% on a $20 order. It is not my fault if you ordered less than $20 worth of pizza. Between one and three pizzas is the exact same amount of work for me.
  • Add $1 if you ordered something complicated and I got it right. It is my job to check the order before it goes out to make sure you have the right toppings, extras, and sodas. But be merciful if I didn't get it right. I will have to correct it and that means another whole trip out to your house, which is a big expense for me; I don't get extra gas money and I'm missing out on another delivery I could have taken. Even pros forget a soda now and then.
  • Add $1 if you live out of area and we delivered to you anyway. The store could have turned you down, and they aren't paying me extra gas money to bring it to you.
  • For big orders, never tip less than 10%. Any more than four items and it means that I'm going to have to use two hot-bags, carry extra weight, and you probably got your pizza earlier than normal because we expect a bigger tip. Feel free to tip more than 10% though.
  • Add an extra $1 or $2 for inclement weather, especially snow and sleet. If it's snowing or sleeting, your delivery person risked their lives getting out on the road to bring you your pizza. They may be better practiced at driving in the weather but that doesn't mean that the cars around them (that are just as likely to kill them) are.
  • You might consider tipping extra if... I called you for directions. That means I didn't spend 45 minutes letting your pizza get cold while I wandered your neighborhood looking for your street.

Tips are on top of any delivery fee that the store charges. The driver does not get that delivery fee. At best it subsidizes the gas reimbursement that we get. For example, my store charges $2 for delivery and I get $1.29 per delivery in gas reimbursement. The store expects customers to pay us (by tipping) for working and doesn't care if you don't (which is why "sending a message" to the store about how badly the person on the phone did, how the food tastes, how long the expected delivery time is, etc., doesn't work).

I can only imagine a few scenarios where it might be OK to lower a driver's tip and they are all so blatantly the driver's fault that no one else could be blamed (the driver ran over your shrubs, threw a pizza at you, wasn't carrying change and didn't offer to go get you any).

Late pizza is rarely the driver's fault. Call the store and complain. Same with cold pizza. Though if your pizza is always late and always cold it could be because you are a bad tipper and the driver is hoping you'll get tired of it and stop ordering from there. I've been known to not use hot-bags on cold nights, stop for gas, and take other deliveries before a known bad tipper just so that their pizza is late and cold. It's not like I was going to get a tip anyway.

Delivery is expensive, so I take no excuses for bad tipping. If you don't like paying a tip, please go pick up your pizza.

[Photograph ©iStockPhoto/DOConnell]

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