Should I tip for fast food? Do You?

Do you tip for fast food? Drive through? Tim Hortons? In-N-Out? Mickey-D?

This post is just about restaurant tipping in fast food establishments, otherwise this post would be too long. I know there are many other situations where tips are expected and warranted!

When I go to a restaurant and sit down to eat, order my food at my table or booth, receive some friendly service, hopefully enjoy the meal I ordered, and promptly receive my bill. I pay my server (who is an employee not the owner) a tip ! Tip ranges seem to be around 20% these days according to online “suggestions”.

But in the case of ordering takeout and you pick it up at the restaurant or in the drive-through – my opinion is no tip because no service.

There are tons of those fast food types of restaurants, where you walk in, stand in line, order from the machine or person – and they hand you the food in disposable containers and you eat and leave, or you just leave and eat. All of them basically have no tip option when you pay I think.

What about when the restaurant is basically fast food ?

california maki sushi dishes

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on

I recently was in a sushi restaurant where you order after standing in line aka fast food style, and pay before you receive your food aka fast food style.

I have been there a dozen times but this time it struck me about the tip function when you pay. I am thinking why ask for tip now?

I have received no food, I don’t know how long I will wait to eat, or if the order will be the right one, or will be delicious and so on. Payment should be later, and tip later and then I realized this is basically a fast food restaurant pretending it isn’t!

If I tip at this restaurant I would rather leave the tip on the table based on the food and service I received and pay after my meal.
BUT at this point all I have done is stand in line to order and then been asked to pay and tip besides?? via the credit card reader at the cashier.

In this restaurant you can order to eat in or take to go. It’s self help after you order.

If you eat in then after you order, you must get your own water, your own forks or chopsticks and napkins and find your own your place to sit. The cashier gives you a number which you place on your table, and that identifies where the food order is delivered from the kitchen. ( That’s it for service, sounds alot like fast food when they hand it through a window! There is no other service.)

Do you see my quandary? I always thought tips were a reflection of customer’s appreciation for service received when you eat in. Since they asked me for a tip when I placed the order, how do I know? In this restaurant, I stand in line like fast food, the food is delivered to me like fast food but not in disposable containers if I am eating in.
So why is a tip expected when I placed my order? Aren’t I eating at a fast food restaurant basically?

I believe that having the tip option in this restaurant WHEN ORDERING results in people tipping out of guilt or obligation and NOT a reflection of what they have received because at that point they have received nothing. It is like tipping AMAZON when you buy online!

My preference with respect to businesses is to expect the owners to pay their employees a decent wage and build it into their prices, so I don’t have to tip but can still expect good service.

Some restaurants have gone to no tipping in fact and there are good reasons (reasons like inequality, sexual harassment, tax avoidance and more!) for the trend – click Here

Many countries don’t have tips, like China, French Polynesia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, and Denmark. They would consider it rude and excellent service is result of pride in what they do. Click here for an article asking if it is time to rethink tipping

Thanks for reading, and commenting. Everyone has their own ideas, and experiences and it’s not simple question. In my opinion if people were paid well, then we could go back to simply tipping for excellent service only. and avoid the negative aspects of tipping (see the link)

profile at sunset

About dfolstad58

I live in the South Okanagan. BC. I enjoy reading, exercise, toastmasters. spending time with my son, my daughter, & her husband , and my patient wife. I try to respond personally to every comment on my blog, and in this way I hope to get to know my readers a little bit and and am able to thank readers for their encouragement on what they liked and suggestions on what they would like to see me try in order to improve.
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18 Responses to Should I tip for fast food? Do You?

  1. Yap Wai Meng says:

    You made me think about this issue. I always give tips in restaurants (sit down meals), but not fast food chains where I queue to order my food. Now I am wondering if I should be clearer with this practice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • dfolstad58 says:

      I see now that some sit down are more like fast food chains. I worked at a restaurant where took the orders outside in the weather and then delivered them outside to the car in trays. Tough job in wind, rain, balancing heavy trays, plates, tea pots and I made small tips. Indoor waitresses walking ten feet indoors made big tips. All the cooks, dishwashers made no tips. The waitresses made more money than the manager! It was an unfair system and I believe it was unreported while the cooks, etc all paid taxes on all of their lesser income.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. leggypeggy says:

    Australia doesn’t have tipping because employees are paid a fair wage so the customer is not expected to provide the ‘salary’. That said, tipping is growing here but it is not expected. As an aside, when we visited the café at the Grand Canyon, the bill automatically included a sizeable tip for two takeaway cups of coffee. I was gobsmacked and more than a little cross.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have lived in Europe. Tipping does not occur and I have witnessed some establishments get a little miffed if one is left. It feels like an insult since the employer takes it as a comment that the employees are not being paid enough.

    I really would like to see the practice eliminated and for prices to reflect a fair wage. I once refused to pay an automatic surcharge, left the sandwich and walked away. I also won’t pay more than 15% for a tip. I know that we’re “supposed” to pay 20, but with the prices constantly rising, a static 15% tip also rises. But that’s not what’s happening. If a lunch costs $20.00, a 15% tip is $3.00. If the cost of the meal rises to $25.00 and the tip also rises to 20%, you wind up actually paying an additional 7.00 for the meal. I find that to be a sort of rip-off.
    Great post topic. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • dfolstad58 says:

      Super for you to walk away like that. That “supposed to Pay” used to be 10%. Do customers seriously believe they are getting a better sandwich by leaving a tip? Tips have become obligatory, and not optional. I don’t agree with that. Tipping is something I choose to do. I recently bought a new washer and dryer and I tipped these guys well for bringing them in the house, installing them. I bet lots don’t but that’s it isn’t it, tipping is recognizing extra effort in the execution of one’s duties.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I lived in Europe where tipping doesn’t happen and is considered to be something of an insult because it suggests that the employer isn’t properly paying the employees.
    I think tipping should be completely eliminated and proper wages paid. I won’t pay more than a 15% tip, since if the cost of the meal rises, a static 15% will also produce a rise in tip for the employee. A lunch that costs $20 with a 15% tip will be $23. If the cost of the lunch rises to $25 and the expectation is that you now have to pay a 20% tip, you wind up paying an additional $7 for the same lunch. That’s a rip-off, imho.
    Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LA says:

    I don’t tip for fast food. I tip if I’m at a place with a waitstaff.


    • dfolstad58 says:

      What if all the staff do is deliver it to your table like in my post? Do you tip when you order? I think that’s my tip off.


      • LA says:

        No. But I dont consider that waiter service. Its semantics, but a waiter greets me, tells me Bout the menu, brings me water, asks me how things are, checks in or is available for questions and may or may not actually serve the food and clean up the table. The person ferrying food to your table isn’t a waiter

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Gaya says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever tipped in a fast food chain and, where I live, people who work in fast food chains would probably be shocked if they were given a tip. They would accept and certainly appreciate one but they would never actually feel entitled to it. An exception would be, for example, if I were holding my child’s birthday party in a fast food restaurant, and I would tip the staff who helped out — but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t expect to wake up the next morning to find a viral Facebook post about how the mum who was such a stingy tipper.

    (As for the general subject of tips, restaurants where I live are supposed to pay their staff the minimum wage, at the very least, and tips are for showing appreciation, not a matter of life or death to servers. Usually, we would round up the bill, or leave the change, or maybe give a bigger amount when it’s, like, Christmas and we want to be generous, but there’s no certain percentage that is required or expected.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joni says:

    I don’t eat in many fast food restaurants, and have never tipped in one, but in a few I will sometimes throw some of my returned change in a tip cup which is shared with ALL the employees.


    • dfolstad58 says:

      I think now my opinion has grown to be that the employer is responsible for the employee wages, not the customer. I think there is a dozen countries ahead of Canada that have figured that out. If you get super service you go back and the business flourishes. Having regular customers who support your business is reward.

      Liked by 1 person

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