Monday, October 25

Communication & the Delivery Fee

Despite no longer being a pizza delivery driver I still find myself trying to get the message out about tipping. One of the most common reasons I hear for not tipping or for tipping poorly is that there is a delivery fee, so I thought that I'd take a moment to address this issue.

First, the delivery fee goes to the store, not the driver.

I can not speak for every store, but I know that at least for most major chains, this is the case. Willful ignorance is not an excuse; If you really want to know, ask the store manager where the delivery fee goes. Be careful how you word your question. For example, "Does the delivery fee go to the driver?" is likely to be answered with "We pay our drivers a per trip amount." What this means is that, for example, you paid a $2 delivery fee and separately the store pays the driver $1.20 per delivery. It can be argued that since one goes into the store's bank account and the other comes out of it, that it follows that the $1.20 comes out of the $2, which is simply not the case. Managers are happy to perpetuate this misunderstanding as it makes the Corporation look less evil and therefore (they think) makes you less likely to quit buying from them over ethical grounds.

The store is legally obligated to pay the per-trip amount regardless of the presence, absence, or amount of the delivery fee. Another way you know this is that the delivery fee is not included in their taxable wages, it is considered a reimbursement for using their own car. It is not included in calculating whether or not the driver made minimum wage. No matter how many deliveries a driver makes, if no one tipped, they made less than minimum wage. If you ask, "Is the delivery fee a tip to the driver?" or "Does the entire delivery go to the driver in addition to their normal wages?" the answer will be that it is not a tip and that it does not go to the driver.

Second, if your intention is to tell the store that you are not okay with the delivery fee or its distribution, reducing the driver's tip is not getting your message across.

The fundamental purpose of communication is to get a message from you to an audience in a way that can be understood.

Your message might be:
I do not like paying a delivery fee.
I feel that the delivery fee should go to the driver therefore reducing my tipping obligation.

Your audience:
Pizzeria wage and fee policy decision maker

Your hoped for response from the audience:
Eliminate the delivery fee.
Pay the delivery fee to the driver and reduce the amount of expected tip.

The problem with reducing the tip to get your message across is that the delivery driver has no way of knowing that you are giving a message nor a way to deliver that message. Nothing sets you apart from people who are not tipping for any of the following reasons: they don't feel like it, they're jerks, they have no empathy, they feel superior to delivery people and want to make sure that the delivery person knows it, they forgot, they're cheap, etc.

Every time you don't tip, the delivery driver assumes the message is:
I'm a cheap, lazy, asshole who wants you to know that I have more power in this relationship.

The driver assumes that the intended audience is themselves (and possibly the world). There's no reason for the message to go farther.

You assume that this communication might work something like this:
You reduce the tip -> Everyone else reduces their tip -> Unhappy with their wages the delivery driver pressures their manager for better wages -> management complies


You reduce the tip upon institution of a delivery fee -> The driver's aggregate wages are reduced -> The driver pressures management to take away the delivery fee -> management complies

What really happens:
You reduce the tip (assume here, despite an enormous stretch of the imagination since in 18 months of delivering I was never told this by a customer despite reassurance by many people on the internet that this is, in fact, the reason that they are not tipping, that you've told the delivery driver explicitly that you have done so because of the delivery fee) -> The delivery driver tells you that the delivery fee doesn't go to them -> You say that they should tell that to their manager -> The driver tells his manager -> The manager tells the driver that they have no control over wages, that's set by corporate


The driver tells his manager -> The manager says that he can't keep prices competitive without having a delivery fee because all of the other chains are able to lower their "prices" because they're collecting this miscellaneous $2 on all of their deliveries

Lets even assume (despite this being incredibly far fetched) that every driver tells his manager, prompting every manager to tell every district manager, prompting ever district manager to tell every regional manager, and every regional manager to tell the corporate policy maker. Do you think the corporate policy maker cares about the driver? As long as they're able to fill the position (and don't lie to yourself, with the job market the way it is, they're not going to have problems filling the position no matter how bad the wages), they don't care that the driver's getting the short end of the stick.

Now on to the important part, how you CAN get your message across.

Stop buying pizza from places that have tipping policies that you don't like...

Don't like paying a delivery fee on top of a tip? Pick it up yourself.
Don't like that the fee doesn't go to the driver? Order somewhere else.

...and let your intended audience know about it.

Tell corporate management.
Tell your state legislature who makes policies on wages.
Tell your friends/family/the internet about the shitty policies and how you don't like them and are standing up to them.

Those people may not listen until enough people do it to hurt their bottom line. Hurting the driver's bottom line is not the same as hurting Corporate's.

...and if you can't/won't do any of that... stop making excuses and pay the delivery fee AND the tip.


Nick said...

It is kind of you to give some of the non-tipping subculture the benefit of the doubt, Pizza Girl. In my opinion, though, they are pretty much consisted of SOBs, and any principles they pretend to adhere to are merely a guise to conceal their miserly,pig-like natures.

Anonymous said...

I've said this before in the comments, but reading your blog really changed how I tip everyone in the service industry. I also completely stopped ordering corporate pizza. Thanks for sharing the inside scoop and increasing tips everywhere!

Unknown said...

Nick, I agree, but I think that there are enough people out that there that simply don't know and for whom I can make a difference if I can make a well-reasoned argument.

AustinGastronomist: I'm glad! Plus there are tons of really good independent pizza joints in Austin. Have you checked out my pizza adventuring stuff? And some of them are even cheaper than the national chains if you go at the right time. Jack's does half price Tuesdays (pizzas are approximately $10 for a 16 inch) and Red House does half price pizzas from 5-7 every day (making a 14 inch specialty around $8).

Kayelless said...

Bless you for this post