Forty percent of respondents in the survey said they don’t believe food truck workers should be asking for tips, even though it’s common to see a digital tipping screen when you pay for your food. Default tipping suggestions can be customized. Sometimes you’ll see options like $1, $2 and $5. Sometimes it’s more like 18%, 20% and 22%.
“People think it’s manipulative, they resent it, and their perceptions of service go down,” Michael Lynn, a marketing and management communication professor at Cornell University, told Nexstar.
When it comes to eating at food trucks, industry experts agree a different standard applies than at full-service restaurants. Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com, told The Hill he doesn’t think tipping on takeout, like at food trucks, is necessary unless you have an especially big or complicated order.
Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert, author, and the founder of The Protocol School of Texas, agreed tipping on takeout usually isn’t required. However, Gottsman suggests using it as an opportunity to show your appreciation for service workers if it’s in your budget.
“If you can give more and are inclined to do so, by all means do it,” Gottsman said.
Food truck workers interviewed by St. Louis Magazine gave differing answers on how much they expect in tips, but several said a few extra dollars or 10% of the total tab is appreciated.
Unlike dine-in restaurants, haircuts and food delivery, tipping on takeaway food isn’t a long-established social norm. Experts writing for research-based news site The Conversation recommend establishing your own personal norms for situations where you might be prompted to tip. That way, you won’t feel pressured to make a split-second decision when prompted with tipping suggestions.
Tipping ahead of service, like is often the case at food trucks, also makes it hard to use gratuity as a way to show appreciation for good service. In most cases, you haven’t gotten your food or tasted it before you’re prompted to add a tip. The Conversations’ experts suggest two possible approaches. The first option is to tip the middle or highest options, if you can afford it. You may be more likely to get good service in exchange for your generosity.
The second is to tip the lowest suggested amount at checkout, then add a cash tip afterward if you feel the service merits it.
Tipping in cash can also make it easier for you to show your appreciation and make sure the employees keep 100% of what you give.
Nexstar’s Michael Bartiromo contributed to this report.