(Based on an actual Google query: tipping food ordered over the counter)
A quick trip through the Punny Money search engine referral logs reveals that one reader was curious as to whether it is appropriate to tip for food served over the counter as opposed to at your table.
The original tipping topic covers the answer to this nicely, but it’s worth repeating: do not tip for food served over the counter. Cashiers and behind-the-counter food servers are paid a wage for a reason–they are not waiters.
Tipping should be used as a reward for service beyond what is expected. For example, it is expected that when you pop into Starbucks and order a double-tall, half-caf latte that you will receive a double-tall, half-caf latte. There shouldn’t be much room for deviation from that order; either you receive your latte, or you don’t. And if you don’t get your latte, you don’t pay for it! I don’t see any room for tip-deserving behavior in there.
Here’s another common situation. You order food that is served over-the-counter with a credit card, and you’re presented with a receipt that includes the food bill and an extra blank line for you to write in a tip. Were this a sit-down restaurant, you’d fill in that line and add up the numbers. But all you did was order a bucket of drumsticks from Chickenland USA, so you should write “N/A” on the tip line and duplicate the food bill amount on the total line.
So if you see a makeshift tip jar sitting in front of a cash register, don’t even think about dropping in a dime of your pocket change.