Do You Tip at Sonic?

Almost every morning, I stop at Sonic and get a large diet coke with lime. It cost $1.08 and I always give the carhop $2. I just assumed every did the same. But I’ve discovered lately that a whole lot of people don’t tip at Sonic.

I realize that lots of you out there probably never even go to Sonic, but it’s become a habit for me. Mostly because it’s convenient. But I also like their commercials with the two stoners for who Sonic is the apparent center of the  universe. I also like the fact the the cup is styrofoam (I know–the least green material on earth) which doesn’t sweat in the Tennessee humidity. Plus, I’ve been going there for a while now and they know me. I even get an occasional free drink for my repeated patronage.

So my tip of 92 cents is probably a tad excessive….after all, it’s almost 100%. But it speeds the whole transaction along if I don’t have to wait around for change. Plus, it just seems like the right thing to do.

Tipping is a funny thing though and different cultures have different rules. At restaurants in France 15% (service compris) is automatically added to the bill. In England, I beleive that 10% is the norm. In the U.S. 15% is usual, but I know lots of people who routinely bump that up to 20%. At my local Publix grocery store, the people who carry your bags out to the car are not allowed to accept tips. They will cheerfully turn down any tip that is offered. But it would rarely occur to me to tip that person to begin with.

My personal tipping guidelines include:

Sonic-yes. McDonalds-no.

Pizza delivery–yes. UPS delivery–no.

Person carrying luggage–yes. Person carrying groceries–no.

It may be completely different where you live. But to me, the cheerful young girls who bring me my morning beverage deserve it. They are working hard and certainly not making a lot per hour. Seems like the least I can do.


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9 responses to “Do You Tip at Sonic?

  1. I’m not sure they tip in England? They get paid full wage not like our waiters at least? but I could be wrong.

  2. MB

    I try to always give the carhops a tip. Since they bring the food to your car, I feel like they are more like waitresses than fast food drive-thru workers.

    It is frustrating that Sonic’s Debit/Credit card machines don’t allow you to add on a tip to the total. The carhops have said that this has really cut down on their tips. Even though I now use my Debit card quite often at Sonic, I try to make sure I have a stash of change for their tips.

  3. Little Sister

    When my daughter worked at Sonic she made a small fortune. They make minimum wage every day, no matter what their duties are. They usually get to car hop 2 or 3 times a week. So I support tipping at Sonic, and agree with the other guidelines set forth above. Except…the grocery boy. My son did that job for a couple of years and he too made quite good money. When the grocery kid has nice manners and doesnt put the bread on bottom, I force them to take money. But I am on the other side of the river and that may be why they accept it so willingly!

  4. Working Woman

    Yes, I did make a small fortune at Sonic! Thank you for supporting your local car hops!

  5. hereinfranklin

    MB–I hope that most people are like you and leave a tip even if they use the charge/debit option.


    Well it is good to know that when I start working at Sonics here in the nxt few days I will have some nice people to give me a tip. RIGHT ON PEOPLE!

    RIGHT ON! (:

  7. Dave

    Why would anyone tip at a fast food place?
    Look at it this way. When you special order something at McDonalds or BK and they ask you to pull up and wait, do you tip the person who eventually brings out your food?

  8. Niki

    Actually, this is not true. I worked at Sonic for years, and you do not make minimum wage there. You only make minimum wage when you are working inside. Carhopping, you make 5.15. So, Dave, your theory is useless here. Those girls run around in the heat to bring your lazy ass your drinks while you sit in your cool car.

  9. brit

    i am a carhop and the difference between us and fast food employees is that we do every station. Mcdonalds has someone taking orders, several people cooking, people handing the food out, someone cleaning and doing other tasks. Sonic carhops help make the food when they can, they bag the food (including napkin and mint) they take orders,make drinks ( that arent usually just a coke.. its usually slush plus flavor plus fruit where we have to go all over the room to make it )make the icecreams, deal with unhappy customers, and they bring you your food regardless of how bad the weather is with a smile on. WE MAKE 5.25 AN HOUR AS OF 2009. we also bring out the “happy tray” whenever we have time to ask you if ude like any ketchup or anything. this may not seem like too much to some people, but when theres 20 orders going on at once, it is! so tips us please, we work very hard.

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