What Do You Tip The Baggers?

There was so much great conversation at the recent post about tipping the movers that I thought I would ask the other military tipping question:  How much do you tip the baggers at the Commissary?

I wrote about this over at SpouseBUZZ a few years back, and I couldn’t believe how many comments I received.  It was a pretty short piece, so I can put the main part post here.  For the comments, however, you’ll need to click over to see them.

Those of you who don’t frequent the commissary probably don’t wonder about this much.  I shop nearly every day.  Because there are six of us, and because our kitchen has about 4 cupboards, and because we live one block from the commissary.  I take my wagon and call it exercise.  I’m pretty happy with this.

However, it is getting a little expensive, this tipping the baggers every darn day.  I was talking to my neighbor about this, and mentioned that I feel like I should tip at least a dollar, even when I’ve picked up $8 worth of groceries, and it is one bag.  She said that she usually tips $1 per bag – I about fell over.  Either I’m a tremendous cheapskate or she’s been drinking too much of the commissary free coffee.  At our previous home, I went to the commissary once every two weeks and spent a couple of hundred dollars – at least two carts worth.  I’d be tipping at least $20 bucks at her rate.

So, how much do you tip?  I’m hoping to learn a lot.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Lauren

    I generally tip $1 – $3 when I shop. But, I always have a full cart. If I don’t and just have 1 bag, I don’t tip them anything.

  • Erika

    I have always tipped $2. We are a small family and I never have more than 5 or 6 bags- it never occurred to me to tip per bag.

  • At Ft. Benning, I only tipped if a bagger carried my bags out for me. And then it was $2 if it was a lot or rainy or something like that. $1 if it was just a few or that was all I had. If I carried my own bags out, I didn’t tip. I don’t shop at the commissary here at Ft. Sam Houston so I don’t know what’s typical here.

  • Ken B

    $3 – $5 dollars depending on how much I spend. I had one that stuck her nose up at when I only gave her $2 and I had just spent over $400 restocking the pantry.

    • lolwtf?

      and you think restocking your pantry have anything to do with their salary?

  • William

    I usually tip $1/cart. Plus an extra $1 if the packing is somewhat challenging. I NEVER give coins.

    • Samiam

      that is really low.

  • Cassandra

    I tip $2 for taking it out to the car. And then $1 if they only bag it. I figure they are not being paid otherwise. Also I figure if they have 50 customers on their shift, then that is at least $50 a day, not a bad days pay at a min.

    • Bagger

      I as a bagger generally make 30 dollars in 4 hour shift and on 8 hour shifts on the weekends 50. So if you mean for a eight hour shift you would be correct.

  • Kevin

    My commissary has self checkout lanes, which I try to use if I’m only getting a few things or don’t have any cash in my pocket, so those weeks I leave zip. If those are broken or busy and I go through the express lane, I’ll drop a dollar or whatever change I have into their tip jar.

    If I’m actually working with the baggers, I usually take the bags out to my car myself, but still leave $2-$3, which usually works out to $0.25-$0.50 per bag. If all I have is a $5, it’s their lucky week. If I’ve truly loaded up a cart to the max, then it’s $5 for sure.

    On the one hand, if you work it out as $/time spent serving you personally, it’s a helluva wage – $3 for about 5 mins work = $74,880/year. On the other hand, it’s naive to think that way since there are certainly low volume times…I’ve heard from other sources that a dedicated bagger who works long hours probably can make about $35k-40k/year, which isn’t bad since it’s tax free and likely to be supplemental income for a household rather than the sole income.

    • Random

      Problem with the theory is that baggers have to wait in line to get a order average here is about 15 minutes so if everyone tips 3 dollars thats 12 dollars a hour. Thats only about 20 thousand a year not 75,000. Thats a big difference.

      • lucy

        Do they pay taxes? 20,000 tax free is a decent salary in this economy.

  • JM

    I tip $5-$10 for 1-2 carts worth of stuff. As an ex-bagger myself, I understand that the baggers only work for tips and pay the head bagger for every hour they are working. The money you earn varies every time. Some days are just better than others.

    • BaggerDAFB

      JM is correct we do have to pay the head bagger to work. Also at my commisary we also have to pay the bagger who has to take care of carts for the day.

  • knight

    i work as a bagger myself and unlike most baggers i dont get mad when someone does not tips me, a few baggers that ive met get pretty ****** when they arent tipped even if the person only bought a few items, im happy to bring the bags to the persons cart even if im not getting tipped, because i believe in the idea of karma, and i do get a few $10-20 tips :P.

    on average people tip around 1-5 dollars if its cart and 3-10 dollars for more then 1 cart. the most ive been tipped is $25, and the person was a cook on a ship i think, and he bought alot :P(tip was $50, split between me and the other bagger)

    • Bagger

      Most baggers I know will not complain, also we can’t say anything we could get fired for it. We as baggers have had some people with 3 or 4 carts of food and we take it out, put it in their car and then they don’t tip us. Which is unfair, as the whole process for that many carts is at least a half hours work. So some of us may get a bit upset (on the inside) but most of us, or at least the ones I know will not say anything to the customer.

    • no tip for bagger

      baggers should consider seeking employment where they’re providing a service that is actually needed/ wanted.

  • Barbara

    I usually tip 2-5 dollars depending on how much stuff I have and if I take my own groceries out to the car ill leave a 1-2 dollars for bagging. My only issue now is that I see the cashiers add this “surcharge” along with the baggers ID# and it makes me wonder if they are actually getting a very small wage in addition to the tips. Does anyone know anything about this?

    • BaggerDAFB

      The Surcharge is used to pay for the paper and plastic bags that are used to bag with. So if the bags run out the money from the surcharge is used to re-order more. The surcharge does NOT go to the baggers.

  • Sarah

    I don’t tip. I have gotten so fed up with the Commissary lately. From not having what I need, to raising prices SIGNIFICANTLY. I am not tipping a bagger who throws bread in with soup cans. I have had nothing but bad experiences here. Plus, I put everything on my credit card and never have cash. I do give them the courtesy of knowing before they start loading my bags that I do no thave cash and I am glad to do it myself if they would like to move on. Or I go off post. By the time you tip, plus surcharge, the savings aren’t worth the hassle.

    • duh

      then bag your own.

  • Nea

    I’m currently a Bagger and on average my tips is about $3 each person, but that is NOT always the case. Remember not all of us Baggers work all day and can not make that much money. I only work about 3 hours, because my kids are my #1 job.

    I will just let everyone know that we are treated like poop from the Commissary.

  • Sean

    I just cannot get myself to pay for a service that I do not need and have not asked for but rather, feel that it is forced upon me. Moreover, it is something that i’m pretty capable of. we don’t pay for baggers at walmart or publix do we? it’s more embarrassing than anything else so i tip about $2 per shopping cart. however, after reading this thread, i have no more qualms of tipping $1 or not at all.

  • nerdymomma

    As a mom of little children, I have to say I appreciate the baggers and what they do! It saves me a little bit of work, and when I’m pregnant then it is especially nice to have that help. I typically tip $1 for every $50 I spend, so at a minimum they are getting $2 from me. If I’m buying less than $100 then I’m probably waiting for the self checkout. That might be kind of low, but I try to give an extra dollar or two when I have them, but I’m not exactly loaded either. I try to use enough coupons in one visit to cover the tip, so that I’m still saving money compared to shopping on the economy.

  • Lucy

    I just want to know if they pay taxes? How is it legal for the base not to pay them? I also believe they should put up more than one sign. I married into the military from and come from a family that works “civilian” jobs. (I hate that term) I had no idea for the first year and felt bad when I found out, but I do think it is a bit absurd.