How Much Do You Tip At the Commissary?

CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO

The commissary baggers got new smocks or aprons or ponchos. Have you noticed? The front says something forgettable but the back packs a punch:

BAGGERS WORK FOR TIPS ONLY.

What?!? Why? Doesn’t that seem a little “under the counter” and not “we work on a military base?” And yet it remains the same on all military installations with a commissary world-wide.

The answer can be found on the DeCa Commissary website:

“Baggers are not government or commissary employees, and are paid solely by the tips that commissary patrons offer in exchange for bagging/carryout services. Baggers are self-employed, and work under a license agreement with an installation commander.”

But then, how much to tip the baggers? In a recent conversation among friends, there was much discrepancy between what each of us did and why. There were multiple (and complicated) equations leading to different tip scenarios.

If car is far and bagger is an old woman then tip…
If there are 18 bags full of back-breakers like milk, juice, and detergent then tip…
If the bagger piled canned vegetables on top of delicates like bread then tip…

I’m a simple girl and, WHOA, I just want some flat-rate tipping is all. If I am required to partake of the bagging services then just tell me what to do.

Here’s my usual approach

1. No tipping at the register. I have only once tipped at the register and that was because I was pregnant and the bagger unloaded my groceries. Most tip-worthy, yes?

2. I tip the bagger two bucks in an awkward exchange at my trunk while I stand idle and wait for him or her to finish up so I can shove in their hand what I hope is a decent tip for a service I don’t even really want before I shuffle off without looking them in the eye for fear of ruining their tip mojo. I mean, if they work for tips alone then that’s a lot more pressure than I am looking for in my trip to the grocery store.

So, yeah, two bucks. And you?


This post was originally published on Okinawa Hai, but we think it relates to life here as well. Overseas Yes and Okinawa Hai have no legal or managerial affiliation; please see the Legal Page for more information.

4 thoughts on “How Much Do You Tip At the Commissary?

  1. Angie says:

    We usually tip $3 standard. Unless we go through the express lane where they don’t take them out to the car, then we drop a dollar in the little box. If it’s raining cats and dogs, and you get soaked just walking to the car, I’ll add a little more, cause that’s just plain miserable.

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  2. Mike says:

    My usual “equation” factors in how huge of a load of groceries im getting. Think about it like this, even if they make 2 dollars per person they see 100+ people a day easy! They are taking home more than I do in a month, thats for sure. That being said, if I’m doing a months worth the shopping I give them $5.

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  3. Liz says:

    I usually tip $2 to any bagger who takes my groceries to the car and whatever loose change I have into the box at the express lane. I usually spend around $80-100…if it’s much more than that I’ll tip more. Sometimes I use a combo of dollars and euro.

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