5 On Your Side

Tip your newspaper carrier directly or risk tipping a stranger

Posted March 19, 2012

— When you tip someone, you expect the money to go to the person who provided the service. That may not be happening for some customers of The News & Observer.

5 on Your Side looked into the issue after receiving complaints from a newspaper customer and a carrier.

Cindy Huser delivered the paper for 15 years and said a small perk of the job recently disappeared – her tips. Huser says it happened after the N&O started using distributors that hire their own carriers. 

The issue, according to Huser, is exactly what customer Frank Zadell emailed 5 on Your Side about. He asked, "Who gets (the) tip" he includes with his payment using the carrier tip box? And, "How can we be sure (it) gets to the person who delivers the papers?"

"The distributor I worked with chose not to pass the tips onto me anymore. He keeps the tips," said Huser.

When she questioned distributor Ted Monnah about it, she said he told her passing along tips wasn't in his contract.

"He does not have to give me the tips,"  she said he told her.

When 5 on Your Side called Monnah at his Holly Springs office, he said customers should "avoid the carrier tip box" the N&O includes on its bills. Instead, they should give tips directly to the carrier, he said.

N&O bill Tip carriers directly, skip box on newspaper bill

Jerry Ritter, the circulation manager at the N&O, acknowledged that there have been complaints from carriers about tipping procedures.

5 on Your Side talked with Jim Puryear, the newspaper's vice president of circulation.

"I met with the distributor in question, and they said they had given all the tips to their carriers," said Puryear.

He reiterated that tips should go to the carriers, but that ultimately it is up to distributors to handle.

As for what customers can do to make sure that happens, Puryear says, "Go out there and meet them in the morning and say 'thank you.' And if they want to give him a tip, give him a tip."

After 15 years, Huser decided the tip trouble wasn't worth it and left her part-time delivery job.

She's still a customer though and says she will tip her carrier directly and leave that box on her bill empty.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • coachbabe Mar 26, 2012

    Since 5 On Your Side can have a huge impact on many viewers' opinions, it would seem that facts would be gathered completely before "tarring" every distributor "with the same brush". I was greatly disappointed not to see where deeper investigation into this matter had been obtained prior to running this segment--perhaps interviews with other distributors and carriers. I do know that there are times when tips don't go where you think they do. A good friend of mine is a superb waitress with a national restaurant chain, & she generally receives quite generous tips. However, a certain % of her tips goes to the host/hostess & busboy as well as the baretender for every alcoholic drink prepared for one of her tables. Fair? Not in my opinion since she's the one making the customers happy, but that's what was understood when she took the job. I don't agree with the circumstances surrounding the issue at hand...just wonder if it is true across the board? If not, a follow-up story should be done.

  • BubbaDuke Mar 21, 2012

    Who still buys newspapers? They make great mulch, but the hardcopy newspapers are as out-of-date as are vinyl records.

    I tip 20% at restaurants, more for outstanding service. Waiters and waitresses only earn $2.25 an hour and have to work before and after closing doing set-up and rolling silverware, etc. when there are no tips to supplement their substandard pay.

    I tip my barber/hair stylist $5.00 because cutting and washing my hair is personal. Pizza delivery gets $5 for one pizza, $10 for 3 or more. They pay for their own gas - and gas isn't getting cheaper. If I eat in an ice cream parlor, I might drop a dollar in the cup, same when I eat at Moe's and carry my own food to the table.

    If I can't afford to tip, I don't go where tipping is appropriate.

  • Mon Account Mar 20, 2012

    "I've never understood tipping. Running water through ground-up beans is deserving of a tip, but getting me safely from Raleigh to Chicago in a metal tube 7 miles in the air is not?"

    I can agree that tipping seems a little confusing but I just think this way:
    Do you have a service job where you are probably berated by the public and may not be able to get another job? Are you compensated, but go above-and-beyond despite the hassles? Then I'll tip you.
    Do you have a job where you are mostly not at the whims of your customers/coworkers? Are you compensated well for your job? Probably no tip.
    Like when I get a hair cut. The stylist has to rent that space/share income. If they do a great job I'll tip them and give them repeat business.
    Restaurants- I'll tip a minimum of 15% or $2, which ever is more. They get more if they really did a great job.
    When I go to get my teeth checked out I know my dentist is guaranteed a stable income that's pretty generous- no tip expected.

  • skycomnews Mar 20, 2012

    The story would have the reader believe that all distributors operate like the one mentioned. That is not the case. Ms. Laliberte failed to contact and interview other distributors. If she had, she would have reported that the thousands of customers of The N&O who tip can rest assured that the money is passed directly to the carrier by the overwhelming majority of distributors. As in any business, there are exceptions that are in the minority. But to cast doubt on the many because of the actions of a few is irresponsible reporting and not the kind of thorough journalism that we expect from WRAL news.

  • Pseudonym Mar 20, 2012

    I've never understood tipping. Running water through ground-up beans is deserving of a tip, but getting me safely from Raleigh to Chicago in a metal tube 7 miles in the air is not? Throwing papers at my door at 5 in the morning is deserving of a tip but cutting a cancerous tumor out of my body is not?

    And don't get me started on all the arbitrary tipping "rules" thought up by "experts" with too much time on their hands.

    Tipping is REALLY getting out of hand now.

  • wraldvg Mar 20, 2012

    Isn't that fraud on the part of the newspaper/ distributor? The form clearly states that a contribution in that box is a tip for the carrier.

  • beaupeep Mar 19, 2012

    Sorry. I'm not gonna stand out there at 3:30AM to drop a twenty.