Q. Rory Sutherland recently wrote about high-end takeaways (Wiki Man, 19 February). In the last London lockdown, I was fortunate to use the Supper app to try a number of gourmet takeaways from places such as Nobu, Coya Mayfair and Park Chinois, spending up to £100 per head. What surprised me, given that someone had driven halfway across town at speed to deliver the food, was that no service charge was added. I considered this far greater service and effort than one receives in a restaurant, but my fellow diners were aghast when I insisted on giving 10-20 per cent as a tip to the driver. What is the correct protocol here, Mary?
– S.F., Chesterfield
A. A tip on top of what has been factored into your bill as payment to the delivery driver is entirely voluntary. However when, for humanitarian reasons, you want to spread extra happiness, just do this quietly without mentioning it to your co-diners. The very thought of tipping, even for those who can afford it, can cause enough low-grade anxiety to negatively impact some people’s experience of their £100 dinner.
Q. At her suggestion, every Christmas and birthday, my old friend and I exchange gifts. I love to give, but the trouble is, she likes trendy fashion items and buys me what she would like for herself. When we get together, she comments if I am not wearing her gifts. When I suggest we give cards instead of presents, she seems upset. Mary, how do I get out of this present-buying bind without seeming ungrateful?
– H.B., Sydney, Australia
A. Next time it’s her birthday, meet for lunch near a store selling items to her taste. Take her to the store first and encourage her to choose something she loves (obviously within a certain price range). This can be her birthday present. She is bound to be thrilled – so much so that when your birthday comes around you can suggest you repeat the experience.
Q. A friend (not close) asked if I was free on a particular date as she was having a party to celebrate her 40th. I said I was. However, on receiving the invitation, I discovered that I had committed to an event where I must pay for my meal and drinks at a swish location serving cuisine I never eat due to allergies. Mary, obviously I have committed a schoolgirl error by accepting something without drilling down for details, but how can I elegantly get out of this?
– L.B., London SW18
A. Gush that you now have an unavoidable work meeting on the night so can you join the party at around 10 p.m for a glass of wine? Eat at home, turn up and pull up a chair. Contribute a £20 note when the bill comes around.