I’m So Clueless! – Commissary Baggers Edition

commissary-baggers

As you know, I’ve been doing this Navy thing for a few years.  15, actually.  And I am still dying to know the answer to this one question:  How much am I supposed to tip the baggers?

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 I’m wondering, what do you think?

About the Author

She of the Sea

Oh dear - SpouseBUZZ wants a bio from me. I hate writing bios! What do you want to know? I'm a Navy wife and have been for something less than 20 years. I have four daughters who are approaching the teenage years faster than I can drink a Diet Coke. I love writing for SpouseBUZZ because I know that someone out there understands whatever it is I am saying. I also write about money at The Paycheck Chronicles and I am studying for the Certified Financial Planner exam. This year, I have managed to avoid most of my usual volunteer responsibilities (Girl Scouts, PTO, church, etc.) so that I can focus on helping out at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. It also allows me to make decent but unappreciated dinners and keep relatively up on the laundry.

Still haven't learned to get Christmas cards out on time, though.

69 Comments on "I’m So Clueless! – Commissary Baggers Edition"

  1. Hello She of The Sea. I'm also a Navy wife. My DH and I used to live right across from the commissary too for awhile and he would be in there every other day picking up this and that, and we didn't even have kids. In any case. I go by dollar amount spent on the groceries. I'd be broke if I tipped $1/bag. If I spend $100 on groceries, I usually tip about $2. There's no math involved, that's what I feel like giving. If it's more than $100, then maybe $3 or 4. Some may consider that cheap, I don't know, but that's what I spend.
    Welcome to SpouseBUZZ. Looking forwarding to future posts. :)

  2. Laura, a Military Mo | January 24, 2008 at 5:27 am |

    Wow! I had forgotten that my daughter in law told me about this tipping thing they had to do when they visited the commissary…being a parent we don't have those privileges of visiting the commissary. I'm not sure how she does it being on the strict budget that they have, I do know there isn't much left over for extras…I'll just have to ask her.

  3. airforcewife | January 24, 2008 at 5:36 am |

    I've noticed that the amount people tend to tip tends to directly correspond to whatever the "savings" are between the commissary and a regular store.
    Um, sort of kidding, but not really.

  4. I never go to the commissary to pick up just a few things because historically, it's been more trouble and ate up too much time to drive out to the commissary than to pop in a store nearby. When I do go, it's for full-blown shopping and is usually on a once-per-month basis. I tend to tip between $5-$7.
    Also, if it's raining or brutally cold, I tell the bagger to hang under the awning and I'll bring the car around. There's no sense in both of us walking to the car in inclement weather. I probably only give $5 in that case…

  5. Consider bagging yourself and not tipping at all. It is the European way. We tolerate differences, right? A couple of the German wives here do this. They walk to the store daily – like they always have in this country when they were local nationals before becoming Army wives.
    They are incredulous that teens are making more than the cashiers who have families. I know not all are teens, but they are not guaranteed pay. Do not feel like you have to have them work for you – that is not true. It is your choice.
    These spouses feel strongly that the baggers are greatly overpaid for their work.
    So – just thought I'd let you know that there is no law that says you even have to tip. Everyone at our commissary knows the ladies who bag for themselves and they are quite polite about stepping aside.
    Interestingly enough, one of these German spouses will have her son baggin as soon as he is old enough. She knows it is a great money making job for him!
    It's a different perspective.
    I give no more than 1% usually unless it is a very expensive purchase. So, $300 worth of groceries will give 2-3 dollars depending on whether or not the bagger was polite and did a good job.
    I probably am paying way too much. But I appreciate the help as I have a disability.
    Good discussion!

  6. Oh good heavens, I have no idea. I have never felt comfortable with my commissary tipping. But I felt even worse when I learned that my bagger was making more per hour than I was in my job on post!

  7. She refuses to pay baggers at the commissary, but she's going to have her son work there as soon as he's old enough?
    Wow. That seems pretty hypocritical to me.

  8. I am friends with a bagger at our commissary and I asked her this question a few months ago, because I too always worry that I'm tipping too little or too much. She may have been a little biased because that was her only source of income, but she said a $4-$6 tip is average (for a bagger cart full) and any more is happily accepted. If you only have a few items, (i.e. one or two bags) $2 is generous. It also depends on the area you are in. We're in NC where the cost of living is cheap-it may carry different expectations in Hawaii or California. Also, if the bagger is friendly and genuinely helpful, I tend to tip more. If they are rude the tip reflects that. (One girl refused to bag my items in plastic once and I didn't tip her-awful I know but she made a scene about it in front of me and still put my things in paper! It's hard to carry in my groceries without the hubby in paper and I reuse the plastic bags so I was offended) I don't mind tipping the baggers because I know that I'm still paying less than what I would at the local grocery stores.

  9. I usually tip $5 for 2 carts worth of groceries.
    But if I'm only picking up a few items, $1 is all I give.
    I think I'm pretty generous and the baggers always seem pleased when I give the a $5 bill.
    Not sure how much they get paid but there are signs by the checkouts stating, "Baggers work for tips only."

  10. Wow. I must _way_ overtip, then… Dang.
    Yep, I know that they only earn the tips they get, and when you break it out, they can earn a fair amount per hour, assuming the commissary is busy enough that there are always new customers to bag for. (I try to avoid those times, if I can.)
    I sort of tip based on how many bags, and go with about a quarter per plastic bag, about fifty cents per paper bag ('cause they hold a lot more). I say "about", because there are factors that affect the total amount – weather, politeness, how well it's bagged, etc…

  11. I must be stingy . . . I don't go to the Commissary very often, but the most I tip is $2. I know they only work for tips, but I've wondered if they get taxed, too. Seeing as the Commissary charges an extra 5% surcharge for my entire purchase (when it's supposedly "tax free"), and the baggers are all paid in cash, it almost seems like an under-the-table job to me.
    Personally, I'd rather bag my own stuff in my own bags and carry it out to my own car. I rarely carry cash. It's not a *hardship* to tip, but something about it bugs me.
    To those of you who have bagger friends, do you know if they pay their taxes? If not, I don't feel bad giving a smaller tip.

  12. I never understood why baggers work for tips only when everyone else on post gets paid hourly or is salaried. And even though it's not a rule that you HAVE to tip it does kind of irritate me sometimes that you're expected to tip AND pay the 5% surcharge.
    That said we still shop at the commissary because it's closer (even though we live off post) and cheaper.
    I read somewhere that an average tip is .35/bag. I hate doing math so I avoid it all costs and just go with a straight $5 tip. It just seems like a nice round number in my head. We go once a month and spend about $275. If I have to run in for just a few items and hit the express lane I drop a dollar in the box b/c I think those baggers have to share tips on those lanes. And even though it shouldn't take two people to bag up 10 items it would suck to have to divy up leftover change.
    I've tried to get my dh to use the self checkout lanes but he doesn't like bagging and gets frustrated by the register. Yet he'll still complain when the baggers put all the canned goods in one bag and it's as heavy as his ruck sack.

  13. dizzylizzie | January 24, 2008 at 8:58 am |

    finally! ive been wanting to know this myself for forever!
    normally i will give $5 per cart of groceries. i had one lady sneer at me so i stopped doing that. then thought i would just bag them myself. seems simple enough. OH NO! the lady kept insisting she do it for me. and how it was her job. um…ok…
    so then i say i'll bring it out myself. nope. she insisted on bringing it out. then got mad at me when i didnt pay her! "i work for tips only!" yeah. and i told YOU i would bag and take out my own stuff.
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! someone help me understand this PLEASE! where did i go wrong?

  14. Once upon a time, when I was a small Sly, my mother worked as the only cashier, stocker, inventory taker, janitor for our little AF radar station. As an FYI for y'all, the surcharge is not a tax and it hasn't changed in percentage charged since 1983. The surcharge is how the commissary maintains functionality. It covers the overhead for the building and the salaries of the permanent staff. But you can check it out for yourself if you'd like: http://www.commissaries.com/swf/surcharge_1c_cont

  15. This is what I am talking about! I am so ignorant. At first I didn't know about this tipping. My fist trip to the commissary I must have annoyed my bagger. But I stopped in again recently and had two baggers. What then? I just gave them each three dollars and hoped that was sufficient. They put it in the special cart and off I went. Weren't they supposed to take the special cart to my car? How does it all work? Seriously embarassing and frustrating. I would much rather self bag and save myself the anxiety and expense. There should be some sort of memo. A TPS report equivalent 50 different higher ups could make sure you got the memo for once you sign up for milspouse life.
    "We're gonna need to you ________, ok?"

  16. WOW! I didn't know there was such a wide range of tipping. I'm with Slightly Salty. I usually tip $1 for anything less than $100, and depending how much more than $100 I go, usually $2-3. I've never had a bagger complain, and they always thanked me (although with my 3 kids in tow maybe they were thanking me for getting out of their hair- ?)

  17. I usually tip $5 but I help load the car.
    My husband thinks I am cheap, but frankly a bagger making $5.00 per carload, if they do 4 an hour….not to shabby if you ask me.

  18. This totally weirded me out when I was a new milspouse.
    I guess I'm on the cheap side, too! I don't normally have more than 1 bagger cart full, and I usually tip $4, I give $5 if they go above and beyond (or if it's bad weather). I am high maintenance too, because I either bring my paper bags to be reused or I have them use my canvas bags. Normally, though, they thank me profusely for the $5. An interesting question!

  19. The surcharge isn't a tax, as Sly pointed out. It not only maintains the commissaries but also helps to renovate them. For those of you who have been to old unrenovated and to nice new commissaries, you know the difference and need for this!
    As for tipping, I'm also clueless and never know if I'm giving too little or too much. Unless I only have one plastic bag that I've gone thru the express lane for, I usually tip a minimum of $2-3. But have been know to tip $5 or more for large loads or if I have a lot of heavy items, etc. It depends on how much I'm spending and how much the bagger is having to work to help me. Also, courtesy counts! Snotty and clueless usually equals small tip. Careful with my groceries and pleasant to me and the kids equals a bigger tip.

  20. When we first arrived here neither one of us had any clue about tipping, he had been out for fifteen years and just got back in so it was just as new to him as it was to me. That was embarrassing! Our average is $2-$3, we tipped a little more during Christmas.

  21. I tip $2-3 on a $100 cart of groceries and $5 on a bigger cart. I consider $5 a huge tip. We have a couple of teenage friends who are baggers, so we try to request them as our baggers and tip them well.
    I just hate when I go through the 10 items or less lane and I feel I have to tip a dollar. That seems silly to me.

  22. I usually do about $5 when I go do my big shopping. Otherwise it is 2-3. I prefer to go through the self check out express lane when I can. No one else bags it and I don't have to leave a tip for that. I agree with AWTM that 5 is probably generous when you take into account that they will do more than one car an hour. If they get 10 in an hour, that is above minimum wage right there.

  23. I'm ok with the surcharge, the money to operate has to come from somewhere. I just try to find enough coupons to balance it out.
    It seems like it would be easier on the customer though if they just put baggers on an hourly rate and did away with the tips only system. It would take away the awkwardness of trying to bag on your own or guessing how much you should tip for crappy service.

  24. There is a commissary in Schinnen (Europe) that if you tip them before they put the groceries in your car they tend to disappear. So I would always wait until the job was Complete before tipping. There are a couple of ahem, older baggers here on Fort Hood, I always feel like I should be helping them with their groceries! I tip anywhere from 3-7 dollars, depending on amount, service, weather and if I am PMSing or not.

  25. The rule of thumb I was given when I was a new military spouse was $1 per $50 spent. It's just a rule of thumb and I don't always adhere to it. When I go in to do my "main" shop, I tend to stick to it.

  26. Guard Guy's Gal | January 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm |

    I once had a co-worker who had been a bagger at our local commissary. We asked her one day what good tips were. She said $2 was about average, and if they got $3 they knew they were doing a good job. I usually give $3 if it's normal shopping (I'm pretty erratic about going, it can range between 2 and 4 weeks between trips, but generally costing near $100). I think the only time I've ever given $4 is when I've done massive Thanksgiving dinner shopping. I don't think I've ever seen my mom tip more than about $2, but she's been at this for 35+ years, so I'm not sure she's accounting for inflation :)

  27. Depending on the load, it is usally $2-3 bucks for a full cart. If we have just moved to the area and are basically buying household start up supplies I will tip$7-$10 bucks. However, for the past couple of years I tend to stick going through the self-service lane which does not require me to wait and also keeps what I put in my cart to a minimum. Thus, keeping a grocery bill in check.

  28. Wow, I am feeling kind of cheap. I got to the commissary twice a month, so I usually have a cart full of groceries I will tip about $4. At my base it is mostly retired men and women. I feel so guilty having them push my cart, but they won't let me. They are all friendly and seem to be pretty happy with what I tip them, so maybe I am an average tipper for around here.

  29. Ummm…I've only been to the commissary a couple of times (total), and I've always bagged for myself. Which is good because I did not know that the baggers worked for tips only. I worked as a bagger for a major grocery chain all through high school and college. We were paid hourly and were not allowed to take tips. So, there's me as an ignorant civilian trying to be a milspouse!

  30. well, we don't have a self serve aisle, wish we did! and I bring my own bags, including those rather nice reusable Commissary bags. As for bagging for yourself… I wouldn't dare try it. Those folks would probably come after me! I'm glad to see we've been way too generous… starting this weekend, it'll be a couple bucks, not the five I was doing. except for a big shop, which we don't have other than party/thanksgiving/xmas.
    LAW

  31. New Army Wife | January 25, 2008 at 4:04 am |

    Wow, great insight. I only go to the commissary for full blown shopping once a month. Since its 4 of us I ususally spend about $200 to $250 per trip. In this case I tip no more than $3 to $4.
    I have to remember when I decide to go shopping to make sure I carry a little cash as I dont normally carry cash on me I'll have the cashier give me cash back from my debit purchase. If your only going for a couple of things consider bagging it yourself.
    Shoot! Im on a budget to. I'd hate to be known as the woman that never tips.

  32. There is such a range of responses!
    Lots of you have been saying how much you pay for a full cart, but my husband and I don't have kids and I grocery shop every 4 or 5 days. I have never had a full cart in my life! So hopefully the $2 I give is acceptable since I barely stack up to half a cart.
    But $2 adds up the more frequently you shop too…

  33. I think Homefront Six's rule of thumb is a pretty good one, and accurate as far as I tip. If you tip $1.00 for every $50.00 spent, then whether you have a half-full cart or the Mount Everest piled on 4 wheels (my cart) it probably works out to just about what we're all tipping.

  34. I kind of do it for the amount spent and how good they are, the other day for example eggs and oreos, neither one do I want crushed, well I had to tell the guy that throwing them in the bag might not be the best way to bag my groceries. So I spend $65 and he only got $3. But if I spend more than $60 I usually tip around $5. I usually tip more around Christmas and Thanksgiving.

  35. So, She of the Sea….did you get the answer to your question?

  36. She of the Sea | January 25, 2008 at 11:16 am |

    Wow…what a lot of comments. I think I feel better about what I've been tipping, though I think that I'm still a little on the low side. I'd been tipping $1 for anything from one bag up to around $100, two dollars for more, and more money for more service. It was so helpful to me when the kids were little, but honestly now I'd rather do it myself. So, I try to keep it under 40 items and use the self-checkout. The additional benefit to self-checkout is that I get my stuff into fewer bags. Not better packing, just fewer bags. I bring my own canvas bags and reuse the paper ones, but I was forever frustrated that the baggers would double bag my single, recycled bags with new ones.
    Thank you everyone, for all the great thoughts.

  37. Dh and I saw this a day late but we've talked about this a few times. Here in Hood they were selling canvas bags for 70 cents each that fit up to 2 regular plastic bags of things so I bought a bunch of those and love them. If we have 2 carts worth of things (when all the bags are used) we give $5 and we just do less depending on the number of bags we have :)

  38. I'm with Penny and LAW- I absolutely love the reusable commissary bags!!!! They carry so much, and the handles make it easy to carry out my groceries myself, especially if I go through the express lane. I tend to tip a quarter a bag which for us comes out to roughly 1% of the grocery bill-generally one or two dollars.
    But my husband is a huge curmudgeon about tipping. This morning we went to the commissary and he didn't tip. His reason? He only had a dollar and that seemed like an insult. I was so mad at him!

  39. I haven't seen the reusable commissary bags. I can't seem to bring myself to buy the other ones that the grocery stores sell because I would need 50 of them for a shopping trip. I am going to have to buy them soon, though. My state is going to make plastic bags illegal pretty soon.

  40. Interestingly enough, a neighbor told me they had this same discussion at bunko recently. They came to roughly the same consensus as here ($2-3 for average loads, up to $5 for big shopping loads, all depending on service, etc.). Except there was one woman who was proud and adamant that she only ever tips a dollar, "it is their job to bag the groceries and carry them out" being her explanation. Now, this in not a new spouse, she's been around this military life for almost 20 years and ought to know by now that yes, it is their job but each and every one of us that shops at the commissary is their de facto employer.
    I don't care what she tips or IF she tips, but her attitude really bothered me. I guess I should mention that I do know this woman and her snotty attitude is not new to me. It seems to me that she is exactly the type of woman who gives the rest of us military spouses a bad name.

  41. We have a little commissarary just down the street and I'm constantly going in there and buying one or two things. I usually tip them 1-2 dollars since they don't take your groceries out to your car at the little one (at the full-size one they do). Sometimes though I don't always have the cash…so I usually tip them extra the next time. When I'm spending $5 on two items that fit in one bag, I generally don't tip them.

  42. Are these people nuts or has the pay scale gone up and my husband missed the increase. While I do appreicate the bags being put into my car come on I can do it with ease so I tip 2-3 dollars. It is only two minutes worth of work. Don't feel guilty the are making plenty of money.

  43. After reading all these posts I'm relieved to find I've been tipping the usual amount that most of you do. I'm saving the really big tip for the bagger who actually goes home with me to put my groceries away!!

  44. Normally I try to tip atleast 3 dollars…however on a lower enlisteds salary there are days where I tell the guys that are supposed to take my groceries out to the car for me not to worry about it and that I've got it, so as to avoid tipping (I know it sounds horrible). Or in our commissary they are starting those self check lines which have really helped considering you do everything yourself. Then my son can help and it makes life easier on everyone involved, and I don't feel like a horrible person for taking out my own groceries.

  45. I typically shop twice a month, spending between $250 and $300 each time (we are a family of 6). I usually tip $5. I did get some reusable grocery bags, but I got mine from Chico Bag. The baggers LOVE them!

  46. Eeekk, I've never shopped in the commissary and I've been with my husband for 8 years. We're due to go overseas this year and I am glad I checked out this thread. I would have never known I had to tip the baggers. I guess I'm going to have to carry cash now–I never do! I've been making shopping bags for about a year and love them, so much can be stuffed into them. Thanks for the tips everyone! Ha ha, get it "tips"?

  47. Eeekk, I’ve never shopped in the commissary and I’ve been with my husband for 8 years. We’re due to go overseas this year and I am glad I checked out this thread. I would have never known I had to tip the baggers. I guess I’m going to have to carry cash now–I never do! I’ve been making shopping bags for about a year and love them, so much can be stuffed into them. Thanks for the tips everyone! Ha ha, get it “tips”?

  48. Well Im glad someone asked the big question, cause I've been wondering the same thing. I am very new to the whole military living and never really knew how much to tip. Therfore, I usually tip 2-3 dollars. So I know now that Im doing okay. =)

  49. Well Im glad someone asked the big question, cause I’ve been wondering the same thing. I am very new to the whole military living and never really knew how much to tip. Therfore, I usually tip 2-3 dollars. So I know now that Im doing okay. =)

  50. Well Im glad someone asked the big question, cause I’ve been wondering the same thing. I am very new to the whole military living and never really knew how much to tip. Therfore, I usually tip 2-3 dollars. So I know now that Im doing okay. =)

  51. Me and my hubby usually do it the normal tip rate of %15-%20 of the bill.

  52. there is actually a military order of $0.25 per bag. I just found this out yesterday by a fellow LINKSter. That explains why they try to use as many bags as possible =D

  53. As a general rule I do the $0.25 per bag, but I don't sit there and count the bags. I eyeball it and see if it looks like a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or more (very unlikely that it will be more). On the rare instances that I forgot cash or don't have enough, I generally try to go back within approx. a week and give the tip to a manager for them to pass it on to the bagger along with the bagger's #.
    Funny side comment, the first time I went to a civilian grocery store after shopping almost exclusively at commissaries for a few years, I tried to tip the bagger who brought my bags to my car. He looked at me like I was propositioning him, then told me they don't accept tips.

  54. The post and the comments are all very informative.
    I just guess most of the time, and unless I'm in the express, I tip $2-5 depending on how much I spent.

  55. Hypocritical? In reference to my friend who bags her own groceries but has her son on the waitlist to be a bagger.
    Call it what you want. She has the right to do both – bag her own groceries while also having her son become a bagger. Everyone has the right to refuse bagging. If there wasn't a need, he wouldn't get a job. She also washes her own car while her son gets paid to wash the neighbor's. Is that hypocritical? He will get paid when people want to use him, which is a customer every 10-15 minutes each paying him 3-5 dollars. He'll make up to $20 an hour bagging tax free vs cashiering for less than $10.
    Just because she thinks this is one of the biggest rip-offs doesn't mean her son shouldn't be on the receiving end of the scam where foolish people choose to over pay him for the work.
    He is currently a cashier and his bagger friends make way more than he does in less hours – and have more flexibility with the hours they work/days off.
    Do the math. NO TAXES – it is under the counter work right in our federal building.
    I don't think she is a hypocrite. I think she is money wise – and is teaching her children the same thing.

  56. Hypocritical? In reference to my friend who bags her own groceries but has her son on the waitlist to be a bagger.
    Call it what you want. She has the right to do both – bag her own groceries while also having her son become a bagger. Everyone has the right to refuse bagging. If there wasn’t a need, he wouldn’t get a job. She also washes her own car while her son gets paid to wash the neighbor’s. Is that hypocritical? He will get paid when people want to use him, which is a customer every 10-15 minutes each paying him 3-5 dollars. He’ll make up to $20 an hour bagging tax free vs cashiering for less than $10.
    Just because she thinks this is one of the biggest rip-offs doesn’t mean her son shouldn’t be on the receiving end of the scam where foolish people choose to over pay him for the work.
    He is currently a cashier and his bagger friends make way more than he does in less hours – and have more flexibility with the hours they work/days off.
    Do the math. NO TAXES – it is under the counter work right in our federal building.
    I don’t think she is a hypocrite. I think she is money wise – and is teaching her children the same thing.

  57. Hypocritical? In reference to my friend who bags her own groceries but has her son on the waitlist to be a bagger.
    Call it what you want. She has the right to do both – bag her own groceries while also having her son become a bagger. Everyone has the right to refuse bagging. If there wasn’t a need, he wouldn’t get a job. She also washes her own car while her son gets paid to wash the neighbor’s. Is that hypocritical? He will get paid when people want to use him, which is a customer every 10-15 minutes each paying him 3-5 dollars. He’ll make up to $20 an hour bagging tax free vs cashiering for less than $10.
    Just because she thinks this is one of the biggest rip-offs doesn’t mean her son shouldn’t be on the receiving end of the scam where foolish people choose to over pay him for the work.
    He is currently a cashier and his bagger friends make way more than he does in less hours – and have more flexibility with the hours they work/days off.
    Do the math. NO TAXES – it is under the counter work right in our federal building.
    I don’t think she is a hypocrite. I think she is money wise – and is teaching her children the same thing.

  58. Umm, if any of you have problems with baggers talk with the head bagger or the commissary management. Baggers are there as a service. Yes, they get paid tips but I think anywhere between 1 – 5 per cart is more than enough & ONLY if they do a good job. NO broken things, no cleaning supplies with food, bananas not with frozen, etc..
    Bag your own. That should NEVER be an issue for anyone! Complain about a bagger who makes it difficult for YOU to do what you feel like is fair or if bagging & taking out your own. Never let them intimidate you.
    As for me, heck yes I'll let my kids bag when they are old enough. It's a great way to earn money & they know @ the end of the day that they have worked (some of those carts are heavy!) for their money.
    OH & baggers should pay taxes (waiters/waitresses do) but most don't.

  59. Eric Mendoza | April 22, 2008 at 8:36 am |

    I worked as a bagger at one of the bigger commissaries in europe so we were always pretty busy and made great bank. When you start bagging, you quickly pick up some tricks from the experienced workers who will teach you how to increase your profits.
    Women shopping alone are the best because they tend to feel more obligated to tip, whereas men will be more assertive about carrying their own bags or not giving a big tip. Basically it's easier to guilt a woman who is alone into giving you more money.
    You can increase this effect by making remarks under your breath about a tip that is too small (less than $5), or giving a "look". Not enough to be too obvious but enough to make them increase their tip the NEXT time. With men this is hit or miss–sometimes they will call you out on it. But with women it's almost a sure thing.
    If you are an older or smaller person, exagerrating that the cart is hard to push or the bags heavy often works too. NEVER let the customer take over in this case–again it sounds bad but it really is about laying on the guilt.
    We lived in a rainy area and I would purposely never wear any kind of rain gear when carrying out bags…my tips increased an average of $3-4 when I got soaking wet.
    Ironically high ranking officers tend not to tip as much as higher ranking NCOs–I think the NCOs feel like they have more to prove by handing out money (makes them feel more important? I don't know).
    Being a bagger was great while it lasted for me. $30-$40/hr for doing a few minutes of work per hour can't be beat.

  60. I used to work at my local commissary and I considered a good tip to be least $2 per cart. If you only have 1-2 bags worth of stuff and can take them out yourself you should go to the express line, usually located nearest to the exit, and you can just drop change in the bagger's box. Hope this helps.

  61. The truth about commissary baggers. They really do work for tips only and are not commissary employees. They receive no benefits of any kind. When shopping at the commissary you are not required to use their services and if you don't want to tip a bagger, you have the option of bagging and taking out your own groceries. I worked as a bagger for a year and a half and enjoyed it. There are adult baggers, mostly retired spouses and teen baggers. The adult baggers work during the weekday and one usually supervises the teens in the evenings and weekends. The least I ever made in one day was $17.00 and the most was $110.00. The average day you usually make around $50.00. Case lot sales and paydays are usually when you get the best tips. I reported my tips on my taxes. A good tip is $5.00, most people tip $1.00 to $2.00. However sometimes you get stuck taking several people out in a row and receive nothing. Most of the women baggers I was working with would use their tip money to shop at the commissary. It is hard work. We had a couple of men who worked for awhile and quit becuase of the weather and not making enough money.

  62. I spend on average $100 a week at the commissary and tip $2-$3 depending on how many bags and how far I have parked away! Thanks for posting this article, this has been a topic of conversation between many military spouses!

  63. camrwork77 | March 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    I don't know where you all go but here in Hawaii my commisary visits are very less than stellar! The first time my husband and I went there, we were given intense attitude by an older gentleman when we told them we didn't need the help- Well that soured us right off the bat!! I severly dislike that it is expected that you will have them help you! My philosophy is "When I get a job here, you will get a job!" That's that!! Sorry baggers, no tips for you here!!!

  64. random army guy | June 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    go to the self checkout line… no baggers :)

  65. I tip $2-4, depending on the size of the purchase and if I like my bagger. Silly I know, but some of the baggers are nicer, more careful, etc. etc. Some mentioned this already. Basing this math on a larger commissary (ie Oceana, in Va Beach, Va), if a bagger can average 1 shopper per 10-12mins thats 4-6 carts per hr. Let's say the average tipper gives $3-5 per visit, that's $12-30 per hour. The smallest average is still MORE than minimum wage.

  66. It is the baggers choice to work for tips only. Someone please explain to me the large number of Asian baggers?

  67. amber baker | June 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm |

    i generally end up with one cart full and spend around $200 dollars every two weeks. i tip three dollars, unless they don't speak to me at all or are rude, which rarely happens, then i'll only give them two. if i'm not getting a lot of groceries, i use the self check out and save on the tip.

  68. As a former bagger, I appreciated whatever the customer felt was appropriate. About 70% of customers tip. I have done three cart orders and received a thank you. I've done three bags and gotten five dollars.. For those of you who complain about how much they make remember, at other stores you do it yourself. You take it out to your own car and load it yourself. I can't tell you how many times i've taken out a full cart and there is only two feet of space because she has two strollers in the back. For those of you who complain they make more than others in the store remember, the baggers are the ones going out in the rain, snow, sleet to put your groceries in your car. How many other stores will do that.

  69. clueless about tipping a bagger…Did you ever read the sign that baggers work for tips only? Military spouses are really pathetic.

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