Enough Is Enough: Tipping Culture Is Getting Out of Control
Photo: Yoco Photography / Unsplash

Enough Is Enough: Tipping Culture Is Getting Out of Control

Some patrons are tipping less or skipping it entirely as point-of-service terminals make gratuities ubiquitous

It's not your imagination. You're being asked to tip way more often and at many more places than sit-down restaurants or service businesses like barbershops and valet-parking stands.

CNN reports that according to data from the restaurant software company Toast, 48 percent of quick-service restaurants (think McDonald's and Starbucks) ask for tips, up from 38 percent in 2020. But here's the kicker: Customers are tipping less at those businesses, from 16.4 percent last year to 15.9 percent more recently.

Are customers getting fed up? Remember, since 2020, we’ve had a whole pandemic, a shortage of service workers, a revolution on whether people even want to be employed full time, and a giant surge of inflation. People feel like they're making less and getting hit up way more often for tip money, even at places where you walk up to the counter and pick up your order your damn self, sometimes with an app or touchscreen kiosk. Should you tip when there wasn't even a person to take your order and serve you? Doesn't that feel… wrong? Are we the assholes here?

CNN's story says the culture of tipping is changing, and a lot of it has to do with replacing traditional cash tip jars with touch-screen terminals that automatically default to a tip amount you may not even notice before you pay. It's a lot easier to disregard a tip jar than it is to ignore a tablet that has already pre-tipped for you while an expectant cashier (sometimes there's a person in front of you) watches to see how you'll react and what you'll pay. Awkward!

According to CNBC, some experts advise $1-$2 or 10 percent for takeout service or other semi-automated business, not the standard 20 percent. Above 20 percent still means above-and-beyond service, but that you should be aware of what kind of job the person you're tipping is doing and how their pay might be structured.

What if you want to get away from tipping culture entirely? You could go live in Japan, where attempts to make tipping a trend during the pandemic apparently failed. They have pay disparity, too, unfortunately, so there's no such thing as a perfect system.

Don't lose that Tip Calculator URL or app for the time being.

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