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Is tipping getting out of control? Many consumers say yes

NEW YORK (AP) — Across the country, there’s a silent frustration brewing about an age-old practice that many say is getting out of hand: tipping.

Some fed-up consumers are posting rants on social media complaining about tip requests at drive-thrus, while others say they’re tired of being asked to leave a gratuity for a muffin or a simple cup of coffee at their neighborhood bakery. What’s next, they wonder -- are we going to be tipping our doctors and dentists, too?

As more businesses adopt digital payment methods, customers are automatically being prompted to leave a gratuity — many times as high as 30% — at places they normally wouldn't. And some say it has become more frustrating as the price of items has skyrocketed due to inflation, which eased to 6.5% in December but still remains painfully high.

“Suddenly, these screens are at every establishment we encounter. They're popping up online as well for online orders. And I fear that there is no end,” said etiquette expert Thomas Farley, who considers the whole thing somewhat of “an invasion.”

Unlike tip jars that shoppers can easily ignore if they don’t have spare change, experts say the digital requests can produce social pressure and are more difficult to bypass. And your generosity, or lack thereof, can be laid bare for anyone close enough to glance at the screen — including the workers themselves.

Dylan Schenker is one of them. The 38-year-old earns about $400 a month in tips, which provides a helpful supplement to his $15 hourly wage as a barista at Philadelphia café located inside a restaurant. Most of those tips come from consumers who order coffee drinks or interact with the café for other things, such as carryout orders. The gratuity helps cover his monthly rent and eases some of his burdens while he attends graduate school and juggles his job.

Schenker says it's hard to sympathize with consumers who are able to afford pricey coffee drinks but complain about tipping. And he often feels demoralized when people don’t leave behind anything extra — especially if they’re regulars.

“Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they’re owed,” said Schenker, who’s been working in the service industry for roughly 18 years.

Traditionally, consumers have taken pride in being good tippers at places like restaurants, which typically pay their workers lower than the minimum wage in expectation they’ll make up the difference in tips. But academics who study the topic say many consumers are now feeling irritated by automatic tip requests at coffee shops and other counter service eateries where tipping has not typically been expected, workers make at least the minimum wage and service is usually limited.

“People do not like unsolicited advice,” said Ismail Karabas, a marketing professor at Murray State University who studies tipping. “They don’t like to be asked for things, especially at the wrong time.”

Some of the requests can also come from odd places. Clarissa Moore, a 35-year-old who works as a supervisor at a utility company in Pennsylvania, said even her mortgage company has been asking for tips lately. Typically, she’s happy to leave a gratuity at restaurants, and sometimes at coffee shops and other fast-food places when the service is good. But, Moore said she believes consumers shouldn’t be asked to tip nearly everywhere they go — and it shouldn’t be something that’s expected of them.

“It makes you feel bad. You feel like you have to do it because they’re asking you to do it,” she said. “But then you have to think about the position that puts people in. They’re paying for something that they really don’t want to pay for, or they’re tipping when they really don’t want to tip — or can’t afford to tip — because they don’t want to feel bad.”

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by Anonymousreply 38January 23, 2023 9:56 PM

In the book “Emily Post’s Etiquette,” authors Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning advise consumers to tip on ride-shares, like Uber and Lyft, as well as food and beverages, including alcohol. But they also write that it’s up to each person to choose how much to tip at a café or a take-out food service, and that consumers shouldn’t feel embarrassed about choosing the lowest suggested tip amount, and don't have to explain themselves if they don’t tip.

Digital payment methods have been around for a number of years, though experts say the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards more tipping. Michael Lynn, a consumer behavior professor at Cornell University, said consumers were more generous with tips during the early days of the pandemic in an effort to show support for restaurants and other businesses that were hard hit by COVID-19. Many people genuinely wanted to help out and felt sympathetic to workers who held jobs that put them more at risk of catching the virus, Lynn said.

Tips at full-service restaurants grew by 25.3% in the third quarter of 2022, while gratuities at quick or counter service restaurants went up 16.7% compared to the same time in 2021, according to Square, one of the biggest companies operating digital payment methods. Data provided by the company shows continuous growth for the same period since 2019.

As tip requests have become more common, some businesses are advertising it in their job postings to lure in more workers even though the extra money isn’t always guaranteed.

In December, Starbucks rolled out a new tipping option on credit and debit card transactions at its stores, something a group organizing the company's hourly workers had called for. Since then, a Starbucks spokesperson said nearly half of credit and debit card transactions have included a gratuity, which - along with tips received through cash and the Starbucks app - are distributed based on the number of hours a barista worked on the days the tips were received.

Karabas, the Murray State professor, says some customers, like those who’ve worked in the service industry in the past, want to tip workers at quick service businesses and wouldn’t be irritated by the automatic requests. But for others, research shows they might be less likely to come back to a particular business if they are feeling irritated by the requests, he said.

The final tab might also impact how customers react. Karabas said in the research he did with other academics, they manipulated the payment amounts and found that when the check was high, consumers no longer felt as irritated by the tip requests. That suggests the best time for a coffee shop to ask for that 20% tip, for example, might be on four or five orders of coffee, not a small cup that costs $4.

Some consumers might continue to shrug off the tip requests regardless of the amount.

“If you work for a company, it's that company's job to pay you for doing work for them,” said Mike Janavey, a footwear and clothing designer who lives in New York City. “They're not supposed to be juicing consumers that are already spending money there to pay their employees.”

Schenker, the Philadelphia barista, agrees — to a certain extent.

“The onus should absolutely be on the owners, but that doesn’t change overnight," he said. "And this is the best thing we have right now.”

by Anonymousreply 1January 23, 2023 5:39 PM

For independent operators like hairstylists it’s one thing, but I shouldn’t have to tip somebody’s employee because they’re too stingy to pay them a decent wage.

by Anonymousreply 2January 23, 2023 5:41 PM

R2 Exactly.

I can understand a tip jar at a coffee shop or pizza shop where you get some extra cash for people who want to dump their change into after getting cash back.

But gratuity on a POS system at a coffee shop is really ridiculous.

There was a coffee shop down by my job I only went to when the other one next to me was closed and they would put the open coffee cup down on the counter and you’d have to take it across the room and add your own cream, sugar, lid, coffee sleeve, napkins, etc. And they had gratuity built into their POS system / receipt!! Like the bare minimum of customer service and they asked for a tip! Fuck outta here!

by Anonymousreply 3January 23, 2023 5:53 PM

I dont mind tipping someone who makes your coffee

I do mind being asked to round up my change for “charity”

by Anonymousreply 4January 23, 2023 5:55 PM

[quote]Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they’re owed

No, that's what your paycheck is for.

by Anonymousreply 5January 23, 2023 6:04 PM

Customers know food service people are underpaid. Yes, employers should raise salaries, but they won't until they are forced. Til then, I'll add to the tip jar.

by Anonymousreply 6January 23, 2023 6:06 PM

Just pay it you cheap bastards

by Anonymousreply 7January 23, 2023 6:09 PM

“Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they’re owed,” said Schenker, who’s been working in the service industry for roughly 18 years.

Tipping as I understood it was to recognize either exceptional service or to acknowledge hard work (like the bags at a hotel or the dudes delivering appliances) or a long time service relationship. A barista?

by Anonymousreply 8January 23, 2023 6:09 PM

R8, that's the type of entitlement that makes me not want to tip. Your employer pays you what you are owed for doing your job. The customer may or may not give you a little extra to show appreciation for the job you did. But they don't owe you anything.

by Anonymousreply 9January 23, 2023 6:15 PM

minimum wage should be at least $35 with benefits!

and a small order of fries should be 45$

by Anonymousreply 10January 23, 2023 6:16 PM

loan forgiveness recipient: ugh, why are my taxes are so high? taxes are theft

by Anonymousreply 11January 23, 2023 6:18 PM
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by Anonymousreply 12January 23, 2023 6:18 PM

Tipping is for wait staff to ensure good service and attentiveness.

I think the time has come to end the tipping custom because others are now demanding to be tipped for doing the job they are paid to do unlike a waitress that makes less than minimum wage because they expect to be tipped by providing good service to the customer.

And I also have grown tired of being asked to donate to some charity at the register non stop, I get that it’s a great way to fund raise but give the client the option to opt in without having the cashier pressure you verbally.

by Anonymousreply 13January 23, 2023 6:34 PM

I'll add to the tip jar if so moved to do so, but I'll be damned if when charging a meal for take out that I have to get past the tipping screen.

Grinds my gears. For that cash grab I'll leave a buck.

by Anonymousreply 14January 23, 2023 6:39 PM

Tipping threads on Datalounge are always a delight and always filled with new and clever viewpoints.

by Anonymousreply 15January 23, 2023 6:42 PM

This will end in tears.

by Anonymousreply 16January 23, 2023 6:50 PM

I hate that on deliveries the tip calculation is based on the food, tax AND delivery charge. Why would I pay a tip on the fucking delivery fee?? As for coffee and other pickup food, I have resorted to using cash and depending on the bill, throw a buck or two into the tip jar.

When a tip becomes expected and has nothing to do with service, then the employer should just pay the 38 year old baristas a higher wage and slightly raise the price.

Of course we all know even if they did that, that 38 year old barista would still shake that tip jar in your face.

by Anonymousreply 17January 23, 2023 6:55 PM

R17 I thought the tip was to be figured out by the pre-tax total of the bill. Let's say you order $60 worth of food and the sales tax is 10.25% (LA County) then your total before tip is $66.15. Shouldn't you just tip $12, the pretax amount?

I have an issue for tipping more than a dollar a beer, especially if all someone is doing is handing me a bottle. We enjoy breweries but their beers are already very expensive... then you add 20%, it's not like they are making you a craft cocktail. A dollar a beer still is ok unless they were very friendly/attentive.

by Anonymousreply 18January 23, 2023 6:59 PM

It’s supposed to be R18. Unless you manually calculate what 20% of the pre-tax/ore-tip, you may never even realize what they’re doing.

by Anonymousreply 19January 23, 2023 7:10 PM

[quote] Some of the requests can also come from odd places. Clarissa Moore, a 35-year-old who works as a supervisor at a utility company in Pennsylvania, said even her mortgage company has been asking for tips lately.


by Anonymousreply 20January 23, 2023 7:18 PM

[quote]and the sales tax is 10.25% (LA County)

Is sales tax really that high in LA? Dayum.

by Anonymousreply 21January 23, 2023 7:19 PM

I live near Chicago R21, and it’s higher than that here.

by Anonymousreply 22January 23, 2023 7:21 PM

I've never tipped in Switzerland.

The waitress at my local restaurant was horrified the first time I tried to tip her. She gave me the money back!

by Anonymousreply 23January 23, 2023 7:22 PM

I manage a small craft beverage place (brewery & cidery) which also serves food.

Our POS has prompts for tips for table and bar service (15%, 20%, and other). Our mean of tips is generally 18% on any given day. Cash customers are generally lousy tippers; typical pint with tax is $7.65, and most just tip the 35 cents. Though today at lunch we had a $175 tab who paid by credit card and left no tip. I just smiled.

Virginia still permits tipped employees to be paid $2.13/hr. The state minimum wage is $12/hr, so tipped employees are expected to earn nearly $10/hr from tips. If they do not, we supplement so that they make at least the $12 minimum for each hour they work. On a good weekend day, employees do well. On a crappy rainy or snowy day, sales and tips are lousy, so we supplement. We pay more than $2.13 minimum, but not the full $12 to all new employees.

For those who are concerned on taxes, our tax for served food/drink is 9.3% (5.3% goes to the state, 4% goes to the county as a meals tax). Merchandise, apparel and to-go food/drinks are not charged the meals tax. I set the suggested POS tips are percentage on the base bill (not including any sales tax).

by Anonymousreply 24January 23, 2023 7:34 PM

How much do you actually pay per hour, Scrooge, and do you offer health insurance?

by Anonymousreply 25January 23, 2023 7:39 PM

[quote] I hate that on deliveries the tip calculation is based on the food, tax AND delivery charge. Why would I pay a tip on the fucking delivery fee??

I actually had to clarify with Domino's if the "delivery fee" was for the driver's tip, and they said no.

So if you don't tip the driver, you're only hurting the minimum wage driver, and not the company.

Because for some strange reason, the company is taking the money for the "delivery fee."

I hate corporations.

by Anonymousreply 26January 23, 2023 7:47 PM

The worst tipping offense I've ever encountered was during the pandemic.

This Thai restaurant I went to was only doing take out at the time.

To try to make up for losses during the pandemic, they started charging for every little thing. Utensils, hot sauce, everything.

But to make matters even worse, my bill came out to about $24, and I gave the lady $30.

She said "Thank you," and walked away.

The fucking bitch stole $6 from me!

She didn't ask, and I didn't dine in because there WAS NO dine in. It ordered the food, and drove to pick it up and take it out.

Yet she kept my $6 change as her "tip."

I was fucking furious!!!!

And she purposely walked away from the cash register and went in the back kitchen, so I couldn't say anything about it.

I never went back to that fucking place, and told everyone I knew what happened there, so they wouldn't go back either.

by Anonymousreply 27January 23, 2023 7:51 PM

I'm old, retired and I can easily afford it so I tip the various workers who put it on the POS or I'll give them the cash. When someone's service is bad or the bare minimum, I tip the bare minimum. If adding the tip to your bill puts the meal/drink/whatever too expensive for you then you can't afford to eat/drink in that establishment.

I'd feel cheap and fraudulent whining about it or withholding it from the workers. Did you read that post where they are still paying waitstaff $2 an hour? They "make up the difference" for the employees if they don't make $12 - for some workers but not others. That's completely insane.

by Anonymousreply 28January 23, 2023 8:09 PM

Dear R24, your restaurant is not the shining beacon of decency that seem to believe it is.

We’re allowed to pay slave wages, so that’s what we do. Of course we try to make it up to some of the servers. Others not so much. Our customers, those cheap pieces of shit, can pay those little pissants’ salary.

by Anonymousreply 29January 23, 2023 8:17 PM

Dylan has been a barista for eighteen YEARS? Loser.

And he is still in school? Fuck him. I’m not supplementing his income with any of my money while he’s still FINDING HIMSELF.

by Anonymousreply 30January 23, 2023 8:21 PM

R18 I also feel the same way also about a glass of wine where I told them which one, they poured it and handed it to me. Zero skill involved.

by Anonymousreply 31January 23, 2023 8:25 PM

[quote]When someone's service is bad or the bare minimum, I tip the bare minimum.

The bare minimum tip for bad service is $0. I hope that’s what you tip.

by Anonymousreply 32January 23, 2023 8:39 PM

Adam Conover exposed wine waiters and sommeliers as complete and utter wastes of time and money.

by Anonymousreply 33January 23, 2023 8:40 PM

I’m not tipping people for handing me food for take out.

Side rant; Has DL been on prime time non stop today, it been dead around here.

by Anonymousreply 34January 23, 2023 9:09 PM

I don’t know, r34, but people have been saying it’s been on PT for months.

by Anonymousreply 35January 23, 2023 9:38 PM

I only mention it because it has been slow around here with an hour or more in between thread responses and my device signed me out as I was getting ready to post and that’s when I got the dread you cannot reply at this time.

Muriel let the freaks back in!

by Anonymousreply 36January 23, 2023 9:50 PM

People should just become members. It's cheap.

by Anonymousreply 37January 23, 2023 9:52 PM

Agree with both you guys.

by Anonymousreply 38January 23, 2023 9:56 PM
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