Is tipping getting out of hand? Many consumers say yes

NEW YORK (AP) — Across the country, a silent frustration hangs over an ancient practice that many say is spiraling out of control: tipping.

Some fed up consumers post rantings on social media complaining about drive-through requests for tips, while others say they get tired of being asked to leave a treat for a simple cake or cup of coffee at their neighborhood bakery. What next, they wonder—will we tip our mail carriers and our dentists, too?

As more companies adopt digital payment methods, customers are automatically prompted to leave a bonus – many times as high as 30% – in places they wouldn’t normally. Some say it became even more frustrating as the prices of materials skyrocketed due to the inflation that occurred to 6.5% in December But it’s still painfully high.

Suddenly, these screens are in every organization we come across. It has also popped up online for online orders. I’m afraid there will be no end,” said etiquette expert Thomas Farley, who regards the whole thing as somewhat of an “invasion.”

Unlike tip boxes that shoppers can easily ignore if they don’t have spare change, experts say digital orders can produce social pressure and are hard to bypass. And your generosity, or lack thereof, can be revealed to anyone close enough to look at the screen—including the workers themselves.

Dylan Schenker is one of them. The 38-year-old earns about $400 a month in tips, providing a useful supplement to his $15-an-hour wages as a barista at the Philadelphia café-in-a-restaurant. Most of this advice comes from consumers ordering coffee drinks or interacting with the coffee shop for other things, such as delivery orders. The bonus helps cover his monthly rent, ease some of his burden while he attends graduate school, and coordinates his job.

Schenker says it’s hard to empathize with consumers who can afford expensive coffee drinks but complain about tipping. He often gets frustrated when people don’t leave anything extra behind – especially if they are regulars.

“A tip is about making sure that the people who perform that service on your behalf get their due wages,” said Schenker, who has been in the service industry for nearly 18 years.

Traditionally, consumers take pride in good trucks in places like restaurants, usually They pay their workers less than the minimum wage In the expectation that they will make the difference in tips. But academics who study the topic say many consumers are now weary of automatic tip requests in coffee shops and other casual service restaurants where tipping is not usually expected, workers are paid at least minimum wage and service is usually limited.

“People don’t like unsolicited tips,” said Ismael Karabas, a professor of marketing at Murray State University who studies tipping. “They don’t like being asked, especially at the wrong time.”

Some requests can also come from strange places. Clarissa Moore, 35, who works as a supervisor for a utility company in Pennsylvania, said even her mortgage company has been asking for tips lately. Usually, she is happy to leave a treat in restaurants, and sometimes in coffee shops and other fast food places when the service is good. But, Moore said she believes consumers shouldn’t be asked to tip almost everywhere they go — nor should it 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 what position they put people in. They pay for something they really don’t want to pay, or they tend to tip when they really don’t want to tip – or they can “not stand to tip – because they don’t want to feel bad.”

Digital payment methods have been around for several years, though experts say the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards more tipping. Consumers were more generous with tips during the early days of the pandemic in an effort to show support for restaurants and other businesses hit hard by COVID-19, said Michael Lane, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University. Lin said many people really wanted to help and felt sympathy for workers who took jobs that put them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

Tips at full-service restaurants grew 25.3% in the third quarter of 2022, while tips at quick or counter-service restaurants rose 16.7% over the same time in 2021, according to Square, one of the largest companies that operate digital payment methods. Data provided by the company shows continuous growth for the same period since 2019.

As tip requests become more popular, some companies are advertising them in their job advertisements to attract more workers even though the extra money is not always guaranteed.

In December, Starbucks introduced a new tipping option on credit and debit card transactions in its stores, which is quite impressive Organizing the company’s hourly workers called for. Since then, a Starbucks spokesperson said that nearly half of credit and debit card transactions have included a bonus, which — along with tips received through cash and the Starbucks app — is distributed based on the number of hours baristas work on days tips received. .

Some clients, like those who have worked in the service industry in the past, want to tip workers at quick-service companies and won’t be angered by spontaneous requests, says Carabas, a Murray State professor. But for others, research shows they may be less likely to return to a specific job if they feel overwhelmed by requests, he said.

The last tab may also affect how customers interact. They manipulated payment amounts and found that when the check was high, consumers were no longer bothered by requests for a tip, said Carabas, in research he and other academics conducted. This suggests that the best time for a coffee shop to ask for a 20% tip, for example, might be on four or five orders of coffee, not a small cup that costs $4.

Some consumers may continue to ignore tip requests, regardless of the amount.

“If you work for a company, that company’s job is to pay you to do the work for them,” said Mike Janavi, a shoe and clothing designer who lives in New York City. “They’re not supposed to be consumers actually spending money there to pay their employees.”

Schenker, a Philadelphia-based barista, agrees to an extent.

“The onus has to fall on the owners, but that doesn’t change overnight. It’s the best thing we have right now,” he said.

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