American Tipping Culture Has Finally Gone Too Far

Self-checkout machines have become increasingly popular in various establishments like cafes, sports stadiums, and airports. However, a new trend is emerging – the inclusion of tip prompts at these digital, self-checkout kiosks. This has sparked a debate among customers who are unsure about the necessity and destination of their tipping money.

The Confusion Surrounding Tip Prompts

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, many customers have expressed frustration with tip prompts at self-checkout kiosks. The prompts often ask customers to tip workers with whom they have had no direct interaction. This lack of clarity has left customers confused about who they are tipping and where their money is going.

For instance, a customer who grabbed a beer from a self-service beer fridge at San Diego’s Petco Park was asked to include a tip on his order. However, he admitted to being uncertain about who would receive the tip. Despite the confusion, he still tipped 20%. Similarly, a traveler at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey was prompted to tip 10% to 20% on a $6 bottle of water at an OTG gift shop. This customer viewed the tip request as a form of “emotional blackmail” and chose not to tip.

Where Does the Money Go?

The lack of transparency regarding the destination of tipping money has only added to customers’ confusion and skepticism. In some cases, establishments have clarified that all tips collected are distributed among the staff working during that particular shift. For example, the spokesperson for Petco Park stated that all tips go to employees. OTG, the company operating the gift shop at Newark Liberty International Airport, also confirmed that the tip money collected is pooled and paid out to the staff members.

Tipping Fatigue: A Growing Phenomenon

The inclusion of tip prompts at self-checkout kiosks is part of a larger trend known as “tipping fatigue.” Many Americans are experiencing this fatigue as they are being asked to tip at an increasing number of places and are facing the effects of inflation. The concept of tipping has become a controversial point of debate in the country.

Landlords and the Introduction of Gratuity

Even landlords have joined the conversation, advocating for the addition of gratuity onto rent payments. Some landlords have taken to platforms like TikTok to make their case. This further highlights the widespread discussion and dissatisfaction surrounding tipping practices.

Unionized Apple Store and the Fight for a Tipping System

In Maryland, the first unionized Apple store in Towson is fighting for the introduction of a tipping system. Employees believe that a tipping system would provide them with additional income and recognition for their service. This development showcases the growing desire among workers in various industries for a fair and transparent compensation structure.

Customers Haven’t Stopped Tipping

Despite the controversies and confusion surrounding tipping at self-checkout kiosks, customers have not stopped tipping altogether. According to a spokesperson from the payment platform Block, total tips received by full-service restaurants and quick-service restaurants increased in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. This data reflects all tips received, including those from self-service kiosks.


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