Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Tipping? Maybe So…

When it comes to tipping, consumers are being asked for more than just two bits. There are some options that go as high as 30%, and many establishments even offer the ability to create a custom tip of whatever amount customers wish to give. This sudden abundance of mandatory digital tips has etiquette expert Thomas Farley concerned. He believes there is no end in sight.

One particular place that has often sparked controversy over tipping is fast food restaurants. A customer will walk in, place their order at the cash register, and out of nowhere an option for a tip pops up on the screen. Many people find this odd because all the workers had done was their job, taking an order, preparing food or drinks, so why should they be tipped? This digital demand feels much different than a tip jar due to its intrusiveness. It almost forces customers to state whether or not they’ll be giving a tip and everyone knows if someone doesn’t, leaving the person feeling uncomfortable and guilty about their decision.

For those who have worked in service industry roles such as waiters, it’s natural to want to show appreciation for good work by leaving a tip. Someone with this experience may opt for 10% for bad service, 25% for great service. However, that still doesn’t take away from the fact that many employers don’t pay enough wages for employees to make ends meet. Not only does this leave patrons feeling like they’re expected to subsidize low pay rates but also produces feelings of injustice and unfairness among those working in these roles.

The pandemic has had an impact on tipping habits as well. Full-service restaurant tips rose 25.3% while counter service spots saw an increase of 16.7%. Despite this generosity from patrons though there remains a strong sentiment among many customers who feel increasingly frustrated with the neverending requests for tips they face every time they go out or place an order online. Mike Janavey, a footwear designer from NYC said, “If you work for a company, it’s that company’s job to pay you for doing work for them…They’re not supposed to be juicing consumers that are already spending money there to pay their employees.”

It’s true, paying workers better wages would likely lead businesses to charge higher prices which could mean people may just choose another establishment where prices are lower. Yet this doesn’t change the fact that asking customers directly for tips can sometimes feel like extortion and isn’t always necessary or fair when all staff have done is their job properly and efficiently without any added special touches that would merit extra payment from patrons besides what’s already been spent on goods or services ordered.

In the end, if we collectively stopped tipping altogether, employers might then be forced into paying better wages instead of relying on customer generosity alone, although unfortunately it seems unlikely this will happen anytime soon.


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