I tried out a new burger joint in the St. Paul skyway a few weeks ago. The food, though overpriced, was decent, especially by St. Paul skyway standards.
I’ll never go back, however.
Why? Because after you give the cashier your credit card, she turns the monitor around so you can add a tip.
“The big issue here is that this is putting a new social pressure on customers,” said Michael Lynn, a professor of consumer behavior at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, who studies tipping, told the New York Times in a recent article. “It’s up to me to leave the change in the tip jar, or not. Yet when you turn the screen around and I have to explicitly click ‘No Tip’ in front of you, that’s a lot harder.”
It’s the sort of thing that can make tipping a thing of the past, and apparently it is, the Times says.
Lockhart Steele, a founder of the restaurant blog Eater and editorial director of Vox Media, suggests that tipping may soon be a thing of the past. “It seems that the great minds of the restaurant industry have decided that the era of tipping is coming to a close,” Mr. Steele said, noting that battles over tipping are a popular topic among Eater’s readers. “It’s all being helped along by technology.”
He noted that Uber’s all-inclusive fare approach (so that passengers never have to think about money at the end of a ride but instead use a rating system to give feedback) is now starting to happen with restaurants, albeit mostly at higher-end establishments. Places like Dirt Candy, a vegetarian restaurant in the East Village, has banned tipping and instead adds a 20 percent service charge on all checks.
Others are turning to apps like Reserve and Cover that seek to disrupt the way diners pay for meals. Instead of having to ask for the check after dessert, the bill and a preset tip are automatically calculated. The beauty of this experience is that, like Uber, you simply walk out at the end of the meal, and your card is charged through the app.
Last month, MPR News’ Nikki Tundel reported that at least one coffee shop in Minneapolis is forging the new era, banning the tip jar.
The owner started paying workers more, instead.
Part of this is a reaction to legislation like that introduced this session in the Minnesota Legislature that provides a lower minimum wage to employees who get tips.
Part of it, however, is a reaction to the discomfort between wait staff and customer, evidenced in an essay recently on xoJane.
The art of tipping is, for most people, really freaking annoying. How much is too much? How much is too little? Is this the only reason I had to learn how to calculate percentages in 5th grade? Am I really supposed to tip this floral delivery guy when I didn’t even know he was coming to deliver me flowers that I didn’t even buy? Also, I don’t carry cash anymore, so, crap.
And I could write a whole separate article on “Automatic Tips.” There is no such thing as an “automatic” tip. If it’s “automatically” included, it is “automatically” just part of the regular price. The very definition of tipping suggests it should be extra. It’s a reward, not a right.
But the bread and butter of my tip annoyance is the mandatory tip of your server in a restaurant. Why do I owe someone extra money just for doing their job? I work retail, and get paid crap for it. I’m expected to be courteous and helpful and provide “excellent customer service” with absolutely no possibility of a tip or commission. Why should it be any different for someone working in a restaurant? The way I see it, the restaurant is paying the employee, not me.
Tipping won’t disappear anytime soon, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik writes. But it should.
“Eliminating tips and incorporating their value into workers’ paychecks is a long-term project, but it will yield long-term benefits,” he contends.