Tipping culture is out of control

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Two-thirds of Americans have a negative view of tipping, according to Bankrate, and things were only made worse by automatic service charges. This led to new terms, like “tipflation” and “tip fatigue,” that reflect the belief of around 1/3 of Americans that tipping culture is out of control.

Tipping culture changed during the pandemic

During the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, people were more generous with tips. Tipping 30 percent to struggling businesses was a sign of generosity. However, once things settled, tipping culture only worsened, many believe, and one Reddit poster revealed just how much. A viral post from 2023, titled “It finally happened. I was prompted to tip at the airport self-checkout station,” had many asking, “Tipping who?”

It used to be so easy

Many noted that tipping was reserved for cab rides and restaurant meals. Now, tipping is expected in shared rides and on delivery apps, and Pew Research Center’s survey confirmed that a majority feels they are being asked to tip at more places than just five years ago. There are also unlikable screens giving unfavorable options, like tipping 18, 20, or 25 percent.

This led to “tip fatigue” and “tip creep”

Vivek Astvansh, assistant professor of marketing at Indiana University, explained, “When you buy a black coffee, where the server has not put in any effort, the software asks you for a tip, which can range from 10 percent to 25 percent.” He added, “That is ‘tipflation,’ and people are annoyed.” This led to many feeling the “tip fatigue” and “tip creep.”

Tipping norms went up

Bankrate’s survey revealed that over two-thirds of Americans now hold an opposing view of tipping, while 1 in 3 Americans think tipping culture is out of control. One-third also feel pressured into tipping, with some claiming they were “trapped” into “guilt tipping,” which cost them up to 40 percent. Louise Ford, a mom of two, told NorthJersey.com, “You feel more obliged to tip everyone, even if they’re just putting your food down and not even being polite.”

It is still OK not to tip

The new situation left many needing clarification not only about who to tip but also about where. Jaime Peters, Maryville University’s assistant dean of accounting, finance, and economics, reminded CNBC readers, “You should feel free, but it’s still OKK not to tip,” adding, “It really is a tip; it is not obligatory.”

A curious case of strawberry fields

“My family went strawberry picking last weekend,” shared Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate. He then added, “I made the reservation. They asked me for a tip. I asked my wife, ‘What are we tipping for?'” And while the pressure is on, especially with viral videos calling out customers for not tipping enough, the reality is that 57% of Americans surveyed 15% or less in restaurants, proving that this tipping culture is backfiring. Only 2 percent tip over 20%, which was the norm in the pre-pandemic days.

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