Guilt Tipping: The Casual Dining Experience

by May 7, 2019Blog, Strategy | Entrepreneurship

When was the last time you used a mobile device to check out at a simple coffee or sandwich shop? Do you tip more or less than usual because there is someone standing there watching you? Do you feel an instant shame or guilt whilst trying to decide what to tip in a matter of seconds?

My First Mobile Tipping Experience

It was 2016 when I first came across a mobile checkout device that prompted me to either tip $1, $2, $5, or $10. I was a little confused at first thinking that it was a charity donation option which I had come across several times before. When I asked the cashier what it was for, she said that I could choose which amount of a tip I want to give her. To give more detail about my purchase, my total came out to be around $6 for a smoothie and a breakfast muffin. I saw her fill the smoothie up with a pre-made mix on the back counter and the muffin was sitting in a glass display case next to the cash register. I then asked myself, “what did she do to earn a tip???”.

Now I have been raised on proper tipping etiquette. Making sure that I tip for great service is a natural and understandable concept. But when it came to tipping cashiers (most likely split evenly among staff), I am not exactly HERE for it. But of course, you have the option to select NO TIP on the screen, which I didn’t notice at first but became aware when they decided to enhance the size of the button. There is still the awkwardness of having to choose an option while the cashier is watching and there are several people in line behind you. TALK ABOUT PRESSURE.

Should We Carry More Cash to Avoid Tipping Prompts?

It used to be that when you were at a checkout or quick service coffee/sandwich shop you would notice a glass jar labeled tips, sometimes accompanied by a smiley face. Rarely did I add to the tip jar unless I had one or two dollars left over from the total. My main point being I paid with CASH. Now everything has changed and you are asked to give a tip with almost every digital transaction, whether by the daunting tip screen or when you sign the receipt.

I will state again that I have no problem tipping great customer service especially when someone goes above and beyond on their regular duties. Whilst tipping for table service has been the norm for decades, why is it now being normalized for fast and casual businesses. Tablet payment options, like Square and Revel, can make tipping almost effortless. The shop merchants have full control if they want the tip prompt to be even turned on and can customize each tipping amount that suits their needs.

What’s the Big Deal?

You may say to yourself, “It isn’t really a big deal, especially since there’s a no tip option.” While this is true, my main gripe that I have is the few seconds when the entire screen lights up and your tip decision is exposed by giant numbers and all eyes are on you. Although, the tipping process is still the same by calculating a percentage of your total. I appreciate being able to be discreet with the amount I choose and being able to leave a restaurant and not looking at the waiter/waitress count the tip in front of me or scan the amount on the bottom of the signed receipt. With the percentage of fast/casual restaurants using an electronic tipping system I am more motivated to carry cash to just go grab a bagel or a quick drink randomly throughout the week.

When and Why are You Tipping?

The average tipping amount is pretty universal throughout the United States depending on the type of establishment. A question that I have frequently asked friends and family is, “When would you not leave a tip and why?” The most popular answer is if the server is being rude and clearly doesn’t care about what they’re doing and about the table. Other answers that were given from people much older say that they will still leave a tip to a rude server but just not as much as they were planning on at the beginning of the meal.

Another grievance I have when being prompted to leave a tip on several occasions is that I have yet to see or taste my food or drink. Would it not make sense to leave a tip after the service is rendered like normal sit down service? This is something to really consider because we all work hard for the money we make and to leave a tip carelessly for a subpar quick meal before being served makes absolutely no sense.

Final Thoughts

To conclude my rant and rambles, my main goal here is to get the conversation started. I know I am probably not the only one who feels a bit awkward and uncomfortable choosing a tip option out in the open. Do you have a set amount to tip in your mind before you are served at a fast/casual food shop? Have you never really noticed and/or don’t care too much about the process? What are your thoughts about the tip prompt given during any simple transaction? We would love for you to share your thoughts and opinions down below!

Other interesting articles to read about Guilt Tipping:

My favorite financial Guru – Dave Ramsey!