Tipping culture has gone mad. You’re expected to tip every time you order something, whether it be a premade muffin at the deli, delivery, or takeout.
The final screen always gives you the tipping option as you make your purchase. Would you like to leave 15, 18, or 20%?
Some are even pushing tips higher, asking patrons to fork over up to 25% for getting a pre-made cafe dessert.
In recent memories, customers were only expected to tip servers, drivers, personal care attendants, and delivery folks, but now, it seems like everyone has their hand out for a tip, and everyone expects at least 20%, which used to be a good tip only a few years ago.
The Internet Debates Tipping Culture
While scrolling through one of my favorite Reddit communities, R/AskReddit, I found a post asking users to share their thoughts on tipping culture, asking we can’t just eliminate tips altogether.
The user brought up the comment argument that companies should raise prices to cover the costs of services and pay all their workers a living wage.
Although this isn’t the first internet debate on tipping culture, users did a great job covering all the key points!
Tipping is Insane
Many users lamented the rise of tipping culture, calling it “insane.”
“I was prompted to tip at a bakery,” shared one user, explaining that it’s “Not the kind with nice coffee and some tables. The “take a number, here’s your order, there’s the exit” type.
“Remember when the kids working at Cold Stone would sing a song when someone put a couple bucks in the jar?” recalled another user. “Now,” they said, “every counter service place flips the screen around, and it’s defaulted to 20%.”
“In my town, the subway sandwiches asks for a tip, got an oil change, their debit machine asked for a tip. And an online store had a tip option. It’s just become so ridiculous now,” offered another.
Feeling Pressured to Tip is a You Problem
The fact that they throw a screen in your face, basically begging for a tip, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tip.
“Just because you put pressure on yourself to tip doesn’t mean you are being forced to do so like some people make it out to be,” claimed one Redditor.
Others agreed, saying you have to get comfortable not tipping in situations where you don’t think it’s reasonable.
Tipping Pressure is Hard to Overcome
Some say the pressure to tip when presented with a screen while an employee watches your every move is too hard to overcome. Not tipping can make you look cheap, even in industries we wouldn’t have associated with tips two years ago.
“I’m usually flustered when this happens, so I just do it,” admitted one user.
“I’ve tried recently to pay cash because it’s so hard for me to select no tip when the person is staring right at me,” another shared.
Tip To Help Employees
Some Redditors hate tipping culture but do it because they know employees rely on their tips to survive.
“I typically don’t tip at a place where it’s just counter service,” shared one user. “But, I recently found out that my favorite cafe pays their workers a tipped wage. On top of it, when the owner is working, she’ll take the cash tips for herself, which I believe is illegal.”
The situation made the user rethink their outlook on tipping. “I still don’t tip at counter service, but talking to those baristas really made me think about how many other businesses are getting away with the same s**t as the cafe I mentioned,” they explained.
Servers Love Tips
As much as we want to blame big corporations for tipping culture, we must stop and realize that many servers like the current culture.
When we talk about paying servers and other tipped employees a living wage, we usually mean we’ll pay them $15-20$ an hour, but many people who work for tips make far more than that.
One user said it’s a great idea in practice but won’t work in reality. “Every time a restaurant actually tries it,” they said, “all of their hottest servers (who make the most tips) leave and go work somewhere where they can make more money.”
Another agreed, saying, “This is the part that people don’t get. For an awful lot of servers, the current model is desired more than “paying people appropriately” because it works out well for the servers and for the restaurant. You don’t even have to be all that good at your job; you’ll routinely make a lot more than even the standard minimum wage on the current business model.”
A bartender chimed in, saying, “Unless you’re going to start paying me 35 dollars an hour, ima keep the current method k thanks,” because that’s what they typically make.
Tipping Culture Encourages Folks to Work “Undesriable” Shifts
Many of us prefer to work our 9-5 jobs on Monday through Friday, with free time on the nights and weekends. Restaurants and bars are open into the wee hours of the night, and tipping culture is the only thing making those shifts desirable.
“If you can collect a bigger payout for working the busier times, then, of course, you will. If it’s the same pay across the board, then all your best servers are going to fight for the Tuesday afternoon shift when it’s dead,” one user commented.
Users also said tipping encourages servers to work shorter shifts. They can be available for three hours during a busy dinner shift and make more with tips than they would at a traditional eight-hour shift with a “living wage.”
Companies Should Pay Their Workers
Many users are grossed out by companies shifting the burden of paying their employees to customers while racking in profits.
They claimed companies should pay their employees a living wage, and tipping should be what it was always meant to be: a bonus for excellent service.
“It’s a gross system that I have to pay for what I order, plus extra just because. We’re so used to it that I’ll probably get downvoted, but it’s messed up that it’s become an expectation as opposed to what it is, a bonus,” exclaimed one user.
Tipping Becomes a New Form of Bribery
Some users expressed concern about where tipping culture is heading.
“When you order a Papa John’s pizza for PICK-UP, they have a spot on the website now to place a tip. AND THE EMPLOYEES KNOW IF YOU DID OR NOT!” exclaimed one user.
They went on to share that when they tipped, they received outstanding service, but their order got messed up when they didn’t. Of course, it could be a coincidence, but the user added, “ I don’t like where this is heading. There are cultures overseas where you cannot get basic service without a bribe, and I feel like that’s going to be the future for us.”
Other Countries Don’t Tip
Many users from countries outside the US chimed in to express their confusion over US tipping culture.
“I work in a nation without tipping. For our hospitality industry, you get 125% on Sat and 150% on Sun as a permanent employee and 150% and then 175% as a casual,” shared one user, describing how you can retain desirable workers without tipping.
“For everyone in the US who thinks that it would be impossible for restaurants to make a profit if they paid servers a decent wage without tips – remember that a lot of the world doesn’t do it the same way,” claimed another.
“Not in the US,” replied another, “but I feel tipping should be for exceptional service. Not so the person can make enough to live.”
What Are Your Thoughts on Tipping Culture?
US tipping culture is unlikely to change anytime soon. Business owners and servers love it, and although customers don’t like it, many of them are unlikely to stop going out.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.