A dollar tip for a three dollar donut? German tourists can expect significantly higher demands when traveling to the USA this summer.
Many Americans are complaining about a new “tip craze” and call the current trend of demanding tips in self-service cafes, fast food chains, sandwich shops, bakeries, doctor’s offices or garden centers “emotional blackmail”. Even in gas station shops and airport shops, tips are asked for.
In front of the waiter’s eyes, customers have to choose between a 20, 25 and 30 percent tip on a touchscreen – or click on the smaller printed button “no tip” (no tip) and look like a miser.
Waiters are mainly dependent on tips
Many Germans know about visits to America: Around 20 percent tips were the norm in restaurants, bars and cafes for a long time. Because in the USA waitresses receive only a negligibly small hourly wage – often far below the legally stipulated minimum wage.
For their income, they are therefore mainly dependent on tips. Since this is not clear to all foreign holidaymakers, bars in tourist strongholds have long automatically added around 20 percent more to the bill.
But since the pandemic, new tipping rules have come into force that are infuriating more and more Americans. “What a cheek: I have to queue for 15 minutes before ordering. Then I wait another ten minutes for my four-dollar coffee-to-go to be ready. And should I choose between a tip of one, two or three dollars for that?” Monique Luckett wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
Like her, many customers find the new trend of clicking pre-determined tip amounts on touchscreens outrageous. “These payments since Corona are shameless.”
Americans were tipping more during the pandemic than before
In fact, during the pandemic, most Americans were tipping more than before. To support the hospitality industry, 25 to 30 percent also became the norm for to-go orders. To simplify payment, many restaurants switched to touchscreens, where customers can only click on a 20, 25 or 30 percent tip.
Analyzes confirm: With these touchscreens, the tip is much more generous. And in the meantime, the touch screens are not only used in restaurants and cafes, but are also used by florists, doctor’s assistants and in countless shops.
Nursery owner Liz Vayda in Baltimore has also been giving her customers the option to tip since the pandemic began. She told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that this would bring in an average of two thousand dollars more a month for her five employees.
“As a business owner, I’m a bit uncomfortable that customers are probably wondering why I don’t just pay my employees more. But it’s not that easy.” And in the end, it’s more important to her to keep the employees than not to annoy customers.
“One feels ashamed and has a guilty conscience”
But more and more Americans are bothered by the incessant requests for tips. “I just wanted an energy drink, not a moral question,” Will Fischer complained to the Wall Street Journal after visiting a gas station shop. But after making eye contact with the cashier, he didn’t dare to press the “No Tip” button and preferred to pay a dollar more.
Monique Luckett feels the same way. “You feel ashamed and have a guilty conscience. And I wonder what they’re going to do with my sandwich if I’m pretending to be cheapskate? When I place my order at the counter, they can already see whether and how much I tip.” Therefore, when ordering food in self-service restaurants, she usually clicks the medium tip option of 25 percent – albeit reluctantly.
“These new percentages are amazing,” says retiree David Jones. “Before the pandemic, tipping at 18 percent was normal. Today, 20 percent is almost considered stingy – 25 or 30 would be better. Tipping used to be at the hairdresser’s and in restaurants, but nowadays it’s required everywhere.”
Customers in bridal shops are also asked to tip
Some bridal shops also ask customers for tips, with checkout options ranging from $50 to $200. Alternatively, there is the “own sum” button, where you can then enter “zero tip”.
Some online retailers also ask for tips: At the Internet fashion house “Xpluswear”, for example, you can give the employees an extra five to 15 percent – the same is true at the online checkout of the baby food mail order company “Organic Life Start”.
Even some doctor’s offices ask patients for tips. Micaela Mangot paid $295 for an intravenous vitamin treatment in New York. She was surprised by the tip information on the touchscreen, she revealed in the WSJ – but then she gave the nurse ten percent: “After all, I don’t want to get needles stuck in my body by someone who hates me.”