Business

“Blame Tipping”: Tipping is out of control

We tip past the point of no return.

Checking out by tablet is now the convenient norm at pizza joints, coffee shops, fast food joints and other quick service restaurants across the city, but the gadgets are quick to ask if you want to add a healthy tip to your order. Touchscreens typically prompt customers to leave a tip of between 18% and 30%—and sometimes even more—if they grab and leave.

Occasionally, the prompts replace the old tip jar and raise the stakes to what was usually a flipped dollar or some loose change. But in many cases, diners are pressured to show up at places they’ve never expected to tip — say, because they’re waiting in line at Five Guys for their burgers and fries. And they’re not happy about the sudden ubiquity of tip measurement.

“I spent somewhere $23 just for coffee and pastries and the suggested tip was another $8 and I just said no. I give about a dollar as an individual tip amount, but let’s do a reality check here,” said Jared Goodman, a 26-year-old recruiter who lives in Brooklyn. “Recently I got a quick bite with my girlfriend and the suggested tip amounts were 25%, 35% and even 40%. That’s just crazy.”

Jared Goodman, a Brooklyn native who works in Midtown, has dealt with excessive tipping.
Jared Goodman, a Brooklyn native who works in Midtown, has dealt with excessive tipping.
Brian Zak/NY Post

Helen Suskin, a consultant from the Upper East Side, told the Post that her generosity doesn’t exactly come from the heart, though she regularly tips for everything from coffee to baked goods. If you order at a counter she said “there is no extra service” still feels compelled to tip. “You can call that guilt.”

However, others say they are not intimidated by the machines.

“I don’t tip people who just get their job done by working the counter,” said Chelsea resident Stanley Vogel, adding that he always tips waiters in full-service restaurants. But “like in a bakery, if they just give me a loaf of bread, I don’t tip them for that… I never tip people who are counter people who just bring me something I can get myself.”

Smart tablets haven’t changed anything for him: “I’m surprised that these people who just do their job expect a tip for it.”

show me the money

Some wonder if companies are doing this to improve their bottom line.

in new york city, Waiters in restaurants often earn less than minimum wage, and patrons are expected to reward their hard work with tips that supplement their salaries. Still, “fast food” workers — a legal category that includes baristas and cashiers — are guaranteed the full minimum wage of $15 an hour.

The popular Square electronic payment processing system allows business owners to distribute the electronic tip in a number of ways: it could go directly to the person who processed the transaction, or it could be pooled among employees, either per transaction (i.e. a 5 $ would bring in $1 for 5 eligible employees) or by hours worked.

But unlike the old days where you could give your server a 10 spot directly, no one seems to have a hold of exactly where the counter service tips go.

Helen Suskin says tablet-style tipping can make her feel guilty about over-the-counter purchases.
Helen Suskin says tablet-style tipping can make her feel guilty about over-the-counter purchases.
Brian Zak/NY Post
"Nightmare on Elm Street 2" Director Jack Sholder isn't a fan of flipping tablets because it feels too forced.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge director Jack Sholder isn’t a fan of tipping tablets because it feels too forced.
Brian Zak/NY Post

The Post called four Five Guys locations to ask how tips are divided among employees. Two managers said they were “not sure how”; the other two declined to answer.

“I’m skeptical about the whole thing,” said former busboy Bryan Reilly, 24, of Massapequa, Long Island. “It feels like making sure their workers are paid so badly is becoming my responsibility.

“This ‘tip everywhere’ thing is getting extremely out of hand.”

“Oh, he’s a curmudgeon”

Chelsea's Stanley Vogel proudly admits he doesn't tip for counter service.
Chelsea’s Stanley Vogel proudly admits he doesn’t tip for counter service.
Brian Zak/NY Post

With the whims surrounding the new tipping requirements, Vogel and his sidekick – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge director Jack Sholder – feel justified in skipping the tip.

Still, they say the technology makes it cumbersome.

“I used to go to this butcher shop and never spill the glass. I’ve been friendly with all the guys — but I never tipped,” Sholder said. “Now it comes up [digitally] and it feels like, ‘Oh, he’s a curmudgeon, he didn’t tip.’ It puts pressure on me so I really don’t like it, I think it should be more voluntary.”

Naomi Blanco, a Bay Area tourist, said guilt isn’t the only downside to digital tipping.

If “you just push a button,” she says, there’s less appreciation from the staff. “You don’t get a lot of ‘Wow, thank you!’ It’s just like there’s an expectation on their part.”

Mary Canner and Linda Flaxer are fans of the new style of digital tipping.  They happily pay it further whenever the opportunity arises.
Mary Canner and Linda Flaxer are fans of the new style of digital tipping. They happily pay it further whenever the opportunity arises.
Brian Zak/NY Post

Experts say that regardless of the delivery method, even a modest tip means something.

“My suggestion is that you leave a tip, even if it’s small, at least it’s something,” he said Etiquette expert and author Jacqueline Whitmore, adding that she usually leaves a 10-15% tip for takeout and suggests others give at least 10%. “The bottom line is this. Tipping is good karma…it’s never mandatory, but customary.”

The pandemic was the deciding factor

That’s why some big-hearted New Yorkers just go with the flow of money. They say the pandemic has pulled strings at their hearts – and wallets. Even famed restaurateur Danny Meyer has backed out of his famous no-tipping policy at all of his restaurants due to the financial drain on his employees from COVID-19.

“I would say I was more unwell before COVID, but now I know the sacrifices made by so many service workers. So I’d rather pay 20% now,” said Jerri Batson, Blanco’s mother, at Turnstyle Market on Columbus Circle.

Still, generosity doesn’t come cheap in New York, she noted. “It was almost $20 for those three little coffees with the tip.”

According to Californian Jerri Batson, tipping for little things like coffee can get pretty expensive.  She is pictured with her daughter Naomi Blanco.
According to Californian Jerri Batson, tipping for little things like coffee can get pretty expensive. She is pictured with her daughter Naomi Blanco.
Brian Zak/NY Post

Similarly, Linda Flaxer and Mary Canner left a $10 tip for two lobster rolls they ordered from a Times Square stand.

“I am in love [the tablet concept]”I try to tip generously,” Flaxer, a Lincoln Square resident and writing teacher, told The Post, noting that she will even tip 20% for takeout meals. “These people work really hard … I want these places to stay in business.”

And despite all the kvetchings, most city dwellers seem to agree: lots of New Yorkers voluntarily tip 25% according to a December Popmenu report.

Blintz Box owner Sam Ilyayev and his wife Natailya Ilyayev have seen great generosity from tippers.  They have created a separate collection to support Ukraine, which has also received many donations.
Blintz Box owner Sam Ilyayev and his wife Nataliya Ilyayev have seen great generosity from tippers. They have created a separate collection to support Ukraine, which has also received many donations.
Brian Zak/NY Post

This widespread support is greatly appreciated by Sam and Nataliya Ilyayev, the 37- and 35-year-old owners of Ukranian food stand Blintz Box in Columbus Circle Marketplace.

“People have been very generous [with tipping]. We opened four months ago, just as Omicron struck,” Sam said from behind the register.

“Personally, I think the tipping culture has become so much the norm where we live that people don’t see it as pressure anymore,” he added. “Whether you want to do it or not is entirely up to the customer.”

Alongside a touchscreen, the couple keep a traditional tip box at bay, with an estimated 20% of guests choosing to show appreciation the old-fashioned way.

In fact, Ilyayevs say their customers give so much that they’ve also set up another collection fund — in the form of cash and QR code — that goes from their small takeaway-only shop directly to charities supporting Ukraine.

“We’ve hit about $250 in the last two or three weeks,” Sam said.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/08/guilt-tipping-pressure-to-tip-has-gotten-out-of-control/ “Blame Tipping”: Tipping is out of control

DUSTIN JONES

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