Tipping is on steroids. Here’s what to know about when to give.

Screens are seemingly everywhere — coffee shops, sports stadiums, online travel sites, even Self-service kiosk – Asking users if they Want to offer a tip? And left buyers confused about when to give.

Historically, tips were designed to reward and sometimes ensure good service, and were generally expected only in settings such as restaurants, saloons, and taxis, where gratuities were a large part of a worker’s wages. May have more impact. But digital payments, prompting an extra tip of between 15% and 25% on even small purchases that require little or no customer service, are ubiquitous.

What is clear is that business owners are increasingly comfortable asking customers for suggestions. Taking a dim view, some critics see the practice as employers effectively offloading their responsibility to pay wages to employees onto consumers.

“Tipping has become a daily routine, as is expected to walk into a restaurant and leave a tip,” said Stephen H. Zigur, a Columbia Business School professor who focuses on restaurants and the food business. “Now you can go to a big department store and there’s a place for a tip at the checkout.”

Lehigh University professor Holona LeAnne Ochs, author of two books on tipping, described businesses requesting tips as “constant and pervasive,” while consumers are left wondering when it’s appropriate to appreciate them.

The old rules are gone.

Even cultural experts come down on different sides of the flashpoint, while largely agreeing on one point: The Old tipping rules are dead, and there are no longer hard and fast rules for when it’s okay for a business to ask for a tip or not for a customer.

“The nature of tipping is less about rewarding service providers for good service and more about social norms,” ​​Brian Warner, associate professor of hospitality management at Johnson & Wales University, told CBS MoneyWatch. .

He personally feels comfortable not tipping when he doesn’t believe it’s merited.

“If I don’t have a lot of service interaction or great service, I don’t have a problem with leaving a gratuity. It’s not guaranteed in this case. You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it in this case,” Warner said.

COVID-19 has broken the rules

The pandemic had a major impact on tipping habits. Employees and other essential workers in the retail industry were seen putting their health and even their lives on the line to serve customers rather than receive additional monetary rewards.

“Tipping during COVID was like a donation that recognized frontline service workers doing difficult, dangerous work and we all appreciated that, so we all gave a little bit to this charity,” Warner said. added a little extra,” Warner said.

While businesses are pushing that expectation, Warner said it’s acceptable for consumers to revert to their old tipping habits.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to go back to the rules that were there before,” he said. “I don’t think I should leave a 20% tip on top of a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks.”

Josh Luger, co-founder of fast-casual food chain Capital Tacos, has no qualms about asking customers to tip workers at his restaurants. Luger’s restaurants don’t offer table service, so he lists all the work that goes into preparing the food in a place where customers can see it.

“We run a scratch kitchen and we work very hard every day to create what we believe is a unique and superior product,” he told CBS MoneyWatch. It should be passed on to consumers.”

Luger notes that he sees nothing wrong with consumers choosing not to follow gratuities. Yet by the time someone places an order, he hopes that the considerable effort the employees put into providing good service will be evident.

Digital screens like the one above prompt customers to add a tip to their bill, whether it’s confirmed or not.

Josh Luger/Capital Tacos

“You’ve read the wall, seen the kitchen and the work being done, and we hope you have the context so we’ll ask,” he said. “There’s no need for a tip – you can sign the receipt and put nothing on there, but if you want to reward workers we think it’s fair to ask.”

Tips are distributed among employees, all of whom perform a mix of job functions. In some ways, that helps keep prices down and raise wages for workers, Luger said. “What customers generally want is a lower defined price point and the option to tip if they choose. As long as it’s less than necessary, I think everything is fair game.”

“It’s like extortion.”

Zagor, the Columbia professor, sees two broad reasons for tipping: either to reward good service or to encourage it in the future.

“If you think someone is doing something good for you and you have empathy and compassion, tip them!” They said.

But when a commercial transaction involves no human interaction, such as buying something online or using an in-store kiosk or app, Zagur believes tip prompts are inappropriate.

“It’s like extortion. It’s suggesting to add a charge where you don’t see where the charge is or what it’s worth,” he said.

Zagor’s own approach to tipping is straightforward. He is generally inclined to advise people who provide services—not businesses or vending machines.

“I’m not going to tip a store I’m buying canned goods or ketchup from, but I always feel rewarded for that level of concern or energy if someone gives me service. is,” he explained.

Get over it already.

Technology has played a big role in changing the rules around tipping. Touchscreens with tip prompts are quickly replacing old-fashioned tip jars, which in the past were easy to slip in and ignore. And on one screen, you have to actively decline the request.

“With a tip jar, if you don’t tip, you can easily ignore it,” said tipping expert William Michael Linn, professor of services marketing at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. “On a tablet you have to actively hit ‘no tip,’ so that’s a sin of commission, and we feel bad about that.”

Lynn said there’s no right or wrong answer about when to ask or tip. Businesses can ask for gratuities, but customers shouldn’t be expected to show their generosity or express their desire if they don’t. And users should tip according to their own values ​​and motivations.

As for users who may feel guilty when they go through the tip screen, Lin has another modest piece of advice: Just deal with it.

“They want you to give them money, there’s no question, and they’ll at least be disappointed if you don’t, but who cares?” They said. “Many people ask me for money and I don’t give it to them.”

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