Tipping waiters, baristas and other service workers is an American custom that is, in many cases, crucial to the livelihood of staff. However, amid the rise of mobile payment systems at restaurants and coffee shops, the pressure on consumers to tip generously has intensified. It’s not uncommon to see digital kiosks suggest that one tip upwards of 15%.
Some, like Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, think America’s tipping culture has gone way too far.
In an appearance on “Varney & Co.,” Portnoy said that he is “deathly afraid” of being judged as a “cheapskate” for being found out for not leaving a tip at a self-checkout station.
Portnoy’s fears are not completely unfounded. Back in 2004, a man in New York City was actually arrested after being accused of leaving too small a tip at a restaurant that required an 18% minimum for a party of six or more. The man, whose party tipped under 10%, was arrested, fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken.
Though this is a pretty extreme example, and showcases a violation of a business’ rules rather than a social guffaw, it speaks to the importance of tipping in our culture. Many workers rely on tips in order to get by because they don’t make enough base income.
On the other hand, “tipflation” and “tip creeping” are real phenomena that need to be reckoned with. It’s worthwhile to know the basic rules around tipping and know that leaving at least a 10% tip at a restaurant is generally recommended by etiquette experts — but rules vary for other institutions and services. Do your homework and you won’t be shamed.
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