Opinion: Is tipping getting out of hand?

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Photo from TastingTable.

Most people understand that you tip your server or bartender when dining in a restaurant or visiting a bar. Some locations even have signs and posters reminding customers to tip the employees serving them. But recently, it seems like every place you go asks for a tip, so, how much is too much tipping? Where should you tip, and how much?

A New York Times article written in April of 2022 said a woman living in Phoenix was picking up cookies that she ordered and found herself using an electronic screen to pay for her order. The recommended tip amount was 35% on cookies that she was picking up.

During the pandemic, Americans were tipping more and recognizing food businesses and the servers, cooks, cashiers and delivery workers that were working hard and facing health risks to give others food. Most customers were tipping 15% or more for takeout meals and grocery deliveries.

Businesses, especially small businesses, have been using electronic screens and softwares like SquareSpace to make payments simple and efficient for the business and their customers. The New York Times mentioned in an article that people were more generous with tipping early in the pandemic based on the average tips recorded from SquareSpace at a quick-service food business.

Since then, the quick-service food business noticed that the tips have steadily fallen, but the touch-screen technology still encourages tipping. Anxiety and social pressure play into the tipping decisions of others. It is really awkward to not tip someone when they’re right in front of you. You know, they can see how much, how little, or any tip you left while you are waiting for your food.

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According to Bankrate, a personal finance website that surveyed Americans about tipping, mentioned that some people were even willing to pay higher prices to see tipping go away.

I currently work as a server at Olive Garden. I rely heavily on tips and without them, my coworkers and I would not be able to sustain our lives without the extra income provided by tips. I love tipping others and appreciate the tips that I make, but I believe that tipping has gotten out of control.

I think tipping 18% has become the minimum tip amount for most places, which is honestly insane to expect customers to pay that much on a regular basis. I believe that companies and corporations use the excuse of saying their employees make tips so they can pay them less hourly.

My hourly wage before adding in tips is about $9.50, which is actually pretty decent as a server. The thing about that is since I am so heavily taxed on my tips, the more I make in them the less my hourly and weekly paychecks are. I have worked there for a year, and I have never gotten a paycheck over $150 because I have to claim so much of my tips.

I have had to learn the hard way that it really does not matter if I was the best server some guests have had or if I was super un-attentive and an overall bad server. If they wanted to tip me, they would, and some people just don’t. I feel that people are so tired of tipping, that they forget that employees like servers and bartenders live on tips because our hourly rate is so low.

Tipping has become exhausting. I think people are so tired of tipping every place they go because they are starting to tip everyone lower. After getting the “add a tip” option at every location everyone goes, it gets almost annoying for customers, even me, who knows the importance of adding a tip.

Bankrate said that 65% of U.S. adults who dine at a sit-down restaurant always tip their server, which is down from 2022 and 2021. In 2022, 75% of U.S. adults reported tipping their servers and 77% tipped their servers in 2019.

NerdWallet, a blog that was written in November of this year, breaks down the general rule for services in the United States and how much you should generally tip. The article mentions tipping servers in a sit-down restaurant at least between 15 to 20%. Food preparers and baristas should be tipped about 10 to 15%. When buying a drink at a bar, a dollar or two per drink is a good rule of thumb, or 15 to 20%. Food or grocery delivery drivers are suggested to leave at least a 15% tip. For rideshare drivers and cosmetologists, 15-20% is the normal and appropriate tipping amount.

I believe that when you are being served food and drinks, that is when you tip at food locations. But when most of the conversation with the employee is the customer telling the employee what to add and then having to get your own drink and do the rest yourself, it is just hard to add a tip on top of the already expensive fast food sometimes. Everything is so expensive right now, and I know it is not the employees’ fault that they work for the bigger companies, and they added the tip option, but I think most people agree that it does get a little annoying after a while.

Tipping in America has always been popular, but not as popular as of recently. I honestly do not know what the answer is, but I think tipping should be less popular than it currently is. Some places like Qdoba, Subway, Panera Bread and Starbucks should pay their employees more and not make customers feel bad for not wanting to add on a tip after paying a pretty hefty price to begin with.            

Jordan Stone is a recent journalism graduate from the University of Northern Colorado.

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