‘Guilt-Tipping’ Has Hit the Self-Checkout Aisle


In a world of all-consuming tipflation, it feels like we can never get away from hearing the dreaded “The iPad is just going to ask you a quick question” before being presented with what can feel like a Sophie’s choice of tipping options. Unfortunately, it would appear that the self-checkout line is no longer a respite from feeling pressured to tip for every transaction you make.

The Wall Street Journal reports that tipping at self-checkout has come to airports, stadiums, cookie shops, and cafes, with some prompts requesting a firm 20% tip. Self-checkout kiosks have famously negated the need for a face-to-face human interaction, so the prompt to tip seemingly nobody has left some consumers confused and frustrated. Tipflation, also known as tip creep, has inundated consumers in a post-covid world as stores and companies try to snag some extra income, but a corporation asking a customer to tip while that customer is doing all of the work during the transaction is a heinous example of a trend gone too far.

“Just the prompt in general is a bit of emotional blackmail,” said 26-year-old Garrett Bemiller to the Journal.

According to the outlet, Bemiller was purchasing a bottle of water at Newark International Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Choosing the self-checkout line allowed Bemiller to ignore the hullaballoo of dealing with another person within the stress-inducing confines of an airport. However, Bemiller was gobsmacked to see tip amounts amended to the already lofty price of an airport water bottle. In a similar case, 28-year-old Corey Gary was prompted to leave a tip at a self-service beer fridge in San Diego’s Petco Park. Gary told the Journal that he wasn’t clear where the money was going, but left 20% anyway.

The Wall Street Journal reached out to the companies and locations that are offering the tip options at self-checkout kiosks and found that most believe the prompt is always optional. A spokesperson for Petco Park told the outlet that guests are encouraged to leave tips, but it is not mandatory, and that tips are split amongst the staff. A Crumbl spokesperson gave the Journal a similar sentiment.

At the end of the day, sure, tipping humans for their work is common practice and typically the nice thing to do. But ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide whether or not to leave a tip and how much to tip. Even just automatically being presented the option to tip introduces an increased expectation and social pressure into the equation. Meng Zhu, a Johns Hopkins professor studying consumer behavior, told Vox that not only does presenting a tip option pressure consumers to tip, it also guides them to amounts that the business wants. As Vox points out, businesses can suggest any percentage or dollar amount they want, and even turn on “smart tipping,” where tip options switch between percentages or dollar amounts depending on the total, which can confuse customers. All the while, those same customers are guilted into forking over more money.

“Let’s say you already shopped at a restaurant or coffee shop. You’re already committed,” Zhu said. “When they ask you for something else, you’re more likely to comply because you want to be consistent with your earlier decision.”

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here