You probably tip the person who cuts your hair. Should you do the same with the person who mows your lawn?
Customers are increasingly seeing a gratuity option at card payment machines in industries where tipping has never been part of the cost, from auto shops to fast-food giants like Subway and Domino’s.
The phenomenon, dubbed “progressive tipping,” is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of some consumers, who have vented online about being asked if they want to pay an extra 15 percent or more on the price of a Pizza for take away, oil change either propane tank refill.
“Tipping is spreading to a lot more places right now, so before we wouldn’t have been asked to tip, now it seems to be much more common,” says Simon Pek, associate professor at the Gustavson School at the University of Victoria. of businesses that investigate tips practices.
As customers stop carrying cash, it’s easier than ever for any business to ask for a little extra money by adding the automatic notice, what psychologists call a “push toe” — to your card payment machine.
Ten years ago, the tipping feature on payment machines was “an afterthought” for most businesses, says Alex Povolotski, co-owner of PBH Canada, a provider of point-of-sale terminals and other business services.
Today, the tip feature is automatically turned on for bars and restaurants, but it is also increasingly being requested by other businesses.
“Anyone – a bakery, a taxi driver, an auto mechanic, a supermarket – can have it,” says Povolotski.
‘It’s definitely a reward’
Gilbert Mofleh is one of those mechanics. When he and his business partner bought and took over The Car Clinic in Ottawa earlier this year, the card payment machine already had tipping turned on, and they decided to keep it that way.
“As a mechanic, you find some people who appreciate the fact that you’ve worked on their car and give you a small tip, but it’s not very common,” Mofleh says. “When it happens, it’s definitely a reward, like you’ve done a good job.”
He says few customers complain about the tip option, but he’s careful to overlook it before handing over the machine if it’s a particularly expensive job.
“I don’t want a tip added to a $2,000 bill.”
But why do Canadians tend to tip their hairdresser and not their mechanic?
Mofleh ponders the question for a second.
“If I had to guess, I’d say because of the expense,” he said. “When you go to the salon, you’re going to spend $100, maybe $200, maybe less… But if you had to put 15 percent on the mechanic, you’d spend an extra $300 if [the price] It was $2,000.”
Choice or expectation?
The contradiction extends to other service industries as well: Most people give a bartender a dollar or two for pouring a can of beer, but what about a liquor store clerk?
At private liquor stores in British Columbia and some independent breweries in Winnipeg, it’s not unusual to see a tip option at checkout, especially at places that share their license with a hotel.
“As far back as I can remember, we’ve always had the option to tip,” says Arlene Guillemette, longtime general manager of the Tudor Liquor Store in Surrey, BC, where tips are split among store workers.
She sometimes gets a backlash from customers who don’t normally shop at private liquor stores, but many regulars are happy to pitch in, she says.
“There was a period where our machines broke down, we got new ones and the tip option wasn’t on and customers were actually like, ‘Hey, where’s the tip option?’
“So we put it back on.”
Both Mofleh and Guillemette say customers shouldn’t feel pressured to tip at their businesses: It’s a choice, not an expectation.
“The most important [thing] is to tip waiters and delivery guys,” Mofleh said. “It’s not required or important to tip if the [worker] It doesn’t depend on that.”
The continuous creep of the tip creep
There is limited research on what is motivating more businesses and industries to choose to tip, but Pek suggests the pandemic is a likely factor.
“There was a time when people wanted to show appreciation for essential workers [through tipping]”, he says, noting that many businesses stopped accepting cash due to hygiene issues.
Inflation is another possible driving factor: Faced with rising costs, employers could see tips as a way to address workers’ demands for higher wages without actually increasing their wages, he says.
“We’ll still see a lower sticker price, we’ll still buy the product and then add 10 to 20 percent – it can be frustrating, but people still end up doing it, and that’s usually cheaper for a company than having to pay those salaries.
Although a small number of companies are moving in the opposite direction, ditch tips in favor of higher wagesPek says he expects the increase in tipping to continue in more and more businesses unless there is a broader public discussion about where, when and why we tip.
Povolotski agrees that it is time to rethink. Personally, he would rather see workers paid a living wage than rely on tips that his POS terminals process.
“I just hope tipping culture points, no pun intended, towards tipping for really good service, not by default, because then the meaning of tipping is lost.”
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