Is Our Tipping Culture Getting Out of Control?

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Has tipping gone too far? We’re discussing tipping culture fatigue.

person inserting credit card into payment machine at coffee shop - tipping fatigue

Are we tipping too much? 💸

Are we choosing a new era of etiquette over affordability? We’re discussing tipping culture fatigue and whether it’s become too much.

Man pulling money out of his wallet to buy Costco eye glasses

What is tipping fatigue?

Tip fatigue is the tiredness consumers feel about the increasing demand for additional digital or cash payments on goods and services.

Since the pandemic, the presence of tipping has drastically increased and become much more common. Our new tipping culture has many of us questioning if this is even sustainable for our wallets with recent inflation. Additionally, is it even appropriate?

hand holding hundred dollar bills catching on fire

Here’s what a few of our Hip Sidekicks think about today’s tipping culture:

“Tipping has gotten totally out of control in my opinion and it’s already bad enough with inflation. Everyone wants a tip just for doing their job and I think the structure needs to be totally revamped. During the pandemic, I tipped a lot because I wanted to help my favorite local places stay open! However, now things seem to be back to normal (if not better than before) so it’s time we reevaluate how our money is being spent and stop putting pressure on the consumers.” – Sara

“My favorite comedian John Crist just made a video about this. He sums it up perfectly.” – Melissa

“I’m torn on this because I feel like everywhere asks for tips now and I’m usually a big tipper. I’ve definitely been to places that ask for tips and I don’t tip anymore because I don’t think it’s necessary such as a local kid’s store. However, I hate that some places have their employees on tip-based pay when you wouldn’t expect it. A local restaurant has their pickup employees (the ones that hand you your carryout) on tip-based pay. Most people, myself included, don’t tip there which lowers their income, and has honestly made me stop ordering from there. Now that more places are asking for tips, it has become easier to say no if I feel that it’s unreasonable, whereas before the pandemic I tipped everywhere.” – Chelsey L.

“I always tip more than I should because I’ve been a server and barista and that was where most of my money came from AND it is a very stressful job. I honestly think companies need to pay people in the service industry a higher wage so they don’t need to depend on tips.” – Jessica B.

Many of us think the biggest issue with our tipping culture is on food delivery or takeout services:

“I get really frustrated with eateries where you order your food at the counter and then you’re prompted to add a tip when you pay. I think it’s so bizarre since you haven’t received your food or any kind of service yet. Tipping is about service so if I have an issue with my food or the service and I’ve already tipped it really doesn’t make sense to me.” – Collin, Hip CEO & founder

“I think my biggest gripe about tipping is meal delivery services defaulting to a 20% tip and sometimes calculated AFTER all the extra fees and charges. After working in the service industry for most of my life, 20% would be acceptable for a full-service sit-down meal where servers make a really low hourly wage and depend on tips to make a reasonable income. However, to pay someone the same percentage to pick it up and deliver it to me is bonkers. I will say, I’ve always tipped on coffee (usually just the leftover change or more depending on how large the order is) and I don’t think that’s a new thing.” – Nicole

“I’m a generous tipper but now even places where you stand in line and wait for your food want a tip. They do not work on tips like traditional servers so it’s crazy to me to tip when they are being paid to just hand me my food. When I go to Miami every year the city automatically adds on a tip at restaurants as there’s some sort of law. I can’t remember the percentage.” – Angela

Despite it all, it’s made some of us more comfortable with just saying no:

“By now I’m kinda used to the iPads asking for an optional extra tip and I’m comfortable opting out. LOL. It’s becoming a bit much in my opinion. I just hope employees are actually getting the tips. We went to a large venue concert buying drinks and the cashier actually said, ‘Oh, don’t tip we don’t actually receive them.’ That is so wrong!” – Lina

person using google pay at ipad checkout counter

Tipping has gone beyond just good service. 

Despite the fact many countries don’t tip, it’s been a common standard in America to tip for many services from the salon to dining out. However, more recently, we’re being prompted to tip much more regularly and on far more than just our restaurant bill. Sadly, it was recently reported that more than half of high-income consumers are now living paycheck to paycheck. 😳

What’s worse, the presence of digital payment systems is creating an even bigger shift in our country’s norms. Long are the days we can throw a few bucks in a tip jar. Now we’re faced with digital kiosks setting high tipping expectations while employees linger over our fingertips.

Even worse, it’s costing consumers significantly more during difficult times – even on simple items like a coffee to go. It’s no wonder many consumers are feeling tapped out. And more importantly, can we even afford to continue tipping like this with rising prices?

good karma tip jar from tipping fatigue

Over the years, tipping has allowed many businesses to bypass paying their employees minimum wage with some paying under $3 per hour. This is one reason tipping is such a talked about topic in the U.S. However, our new tipping culture enables tips for employees who are making at least the minimum wage (or more). Plus, consumers are now faced with the pressure and uncertainty of how much to tip in scenarios they would have never thought of tipping for before.

According to one consumer, the key is to get comfortable saying “no”:

“The trick is to feel comfortable pushing ‘no tip’. After you’ve done it a few times it becomes easier. I do tip when there has been great service. But ordering a coffee or a burger in line is hardly a reason to tip anyone 20 or 30% on top of your order so I don’t do it. You can protect yourself and protect your money, by just doing what feels right for yourself. Don’t be afraid to just say no.” – Steve

man holding $20 cash bills

The reality is that it’s not about who deserves tips, but rather how our tipping culture distracts from the true costs of goods and services. 

So when is enough, enough? According to money experts, one important factor is to know how much employees are making when you’re prompted to leave a gratuity. This can help you determine the appropriate tip amount…if at all. It’s common practice in the U.S. to tip at restaurants and bars where workers are earning far less than minimum wage…

…But, should you tip for takeout? Or in situations where it requires little to zero effort on the employee’s end?

Nowadays digital kiosks almost always set a standard 20% tip even in workplaces making a fair wage. This new tipping culture is no longer based on exceptional services provided (if it requires one at all), but rather it’s setting an entirely new expectation. Hence why many consumers feel tipping fatigue and are starting to put their foot down:

“If I pick up my own pizza or order food at a fast food place, you don’t get a tip. All you did was hand me the food. That’s what I gave you the money for in the first place.” – Marty

glass tipping culture fatigue jar on counter

Statistics are showing that inflation and the current state of our economy are driving Americans to tip less now that we’re post-pandemic. Yahoo even stated:

“As consumers, we should remember that we are in control. We choose when, where, and how much to tip. While tipping is a social norm, no one should feel pressured to tip more than the standard percentage, if at all. If a business is prompting you with a tip percentage higher than you are comfortable with, you can always enter a custom amount that you feel is appropriate instead. We can send a message that we won’t be pushed or guilted into tipping.”

I personally couldn’t agree more! 🙌🏼

So what are your thoughts on our current tipping culture? Are you feeling tipping fatigue like many of us too?

Here’s what we think you should be tipping on everything…yes, everything.

About the writer:

Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 8+ years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.

Join The Discussion

Comments 102

  1. molly

    Tipping and service fees are out of control. The plus side is that my family is just choosing not to eat out as much and now avoids businesses that are aggressive with their tip requests or extra “kitchen fees.” If I feel uncomfortable in an establishment, it’s not worth the time or money to go there. If necessary, I would much rather pay a transparent higher sticker price (for a meal or item that I really want) so that employees can get paid a living wage. Hopefully people can get comfortable saying NO to unnecessary tipping to reset that cultural norm.

  2. Cici

    I went through the drive thru at a franchise donut shop. They asked me at the speaker if I wanted to add a tip. That was definitely a shock to me.

  3. Christina

    I work in a fast-casual dining restaurant inside a hotel lobby. The credit card machine does automatically prompt for a tip as you check out. I always hit no tip for a customer if I am serving something with little to no labor. It just feels weird to ask for a tip when I just only handed them a can of Coke. If I do serve you food items with more labor I do hope you hit that 10-20 percent tip.

  4. Stacey Blegen

    Hello. I love Sara’s glasses on the IG post. Can she advise where she got them? Thanks.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey Stacey! I checked with Sara on this and she shared that they are the style “Baker” in matte black from Warby Parker. That color option is no longer available, but there are 2 other colors in that style available here, if you’d like to check those out. Hoping you might like one of those color options to snag! ❤️

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