Is Our Tipping Culture Out of Control?

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Has tipping culture gotten out of control? We discussed tipping culture and tipping fatigue in 2024. 

glass tipping culture fatigue jar on counter

Are we tipping too much? 💸

Are we choosing a new era of etiquette over affordability? The Hip community is discussing tipping culture fatigue in 2024!

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

What is tipping fatigue?

Tipping 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, resulting in tipping fatigue. 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, perhaps due to tipping culture and tipping fatigue

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

“I’m committed to tipping 20% for excellent service at a restaurant where I receive personal attention, but I find the tipping culture excessive in situations such as fast food or takeout, where minimal service is provided beyond fulfilling basic job responsibilities. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee this new culture changing. I think restaurant owners should compensate their employees adequately, eliminating the need for tips in these situations. Being expected to tip for self-service food orders puts me in an uncomfortable position, especially when someone is hovering over an iPad and visibly waiting for my decision on a simple coffee order.”– Sara

“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. Then, they wouldn’t need to depend on tips. BUT, the whole take-out tip thing…nope. I used to out of guilt, but I don’t anymore. I just say no on the iPad, grab my bag, and get the heck out of there as quickly as possible. 😂– Jessica B.

Our biggest issue with tipping culture in 2024 is still 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. These 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 the leftover change or a little more) and I don’t think that’s a new thing.” – Nicole

dunkin donuts winter coffee cup outside of store

Overall, we’re happy to give gratuity if we’ve been provided a service, but we’d rather not tip just to tip…

“I’m a generous tipper but now even places where you stand in line and wait for your food want a tip. The workers 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

“Where extra service is being provided and the person providing it could make or break your experience, I’m happy to tip. The iPad tip expectation just because you’re behind a counter is getting kind of ridiculous…and this is coming from someone who bartends occasionally with said iPad situations 😅.  So, here’s my POV from behind the iPad!

At the bar I work at, if I’m giving beer recommendations, pouring various samples, giving treats to your dog (it’s very dog-friendly there), I’ll admit, I do expect a tip. Doesn’t have to be crazy, but I am making an effort to provide a good experience. But, if someone is grabbing a canned beer from one of our fridges, or they’re taking it to-go, to me, I haven’t added any extra service and just am ringing them up.

Some other bartenders say that we’re also providing glassware and cleaning up after them, but that’s what we’re paid to do by the bar, not the customer. In those low experience impact situations, I usually say, “Click through at the bottom so you can grab your receipt.” In my opinion, doing this takes the pressure off as they’re basically being told not to tip. Initially, I would just click the “No thanks” button for them, but I’ve had people not like that, because oddly enough, there are people out there who do want to tip anyway.” Emily

We’d also love more transparency regarding wages in the service industry…

“Above all else, these workers should be paid more so tips aren’t required. It should be a treat for them and truly a way to commend their efforts. This wild new tipping culture seems to only really “benefit” or add to fast food and self-service type places. I feel as though waiting staff and places that have always needed tips to make it, aren’t gaining from this wild new culture. They are the people who really are working for and deserve the tips, so I wish they could.

I am the type to tip 20% and more at most restaurants, even with average service for me the 20% is minimum. But being asked to tip every single time I pay for anything is getting insane. I do appreciate the opportunity at times to tip if I’m ordering something or shopping and the person is being helpful. To me, they’re delivering a service. If a person is providing a service or expertise or even just being extremely kind and helpful, I’m happy to tip!

Where it gets uncomfortable is when it’s none of the above and you’re prompted to tip just because you’re paying. I also think the current interface adds pressure. If we could get an option to tip without it seeming like the expectation, it would be fine. I would also love more transparency on how much of these “tips” workers are actually receiving.” Monica, Hip2Save

woman holding money

Today’s tipping culture has 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 inserting credit card into payment machine at coffee shop - tipping fatigue

Tipping has gone beyond just good service. 

Although 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, lately we’re prompted to tip much more regularly and on far more than just our restaurant bill. Sadly, last year it was 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, digital kiosks set high tipping expectations while employees linger over our fingertips. A recent study by Pew Research Center showed 72% of American adults feel they are expected to tip at more places than they were just five years ago. Only a third of those people felt it was clear to know when or how much they should tip.

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. Some even pay 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). Consumers regularly face the pressure and uncertainty of how much to tip and in scenarios they would have never thought of tipping for before.

According to one consumer, the key to beating tipping fatigue 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. This can help you determine the appropriate gratuity 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). 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

person using google pay at ipad checkout counter

Statistics are showing that inflation is 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 in 2024? Are you feeling tipping fatigue like many of us?

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

About the writer:

Sara is a self-taught blogger & photographer and brings 9+ years of experience to her craft. Her work has been featured in numerous esteemed publications, spanning building, travel, and fashion. Beyond her creative pursuits, Sara’s primary mission is to empower others to embrace a toxic-free & sustainable lifestyle.

Join The Discussion

Comments 121

  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! ❤️

  5. Apple

    Unsure if this has been discussed yet in other posts, but in the vast majority of sit down dining experiences, the entire gratuity does not belong to your server. Based on SALES not tips, servers and bartenders are often required to “tip out” a percentage to support staff. Often this is approximately 7% but in many states can be up to 15% by law. For purposes of simple calculations this means that those who choose not to tip on a $100 check may cost their server $7 on average (or up to $15) for the mere privilege of serving that table.
    Just something to consider.
    Side note: I’m adamantly opposed to tipping those who pour a cup of coffee (hand crafted, family owned providing a slight difference) or make a bagel, especially when the default expected is excessive.

  6. Mel

    Once upon a time, a tip was given for good service. Now the expectation is that I tip BEFORE I actually receive the service and for me, that’s a big NO! I am generous when I person does a good job but not so much when they are lackluster or just plain unhelpful. Unfortunately, we find the later more and more common.

  7. Vickie

    I have actually decreased my visits to many quick service and fast food establishments due to the expectation of tipping. It has created a negative vibe for me which makes me want to traffic those places less or not at all. I find myself choosing places like McDonalds for a quick coffee and just the grocery store deli for a quick lunch/dinner. The everyday price is less and I know I’m going to be prompted for gratuity at checkout.

  8. Marci M

    It is a refreshing reality check to travel to other countries and find that tipping does not exist everywhere. They somehow manage to make that their business model and pay their employees.

  9. Kay

    Should we tip professional makeup artists and hair stylists who own their business? Long time ago I read that if a professional photographer owns the business, no tip. If it’s an assistant photographer working for the business, yes tip.

  10. HumbleWorkerBee

    In California, minimum wage for fast food workers goes up to $20/hr. in April ’24. Senate candidate Barbara Lee is proposing a $50/hr. Federal minimum wage. How do you think THAT will affect tipping?

  11. Barbi

    My thoughts…
    1. I am irritated when I place an online order at my favorite coffee place and as soon as I push submit, I am asked to tip. I don’t know if the order will be prepared correctly, how it will taste or the amount of time I will still have to wait. This really does upset me. I know for a fact the employees are all paid a good wage to work there. So in essence I feel that I have to tip them to do the job that they are paid to do.
    2. Anymore I feel like I must have the mindset that most transactions, orders and purchases are not going to occur without an issue. I know I will have to spend time standing in line or on the phone getting the issue resolved and money back in my pocket. Am I wrong to feel that the errors often occur because there is no longer pride in doing a job well? Therefore, I think many individuals truly do not understand what it means to provide exceptional service or a job well done. I feel it is as if they just assume showing up and going through motions deserves a tip.

  12. Ihearthip

    I have also noticed that many stores and fast food places ask if you would like to round up or donate to a charity. *I am not against donating to charities,*** but, with the prices of everything going up, it is not feasible for me to give every time. You would think a fast food establishment that has upped their menu prices would not ask you to donate so often.

    • Barbi

      I agree with you on this. I have my own charities that I donate too. Ones that I feel I have investigated enough to know exactly where my money is going and how much of it. What bothers me the most about so many businesses asking for charity donations is the customers are not acknowledged as the donors. Yes, sometimes the establishment gives the donor some sort of paper to sign your name to and then it is hung on the wall. What I mean is I will later see in the business, ABC donated $12,000 to XYZ charity. I do not see ABC CUSTOMERS donated….

      • Enuff

        Yes, and those companies probably have a tax write off for the donations they give to charities with customer money!!

  13. Judith Roberts

    Lately I have been feeling like I am tipped to death! I can no longer drive, so I depend on delivery service. I generally tip in the 10-20% range, hoping I will get good service. I have found the service

  14. Judith Roberts

    as of late to be way less than desirable! I have been charged for items that I didn’t order and did not receive. I had an order delivered that I didn’t get an important item that I ordered, and all I got was a “sorry, I must have given to the person before you”. What has happened to our employees in America? I could go on and on about similar experiences!

  15. nch604

    I went to see Blake Shelton in concert this month and the merch booth checkout asked if I wanted to add a tip. That was one of the crazier ones I’ve noticed recently. I also hate going to Dutch Bros because the one by me seems to be really aggressive about tips. I had auto tip added in the app. The barista asked if I wanted to add tip. I said “I thought I auto added in the app.” The girl said, “Yes you did, but only $1 would you like to leave more?”

    • Cindy B

      Those examples are both crazy!!

  16. Tracy

    I am really tired of everyone asking for tips when you literally buy ANYTHING. We tip very well at a sit down restaurant and had good service. In my state of Washington minimum wage is almost $17. That’s pretty good. Then asking me for a tip to hand me my food or me pick up my food is nuts. I’m no longer doing it. I do tip well for Uber and Lyft rides however but I have a hard time paying $50 for a hair trim and then giving a tip. Good grief. I feel it is completely out ofcontrol. I’m taking my money back. Used to feel bad for not but no more. People need to have reasonable expectations.

  17. Cindy B

    Nobody tips me for my job! Why do I need to tip other people for theirs? Tips were supposed to be a supplement for below minimum wage jobs, based on service! Now everyone is expecting it!

  18. TrailTrekker

    I despise the out of control tipping and being asked to tip when ordering, before you even receive your coffee/food. It has pushed me back into carrying cash again, because that is the only way to avoid being asked. I can then choose to put the spare change in the jar, or not.

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