Tipping at counter service joints has become the new norm, but not everyone’s on board. TikTok user Alli recently voiced her discontent, pointing out the growing tipping expectations at places like Moe’s Southwest Grill.
And when these establishments are raking in hefty revenues, the debate intensifies. Here’s the nitty-gritty on this tipping turmoil.
Tipping Expectations on the Rise
In a video she posted in August, Alli, a hairstylist and TikToker, expressed her frustration with the increasing prevalence of tip screens at counter service establishments. The video, which has since garnered 37,000 views, highlights her discomfort with the growing expectation of tipping for simple counter services.
In the video, Alli fondly recalls a time when customers weren’t prompted to tip every time they picked up a quick meal. She mentions popular chains like Moe’s Southwest Grill, Subway, and Jersey Mike’s, reminiscing,
“Do you remember when you could go to a place like Moe’s or Subway or Jersey Mike’s, and they didn’t flip the thing around and ask you to tip them?” She’s referring to the now-common touch screens that prompt customers to leave a tip.
The Automatic Expectation
Alli describes the new tipping norm as feeling “icky” due to the automatic expectation that comes with it.
She further emphasizes her point by discussing the revenue of Moe’s Southwest Grill. “I just looked up what Moe’s revenue was last year, and it was $901 million dollars, but yet, here I am, broke, trying to get a cheese quesadilla for my kid,” she says. She expresses her dismay at her bill amounting to $35 at Moe’s and then having the added pressure to tip on top of that.
Alli questions the company’s practices, asking, “Why don’t they just pay their freaking employees?” She cites that with “$901 million dollars in revenue; they have 13,330 employees; the average revenue per employee is $67,000.”
It appears she sourced these figures from Zippia, which had provided a breakdown of the company’s finances in 2022.
Alli ends her video with a poignant question: “What is wrong with this America?” Her video highlights her frustrations and taps into a broader conversation about tipping culture and employee wages in the U.S.
Alli’s video on the tipping culture resonated with many of her viewers, as evident from the comments. The majority seemed to share her sentiments regarding the increasing pressure to tip at counter service establishments.
A user suggested a straightforward approach, saying, “Hit that no tip button.” However, Alli responded, indicating her discomfort with that option: “I feel too awkward.”
Another viewer was more direct in their stance, stating, “I don’t tip carry out.”
A common sentiment among the comments was the belief that tipping should be reserved for sit-down restaurants. One viewer opined, “I don’t tip unless it’s a sit-down restaurant. Workers need to stop looking at us for a tip and start looking at their employers for better pay.”
However, some comments provided a different perspective on the issue. One user highlighted the franchise nature of many restaurants, which can complicate the profit distribution: “I agree but Moe’s is a franchise so the individual owner is probably making 100-200k in profit.”
Another viewer echoed Alli’s sentiment of “tip fatigue,” expressing their frustration with the widespread adoption of tipping screens: “I used to feel bad until every place under the sun started this process. Now I’m just annoyed, I don’t tip and don’t feel bad.”
The Escalation of Tipping in America
Tipping practices in the U.S. have evolved significantly over the years. In the 1950s, a 10% tip was the norm, but by 2023, tipping rates ranged from 15% to 25%. This phenomenon, termed “tipflation,” has become increasingly prevalent, with consumers often being prompted to tip for services they hadn’t previously.
The rise of contactless payment systems and digital kiosks has further exacerbated this trend, with businesses often suggesting tip amounts ranging from 15% to 35%. The pandemic played a role in amplifying tipping practices, with many consumers tipping generously to support service workers.
However, this surge in tipping has led to what experts call “tip fatigue,” with many consumers feeling pressured and resenting the constant prompts for gratuities.
The Downside of America’s Tipping Culture
While tipping might seem beneficial for service workers, it has its drawbacks, especially for restaurants. The tipping system allows restaurants to pay their employees less, but it also drives down menu prices, reducing overall revenue.
This disparity in earnings between servers and kitchen staff, who often don’t receive tips, has made it challenging for restaurants to retain kitchen staff. Furthermore, tipping has discriminatory undertones. Studies have shown that factors like gender, age, and ethnicity can influence tipping amounts, leading to unfair compensation practices.
As a result, some businesses are reconsidering their tipping prompts, with a few even opting out of the system to ensure fairness and reduce customer resentment.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Viral Chatter.
Martha A. Lavallie
Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.