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Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
March 3, 2024 ·  5 min read

Are tip requests getting out of hand? Many consumers say yes.

Tips are considered tokens of gratitude to servers who did their job excellently. But this isn’t quite the truth. Although good service could result in good tips (but not always), they are considered non-negotiable. But most people are accustomed to this practice regarding staff members at a restaurant or hotel.

They may also give a good tip to their cab driver or hairdresser or even contribute to a tip jar at a shop. However, they are not accustomed to seeing explicit tip requests at drive-thrus, bakeries, coffee shops, and grocery stores. And now, many people are taking to social media to complain about the “tipping invasion.”

Why Ask For Tips?

Remember, although most consumers assume tips are rewards for good service, employees see tips completely differently. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers of tipped employees only need to pay $2.13 per hour, and allow the tips to provide the rest of the payment. (If tips don’t equal the federal minimum hourly wage, which is currently $7.25, then the employer must pay the difference.) Essentially, employers are allowed to make their customers responsible for paying the employees.

Also, a “tipped employee” is classified as a job regularly earning over $30 a month in tips. So even servers who are tipped poorly have to rely on customers to get compensated for their work. [1] And today, customers are becoming frustrated with this expectation. While a tip jar is easy to ignore, the digit payment methods that automatically ask for a gratuity are not. Sometimes the automated function asks for a tip as high as 30%, and people already feel irritated as prices increase because of inflation.

Especially when they are asked to tip for counter service or online orders, where tips hadn’t been requested before, it often pressures the customers to leave a tip they may not feel comfortable spending.

Similarly, David Ely, San Diego State University, explains, “Technology has made it possible to quickly prompt customers for a tip in additional places and to elevate perceptions of the appropriate tip size.” He points out that coworkers could earn vastly different amounts because their wages depend on tips, an unpredictable source of income. “Employers in sectors where tipping has not been the norm should take responsibility for fairly compensating their employees and not place customers into uncomfortable positions.” [2]

Read: Server lashes out at customer who gave 10% tip after complimenting her performance

Social Pressure and “Demeaning” Payment

Clarissa Moore, 35, noticed that even her mortgage company started asking for tips. She’s usually happy to tip at restaurants, even at coffee shops and the like with good service. However, she thinks tips shouldn’t become expected at so many businesses. “It makes you feel bad. You feel like you have to do it because they’re asking you to do it,” she says. “But then you have to think about the position that puts people in. They’re paying for something that they really don’t want to pay for, or they’re tipping when they really don’t want to tip — or can’t afford to tip — because they don’t want to feel bad.” [3]

It’s important to note that customers’ tips don’t always go to the employee that served them. Often, wait staff have to share their tips with the employees behind the scenes, such as the cooks and cleaners. And sometimes the tips go to the employer. “In most provinces, there is no law stating tips are the property of the employee,” says Judy Haiven, a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and retired Saint Mary’s University professor. “This isn’t about giving a tip to the kitchen staff. Often the employer takes half the tips and disperses the rest however they want.” Haiven considers tips “demeaning” and thinks employees should receive a proper wage. [4]

“End suggested tips”

Remember, servers rely on tips to earn a living wage; their income could increase or decrease daily. And when they have to share their tips with other staff members, it’s even more difficult to have a steady income. It may feel frustrating to tip after having a bad experience at a restaurant, but remember that the waiter may not be at fault for bad service. For instance, understaffing could result in misplaced orders, the kitchen is responsible for bad foods, and difficult managers could result in delays. Even when servers act irritable or unhelpful, there is very likely a good explanation for it, and they may deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Levon L. Galstyan, a CPA associated with Oak View Law Group and a consumer finance expert, points out what this job might look like. “Servers are constantly dealing with children running around and uncaring parents, as well as being pushed around by their managers and dealing with rude customers. It is not difficult to imagine that they are simply having a bad day… Consider the variety of demanding, difficult, and nefarious customers they face on a daily basis.[5]

However, people can empathize with servers and tip generously while opposing this income structure. After all, the employees have no control over businesses implementing automatic tip suggestions, and they have no control over the inflating prices and gratuity rates. They should not suffer lowered salaries because of a frustratingly flawed system.

Tips should return to truly optional appreciation for service that exceeds expectations,” says Austin Neudecker of Weave Growth. “The U.S. restaurant industry has abused the expectation of substantial tips as a way to avoid fairly compensating staff. Increasingly, new checkout systems and apps guilt a default tip in situations where tips are either irrelevant or (again) in lieu of paying workers fairly. These services hijack American restaurant tipping habits and sometimes don’t pass tips back to the workers. End suggested tips.”

Keep Reading: Large Group Of Teens Tips Waiter Only $3.28. A Few Days Later This Note Is Handed To Him


  1. “Tips.U.S. Department of Labor.
  2. “Is tipping getting out of control? San Diego Econometer panel debates.The San Diego Union-Tribune. Phillip Molnar. February 3, 2023
  3. “Are tip requests getting out of hand? Many consumers say yes.” CBS News. January 25, 2012
  4. “’Now 15 per cent is rude:’ Tipping fatigue hits customers as requests rise.CP24. Brett Bundale. September 15, 2022
  5. Jordan Rosenfeld. “Should You Still Tip When Service Is Bad?” Yahoo Finance. August 9, 2022