Has tipping for takeout become a social norm?

Discussion
TikTok videos re: tip screens – Sources: TikTok/@absolutelyjessica; @boberteawcr; @nnatalieaguilar
Oct 24, 2022

According to a recent survey, 67.7 percent of Americans feel pressured to tip when picking up takeout food or coffee if the POS system prompts them to, and 44.8 percent only tip because a POS tablet prompts them to do it.

The Time2Play survey of just over 2,000 U.S. consumers found 86.8 percent of respondents agreeing the pressure to tip from a POS system makes them uncomfortable.

Like some other recent surveys, the study found consumers were more open to tipping over the pandemic as many food establishments faced challenges.

Of the respondents, 53.4 percent said they have tipped for takeout versus 24.2 percent before the pandemic. The average takeout tip was 13.8 percent. Overall, the average tip at sit-down restaurants was found to be 22.8 percent, up from 17.1 percent pre-pandemic.

A survey from PlayUSA of about 1,000 Americans similarly found 51 percent had given a few extra bucks when a touchscreen payment device asked them and 54 percent felt pressured by the tip prompt. Of the respondents, 31 percent tip when getting takeout from a restaurant while 39 percent leave a tip at a coffee shop (27 percent at big chains like Starbucks, 49 percent at local coffee shops).

A recent Recode article explored the social pressures to tip as touchscreen contactless payment methods were adopted during the pandemic, something harder to ignore than the tip jar. One consumer frustration, the article points out, is the varied tipping suggestions across establishments, with some businesses setting the range higher to encourage bigger tips.

Harry Brignull, a U.K.-based user experience specialist and researcher of human-computer interactions, told Recode, “It’s easy to cross the line from honest persuasion to harmful manipulation.”

A CNBC article pointed to recent research from payment processing platforms, Toast and Square, indicating average tips were decreasing at quick-service restaurants since the earlier stages of the pandemic.

Part of it is tip fatigue,” Eric Plam, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based startup Uptip, which supports cashless tipping, told CNBCHe added, “This point-of-sale tipping is what people resist the most — compelling you to tip right there on the spot.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has tipping for takeout become a social norm? Do you think touchscreen payment tablets with tip suggestions for takeout orders are irritating and/or manipulative?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I may not be eating in their dining room, but there’s still a lot of hard work going into my meal."

Join the Discussion!

21 Comments on "Has tipping for takeout become a social norm?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Tipping for takeout seems to have become a norm, and touchscreen payment tablets help facilitate it. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide if they tip or not. Social pressure and POS angst are in the eyes of the beholder. I can’t blame restaurant operators for asking for a tip, and frankly many are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic so it’s understandable. But ultimately, it’s up to the consumer — if you don’t want to tip, then don’t tip.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I don’t think touchscreens are manipulative; the decision still rests with the customer. However tipping suggestions shown on-screen should be reasonable and not overly inflated values and there should be a clear option to skip, should someone not wish to give a tip.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Whether it has become a norm or not, it is reasonable to tip one who performs a service well. This can be a group tip for behind-the-counter crews in a take-out place or for a delivery to one’s home or place of work. The tip recognizes that someone has provided a service reasonably well.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
I think tipping for takeout became a social norm during the pandemic and I’m glad it seems to be sticking around. The people who make the food, the back of house, don’t share in the tip pool as they aren’t supposed to, legally. Maybe a better way top do this is something I ran into this weekend at a restaurant. They called it an 8 percent Heart of the House administration fee that was simply added to the bill. Perhaps that is the way to go for takeout. In some places, though, the tip options have gone a little too far. I am always going to tip, but an option to tip 25 percent at a coffee shop is a bit extreme. I think a lot of smaller retailers just don’t understand or think through their POS tip settings. A little customization would go a long way toward fitting their brand and making customers feel less pressure at checkout. For the new cookie shop I just went to, for example, I would suggest three options:… Read more »
David Spear
BrainTrust

It hasn’t become a norm, but you’d think every coffee shop and restaurant EXPECTS you to tip. And some have inflated the levels to astronomical rates. For instance, I was at a local coffee shop a few months back and the lowest tip was 25 percent and went up to 40 percent! That’s a bit ludicrous. Tipping shouldn’t make people squirm. If you believe the experience and quality of food/beverages are of high quality and you can see that the staff is working hard for you, then tip. If not, then don’t.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

This is not an either-or question. When service deserves it — whether carry-out or not — I’m in favor of appropriately rewarding servers. On the other hand, I have found that some of the “devices” used during the payment process are often difficult to read (especially in a drive thru situation — with aging eyes) making an “appropriate” tip difficult. For that reason, tipping is indeed sometimes irritating.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Sure, I tip for take out. Happy to. Remember how we applauded front line workers not so long ago? Remember the conversation about minimum wage? I may not be eating in their dining room, but there’s still a lot of hard work going into my meal.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Apparently, it is not a social norm so much as it is arm-twisting. Frankly, I don’t understand the magnitude of the numbers in the surveys. There is always the “no tip” option, even with POS systems.

Aren’t tips based on the level of service? Is the person handing you a cup of coffee or a takeout bag giving you the same level of service as the waiter? Even a waiter gives you poor service?

The numbers speak for themselves — you can bully people into anything.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I think it’s reasonable for takeout and delivery customers to add a tip if they choose, without feeling pressured to add 30 percent to 40 percent. Something in the 15 percent to 20 percent range is more reasonable, and it recognizes that the staff is performing a service.

Case in point: Our go-to Chinese restaurant has done 100 percent takeout business since the pandemic and has yet to reopen its dining room. (Judging from last night, business is just fine.) I always add roughly 15 percent to the charge, recognizing that the team who used to share pooled tips from “dine-in” customers have lost that income. It feels like a fair recognition of today’s economic realities.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I always tip the guy who delivers the order to my home. That is a service. I never tip someone pouring and handing me a cup of coffee … that is the job.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Seems to be a “feature” of whatever payment device is in use. I don’t mind tipping for takeout. I object to the lowest percentage starting at 20 percent with no “custom button” in a self-serve facility. I find that excessive. I suspect those establishments end up with a lot more “no tip” with less received than they would have if the customer had real choices.

Rich Duprey
Guest

Does anyone tip the cashier at Walmart? Did you tip the mechanic who fixed your car? How about the toll collector at the bridge or tunnel? The fact is, there are plenty of people performing a service who aren’t tipped and shouldn’t be. They’re doing their job.

Waitstaff at a restaurant is different, because they’re performing a task — serving us — that’s worth recognition with a tip. Also, they’re not being paid the same wage as others in the establishment. And it’s not a given for them either, if they’re rude or surly. Giving a tip because someone handed you a box is nonsensical. I have no qualms about checking the “no tip” box if it shows up when paying.

storewanderer
Guest
3 months 10 days ago

How do you handle the staff reaction to your no tip selection? Do you notice an attitude change?

Do you also try to ensure you arrive after your food has already been prepared?

I have noticed an attitude change at some places after I select no tip, and I have not returned to a few places as a result….

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I wish I could give you multiple thumbs up.

Mark Self
BrainTrust

Asking for a tip at touchscreen has become the social norm, whether or not this practice becomes acceptable or simply an irritant in the checkout process is another thing altogether. When someone, for example, is pouring you a coffee at a local coffee shop and turns the screen around with 10 percent to 30 percent tip suggestions, forcing you to pick one or pass altogether, that is too intimate for my taste — they are usually standing right there. Tipping used to be to recognize service, however somehow it has become an expectation. IF the food industry continues to go this way, what is to stop other retail formats from doing the same? Another part of this equation that is contributing to the ask at POS is the fact that fewer people are carrying money. So what used to be the general tip jar is now something that needs to be dealt with at checkout. Finally — how did we get to 30 percent as a suggestion? Maybe I missed that memo!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

This would seem to be a simple question to answer: rather than beating around the bush (“Do you feel pressured to tip?” “What would your mother think?”…) the surveys should just get to the point: “Do you usually/always tip for takeout?”
Based on what I see here, the answer is “It’s commonplace … but not the norm.”

storewanderer
Guest
3 months 10 days ago

Yes, it is expected. But is it deserved? These restaurants need to pay their staff properly and build this into pricing.

I see tip ranges starting at 20% on some of these devices and as high as a 40% tip. This is excessive especially when combined with the price increases that are occurring.

In some other countries the restaurants give you a discount if you do take out. I recall a California Pizza Kitchen in Hong Kong did a 20% discount for take out and supposedly that is or was a fairly common practice there. And then after that discount a tip line did come out on the charge slip I was to sign. I wonder how that approach would work in the US: discount the to go order then ask for a tip….

It is going to get to the point people reduce restaurant visit frequency because the price is too high, and an expected 25% tip is going to be, no pun intended, the tipping point for many.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Reminders and recommendations should not be confused with manipulation. Tipping should be the social norm in the foodservice business, characterized by low wages and often, menial tasks. COVID almost destroyed this industry. Tipping should be perceived as a positive to support these folks rather than as a potential extortion attempt. In the words of my wife, “real men tip big.”

James Ray
Guest

I find tip suggestions that only start at 20% and go higher are obviously manipulative. When did the standard 15% tip become 20%? Is the “service” provided for take out meals equally tip-worthy as in-restaurant? The servers don’t explain the menu choices, refill my water glass, replace the flatware I accidentally dropped, clear off dishes when appropriate, ask if I liked the meal, offer me coffee and/or dessert, and they don’t clean the table after I’ve left a big mess.

Suzanne331
Guest

Although irritating and a little intrusive, the decision to tip ultimately rests with the customer. If you don’t ask you don’t get, and now the social norm is to ask.

Christopher P. Ramey
BrainTrust

Tipping for takeout was an act of gratitude for their presence after the pandemic.

However, until there is an acceptance of a reasonable percent (10%?) to tip for takeout, restaurants will undermine their customers desire to do so. Someone needs to train them to say “thank you” regardless of the amount left.

Add the increasing cost of food and the coming recession, and I’m betting this social norm will reverse itself.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I may not be eating in their dining room, but there’s still a lot of hard work going into my meal."

Take Our Instant Poll

Do you agree that tipping for takeout orders has become a social norm?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...