Hey Starbucks, how much should I tip for 10 seconds of service?
It’s a creepy feeling, isn’t it?
You’re in a store, you buy something, and then the little screen turns back to you.
It is the screen that tells you how much you are about to pay. It is also the screen that asks you how much you would like to tip.
The seller of the store looks at you. You try not to look at them. You wonder if you can discreetly skip the tip.
You wonder, in fact, if you can click “no tip” and instantly turn around and walk away. You wonder how you will feel if you do that.
You wonder how the salesperson will feel if you ever decide to come back into the store.
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I don’t know where digital tipping started. I know it has proliferated to such an extent that it sometimes surprises me that a particular store would think that I would like to tip the people who work there.
Starbucks goes digital
The latest to embrace digital tipping is starbucks.
Once upon a time, I used to go to Starbucks most days. She would tip cash because she knew the baristas there and we always chatted. And, if you paid with a credit card and didn’t have cash, there was no way to tip.
What if you now order at the drive-thru, walk up to the window, and get your coffee and bacon and gouda sandwich delivered? Is a tip worth it? If so, how much?
You see, it seems that the moment you pull out your credit card, now you are asked if you want to tip. This has reached such a point that an alleged Starbucks barista took to TikTok to admit she was so embarrassed by the new system that she clicked “no tip” before handing the screen over to the customer.
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to simmer reddit threada commentator offered: “I remember when I worked at Panera and they finally put credit card tips in place. We had the same problem and it was very inconvenient because no one had ever dealt with it before. People would literally read ‘Would you like to leave a tip’ and say on out loud: “No, I wouldn’t! Like… what… ok, that wasn’t so awkward. I don’t care if you leave me a tip or not, just don’t. Don’t make it weird.”
While one (presumably) Starbucks employee mused about the new system: “I keep saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got a new card system, so I’ll give you this and ask you a quick question. The cable is super long so you can have it in the heat of your car!’ You know, in that obnoxious customer service voice and just about everyone totally rips it off me.”
Tip one for the team?
Reports suggest that one of the reasons for the change is that Starbucks is undergoing something of a unionization drive and credit card tips are one of the things unions are demanding.
But it’s easy to conclude that many employers see this technology as a way to keep employee wages low and expect customers to make up the difference by tipping.
However, some baristas defend the new notion. One, for example, tweeted: “As a Starbucks barista, the tip goes to a group and that is distributed among all the Starbucks associates in the store. Sure, the person who takes your payment may not have made your drink, but the tip goes to the entire team We make each drink from scratch, so please consider this.”
All this may be true. But Starbucks isn’t cheap, and the company often boasts about how wonderfully it treats its staff.
I’ve reached out to Starbucks to ask about their sentiments and will update, should I find out.
It’s strange, almost comical, how Starbucks, and many other excellent fast food chains, are doing everything they can to minimize human interaction. Why, Starbucks pioneered mobile ordering, leading to a splendidly impersonal result.
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However, perhaps the most fundamental question is where this will all end. Are you going to buy a fancy motorized lawn mower for, say, $700 and be presented with a screen asking if you want to tip 5% or 10%?
Will you buy an iPhone and a MacBook for thousands of dollars and get a screen that suggests, oh, a 15% tip?
Some of this is, of course, cultural custom. In Europe, for example, the very idea of tipping is strange. Tipping in a retail transaction seems even stranger.
But tipping for talking to someone through a speaker and then getting a cup? What are you really tipping for? The people or the technology?
more technically incorrect