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Customers are being asked to tip even at self check-out. Some say it's 'emotional blackmail.'

Man scanning a loaf of bread at a self-service kiosk in a store.
Customers are being asked to tip even at self check-out. Some say it's "emotional blackmail."SolStock
  • Tip prompts are becoming more common at digital, self-checkout kiosks.

  • But customers are unsure where their money is going or whether the prompt is even necessary.

  • The issue highlights a bigger phenomenon: "tipping fatigue."

Self-checkout machines at cafés, sports stadiums, and airports are asking for tips — and customers aren't happy about giving extra money to machines.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the rise of digital, self-checkout kiosks and how customers have responded to tip prompts. Many customers who were asked to tip workers with whom they had no interaction were frustrated with these prompts, per the Journal.

The report spoke to a half dozen customers around the US. Though some people were willing to tack on the extra fees, the majority said tip cues were confusing and many said they were unsure where the money was going.

One customer, who took a beer from a self-service beer fridge at San Diego's Petco Park, was asked to include a tip on his order, the Journal reported.

"I was confused, because it wasn't entirely clear who I was tipping," he told the Journal, adding that he still tipped 20% anyway.

A spokesperson for the stadium, which is the home of the San Diego Padres, told the Journal that all tips went to employees.

A traveler, who was prompted to include a 10% to 20% tip on a $6 bottle of water at an OTG gift shop in Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, said that the ask was a "bit of emotional blackmail," per the Journal. The customer did not tip.

A spokesperson for OTG told the journal that all tip money collected is pooled and then paid out to the staff members working that particular shift.

Tipping has been an increasingly controversial point of debate in the country, with many Americans experiencing "tipping fatigue," as they get asked to tip at more places and face the effects of inflation.

Landlords have taken to TikTok to make a case for gratuity to be added onto rent, while the first unionized Apple store in Maryland is fighting for the introduction of a tipping system.

That said, customers haven't stopped tipping: Total tips received by full-service restaurants and quick-service restaurants were up 16.5% and 15.86%, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 2022 when compared to the same period in 2021, a spokesperson for the payment platform Block told Insider. This data reflects all tips received and not just from self-service kiosks.

Read the original article on Business Insider