April 20, 2024

If you’re tired of tipping every time you make a purchase, you’re not alone.

So-called tipping fatigue, a relatively recent phenomenon describing just how tired Americans are at having to tip for, what feels like, everything, has become a hot topic of conversation. While most people can agree that tipping for service at a restaurant or café is reasonable, many are having a hard time getting behind leaving extra dollars at retail stores, airports, and even self-service kiosks.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans think tipping has gotten “out of control,” according to a recent WalletHub survey of more than 210 U.S. respondents. More than half of those surveyed said they believe businesses are swapping out employees’ salaries for tips, putting the burden to pay workers fairly on customers.

The federal tipped minimum wage rate is $2.13 per hour, meaning tipped employees — those who receive at least $30 per month in tips (and in some states $20) — are only required by federal law to be paid that amount. While most states require higher wages before tips, in several places tipped employees are making less than $5 an hour.

“Tipflation,” “guilt-tipping,” and “tip creep” have all been used to describe the growing discontent and confusion surrounding the growing pervasiveness of tipping. This has become even more of a headache for shoppers as inflation has risen and savings have shrunk in the years following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most experts told WalletHub that the main culprit behind this increasingly pervasive tipping culture — and the fatigue surrounding it — is the ability to add tip screens to pretty much any point of sale system. While this gives customers greater flexibility when it comes to tipping, and allows pretty much any business to give customers the option, it has also increased how often shoppers feel they’re being asked to leave a tip.

“I think it is becoming an issue and should this feeling of tip burnout reach a crescendo, there could be negative outcomes for individuals who rely on tips as their primary source of income,” said Cortney Norris, assistant professor at Oklahoma State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

For many, the culture around tipping has shifted from being a recognition of good service, and has morphed into a quasi-social obligation. Half of respondents surveyed by WalletHub said they often leave a tip due to social pressure rather than good service.

Muzzo Uysal, a hospitality and tourism management professor at the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management, told WalletHub that although there’s an “unspoken rule” for tipping at restaurants and bars, businesses should increase wages to create a sense of “shared responsibility” when it comes to fair pay for workers.

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