We’ve all been there…You’re in line at a new coffee shop you’ve been excited to try. You’ve ordered a delicious-sounding macchiato. The barista tells you the total and you hand them your card to pay. Then you’re confronted with that awkward moment when the touch-screen is swiveled or flipped you’re way with options to tip a couple of bucks. What do you do?
The New Norm
In the last few years, counter-service restaurants like smoothie bars, cafés, coffee shops, and other fast-casual restaurants have implemented touch-screen tipping on their Point of Sale. And now their customers are being faced with a new kind of standard protocol for which they have no frame of reference. Is there any sort of proper etiquette when it comes to tipping in these “waiterless” locations?
This new touch-tip phenomenon extends past the food service industry to other areas like transportation. While tipping your taxi isn’t a new concept, there have been some changes due to technology. New York requires credit card payments for taxi cabs and the automated options for tipping are usually 20%, 25%, and 30%. From there, tipping has extended to ride-share services like Uber as well. What’s the best way to handle these “to tip or not to tip” moments?
When given the option, some tip no matter what. And on the other end of the spectrum, others cannot imagine tipping on top of a regular hourly wage. While there doesn’t seem to be any particular formula for figuring out when to tip or not, there are some considerations that may help you decide when it’s right for you.
Quality of Service
When considering whether to tip or not, many people decide based on the quality of the service they received or the experience they enjoyed. If you received outstanding service or really enjoyed the location and atmosphere, it’s probably a good idea to tip as a way of showing appreciation.
Frequency of Use
Based on feedback from others, another matter to weigh is whether you’re a one-time visitor or a regular. According to some, out-of-towners have no obligation to tip, but regulars may want to tip—at least every now and again—as a kind of show of good faith.
Level of Difficulty
Certain orders or services take a lot more effort than others. For example, it seems widely accepted that you don’t have to tip on a cup of house coffee, which is simply poured and then served. But if you were to order a specialty drink like an iced vanilla latte that takes more time, effort, and ingredients, it may be a good idea to consider tipping.
It’s Up to You
Ultimately, there is no formula or standard etiquette when it comes to tipping on touch-screens—yet; but the practice certainly isn’t going away any time soon since it’s a convenience to the customer and business both. Whether or not you want to tap to tip on your card, tip only in cash, or simply not at all—it’s really up to you.