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  • Tipping the balance

    Liann Walborsky

    Find yourself tipping more than you used to? You’re not alone. The “act of tipping” has actually become easier with all the newly available apps and payment systems. And, apparently, taking the hard work away from figuring out what 15% of $58 is, for example, has made people tip in larger increments than ever before.

    Here’s why. According to a recent article in Marketwatch, many of the new apps offer suggestions — providing the user with a choice of three tipping options: 15%, 18% and 20%. Because most people don’t want to look cheap, but also think 20% is too much, the majority choose the middle value, which is probably more than they would have given in the past. Also, by making the math easy (really easy), it takes away from the annoyance and frustration of figuring something out.

    Touching a screen to find your answer is also less taxing than pulling cash out of your pocket. There may be some “guilt” involved — especially when the vendor is standing right in front of you. New York City cabs, for example, used to be a full cash business. You would see the fare, pull your bills out, and then give the driver whatever might be left over. Today, many drivers use a payment system like Square, directly from a tablet, which might suggest as much as 20% or even 30% as a base tip. Pressing a button or swiping a pad — often leads to larger amounts.

    While in general, people are tipping more, the digital suggestions can only push it so far. If percentages are set higher than what a consumer would view as reasonable, a backlash could ensue with the buyer tipping below what they would have normally.

    Ultimately, the decision to leave a tip or not, and how high remains with you, the consumer. And, if you really think someone deserves more than usual due to great service, it’s up to you (not an app) to deliver it.

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