You’re Being Guilted Into Tipping More — And You Don’t Even Know It


Next time you head into your local café that uses an iPad point-of-sale (POS) system, take note of whether or not you tip. New data from Skift, published on October 24, 2018, shows that customers often feel guilty hitting the “No Thank You” option on the tip screen. So, when prompted, they’ll tip.

Before the introduction of the iPad POS system, employees of quick-service restaurants would run a card through the machine and rarely expect a tip. If a customer was paying with cash, then perhaps it would be a different story. But now, the game has been changed thanks to a minor (yet guilt-inducing) feature within the new technology.

Proprietors of quick-service restaurants and cafés that use these updated POS systems have the option of including a custom tipping screen that pops up at the end of a sale. According to Skift, quick-service restaurants that use one such POS system, Toast, with a tipping screen, report they receive tips on 60% of all credit card orders. That’s up from 28% pre-Toast.

Paris Creperie in Brookline, Massachusetts saw their average tip rate go from almost nothing per hour to $4 per hour, per employee, since switching to Toast’s iPad POS system. Management has noticed that customers often tip 10% to 15% on orders when paying with card.

As stated in an October 17th Wall Street Journal piece, the act of tipping on an iPad POS system can be super awkward. “You press the middle button [20% tip] so you don’t look cheap to the people behind you in line,” a frequent customer of a Connecticut coffee shop told the publication.

The employee is standing there watching you. Your fellow customers are also standing there watching you. You don’t want to hit “No Thank You” and look like a total jerk. So, sometimes you end up giving a 20% tip for a $3 coffee.

Employees of establishments that use this POS system report the same awkwardness. “I feel so weird,” an employee at Boston’s Squeeze Juice Company told the WSJ. “We feel like we are pushing you to give tips.”

Of course, hitting the “no tip” option in a situation where someone has brought you a donut from the back wall seems fair. But man oh man are we more aware of our stinginess than ever thanks to these iPad POS systems.

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