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Now even veterinarians are asking for tips — here's why you're suddenly being prompted everywhere you go

·4 min read
Now even veterinarians are asking for tips — here's why you're suddenly being prompted everywhere you go
Now even veterinarians are asking for tips — here's why you're suddenly being prompted everywhere you go

If your dog comes back from the veterinarian happy, healthy and nails trimmed, do you leave a tip?

It’s a question Chris Rodgers never expected.

“The bill was about $115 for everything, and then they pulled out the new card reader… And the first thing that I see … they turn the screen around, they have a 10% minimum tip."

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The prompt allowed for a tip of up to 20%.

It was a routine checkup for Rodgers’ dogs, but the prompt, which he’d never gotten before, made him wonder what was being done differently at the vet office.

“It kind of made me think, ‘Well, are they just being nice to my dogs to try to get an extra tip?’

The practice of tipping has expanded rapidly into sectors where it wasn’t traditionally expected. All of a sudden it seems like you’re being asked to tip at every coffee shop, retailer and even the vet office.

While tipping at restaurants is often expected in order for servers to make a living wage, labor experts say companies and businesses are taking advantage of the practice, and consumers are often caught off guard by it.

Point of sale devices are making it much easier to ask for tips

The expansion of tipping is at least partly because it has become easier to ask for a tip, says Tashlin Lakhani, an assistant professor of management and organizations at Cornell University’s Nolan School of Hotel Administration.

“Because you have more point of sale systems, electronic, digital technologies, where we're swiping our credit card through, it does become easier,” she says.

We all know the feeling, an iPad is swiveled around to face you and you have to make the crippling decision to tip up to 30% on the tea you ordered to go while the barista looks on. The decision is so guilt ridden it has inspired several memes.

The use of mobile point of sale technology on a smartphone or iPad is growing quickly.

The global market of mobile POS was valued at about $17 billion in 2017. That’s expected to grow to $70 billion by 2027, according to Global Market Insights.

Nearly half of all stores and retailers use a point of sale system.

One of the selling points of the system is how easy it makes the tipping process.

Square, a popular POS company, details on its website how simple it makes the tipping process, allowing the retailer to either customize the tip option, or use a set percentage. Square did not respond to a request for an interview or information.

Tipping for merch at a concert

The problem for customers is that you’re not always expecting it.

At a recent Kid Cudi concert in Atlanta, Nisha Baddoo was prompted for a tip on the merchandise she bought.

Baddoo was prompted to give a tip of up to $20 for her purchase of a $125 sweatshirt.

“I've never seen it that way before, ever,” she said.

“It was kind of confusing … I was pretty shocked.”

The possible effect on wages

The expansion of tipping is a trend Saru Jayaraman has been tracking for years. She is the president of One Fair Wage and the founder of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley.

“Because of Apple Pay, we've seen the introduction of tipping into lots of environments where we typically just wouldn't tip,” she says.

Jayaraman says the practice extends to gig companies and even airlines.

“And in every instance, our major concern was that we were seeing these companies basically attempt to emulate the boondoggle that the restaurant industry has had since emancipation of slavery,” she says.

In several states, restaurant owners can pay servers as little as $2.13 an hour on the assumption that tips will make up the rest of the wage.

The worry, says Jayaraman, is that tip creep will allow other sectors to pay their workers less.

Lakhani, at Cornell, says because tipping is a way to increase compensation, it’s passing some of the responsibility for wages onto the consumer.

“But that could be part of the strategy as well.”

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.