WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In an era of high inflation, many consumers are beginning to express their frustration at the pressure to tip at the many coffee shops and fast food restaurants where they would not normally tip.
On Tuesday, WPTV stopped by Hot Pie Pizza in downtown West Palm Beach.
Owner John Ries told WPTV that inflation has been putting a higher price tag on his inventory and that it’s burdening his staff as fewer customers leave tips.
“What we’re seeing here now is a shrinkage of all the tips,” Rees said. “We’re seeing people becoming more frugal and more concerned about where their money is being spent.”
Ries thinks recent changes in tipping may deter consumers from eating out.
According to the Associated Pressas more businesses, such as coffee shops and fast food restaurants, adopt digital payment methods, customers are often automatically prompted to tip, sometimes as much as 30 percent.
“I just don’t think you should be paying anything close to 20 percent — or tip anything close to 20 percent — for takeout food,” one West Palm Beach resident told WPTV. “I mean, that’s for Service. That’s for extra service, like waiting or looking after you.”
Others, however, feel differently.
“Honestly, I think we need to make tipping employees a way of life in restaurants and even in any service industry like Door Dash,” said another customer.
For many people on a budget, tipping every time they order coffee or pastries is out of the question, experts say.
“In my opinion, this is really a tipping invasion,” said etiquette expert Thomas Farley. “Consumers, especially in this time of inflation, are confused. In some cases, they feel taken advantage of and, frankly, they don’t know what to do.”
Farley says tipping etiquette is simple.
“When it comes to delivery service, someone hands you a can of soda from the counter, someone hands you a cookie that you ordered at the bakery, and there’s absolutely no requirement — there’s no etiquette requirement — that you tip,” Farley said. “The idea of tipping that has really grown in the US is for people who are earning less than minimum wage. So people who are working as servers in sit-down restaurants, they’re not even making close to minimum wage.”
Many consumers forget that the people working behind the cash registers are earning minimum wage, Farley said.
“Probably not a lot, but as a consumer, you’re not obligated to pay those extra wages unless you feel particularly generous,” Farley said.
Reese told WPTV he agreed.
“TIPS is actually an acronym that means ‘Ensure Timely Service,'” Ries said. “That’s where the word tip comes from, and tipping shouldn’t be automatic. Tips are earned.”