My Canadian wife Natalie and I constantly have conversations about tipping. She doesn’t understand that in the United States, tipping is expected to be at least 20% at a restaurant and that you sometimes tip on takeout. Of course, she’s not speaking on behalf of all Canadians when she says this but she just doesn’t understand tipping on takeout. RELATED: Should You Tip on Takeout?

I will be the first to admit that tipping in the U.S. has gotten out of hand. Just this past weekend, I grabbed something from a hotel marketplace, which, mind you, had no tables or anywhere to sit, and was prompted to tip 18%, 20% or 22%. After I purchased the already-too-expensive $8 bag of gummy worms for my son (yes, I know they’re terrible but it was a birthday treat), the employee asked me to finish the credit card transaction on the keypad.
Most of the time, workers look or step away but he didn’t. He watched to see how much I was going to tip. That’s when my blood started to boil and I said to him, “You’ve got to be kidding me? You think I’m going to give you 18% or more for ringing up a bag of treats?” He didn’t reply. I said, “That’s a joke,” and snapped the photo above.

This is happening more and more at takeout places that, in my humble opinion, don’t deserve a tip. However, I think that workers at places you frequent often, like your regular coffee shop, do deserve a tip and you might give the barista a dollar or two. This is what my wife doesn’t understand. She wonders why you would tip someone for doing the job they’re already being paid to do?

It’s hard to argue with her but it’s just a generous American trait, I guess. Now, for someone who goes above and beyond, we both agree that tipping is a gesture of gratitude. But I do think that tipping is getting out of hand and I’m not alone.

RELATED: How Much I Tip Hotel Housekeepers and My Trick to Make Sure They Get It

A recent survey by Forbes Advisor says that one in three people feel pressured to tip and that “digital tipping—a service that allows customers to tip using a point-of-sale system rather than cash—has exacerbated tipping fatigue and overall tipping confusion.”

I feel pressure to tip multiple times a week and I never know how much to give, especially on food delivery apps, where they make you tip in advance (isn’t a tip supposed to be given afterwards for great service?). I don’t want the driver to tamper with my food so I feel pressure to give a good tip. But my other problem is that they ask for a percentage of your food bill. I don’t think that’s right. What does it matter if I buy a $20 pizza or $200 worth of food? Does the same trip warrant a $40 tip? I don’t think so. I usually choose ‘other’ and give a flat rate of either $5 or $10.

According to the Forbes survey, many people feel the same way I do in terms of tipping on takeout. “Respondents on average were most likely to say they don’t think food truck workers should ask for tips, with fast-casual restaurants and picking up take-out food a close second and third—suggesting many diners associate tipping with table service, not food service in general.”

Included in Forbes’ data about tipping are these graphs, showing the services that people tip for the most:

It also shows where people don’t think they should leave a tip:

Another tipping pet peeve of mine is establishments that automatically include a gratuity.

Oftentimes, hotels will automatically add a gratuity to room service orders and restaurants will do the same for large groups. But there’s a local pizza place I go to that automatically adds a 10% gratuity to all takeout orders, which I find preposterous.

And although it’s not tipping, I now also feel pressure to add another dollar or two to my bill when checking out at grocery stores in both the U.S. and Canada. Oftentimes, they ask if I would like to add a few extra dollars to my bill in the name of a charity. I’m generally okay with it and almost always do since it’s not a lot of money and it’s for good cause.

The Forbes survey also says, “Male respondents were slightly more likely to report always tipping—45% compared with 39% of female respondents.” So regarding my wife, maybe it’s a gender thing and not an American thing?

What do you think about tipping in the United States? Do you tip out of guilt?

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13 Comments On "Guilt Tipping: Do You Feel Pressure to Tip? I Do"
  1. Bueller|

    We went to Daou winery in southern CA, paid for a very expensive private tour and it included a small nice dinner along with some of the wine we had – by then – far too much of. Our tour guide presented some misleading, but not inaccurate, options for wine purchase and we were happy to make a sale.

    And then the tip. I routinely, drunkenly, ticked off my usual 20%.

    She made $600 off the few hours of showing us around.

    First, the price of the wines was ludicrous and we laugh about how stupid and caught up in the moment/alcohol we were – never again! But, back to the subject of tipping, the inertia of the tipping culture has become an embarrassment and a reminder that American tipping culture is an anachronism and needs to end. People need to be paid for their job, predictably, so that they can know their budget and live with one less anxiety.

  2. Marlin|

    Agreed, well said.

  3. DP|

    I agree that tipping had gotten out of hand. And yes, I too feel pressure to tip. What particularly irks me is when the prompting for the tip comes before the completion of the actual service which is the basis for the tip.

    I advocate withholding gratuity to the end of the experience, when the gratuity can actually BE what it was intended for: a commentary of the level of service rendered. If the establishment presents an electronic prompt for the gratuity before the experience is conducted, then enter zero. And upon the completion of the experience, offer only then to render gratuity.

  4. karyn|

    Tipping has gotten out of line. And intrusive. A Doctos office where you receive a medical facial treatment. $1,000.00 treatment asking for a tip! I dont go out as much due to this tipping on screens,, the cashier stares at you; waiting.

  5. Ross Copas|

    We’re in the Baltics now. Tipping is almost non existent here. When you use a credit card, there is nowhere on the CC machine to add a tip. When questioned, staff say tipping is very rare. We like it. I think we will adopt this philosophy for ourselves. We’re from Canada and may join the Auzzies in the no tip parade!

  6. Judy jones|

    Craziest one lately is the dog boarding where I had to pay in advance and there was a 20% prompt for a tip on the screen. And of course he watched me….

  7. Ric|

    I agree with your article, tipping is out of control in the US. Although, when it comes to giving to a charity through the supermarket, I no longer participate. What I found out was the stores use it as a write off on their taxes which I believe it’s completely wrong. I give privately to the charities I pick not to help the supermarkets because the price of groceries are also out of control.

    Keep up the good work thank you for all you do.


  8. Barbara|

    Having owned a restaurant I told my employees “I don’t pay your wages our customers do so treat them like gold!” It worked my staff made hundreds a week in tips. They sometimes made more than I did and there was no set percentage added to the bill or expected. There service paid off for them. More service employers need to make that clear to their employees.

  9. Mike Fawcett|

    The US. has a tipping culture like nowhere else. In most places, it’s just a way of paying staff a lower wage and passing more costs onto the customer. Also, it should be illegal to pay workers less than minimum wage.

  10. Dan Nainan|

    Oh, THANK YOU! I am sick and tired of being asked to tip everywhere, even if someone picks up a croissant and puts it in a bag for me! My friends will tell you that I tip like a drunken millionaire, and I don’t drink. Yes I believe in tipping generously at a restaurant, or a taxi/UberLyft driver, but not at a counter, no way!

    I found a great defeat mechanism to fight this scourge of being asked to tip with the cashier standing there. Just pay in cash! Agreed you don’t get points if you pay in cash, but that’s far better than being pressured to tip when you pay by credit card.

    Oh yes, I never tip at the grocery store, because less than 10% of that money makes it to whomever it is intended for.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good tip!

  11. Barbara|

    I have always tipped when someone is providing me a service, whether it is a cab driver or someone in a restaurant.

    As to donating to a charity through a grocery store I won’t do that. I will donate directly with a charity of my choice. I’m not going to provide a grocery store a huge tax write off at the end of the year.

  12. MB|

    I’ve grown to hate tipping because of this and it’s definitely changing my behavior (less take out, eating, services, etc). Not only do they watch you, but recently at massage therapy, they’ve implemented a new system: they don’t even give you the courtesy of entering the tip yourself, they loudly ask, with other patrons around, how much tip you’d like to leave and they enter it themselves.

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