If you have yet to run into a point-of-sale (POS) tip request, you undoubtedly will. POS tip requests are popping up everywhere, from concession stands to automatic car washes. That's right. Some automatic car wash owners would like to be paid and then tipped -- even though no employee labor is involved.
Here's an example of how POS tip requests work. You walk into a store to pick up a new top, choose the item you like, and pay for it with a credit card. The store clerk swipes your card, then turns the card reader back to you for a signature. Rather than finding a line to sign your name, you find a prompt to leave a tip. Retailers determine the tip suggestions, but they typically range from 10% to 30% of your total bill.
No matter how great the pressure may be to make the person on the other side of the counter happy, you have options when you're asked to tip.
Hit the button that reads "no tip" and walk away with a clear conscience. Only you decide when tipping is appropriate.
Etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley, better known as "Mister Manners," told ABC7 New York that he has a tip list, and only three people make the cut: Servers, bartenders, and washroom attendants. On your tip list, include anyone you would usually tip without being prompted. For example, you might want to include your barber, hairdresser, or the person who cleans your hotel room.
Tattoo the list on your mind so you never leave home without it. Pushing "no tip" when asked by someone who does not make the cut is a smart way to leave money in your bank account.
If you want to avoid awkwardness at the register, pay with cash. This is especially helpful when you expect to shop in a store you know will ask for a tip. It's a win/win. You don't have anyone watching to see what you do, and you don't have extra credit card debt to pay off.
As you stand there, trying to determine whether the service you received is worthy of a tip, the employee who ran your card is looking at you, waiting for your response. While tipping is intended to reward excellent service, studies have shown that most people are motivated by social pressure to do what is expected.
Imagine that you're strolling through a boutique, shopping for a gift. While the store employee doesn't help you find what you're looking for, they are friendly, and you strike up a short conversation. Now, instead of leaving the store thinking how pleasant that employee was, you're asked to rate their pleasantness by leaving a tip. And it's all while they're looking at you from across the counter.
Harry Brignull is an expert in ways design can manipulate people into making specific choices. In an interview with Vox, Brignull said, "It's easy to cross the line from honest persuasion to harmful manipulation."
Brignull explains that touchscreens sometimes emphasize the buttons that leave a big tip. However, they de-emphasize the button that leaves no tip at all. In the industry, it's called "dark patterns."
ABC7 News in New York City spoke with Dipayan Biswas, a marketing and business professor at the University of South Florida.
Biswas -- who has studied tipping for a decade -- says that businesses allow tips to make jobs more lucrative for their employees. The employer does not have to raise employee pay if customers are willing to foot the bill.
As the practice grows, the concern is that more businesses will adopt POS tip requests to keep their employees happy. It's up to you to determine whether you're willing to supplement their income.
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