Tip Creep is a phenomenon where businesses have removed traditional tip jars and now credit card kiosks, including self-checkout machines, are prompting customers to give extra money when they swipe their cards. This practice has been dubbed “tip creeping” and seems to be effective in cornering consumers into paying more. Many digital kiosks that ask for tips start at 18% or 20% and can go as high as 30%, which is up from the traditional 15%.
The purpose of asking for tips at self-checkout machines is believed to boost staff pay and increase gratuities. However, customers are questioning where and to whom the extra cash is going, considering self-checkout is done by themselves. Some business owners claim that these prompted tips are pooled among the human staff, but others, including food labor researchers, are not as convinced.
Tip Creep is part of a larger issue called “tip fatigue,” which refers to customers feeling overwhelmed by the increasing number of tipping requests and the expanding range of services expecting tips. This can lead to negative feelings and even cause some customers to tip less or stop altogether.