Suggested tip amounts: Do they guilt you into tipping more?

More service industry payments are being made on handheld point-of-sale tablets and counter screens with customers swiping or tapping and, before signing, adding gratuity.

And often, restaurants, taxi drivers, hair salons and other service industry businesses have set default, pre-determined tip amounts, typically 15%, 20% or more.

If the purpose is to generate more gratuity for employees, it is having the desired effect.

A LendingTree survey of U.S. consumers found 60% said they are tipping more now, but those screens have one in four consumers always feeling pressured to leave a tip, or a larger one than they might otherwise.

Sometimes those screens are also pushing for tips for little or no actual service.

“People are like, ‘Come on, we don’t need to tip for every single thing,'” said Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst. “In our survey we found that about 60% of people believe that tipping has gotten out of hand.”

Having a tablet or screen presented to you by an employee doesn’t give a consumer much time to think about what they want to tip, and it adds a great deal of pressure, with the employee right there waiting and watching.

Sometimes consumers pay in advance for a purchase, for food delivery or pickup for example. Schulz says that can add even more pressure, for fear of repercussions for not tipping well affecting the quality of their order or the timeliness of their delivery.

LendingTree’s full gratuity survey and methodology is online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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