Would You Opt Out Of Tipping While An Employee Watches You?

Reader Bill was getting some sandwiches and paying with a credit card when he noticed something new and unusual on the payment machine. It prompted him to leave a tip between ten and twenty percent, to choose his own tip amount, or to decline tipping entirely. This makes sense in a country where most of us don’t carry much cash anymore, but there’s something about it that Bill doesn’t like.


We won’t say just yet which company this was, because we’re waiting for confirmation that it’s rolling out chain-wide. Also, the identity of the company and your opinion of the food isn’t really important: What we can tell you is that the establishment is a sandwich shop, not a place with table service. Is this the touchscreen equivalent of a tip jar, or would you feel uncomfortable tapping the “No Thanks” button?

“As a customer, I don’t like being put in a position where I pro-actively have to decline a tip, especially with an employee watching,” writes tipster Bill. He wonders how other people feel about this, so let’s take a poll.

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  1. Xenotaku says:

    I don’t know about other people, but things like this make me uncomfortable, from the /other/ side of the counter. I already do some delivery, and it’s really awkward to stand there and wait for them to finish signing the receipt and adding the tip in. It’s one thing if I’m setting up their catering, but when it’s just “drop off the food and get the receipt signed”? It’s horrible.

    If my work did this (I work at a sandwich shop, but as it’s corporate policy that only delivery drivers get tips, I know it’s not mine), I would feel horrible to be standing at the register, waiting for them to decide what/if they’re going to tip, and knowing that it’s making them feel awkward, too.

    If I were to go to this place, I’d never go back. It’s too much like asking for a tip (which has happened to me at a restaurant) or requiring it (which, luckily, hasn’t).

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      It is not “like” asking for a tip, that’s exactly what it is, even if it’s through an electronic proxy.

      I would find it much more acceptable if they showed the tip amounts, like some receipts do, with a large “checkout/cash tip” and a small “charge tip” button that lets you choose the number on the next screen. Just making someone choose “no thanks” is very obnoxious and intrusive.

  2. KevinBlah says:

    I have seen this same screen at a Jersey Mike’s location.

    • sylphon says:

      Ditto, I saw it at a Jersey Mike’s in GA

    • ReverendTed57 says:

      Saw it at a Jersey Mike’s in Austin, TX. (Also, that looks like a Jersey Mike’s cup in the background.)
      I used to swipe my pen across the tip line on my printed receipt, so clicking “No Thanks” doesn’t make me any more uncomfortable. Heck, I really like the owner and his employees – they’re super-friendly folks, I just don’t typically tip unless I’m sitting down and being waited on. (Is that common?)

  3. webalias says:

    I always tip — and pretty well — even when the service is poor. But this is obnoxious. If an employee verbally solicited a tip, suggested a choice of amounts, and demanded that the customer interact with him or her over the issue, few customers would tolerate such behavior. Why do some believe that messages that would be unacceptable, if spoken directly to another person, are somehow OK if the message is delivered electronically? I say no: tastelessness is tastelessness, whether the communication is interpersonal or electronic. I’d be inclined to say to the employee that I think there’s a problem with the machine’s software: “There’s a button missing here. I see the one that says, ‘No thanks.’ But where’s the one that says, ‘Hell no,’ or ‘You got to be kidding me.’” I know it’s not the employee’s fault that he or she is required to participate in this shabby and perhaps mutually embarrassing practice, but nor is it mine that he’s the one standing there. And he’d be standing there for quite a while, since I could not in good conscience either tip, or hit the “No Thanks” button — there is no response including the word “Thanks” that’s appropriate in this case. If “Other Amount” included the possibility of entering a negative number that would reduce the final bill, that’s another option I’d consider. I would certainly never return to this place.

    • Lenne says:

      I believe that tipping even when service is bad sends a poor message to people in the food service industry. You never give these employees the motivation to actually give a damn about providing your excellent service, to earn their gratuity, because they know they will probably tip them anyway. If you are just tipping any Tom, Dick, or Sally, it is no longer called a ‘tip’ but a fee.
      More people should look up the word ‘gratuity’ and ‘tip’ in a dictionary. You should never feel that you ‘have to’ tip just because you are eating out. These people are already being paid. If they are not receiving enough tips, you shouldn’t feel sorry for them and give them an unearned tip. Maybe they need to reevaluate their service skills to find out why people think their level of service does not warrant one.

  4. dorrdon1 says:

    They started doing this where I take my car in for repairs. (It’s a Canadian nation wide chain that specializes in mufflers.) This was after the franchise changed owners. I asked the new owner about it, and he asked: Why is auto repair service different from any other kind of service? The lowest options he was able to get the bank to set on his terminal was 5%, (10 & 15 were the other % options.) but of course there is the option to enter a different amount.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Ask him incredulously if he really doesn’t pay his workers minimum wage. That would make me wonder what kinds of knuckle-draggers worked there if they only got paid tipped minimum wage for a job that requires some considerable skill and experience.

      I’d also ask what services he frequents that ask him “ARE YOU GOING TO TIP?” [with my hand out, palm up, in his face] instead of just graciously accepting them when offered.

  5. MarthaGaill says:

    I like to think I’m a generous tipper, but if our interaction is me ordering at a counter, then standing at the counter and taking my bag of food away, no dice. The exception would be if I went to a fast casual place and did the to-go door, but I can think of exactly two times in my life I’ve done that, and neither were in the last five years.

    • Lenne says:

      I sure hope that the people that you tip ‘generously’ have actually earned this tip by providing you excellent, knock your socks off, and unbelievable service.

      • MarthaGaill says:

        People who do a good job usually get 20%. Sub-par 15%. Excellent service… I’ve tipped up to 100% because I was super impressed. You hand me a sandwich over the cash register and I fill my own cup… that’s not deserving of a tip.