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Guilt tipping? We’re tipping more now, but not everyone is happy about it

When it comes to tipping, the latest research numbers show Americans are tipping more money, in more places, than ever before. But many of the consumers Boston 25 News spoke with are not feeling so generous about it.

Many are taking to social media to complain the technology used now, when a screen pops up at the end of your transaction, leads to so-called guilt tipping.

“I feel like that they should allow you to make the decision, depending how they treat you and I feel that it should be a private,” one Dedham shopper told us.

“They sometimes seem to jack up the amount that they want for a tip,” said another.

“It doesn’t bother me there’s usually a no tip section,” said a third.

According to Square, the company that makes many of those screens you see, total tips received in the 4th quarter of 2022 jumped 16.5% in full service restaurants, and 15.9% at quick service restaurants compared to 2021.

“I mean, in the typical restaurant scenario where you’re being served the meal, obviously a tip is expected and it would be pretty poor etiquette not to unless the service or food was just absolutely horrendous,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder of consumerworld.org out of Somerville.

What’s changing, according to Dworsky, are the new opportunities to tip where typically it was not expected in the past.

“You’re being pressured to tip when you may not have done it before. So if you’re taking out food, someone takes food off the shelf and they hand you the bag and then you’re asked to do a tip,” Dworsky said. “I think people are kind of feel put upon by that feel pressured to give when they normally wouldn’t, and they may be embarrassed if they don’t.”

Industry experts say the higher recommendations on screen for tips can be a way for restaurants to retain service employees in a tough job market.

“So this is a back door way of keeping the published menu prices down, but subsidizing that pay rate for the employees. That’s what this game is about,” said Boston 25 Consumer advisor Clark Howard.

But Howard and Dworsky both say... Consumers don’t have to play the game if they don’t want to.

“Don’t feel guilty about it. Tip what you think is appropriate. And if you don’t think it’s appropriate, just don’t do it,” said Dworsky.

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