What Do Your Clothes Say About You?

Electronic Tipping

Do you know when to tip and when to pass?

The clerk at your favorite bakery or local clothing boutique swipes your credit card and spins an electronic screen around that asks whether you want to tip. Do you select 15%, 20%, or 25% for being handed a croissant or for being shown to the dressing room? Or do you select “no tip” under the awkward gaze of the clerk?

Electronic tipping is here to stay. Most of us are now being asked to tip in non-traditional venues before we can complete our electronic payment. Etiquette has long dictated that waiters, valets, hairstylists, movers, and baristas (among others) all deserve to be tipped for their services. However, what about limited service settings that traditionally did not request tips or did so by way of an unobtrusive tip jar? If any level of “service” deserves a tip, then do we tip our dry cleaners and those who work behind the meat counter?

How should you handle awkward electronic tipping scenarios? It depends. Tipping is optional in situations where “service” is limited. If you choose to tip outside traditional service settings, tipping less than 20% is appropriate. Consider the context. Are you a regular at that bakery or do you plan on staying a while? Did you place a large, complex order? Do you know if the clerks are paid at least minimum wage, which is not the case in some restaurant settings?

Electronic tip requests should never “guilt” you into leaving a tip. Your purchase, a smile, and saying “thank you” is often enough. However, remember that tipping is an easy—and for many service workers, a meaningful—way to express gratitude for exceptional service.

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