The tipping point of Americans' tip fatigue

Benjamin Franklin quote

If you've patronized a restaurant, coffee shop, or food delivery service recently, you've likely encountered a screen prompting you to leave a tip. While the intention behind tipping is noble - rewarding good service - the pervasiveness and expectations surrounding tipping have reached new heights, giving rise to what's now termed as tip fatigue.

Over the last year, tip fatigue has emerged as a noticeable trend with 63% of Americans expressing discontent with the increasing frequency of tip requests and nearly half, 48%, feeling weary of the constant pressure to tip (source: USA Today & OnePoll).

Understanding tip fatigue

Several factors contribute to tip fatigue:

1. Tip prompt overload - As more establishments, from convenience stores to online retail purchases to medical services, have integrated tip prompts into transactions (aka tip creep), customers have become overwhelmed and confused about whom they're tipping, and for what services.

Tipping after petting a dog

2. Inflated prices - The cost of just about everything, from food items to goods to gas, has tightened purse strings and lightened wallets, leading to larger percentage-based tips (aka tipflation) and less expendable income. Because of these rising prices and accompanying exasperation, many people have begun to rethink their superfluous visits to restaurants and other establishments.

Tipping and inflation Reddit rant

3. Shift in tipping culture - Tipping is an obligation, no longer a gesture of appreciation for exceptional service. It doesn't matter what kind of service you received; the expectation of a tip (at least 20% in some places) is a foregone conclusion.

Cashier expecting a tip

Impact and response

The toll of tip fatigue extends beyond mere annoyance, affecting consumer behavior and even charitable giving. An Achieve survey from November 2023 revealed that 62% of participants planned to scale back on tips or charitable donations during the holiday season, underscoring the extent of fatigue among consumers. It's pretty clear that you are past your tipping point when you become a Scrooge during the "most wonderful time of the year."

Now, two months into 2024, the persistence of tip fatigue raises questions about the future of tipping culture. Will businesses ramp up tip prompts or scale them back? Will consumers rebel by withholding tips to push for fairer wages for workers? Or will tipping culture simply become an accepted norm?

While the answers remain uncertain, one thing is clear: tip fatigue is a prevalent issue that demands attention and thoughtful consideration. As we navigate this evolving landscape, strives to keep you up to date with all the slang - and who knows, perhaps tipping for knowledge might become the new norm.

Example tip screen