Customers Face Pressure To Tip At Self-checkout In US, Say They’re Tired Of The ‘Emotional Blackmail’

Customers Face Pressure To Tip At Self-checkout In US, Say They're Tired Of The 'Emotional Blackmail'

Self-service checkout machines in cafés, sports stadiums, and airports are asking for tips, and people aren’t thrilled about handing over more cash.

The Wall Street Journal covered the rise of digital self-checkout kiosks and how shoppers reacted to tip prompts. 

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What is self-checkout?

self checkout
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Self-checkout, also known as self-service checkout or automated checkout, is a technology-enabled system in retail stores and other establishments that allows customers to scan, bag, and pay for their items without the assistance of a cashier or checkout staff.  

Where are people being asked to tip even at self-checkout counters?


According to the Journal, many consumers who were requested to tip personnel with whom they had no interaction were irritated by these solicitations.

The research interviewed a half-dozen clients from around the United States. Though some were ready to pay the additional fees, the majority stated tip cues were confusing, and many were unsure where the money was going.

According to the Journal, one consumer who ordered a beer from a self-service beer fridge at San Diego’s Petco Park was asked to include a tip on his order.

“I was confused because it wasn’t entirely clear who I was tipping,” he explained to the Journal, adding that he nevertheless tipped 20%.

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Why is it happening?

According to a representative for the stadium, which is home to the San Diego Padres, all tips were given to personnel.

According to the Journal, a tourist who was asked to place a 10% to 20% gratuity on a $6 bottle of water at an OTG gift shop in Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey described the request as “emotional blackmail.” 

The consumer did not leave a tip.

According to an OTG representative, all tip money is collected and then distributed to the staff members working that particular shift. 

How is it affecting people?

Tipping has been an increasingly contentious issue in the United States, with many people experiencing “tipping fatigue” as they are requested to tip more locations and face the effects of inflation.

Landlords have gone to TikTok to argue for a gratuity to be added to the rent, while Maryland’s first unionized Apple store is campaigning for the implementation of a tipping system. 

Customers, however, have not ceased tipping: Total gratuities received by full-service restaurants and quick-service restaurants increased by 16.5% and 15.86%, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to a spokeswoman for the payment platform Block. This data includes all tips received, not just those from self-service kiosks. 

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