A vacationer in Alaska said he felt a local restaurant flipped him “a huge middle finger” when it suggested he tip as much as 100% of his bill after breakfast with his buddies.
Harrison Snowden was visiting Anchorage from his hometown of Chicago when he and two friends went to breakfast, according to an account of the incident first reported by The Free Press.
Snowden graciously picked up the $37.25 bill when he was presented with a tipping screen that offered four suggested upcharges. The minimum was 20% — a healthy tip by many standards that the app merely rated “Good.”
That was followed by an option of 30%, described as “Great;” 50%, rated as “Wow!” and finally 100%, which the tip screen noted was for the “Best Service Ever!” per the outlet.
“It just felt like a huge middle finger. They know no one is going to tip that much,” Snowden told The Free Press.
The option to double his check made Snowden fork over gratuity of just 8% — which came to about $3 — less than he normally would have because he was so shocked.
“Had it not been that big of an ask, I actually think I would’ve ended up tipping more,” added Snowden, who works as an options trader in the Windy City, per The Free Press.
The tablet-style practice similar to the one Snowden experienced — which usually shows suggested tip rates while a customer is awkwardly face-to-face with a worker — has surged in popularity, appearing everywhere from cafes to sit-down dining establishments, nail salons and even at self-checkout stations.
Snowden is far from the first customer who feels that a gratuity system has reached a tipping point.
Just this week, a 39-year-old woman vacationing in New York City from Auburn, Ala., encountered a case of automatic gratuity while having lunch at Five Acres in Rockefeller Center on Tuesday with her parents and two children.
To make matters worse, “our service was not very good,” Miranda Jackson told The Post, calling the Midtown Manhattan restaurant’s mandatory tipping structure “presumptuous.”
“It’s almost like it doesn’t incentivize them to have good service. Our food came out at separate times. We waited forever,” she added of Five Acres’ automatic tip.
Restaurant owner James Mallios of Amali on 60th Street and Calissa in Water Mill said that automatically adding a tip is “a European approach,” where tips are handed out less generously since wait staff is usually guaranteed an hourly wage and other worker protections that American restaurant workers are not.
“Almost every restaurant in Miami does an automatic service,” said Mallios, whose two New York-based resutaurants both add 18% gratuity to all checks.
“In New York it is still not common, but I think you will see it more and more,” he added, though a report published last month from Forbes Advisor showed that nearly 75% of Americans said they leave excessively-high tips out of guilt.
Specifically, 73% of US respondents said they leave 11% gratuity at minimum when prompted digitally on devices like tablets or smart card readers, as opposed to an old-fashioned dollar or two dropped into a counter jar, Forbes’ survey found.
In these scenarios, 65% admitted to giving more as opposed to when they leave cash.
Just under one-third of Americans — 31%, to be exact — said they feel “pressure” to pay it forward, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “guilt tipping.”
Take it from Starbucks customers, after the popular coffeehouse chain shifted to a digital tip system at checkout last fall, which one could argue was met with grande distaste by some patrons.
San Antonio paralegal Laura Gonzalez called a recent payment “super awkward” while she was in its Times Square shop last year — and other customers have said similar.
“I haven’t even gotten my drink yet; why would I tip you? I think it really steers customers away because of how uncomfortable it can be for us. Especially at a location where the service isn’t great,” Amira Younis, a Virginia Tech student, griped to The Post at the time.
“It feels backward, like they’re performing the service [quality] based on the tip they’ve either already got or not gotten.”