New York City, NY

Tipping Grows 'Out of Control' in NYC

Bridget Mulroy
Tipping Grows 'Out of Control' in NYCPhoto by(@emyerson/iStock

The United States is one of the only places in the world where tipping is customary. Tipping is a term used for over-paying on a bill to ‘thank’ the person, or people providing a service. 

People in New York and surrounding states report tipping as the most "out of control" since other parts of the country are far less willing to pay extra.

Now, in NYC, tip jars are everywhere! Gratuity is added onto grocery orders, printed onto receipts to prompt customers to pay extra, websites will add it onto online totals, and people feel obligated to pay it because it’s become such a common occurrence, or they don’t even realize the gratuity was added on!

Guilt-tipping’ has become recognized as putting customers in a position where they feel obligated to tip, regardless of whether they want to, or not.

“It makes you feel bad. You feel like you have to do it because they’re asking you to do it. But then you have to think about the position that puts people in. They’re paying for something that they really don’t want to pay for, or they’re tipping when they really don’t want to tip – or can’t afford to tip – because they don’t want to feel bad.” – Ismail Karabas, a Marketing Professor at Murray State University studying tipping.

We need to consider where tipping is expected: 

  • On a meal, you’re waited on
  • At a bar
  • Pizza delivery
  • Haircut
  • Nail services
  • Bellhop
  • Cleaning services

Of course, there are other situations where people choose to tip. Tipping is discretionary, and the amount to tip will vary.

What sets the US aside from other parts of the world – in terms of tipping – is that the hourly wage for service positions is usually lower than minimum wage. Tips are taxed, so they're reported at the end of a shift. Servers at most restaurants make $2.13 per hour, plus tips. The standard rate to tip on a meal is 20%, and people have their version of what’s fair.

Today, tipping in Europe is considered unnecessary, and even rude! Ironically, that wasn’t always the case since tipping used to be considered offensive in the US during the 20th century, and customary in Europe at that time.

Yes, tipping is appreciated by the people being tipped, and it’s usually the difference between making ends meet and not. So, are tip jars obnoxiously plaguing businesses in NYC, or are businesses and people, who wouldn’t traditionally be tipped, turning to the concept since ends are becoming that much more difficult to be met?

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