As technology continues to advance, more of our daily lives are becoming automated. In many ways, this is a good thing. Most people appreciate efficiency and are happy to get on board with the changes (though there are people who refuse to use self-checkouts, for instance, because they don’t want to contribute to job losses). However, the general assumption is that if machines are performing tasks that human beings once did, we shouldn’t need to pay for it. That’s why so many people are flabbergasted that many self-checkouts have begun prompting customers for tips.
Most people in America understand tipping culture and are happy enough to tip service workers, from doormen and pizza delivery workers to hairdressers and taxi drivers. However, the very idea that you would tip a self-checkout machine is absolutely ludicrous. After all, you’re the one scanning your own items and bagging them up, so why exactly would you pay extra money? What for? Not having logical answers to those questions hasn’t stopped the prompts from popping up, however.
Customers have begun seeing pop-ups asking them if they’d like to add a tip after completing self-checkout, and the reactions have ranged from confused to amused to absolutely outraged, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“They’re cutting labor costs by doing self-checkout,” said Ishita Jamar, a senior at Washington, DC’s American University. “So what’s the point of asking for a tip? And where is it going?”
Multiple business owners told the publication that any tips are split among the staff at the store, but not everyone is convinced that this is actually what’s happening (or that it’s even appropriate to begin with). In fact, Holona Ochs, a Lehigh University professor and author of two books on tipping, pointed out that the federal laws requiring tips to be split between employees don’t even apply to these self-service machines. That means many employers are using “the high adherence to tipping norms as a way to generate more revenue for the company.” Nope!
One customer said that even being asked for a tip, even if you don’t have any plan on giving one, is tantamount to “emotional blackmail.” Needless to say, they (and most other people) always decline the “invitation” to hand over even more money.