I honestly don't think it's intentional for every establishment in New Jersey, but it sure can leave you feeling guilty. It's that obligation that you must leave a tip for whatever service that was provided.

Remember before March 2020? It's a good benchmark to use from what tipping once was to what it has become.

Yes, a lot had to change due to the pandemic, and that time immediately after March 2020 definitely warranted greater recognition for those who had to work with the public throughout tough situations.

Prior to that, tipping was mainly reserved for a service provided such as being served at a restaurant, or someone bringing you your bags and cleaning your room at a hotel. The better the service, the better the tip.

App tipping (leaving tip on phone)
LDProd via Canva

Now yes, there were some exceptions, as there are with everything in life. But generally speaking, that's how tips were earned.

Let's look at that word for a moment. Earned. According to dictionary.com, earned is defined as "to gain or get in return for one's labor or service."

There are a few other definitions as well depending on how you use the word, but that's the general meaning of earned. And when it comes to places such as restaurants and hotels, it generally refers to that additional service someone would do for you.


That's how tipping worked then, and that's how tipping should work now. Unfortunately, we seem to be trending further away from that very model.

Yes, we should tip if we feel an individual earned it, but we shouldn't feel forced or obligated to leave one. And that's where we seem to be heading with many establishments in New Jersey.

Forget the online and app tipping for a moment, when you usually have to leave a tip before any service is even provided. Let's focus on those in-person transactions that might make you feel guilty if you don't leave anything at all.

Tipping / Leaving a tip / No assistance

One example of this is the touchscreen transaction with the cashier present. When a bunch of buttons pops up on the screen with various tip amounts to leave for services provided, even when no such service took place.

And this could be for anything, not just a restaurant. If the associate brought my items to the register for me then I might be inclined to leave a little something extra for them.

But if I bring everything up myself and all they do is ring it up, what's the extra service I'm paying for? And sometimes, it goes beyond that.

Have you noticed that whoever's at the register is looking right at you when that big tip screen comes up? It's almost like you must leave them something for doing nothing more but their job.

tip jar
Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ

Or, how about then they verbally tell or ask you to leave a tip? I've had that happen before where the cashier will tell me that my screen will prompt me to leave a tip and will keep their eyes on me while I make a selection.

And it's that standing there and staring at you while you make the choice that might guilt you into leaving something extra. Even if it is the smallest tip option, it's something you probably wouldn't have done had the employee not been standing right there keeping their eyes on you.

And we're literally leaving tips for everything nowadays. What is that extra service we're receiving that we didn't get in the past that demands more financial compensation from us?

Or, the trifecta when they verbally ask you for that tip while they stare at you making the decision on that touchscreen. It just seems like tipping is becoming more and more pushed on us than it ever has before.


Again, I'm not saying we should do away with tipping altogether. Some employees do serve us more than other positions would and rightfully earn that extra compensation.

But we really need to get a hold on what gets tipped and what doesn't. It seems to be getting out of control and many of us leave those tips when we really shouldn't because we were guilted into feeling like we had to.

I'm sure some New Jersey establishments that do this aren't even aware since the technology is set up that way. But I bet others are fully aware of it and they bank on subtly guilting you into leaving a few extra bucks.

And I don't think it's just me who's been noticing this trend, or not even realizing they get guilted into leaving tips when it's unnecessary. I think most of us have done it before.

Vintage blurred check-out counter at local store in USA

Maybe we hesitate for a moment, be we eventually hit one of those buttons that leaves a little something extra. Eventually, people are going to stop leaving tips altogether if this push for tips keeps getting out of hand.

I would just hope those tips we do leave go to the employees and not the pockets of the business owners. Either way, should we really be tipping for every little thing?

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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