A woman has gone viral after posting a photo of a self-checkout machine at Newark Liberty International Airport asking her to leave a tip.
Reddit user u/_seaweed_ posted to the r/mildlyinfuriating thread a photo of the digital interaction, garnering 110,000 interactions and 4,600 comments.
Some even commented saying they had the same experience at the same kiosk at Newark, sharing photos that appear to be at a CIBO Express Gourmet Market.
The photo shows that the woman bought a chicken Caesar wrap and a Vita Coco coconut water bottle, with the screen prompting tip options of 15%, 18% and 20%.
Reddit users were shocked by the idea of being asked to tip at self-checkout, with one asking, “Tip who exactly?”
“This is especially annoying given how overpriced everything is at the airport. Then they have the nerve to ask for a tip,” someone pointed out.
“Does the money I tip go back into my account as I’M the server?! In that case. 100% tip!” another quipped.
“This is Grade A bulls–t. F–k tipping culture,” a user wrote.
Reuters tech correspondent Anna Tong tweeted about a similar incident last month, writing: “I’m at Newark Airport being asked to tip on a self-checkout transaction- how much should I tip?”
This comes on the heels of a backlash over “tipflation” with the growth of tipping culture making its way into coffee shops, takeout stores and self-checkouts.
A recent survey by Bankrate revealed that two-thirds of Americans now hold a negative view of tipping and 1 in 3 Americans think tipping culture is out of control.
Despite having zero interaction with employees during transactions, self-checkout machines at places such as coffee shops, bakeries, airports and sports stadiums are giving customers the option to leave the typical 20% tip.
Business owners believe that the prompt for a tip can boost staff pay and increase gratuities, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. But customers are questioning where and to whom the extra cash is going, considering self-checkout is done, well, by yourself.
Many companies told the Journal that these tipping prompts are completely optional, and the extra gratuity is split between all employees.
Tipping researchers claim this is a way for companies to put the responsibility of paying employees on the customer rather than increasing employee salaries themselves.
The self-checkout gratuity option is an example of “tip creep” — a phenomenon that prompts customers to leave higher tips in transactional situations.
Self-tipping is viewed by many customers as a way to guilt-trip the person into tipping on something when they typically wouldn’t.
“Just the prompt, in general, is a bit of emotional blackmail,” Garrett Bemiller, 26, who works in public relations in Manhattan, told the Journal after he was asked to add a 10% to 20% tip on his $6 water bottle at a self-checkout machine at Newark Airport.
However, experts say that tips at a self-checkout machine might never even get to an actual employee since protections to tipped workers in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act don’t extend to machines, according to WSJ.
Lehigh University associate professor Holona Ochs said self-checkout tipping “exploits the high adherence to tipping norms as a way to generate more revenue for the company.”
Research has shown that digital tipping options usually result in customers leaving a tip from 18% to 30% and higher, though many say they refuse to tip for fast food and self-serve experiences.