The etiquette of tipping in the digital age

Etiquette expert said tipping is an expression of gratitude

Caitlyn Faircloth, a worker with Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, hands out free ice cream next to a tip jar, Monday, June 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Caitlyn Faircloth, a worker with Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, hands out free ice cream next to a tip jar, Monday, June 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tipping is nothing new to the service industry, but how you add gratuity in the digital age is changing.

Liz Moreen has been serving customers at Portland’s Bakehouse Bagels for almost a year. She earns $10 an hour and pairs it with tips to earn a living.

“These tips are my bus fare, my college fund and that’s really important today because it’s hard for everyone,” Moreen said.

Tipping is a centuries-old institution and Moreen said she prefers the old-fashioned tip jar. So does her customer Randi Morgan.

“Personally, I like doing my own math and that way I know what I’m actually tipping and I tip on the good side if I get good service,” Morgan said.

Longtime Lake Oswego etiquette expert Mindy Lockard said tipping is an expression of gratitude, May 13, 2015. (KOIN 6 News)
Longtime Lake Oswego etiquette expert Mindy Lockard said tipping is an expression of gratitude, May 13, 2015. (KOIN 6 News)

Longtime Lake Oswego etiquette expert Mindy Lockard said tipping is an expression of gratitude, and in today’s digital age there are more ways to do it.

Beauty salons, coffee shops and food trucks are some types of businesses that now use an iPad checkout system. Instead of a receipt, customers pick a percentage and some say, it’s an easy way to calculate gratuity quickly.

“I think it’s easier for the customer and for us,” one barista said.

Some restaurants are even doing away with tipping in favor of higher food prices and employee wages. Some are opting for automatic services used in Europe.

“I think, like any tradition and custom, it’s an evolution,” Lockard said. “But I don’t know if in the United States we’re ready to give up tipping because it’s such a part of our service culture.”

The expert said tipping up to 30% for great food service is now common. And don’t forget 20% for your hairdresser and taxi driver. Then, there’s a dollar per bag for the bellman and $2 a day for the hotel maid. Legally, a mail carrier can’t accept cash, so Lockard gives a gift card during the holidays instead.

“If it’s terrible service, you tip on the lower end, but the rule is you should leave something,” Lockard explained. “I’ve had people disagree with me on that, but I think some people can just have bad days, we all do.”

Lockard suggests then voicing your concerns about service, because while it’s not legally required, you’re still expected to say thank you with money.

“The physical part of them putting a dollar in the tip jar, I notice that,” Moreen said. “Even with my back turned, and it doesn’t go unappreciated.”

Lockard said if you can’t tip generously throughout the year, to start saving in September to give service providers a holiday bonus.

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