Man holding a tablet with tipping screen inside a restaurant

Sadi-Santos/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘It’s gonna ask you a question’: 5 moments that prove tipping has gotten way out of control

‘Tipping has become a joke.’


Ljeonida Mulabazi


Tipping culture in the United States has intensified, with consumers feeling increasingly burdened by rising expectations. In a survey by the Pew Research Center, 72% of U.S. adults said that tipping is now expected in more places than it was five years ago. 

While tipping used to be limited to service industries such as restaurants and cafes, it has now spread to retail stores, food delivery services, rideshares, and more. A woman recently reported being asked to tip at the self-checkout after buying a greeting card. 

This phenomenon, often referred to as “tipflation,” has left people feeling uncertain about where and how much to tip, plus dissatisfaction over the frequency with which they have to tip.

In fact, many consumers reported that tipping now feels like less of a choice and more like an expected obligation in more places. 

Understandably, as consumer frustration grows, so do personal anecdotes and reports online. Let’s take a look at five instances where tipping culture has extended beyond its traditional boundaries.

Tipping at self-checkout

Customer buys water at self-checkout. She’s asked to leave a tip

Reports of being asked to tip at a self-checkout kiosk are on the rise. 

TikTok user Alana (@spitprincess) recently posted a video showing her encounter with this issue at an airport.

In the video, we see she’s only purchasing a water bottle, and the screen shows different options for tipping. Confused, she asks “Who is this even going to?”

“This is what people mean when they say tipping culture is insane,” Alana writes in the overlay. 

Since retail stores have no clear obligation to share such information, it’s not entirely clear where exactly this tipping money is allocated. 

Barber expects 40% tip

Man talking(l), Barber cutting hair(c), Second man talking(r)
G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock @quicksbarbershop/Tiktok (Licensed)

A video posted by Quick’s Barbershop (@quicksbarbershop) caused controversy online after one of the barbers said he expects a 40% tip from his customers. 

In the clip, someone with a camera is going around asking the resident barbers about their expectations regarding tips, when right off the bat the first barber says, “You know, the minimum is 20%, but I say I’d expect 40% for time and detail I put into my haircut.”

Other barbers have different answers, with several expressing that a Google review might be even more valuable, but most agree that 20% is the average they’d expect. 

In the comments, users were enraged with the expectation of the first barber, writing they’d never choose to get a haircut from him, and that “tipping has become a joke.” 

Target home delivery service

Woman says she was asked to tip $84 for Target order after paying for $49 subscription
@bbsmallsmb/TikTok JHVEPhoto/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

In March, Target announced a home delivery service with a $49 annual subscription called Target Circle 360.

TikTok user @bbsmallsmb signed up and sparked a discussion by sharing her experience in a video.

In her clip, she recounts ordering several items but only receiving two of her items. She was then prompted by the delivery driver to tip $84.

“I really thought it was, like, competing with Amazon Prime,” she stated. 

After realizing the delivery driver canceled items still in stock, she decided to cancel the service, criticizing Target for not being clear about the tipping aspect.

50%, 70%, and 90%. For a $15 haircut

Customer gets asked to tip 50%, 70%, or 90% for walk-in haircut
u/CapablePerformer8582/Reddit Jacob Lund/ShutterStock Jacob Lund/ShutterStock (Licensed)

A Reddit user named CapablePerformer8582 shared a screenshot of a payment screen at a hair salon that suggested tipping amounts of 50%, 70%, and 90% for a $15 haircut.

This sparked a discussion on the r/EndTipping subreddit about the absurdity of such high tip expectations.

One user expressed similar frustration, saying, “I push no tip when I see unreasonable tip requests.”

The post highlighted growing concerns over tipping culture’s unreasonable demands.

Kitchen service charge

Customer questions 'kitchen service charge' on bill, says owner wants to pay back-of-house more money
@marinaa.rudan/TikTok Monkey Business/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

A woman reported that a “kitchen service charge” was automatically added to her dinner bill without her knowledge. 

Marina Rudan, a TikTok user (@marinaa.rudan), posted a video saying that a restaurant called Liberty Kitchen in Surrey, BC, Canada employed a “shady” tactic to increase compensation for kitchen staff without prior notice.

When Rudan asked the server what the extra charge was, the server allegedly responded saying, “The owner decided that his kitchen staff should be paid more money, and he automatically now has a kitchen service charge added to the bill.”

Incidents like these often place an unfair burden on consumers, making them feel overly responsible for the livelihood of service workers.

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The Daily Dot