From fast food restaurants like Subway asking customers if they would like to tip, to websites requiring customers to leave a tip to order car parts online, the practice has infiltrated many aspects of commerce that historically have not prompted customers to leave a gratuity.
Over the course of that shift, many customers have taken to TikTok to share their bizarre experiences. One man, Jason (@anotherguyjason), says that two years ago, a coffee house in Chicago asked him to tip after being charged a 20% service fee and made to bus his own table.
@anotherguyjason #stitch with @Charlotte Muller wildest tipping experience I’ve had #tipping #tippingculture ♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – David Snell
“What’s wild is that there was not service,” he says in the video. “We sat down, there was a QR code at the table, someone brought our food, and we bussed our own table, so there was no service. Yet, there is a service fee. So I go to the counter once all this is done, once we’ve ate and everything and bussed our own table, I asked the person behind the counter, what is this service fee? They said something—it was a couple years ago, I don’t remember the exact words—but they said something that was like, this is additional money for the staff. I was like, so this is like a tip?”
He said if it had been labeled as a specific fund for something to benefit the coffee shop’s employees, he would have had no problem paying the service fee on top of a tip.
“They sort of begrudgingly nodded,” he said. “So it’s like, I’m not going to add another 20% tip when there’s already a service fee that is a tip. Keep in mind, there was no service, this was a $30, four-item coffee thing, so I’m not going to tip $14 on a $30 tab when there was no service. It was wild, and maybe I’m the asshole, please let me know, maybe I’m the asshole in this scenario, but it seemed deceptive. I know that some restaurants are adding a fee to help pay for insurance for their staff. Great, be transparent. If that service fee was to insurance for the staff, gladly. But it wasn’t, or at least they were unable to articulate it in the moment. In the moment, they just said it’s another tip.”
Some viewers were more cynical about the nature of service fees tacked on by business owners.
“Why are the consumers required to pay for the benefits that should be provided by the employer?” one commenter wrote. “Tips are appreciation that should not be a factor.”
“All those fees go straight to the owner,” another claimed. “I don’t believe for a second that any of those fees do anything for the employees.”
“That is becoming more common,” a third argued. “They nickel and dime the consumer and many don’t notice.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Jason via Instagram direct message regarding the video.