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


‘Who is this even going to?’: Customer buys water at self-checkout. She’s asked to leave a tip

'The audacity to even think to ask that.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Mar 15, 2024   Updated on Mar 15, 2024, 3:43 pm CDT

If a tree falls down in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it even make a sound? And if you tip for a purchase made at a self-checkout kiosk, who does the gratuity go to?

The latter question was prompted by an experience a TikToker named Alana (@spitsprincess) had while shopping at an airport grocery store. She processed her own sale at a self-checkout kiosk, where she bought a bottle of water she scanned and paid for herself. Then, she was asked if she wanted to leave a tip but had no idea who the gratuity was for.

“This is what people mean when they say tipping culture is insane,” she writes in a text overlay of her video, which she records from inside an airport. “I’m literally at the airport at the self-checkout machine buying a water. Self-checkout.”

She pans her camera around the store to reveal that the sign indicates the area where she’s completing her purchase is indeed dedicated to self-service. Finally, her camera ends on a touch screen that shows several tipping percentage options. She has “no tip” selected and asks aloud, “Who is this even going to? Again, self-checkout,” she says at the end of the video before the clip ultimately closes out.

Alana isn’t the first person to highlight how some self-service kiosks are asking customers if they want to tip—despite there not being a human physically present to process the transaction or take their order. A Shake Shack customer previously expressed their befuddlement when asked to tip on an order they placed at a self-service kiosk at one of the burger chain’s locations. While many viewers who replied to that particular gripe argued that the tip money goes to the workers making food and fulfilling orders, that argument doesn’t appear to hold as much luster in Alana’s case.

@spitsprincess #tippingculture #airport #traveltiktok #travelhack ♬ original sound – Hi Alana

The “tip,” in her case, would ultimately go to a convenience store worker you don’t really see, and there were numerous TikTokers who thought this was an insane notion. “This is annoying as hell for people who actually work for tips like servers bartenders hairstylist tattoo artist etc,” one wrote.

Someone else said that the self-serve kiosk gratuity request is an instance of corporate greed, stating that it was an example of companies simply attempting to extricate more money from customers’ pockets for no reason whatsoever. “Companies: We figured while we’re making you pay more, maybe you’d like to give us a little more money for nothing??” they said.

Another wrote, “The audacity to even think to ask that,” while another person added, “and that water bottle is probably $10.”

One viewer shared how tipping culture seems to have extended to online retail as well. “I bought something ONLINE last week AND IT ASKED ME TO TIP,” they wrote.

“Does the tip circulate back into your own bank acct????” another joked, highlighting that because it’s a self-service kiosk, she would effectively be giving herself a gratuity.

And for folks who are worried about tip gratuity theft, which does happen, it doesn’t help that popular point-of-sale (POS) systems like Toast make tip withholding a default setting for managers to enable and play around with. That means if a supervisor wanted to withhold a certain amount of tips on their POS system from employees, they could.

It doesn’t look like the self-service kiosk system Alana utilized in her video is a Toast machine, but there are other POS systems with literature online stating that they’re designed to allow for tips to be pooled, split, or directly paid out to the worker who processed the transaction.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Alana via TikTok comment for further information.

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*First Published: Mar 15, 2024, 9:00 pm CDT