Waitress at an independent restaurant says Starbucks’ new feature is ruining her tips

@kd81322/TikTok Manu Padilla/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘I make $2.13 an hour as a server. I rely on tips’: Restaurant waitress says Starbucks’ new feature is ruining her tips. Here’s why

'You poor, poor, pitiful thing. It must suck.'


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Jan 1, 2024   Updated on Jan 17, 2024, 9:35 am CST

In a striking TikTok video that has captivated over 247,000 viewers, user Mrs. KD (@kd81322) expresses her unequivocal criticism of what she perceives as an excessive and unjustifiable tipping culture. One server, in the comments, claims it could harm people who rely on tips. The video—a follow-up to a previous video—is a direct response to employees and broader audience feedback on her earlier comments about Starbucks tipping practices.

Mrs. KD opened her video with a clear message: “Yesterday, I made a video about tipping and how it’s out of control, and I was specifically talking about Starbucks.” This sets the stage for a deeper dive into her frustration with the tipping system, especially regarding service jobs like those at Starbucks. The chain introduced tipping in late 2022.

Her no-holds-barred approach quickly becomes evident as she addresses the employees’ reactions to her original post.

The video escalates as she acknowledges the responses from Starbucks workers, some of which she found to be “a little damn unhinged.” She doesn’t shy away from expressing her astonishment and disapproval, sarcastically remarking on their wage complaints, “Oh my God, you work your ass off making cups of coffee, and you only make $15 an hour? You poor, poor, pitiful thing. It must suck.”

Mrs. KD’s commentary is replete with biting sarcasm as she compares making coffee to other more labor-intensive roles, “Can I take him to the construction guy who works outside in the hundred-degree heat, or they’re freezing cold when he makes $18 an hour?” This rhetorical question emphasizes her belief that while all work is valuable, the physical and mental demands of different jobs vary significantly, and this should be reflected in wage and tipping expectations.

Her skepticism about the entitlement and expectations of some workers continues as she insinuates a disconnect with the realities of work and earning, “Your parents are the ones that when you wanted something for Christmas, they just handed it to you, and you had no idea that the real world wasn’t like that.” She suggests that a spoiled upbringing has led to unrealistic expectations about work and compensation in adult life.

The monologue is laden with criticism of what she perceives as a coddled workforce, “Working your ass off in an air conditioning facility where you have a drink at your disposable anytime. Or snacks. Hmm. Must be rough.” Here, Mrs. KD is mocking the idea that working conditions in a place like Starbucks are as challenging as employees make them out to be, especially when compared to more demanding and less accommodating jobs.

Despite acknowledging the difficulty of subsisting on $15 an hour, Mrs. KD is unsympathetic to those who complain excessively about their wages. “I’m fully aware that you can’t live off $15 an hour. But I’m also aware that if you want a better job, go get one,” she asserts, implying that personal initiative is critical in improving one’s economic situation–without acknowledging structural economic issues.

One woman, however, noted: “I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t be judging anyone. That’s what’s wrong with this world is people who judge other people. Who cares if they complain? Let them. We are ALL STRUGGLING!”

Many in the comment section agree entirely with Mrs. KD’s message on tipping culture. “Omg you are literally my favorite! Tipping culture is absolutely ridiculous, especially when you are asked for a tip BEFORE you have received your order or service,” wrote a fan. 

A commenter, a server, presented a unique view, saying, “I make $2.13 an hour as a server 😭😭 I rely on tips & places like Starbucks making tipping a thing has encouraged people to stop tipping at all so servers are struggling!!” She added that she was sympathetic to service workers but said, somewhat ironically, “handing me my coffee is not a service.” 

Notably, while Mrs. KD’s video strongly criticizes tipping culture and employee attitudes, it’s set against a backdrop of significant economic challenges and changes in the labor market. What appears to be lost, however, is that the proliferation of the tipping “culture” is also a symptom of more significant cost-of-living/inflation issues and, at times, a result of employers attempting to escape paying their employees more via an unethical capture of customer goodwill. In fact, there are reports of companies pushing tipping onto customers to shield themselves from a potential recession—which could directly effect workers that rely on tips.

Amid a broader conversation about fair wages and worker satisfaction, Starbucks made efforts to increase its employees’ wages, aiming for an average pay of $17 an hour through the summer of 2023. The move was part of a more significant trend of businesses recognizing the need to adjust wages amidst rising living costs and economic uncertainty. Workers that rely on tips, say from a competing coffee shop, may see tipping at monster companies like Starbucks as a significant issue.

@kd81322 The poor baristas of the world 🙄 #starbucks #barista #baristaproblems #inflation #isaidwhatisaid #thebluntblond ♬ original sound – ✙ 𝙼𝚛𝚜.𝙺𝙳 ✙

As her video continues to generate discussion and debate, Mrs. KD’s forthright words add a provocative voice to the ongoing discourse surrounding labor, compensation, tipping, and the value of work. Her video and the responses highlight the complexity and contentious nature of these issues. 

The Daily Dot has reached out Starbucks via email, and also to Mrs. KD (@kd81322) via TikTok comment for further commentary on the Stabucks tipping debate her video has spurred. Her perspective, while controversial, sheds light on the broader societal and economic tensions that permeate discussions of work and worth in the service industry and beyond.

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*First Published: Jan 1, 2024, 2:00 am CST