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‘My rule is if they don’t serve me at a table, I don’t tip’: Coffee shop customer says he’s sick of ‘tip-jacking.’ What is that?

'This is the world we live in now. You just tip for everything.'


Maya Wray


Posted on Nov 23, 2023   Updated on Nov 23, 2023, 6:45 am CST

A TikToker has summed up American tipping culture in just one new word. 

It’s a clever combination of the words “tip” and “hijacking,” apparently invented by user Stephen Papageorge (@stephenpapageorge) to explain a recent trend that has baffled Americans on how and when to properly tip service workers. 

In a recently viral video originally posted on Sept. 30, Papageorge said he visited a new coffee shop where customers are able to serve themselves coffee to their liking before paying a cashier at a register. He poured himself a plain black coffee that cost “$4 and a few cents” before approaching to pay, he explained. 

“I’m not even complaining about [the price] because that’s the world we live in,” Papageorge clarified for over 143,600 viewers. “Coffee is just way overpriced. That’s on me.” 

When the cashier presented the iPad to Papageorge, he was faced with two questions. 

“You’re asking me, ‘Do I need to give you $1, $2 or $3 for me to pour coffee?’” Papageorge said in the video. “I picked $1 because I just wanted to move on with my day.” 

This brought his total up to $5 and some change, he revealed, but the cashier wasn’t through calculating his order total just yet. The second screen asked him if he wanted to round up his total in order to donate to the Maui Fund in order to support victims of the 2023 Hawaii wildfires.

“Of course I want to give money to the Maui fund,” Papageorge said, sharing that he agreed to round up to the next dollar amount, which ultimately brought his total to $6.

He then visited a farmers’ market where he selected and bagged a range of fruits and vegetables himself before visiting a counter to run his payment card. It was there that he encountered “the screen of greed” for the second time that day.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘You should tip me. I did all the work,’” Papageorge recalled, aghast. 

A Pew Research Center study showed that only a quarter of Americans always or often choose to tip in a coffee shop, a small percentage compared to that in sit-down restaurants or bars.

The study cited the rise in digital payment platforms, such as the iPad in the coffee shop Papageorge visited, and other “devices that encourage tipping” as contributing factors to Americans’ uncertainty around tipping practices.

@stephenpapageorge #tip #tipping #tipjar #tipjacking #ripoff #ripoffs ♬ original sound – Stephen Papageorge

“This is the world we live in now. You just tip for everything,” Papageorge observed in his TikTok. “Every time I turn around, somebody’s asking me for a tip.”

He speculated that restaurants currently struggle to hire staff because they would “actually have to work for their tips.”

“Go work at this coffee shop. Make people go around and make their own coffee,” he suggested. “Go work at the farmers’ market. Have people pick out all their own fruits and vegetables and stuff like that, and then you just get tipped for that.” 

Viewers offered a simple solution: Just don’t tip. 

“I stopped tipping in ‘self-serve’ establishments. I felt guilty at first, but not any more since I’ve learned it does not go to the ‘server,’” one revealed, broadly.

“I was at bingo buying my cards at the counter/register and they have a tip jar right there! A home made tip card at that! I only tip at restaurants!” another shared. 

Others described what tipping would look like as a practice in their own careers. “I’ve been a teacher for nearly 30 years. Only tip I get is a $10 Starbucks card from a student at Christmas,” a teacher joked. 

“I was a nurse,” one viewer said. “Did I get tipped for doing an I.V., a dressing change???” 

A service industry worker shared their belief that tipping has “gotten out of hand” in the U.S. “I do not round up,” they added. “No corporation is using my donation as a tax credit.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Papageorge via TikTok direct message.

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*First Published: Nov 23, 2023, 10:00 am CST