The Tipping Epidemic
By Lydia Ramsey
Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Have you noticed that wherever you go to make a purchase either in person or online, somebody expects a tip?.

Pre-Covid we all had a pretty good handle on the process. We knew whom to tip and how much. Sometime during Covid, the lid blew off tipping. What happened?

Let’s consider the history and the reason for tipping. Traditionally, we tipped restaurant workers. We did so because these hard-working people were not paid minimum wage. Tipping was a way of increasing their income.

We tipped people like bellhops who carried our luggage and hairdressers who made us look good. We tipped people who along the way performed extra services for us. We did so as an act of personal gratitude and recognition.

In today’s world of tipflation, tip creep and tip invasion, we can’t get away from tipping. Tips are added to services even before we receive them. Take for example, grocery delivery services. Before my order arrives, I am expected to add an online tip. I have no choice. When I pick up my pizza, I am shown a touch screen device which prompts me to choose a tip. While there is a choice of “no tip”, I feel uncomfortable clicking that option, particularly when the cashier is staring at me. I wonder whom I am tipping and for what. I am the actual delivery person!

At restaurants, the server now presents your bill on a handheld device and watches while you choose an amount. How awkward is that? And by the way, have you noticed that the amount suggested on the device is often more than you had in mind? That’s where tip creep comes in. Tips keep creeping up.

For me , the crowning blow came when I went online to order an item and was asked how much I wanted to tip. Who in the world was I tipping and for what? Needless to say, I backed out of that order as quickly as I could.

So how should you handle tip invasion in your daily life? I suggest doing what is fair and reasonable for the service provided. Because of inflation, you probably need to increase the amount you tip but keep it within your own budget.

Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about not tipping when you can’t figure out the who or the why. Guilt tipping should not be your guide.

Lydia Ramsey is an international business etiquette and modern manners expert. She is the president and founder of Lydia Ramsey, Inc., a firm based in Savannah, Georgia, offering seminars, keynote speeches and executive coaching to corporations, associations, colleges and universities. She began her career as an etiquette consultant over thirty years ago.

Among her clients are Turner Construction International, Colas International, Gulfstream Aerospace, Georgia Ports Authority, PSS World Medical, TSYS, SunTrust Bank, The PGA Tour, The American Hospital Association, The US Federal District Courts and The US Bankruptcy Court and The Insurance Underwriters of Georgia. Lydia firmly believes that etiquette in business is not about the rules; it’s about the relationships.


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