Does Paying for Food via Tablet Increase Tips?

moneyAccording to an article in Marketwatch, paying for food or beverages via an iPad or other tablet payment system increases tips. I haven’t seen these at Portland restaurants yet, but they are in many coffeehouses – I paid using one this morning. Researchers say larger tips are left mostly because of the mental calculations necessary to figure the amount:

Calculating a tip takes time and frustrates many customers and, Barnhart says, studies show that suggestions are likely to lead people to tip more often and choose bigger tips if they are presented with three choices. “For most people, calculating the standard tip, 15%, isn’t a particularly easy task,” she says. If customers are offered three options—basic (15%), better (18%) and best (20%) – they tend to pick the “better” option. “More people may go for the 18% option because they don’t want to be the cheapskate who chooses the lowest option, but they also don’t want to overtip,” Barnhart adds.

Personally, I think the theory espoused above is way over complicating things. Instead, it’s more about the cashier making a direct connection between themselves, and how much a customer tips. These days, servers expect at least 18%, and by glancing at the screen, they will know immediately if you tip less. If the customer isn’t particularly happy with the service and a tip jar is used, it is easy to throw in a bit of change without the exact amount being known.

How about you? I’m curious if this system of payment encourages you to modify your tip.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. L'epicier says

    Here’s a problem I’ve encountered – let’s face it, no server is overpaid, so I am always very generous tip-wise. The ipad suggests the 15-18-20% tip, but (especially on smaller charges like in a coffee shop) I way over tip, like 30-40%. In my perhaps unique case I find that the suggested tips are never large enough. Just sayin’…

  2. Sara says

    I don’t tip at a coffee shop.
    if by coffeehouses you mean a place where I sit at a table, a waiter/waitress takes my order for a cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich, pie, breakfast, etc, and brings them to you then yes.

    • says

      Nope, I think of a coffeehouse as a place for urm.. coffee, pastries and a good book or a laptop. To me, a coffee shop is a Fuller’s type of place where the focus is more on food.

  3. PDX2FLR says

    Coffee only, I’ll leave the change (usually 50 cents). If I’m using a barista for a cappuccino and pastry I’ll tip 20% (or more).
    I can do the math, for me it’s about the attitude up front. Having the math worked out makes it easier if you’re an over tipper.

    It’s an interesting conundrum, the only way to avoid this is to pay cash and drop your bill (or change) in the tip jar. I have friends who don’t feel they need to tip for a cup of coffee. If you park yourself for considerable amounts of time working then be generous; you’re renting real estate.

    While we’re on the topic of coffee……is there a RR closer to downtown or the Pearl? I know the Burnside, N Williams, and Schoolhouse locations.

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