A woman has sparked a debate about tipping etiquette after she claimed that an ice cream shop worker got upset when she didn’t tip for a $2 cone.
The TikTok user, who goes by the name @poorandhungry_, shared a video last week about her experience at a local Ben & Jerry’s. The woman, who goes by the name Syd on Instagram, started off her video by noting that she only ordered one thing: a waffle cone without the ice cream.
“I just wanted a nice, fresh, warm cone,” she said. “So I walk over to the counter, and I was like: ‘Hi, can I just have a waffle cone?’ And she goes: ‘Yeah sure, that’ll be $2.’”
The TikToker then noted that, right as she put her card on an iPad screen to pay, the option to tip came up. Syd then shared her take about why she opted not to tip for her cone.
“I didn’t say this out loud, but in my head I was like: ‘I’m not tipping you on a cone. You literally just offered me a cone,’” she explained. “The per centages were inane. I was like, I’m not tipping you $1 on a $2 cone that you just handed to me.”
Syd claimed that after she selected the “no tip” option on the screen, the Ben & Jerry’s employee was not pleased. She mimicked an upset hand gesture as she hit her hands on the table to represent the cashier’s apparent reaction to not receiving a tip.
The TikTok user noted that this response “wasn’t appropriate” even if she had gotten “$100 worth of ice and [didn’t] tip” her. She went on to question the cashier for seemingly wanting a tip.
“On top of that, Miss Girl, what were you expecting I tipped you to hand me a cone?” she said. “There wasn’t even a service being exchanged…It was a transaction. It wasn’t an act of service.”
In the caption, she also claimed that “those tipping screens are getting out of hand”.
As of 22 May, the video has more than 1.7m views, with many TikTok users in the comments criticising tipping culture in the US.
“I am 100 per cent about tipping at restaurants, but the tipping culture has gotten out of control. They want it everywhere,” one person wrote.
“There was a tipping screen at one of those frozen yoghurt places where you get everything yourself. I did all the work! Tip for what??” another added.
A third wrote: “So many people think that because you are given the option to tip, you should. A server, bartender, etc. yes. But not just anyone.”
Many people in the comments questioned other businesses for having these tipping screens.
“I ordered mason jar lids online and the tipping screen came up (for the person packing my box). Am I wrong for thinking this is crazy?” another added.
On the other hand, some viewers defended cashiers, as they aren’t the ones who set up the tipping system.
“This isn’t directed at the person who posted this, but to some of these comments, pls remember the cashier didn’t design the pos system to ask for tips,” one wrote.
“I mean it’s not her fault the tipping screen came up. She doesn’t have control over that. She was probably just having a bad day,” another agreed.
The Independent has contacted Syd and Ben & Jerry’s for comment.
Syd’s viral video comes amid the ongoing debate about tipping culture. Earlier this month, a report from The Wall Street Journal found that American customers are being prompted to leave tips in self-checkout lines at airports, grocery stores, stadiums, and cafes. Ultimately, this causes customers to be unsure about who exactly their generosity would benefit.
The increased use of tip screens have been called an example of “tip creep,” a phenomenon that has seen companies prompting customers to leave more sizable tips in more transactional situations since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Many people claimed that they were asked to leave up to a 20 per cent tip at a self-checkout line. Others claimed that these screens were a form of “emotional blackmail”, as customers are being guilted into tipping when they ordinarily wouldn’t.
As tipping practices continue to rapidly change, many people are left wondering how much to tip. Speaking to The Independent, Diane Gottsman – a national etiquette expert, author, and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, said that “tipping 20 per cent is standard for restaurant servers” and “delivery drivers should also receive 15 to 20 per cent when there is inclement weather and large orders to be delivered.