Etiquette experts tell us how to handle “guilt tips.”

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Has this ever happened to you? You finish your order in a coffee shop and they turn the iPad around and ask for a tip? It seems to be happening more and more these days. Do you tip or say no thanks? We spoke to an etiquette expert about how to deal with the so-called “guilt tip.”

When it comes to tipping purchases outside of a full-service restaurant, such as a coffee shop, some people are hesitant.

“Sometimes I tip just because they’re nice to me, but seriously, I don’t feel any pressure,” said Susan Paquettte, a tipper.

“You didn’t do anything, I just went to the window and bought it, but you turn it over so I’ll leave you a tip. Okay,” Leslie Gray said.

“I always feel like I’m being sucked in. I have to give I’m under a little pressure,” said Vershion Butler.

It’s called “guilt tipping”. Tip containers are disappearing, being replaced by touchscreen tablets that recommend tipping after purchase. The worker behind the counter is usually waiting for you to move.

“What’s really happening is that it causes so much confusion for so many people, and with that feeling comes a sense of guilt when they don’t tip,” said Diane Gottsman, a state etiquette expert in Texas.

How do you deal with that?

“Don’t worry about others around you. Think of the service you received. Sort of like a tip jar,” Gottsman said.

A recent poll found that 17% of Americans say they are tipping less due to rising costs. On average, Americans tip almost 20% for seated meals. Tips for other goods and services drop to about 14%. Gottsman says if an employee just hands you a boxed item or something else, you don’t have to tip.

“I wouldn’t advise against tipping. I think tipping is a generous gesture, but you tip because you want to, you don’t tip because you feel pressured,” Gottsman said.

Crystal Peterson, co-owner of downtown Birmingham’s Yo’ Mama’s, pulls it off. She says she doesn’t push people to tip.

“I’ve had a lot of people pushing to zero. But I never mention it. I always say you have one more question and if you want to tip, do so,” Peterson said.

When you have a relationship with the person behind the counter at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant, it changes the game. Gottsman thinks you should probably tip them.

Yo’ Mama’s is popular because Peterson has that relationship with almost every customer.

“I will provide you with good customer service whether you give me a dollar or not because I just want you as a customer. We’re just trying to make them feel at home, when they walk in the door, they feel like they walked in at home, took off their shoes, and got a meal,” Peterson said.

Gottsman tells us the bottom line — if you’re seated for a meal, a tip is part of the service. But a quick back and forth at the counter requires less tipping. She also says that being kind and polite to employees and vice versa goes a long way.

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