Survey Reveals Growing Annoyance With Tipping: Time For Change?

New data from Bankrate shows that Americans have been tipping less frequently across a range of services in recent years, indicating a steady decline. The survey, conducted in May 2023 with a sample size of 2,437 U.S. adults, reveals a negative sentiment toward tipping among two-thirds (66%) of respondents. 

Of those respondents, a significant 41% believe that businesses should pay their employees better instead of relying on tipping.

Bankrate’s report further highlights several frustrations expressed by people regarding tipping culture. 30% of the respondents believe that the current tipping culture has become out of control. 16% of respondents are willing to pay higher prices if it means eliminating tipping completely. The survey also uncovers that 15% of individuals are confused about whom and how much to tip.

Interestingly, Bankrate’s data reveals that tipping culture’s perceived excesses are more prevalent among higher-earning households. 

Forty percent of those in the highest-earning households (earning $100,000-plus annually) believe that tipping culture has spiraled out of control, compared to 34% in the $80,000-$99,999 income bracket, 33% in the $50,000-$79,999 range, and 23% in the lowest-earning households (earning less than $50,000 annually).

Despite these negative views, a significant number of people still value the idea of leaving a generous tip, with 35% expressing this sentiment.

Bankrate’s senior industry analyst, Ted Rossman, offers valuable insights into the driving forces behind these shifting views and attitudes in tipping. According to him, the decline in tipping can be attributed to the current economic climate. 

“The biggest change, within the past year at least, is that inflation is leaving people with less money to go around. A lot of people seem to feel like things cost enough already, so they’re not as likely to tip on top of that,” he said, speaking to Fox Business.

“We’ve hit an inflection point where people are getting annoyed about how much things cost, combined with a growing proliferation of businesses asking for tips. I think a lot of people are saying enough is enough,” he said in another conversation with CBS MoneyWatch.

Rossman also notes that the initial surge of appreciation for service industry workers during the pandemic seems to have diminished. Moreover, people have become frustrated with the practice of being asked to tip for services that traditionally did not warrant it.

True to Rossman’s belief, the survey’s findings indicate that the pandemic’s initial impact on tipping culture has not been sustained. While some individuals reported tipping more during and after the pandemic, the majority now tip less frequently across various services.

Tipping has been a part of the United States for decades, from the days when a tip of 10% of the bill was greatly appreciated. However, there have been concerns about the rising expectations of how much makes a decent tip. 

There are also concerns about the introduction of pre-populated tip screens, which suggest preset tip amounts. usually within view of the employee receiving the tip.