To tip or not to tip? Is inflation discouraging people from leaving gratuity?
HOUSTON - As we continue to battle high inflation and rising interest rates, there's another expense that's getting harder to escape.
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More businesses are adding an option to leave a tip, and consumers are, often, forced to make a decision just to complete the sale.
When Ara Danaian opened his Fulshear barbershop a year ago, he pledged to pay his barbers and stylists a decent rate. However, gratuities are part of making ends meet, and when customers check out they're faced with an automated tip suggestion between 25% and 30%, or a custom amount. Danaian says no one has complained.
"Since we are face-to-face with a client, usually they don't say anything, and they just do it," he said. "I feel like, the next time, they try to bring cash, so they know how to tip accordingly."
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The tipping topic is hot on social media, particularly the growing trend of those automatic tipping prompts that might leave some feeling pressured to pay more.
There are so many more places with their hands out. Starbucks recently came under fire for prompting credit-card customers to tip, sometimes generously, when they order a cup of coffee.
On Facebook, FOX 26 viewers have a wide range of ideas about how they handle tipping. Glenda Trapp Wardrup, for example, said "Tip well! These people work hard for not a lot of money."
While Jerrod Dunn says, "I tip the wait staff, if there’s no wait staff I do not tip."
And from Linda Powers, "I ignore the suggested tip and customize to my budget."
Houston's etiquette expert Darian Lewis says expanded tipping grew out of the pandemic as thanks to service workers who were still on the job. However, with more hands out, he says those expecting a tip have a simple job.
"Make sure that your service is consistent with your expectation for tipping," he said. "If you want to generate higher tips, make sure that your service dictates that."
Lewis also consumers to follow their gut and leave the tip they feel is appropriate, rather than succumbing to pressure; there are plenty of places to practice.
Social media even includes stories about mortgage companies and apartment rental offices looking for tips. If your gut says that's just wrong, it probably is.