What is tipflation? When to tip and when to skip

ByIsabel Rosales KTRK logo
Monday, December 5, 2022
Avoiding 'tipflation': When to tip and when to skip
Shoppers report seeing more and more tip requests in growingly unusual places.

You've heard of "shrinkflation" and "greedflation" before. Well, here's another one to add to your vocabulary: "tipflation."

Shoppers report seeing more and more tip requests in growingly unusual places.

You might not be able to escape it while holiday shopping, even from home.

"I actually prefer not to call it tipflation but a tipping invasion."

It's the unwelcome shopping surprise that has social media buzzing.

"And they're talking about 18% gratuity is already included in the bill. Girl, it's water," said one TikTok user.

Tips -- a staple of the service industry - are now extending far beyond.

RELATED: Why are shopping records being broken with a looming recession?

"In the drive through and they've been asking for a tip," said another TikTok poster.

On TikTok, you'll quickly find folks who aren't too pleased about it.

"Ordering it online myself says 'would you like to add a tip at the bottom?' A tip?! For what," said another poster. "That's a little too crazy for me and I refuse."

So what's the deal?

"It's a relatively new phenomenon," said Dipayan Biswas, a marketing and business professor at the University of South Florida. "I see it becoming more widespread."

RELATED: Consumer Reports: Rules for tipping

Professor Biswas has studied tipping for a decade. He said this new tipping trend started with the boom of digital kiosks, then the pandemic, plus inflation.

More businesses are now allowing tips to make jobs more lucrative -- at your expense.

"Like, I'm sick and tired of tipping right? So that's my biggest worry, that it might actually affect the industry where it really matters the most," Biswas said.

"The very concept of a tip is that we are rewarding a service employee who's being paid less than minimum wage," said "Mister Manners" Thomas P. Farley, an etiquette expert.

Farley has a "tip without hesitation list," and just three people make the cut:

  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Washroom attendants
  • 'I really wonder where is the line? Will you one day be in your doctor's office or your dentist's office, will you be tipping," Farley said.

    RELATED: Study: Nearly two-thirds of Uber riders don't tip their drivers

    When it comes to holiday shopping, his top tip to avoid tipping is to pay cash.

    But if plastic is a must, he said "you need to own your position, you do not need to feel guilty about it."

    There's power in saying "no."