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Self-Checkout Machines Ask for Tips, but Where Does the Money Go?
MAY 16, 2023  (9:51)

Self-Checkout Machines Ask for Tips, but Where Does the Money Go?

Self-checkout machines have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, with customers being asked to leave a tip even though there is no human interaction involved.

This has led to debate over whether self-tipping is merely a way for businesses to generate more revenue or a legitimate way to help employees who might not otherwise be paid fairly.

Businesses argue that the tips given at self-checkouts are often split between all employees and serve as an important means of boosting their wages. However, many customers feel this is an example of "tip creep" - the phenomenon of asking customers to leave higher tips in transactional situations - and question where the extra money is going.

William Michael Lynn, professor of consumer behaviour and tip culture at Cornell University's Nolan School of Hotel Administration, explains:

"They're taking advantage of an opportunity."

It has been suggested that the pressure customers might feel when prompted for a tip could be seen as emotional blackmail – with Garrett Bemiller commenting that he felt ‘guilted' into leaving a 10–20% tip on a $6 water bottle at an airport self-checkout machine.

Holona Ochs from Lehigh university goes further in her assessment:

"Self-checkout tipping exploits the high adherence to tipping norms as a way to generate more revenue for the company."

Despite companies claiming that tips given via these machines are split among all employees, experts have pointed out that protections for tipped workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act don't extend to machines – meaning employee wages may not benefit from these additional gratuities.

The debate over self-checkouts has spilled onto social media - with consumers across the board questioning whether or not leaving tips via these machines is necessary.

With both sides having valid arguments - businesses looking to boost staff pay and customers feeling guilted into leaving gratuities they don't want or need - it's clear that something needs to change for people's concerns to be taken seriously and addressed appropriately.

Source: NY Post