Here’s a tip for the city’s supposedly beleaguered stores and fast-food establishments:
Quit shaking us down for “optional” tips. It’s the latest, dehumanizing insult to consumers in an age of ever-plummeting service standards.
“Tip creep” is another post-pandemic exercise in profiteering disguised as aid to under-paid, overworked and otherwise abused victims of rapacious capitalism.
Tip-bullying has spread to where employees do nothing more than tally up your order and put the goods in a bag, such as at bakeries and pharmacies. There are SELF checkout machines at airports and sports stadiums that ask for tips!
I even spotted a tips jar on the counter at Book-Off on West 45th Street. Who tips at a Japanese-owned chain that sells used books, CDs and toys? Maybe the same suckers who donate to an obscure “children’s retinal charity,” as Walgreen’s urges us to do when we buy so much as a pack of gum.
Sure, the businesses insist that tips aren’t mandatory.
But if even one in twenty Starbucks customers is shamed into ponying up an extra $1 or $5 for a cup of coffee, it adds up to a pretty penny over the course of a day. The question, though, is for whom?
Employees who supposedly share in a pool? Or does it sneakily go to managers, as is the notorious norm in many sit-down restaurants?
I was asked to tip $1, $2 or $5 when I used by Amex card to buy a $7.50 Starbucks grilled cheese sandwich on West 48th Street. An employee — oops, “partner,” as the company calls even its lowliest wage-earner — grumbled about the six-months-old tips policy, “Customers hate it and it makes my job harder.”
When I asked the barista how much in tips he and his co-workers actually get, he made a face and clammed up.
Starbucks boasts of providing its “partners” with generous health insurance, discounted company stock, parental leave and commuter benefits among numerous goodies that working stiffs at other chains can only envy.
Yet, it now regards “partners” as little more worthy of respect than change-grubbing squeegee men. Maybe it thinks that a few extra bucks in tips will fend off a swelling movement to unionize the chain.
The Pain Quotidian chain wrangles tips whether we pay with cash or credit. The one on Sixth Avenue where I declined to tip on a $3 blueberry muffin I bought on Amex also displayed a large tips jar stuffed with bills.
Who tips on a $3 item? For good measure, the muffin was stale.
Uber technically doesn’t require tipping. But, ha, ha! Stiff them this time and you’ll take the bus next time.
When I once tipped $3 tip on a trip for which I’d normally leave $5, I received an immediate “request” to explain. I tactfully cited “navigation” issues rather than “a driver who shouldn’t be behind the wheel.”
We’re heading for the tipping point — literally. A public fed up with being asked to tip for every little thing will stop tipping for anything. Which will only hurt the workers who actually provide service.
This story originally appeared on NYPost