High prices call into question the tipping system in the United States

High prices call into question the tipping system in the United States

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In the United States, the tipping system is often a headache for tourists and a must when going to a restaurant. But with inflation and high prices, more and more Americans are asking the question before leaving a tip.

With RFI’s New York correspondent Loubna Anaki

“It’s really everywhere,” says Sam Morgan, who now finds it hard to escape tipping. “You go to the butcher shop, have a coffee, a bagel to go… Everywhere! Anything goes now. Like, I’m going to get my hair waxed and I have to leave at least $20-$30 as a tip! It’s crazy says this man.

Like this New Yorker, more and more Americans are complaining about this pervasive tipping culture. Some experts even speak of tip fatigue in this country where “tipping” – leaving 15% or 20% on the bill – is a sacred rule in restaurants and cafes.

“If you eat in a restaurant, of course you have to tip. But when you eat to go, it’s weird! The person is only at the machine, I could do it myself on my phone! It cannot be said that it is complicated,” he says a woman.

“I find it very aggressive”

This generalization of tips has increased since the Covid-19 pandemic, as many establishments and stores have been equipped with electronic machines to avoid changing cash. Machines that automatically offer the option to leave a tip, regardless of the service. “Any place that has these screens, you’re going to have to tip. It seems very aggressive to me,” says one man.

Although Americans say they are tired, they say they understand the difficulties faced by service workers, where much of their salary depends on tips. Some suggest that it is time to reform the system.

In some places, things are changing. The capital, Washington, in November joined states that impose a minimum wage, including for tipped employees.

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