Starbucks Staffer: Wow, Are These Tip Screens Awkward

Employee at coffee chain details how gratuity prompts are a double-edged sword
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2023 2:05 PM CDT
Starbucks Staffer: Wow, Are These Tip Screens Awkward
The Starbucks logo is seen on a storefront on Oct. 14 in Boston.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Most service workers wouldn't turn away a decent tip. Now, however, an increasing number of businesses are using gratuity prompts built right in to electronic transactions—aka "tip screens." It's a convenient way to remind consumers to pony up a few extra bucks, but also one that brings a new level of discomfort for staffers who are assisting them. That's the take of an anonymous Starbucks worker who speaks to Insider, noting that it's become stressful for staffers to appear to customers like they're fishing for the tips themselves. The worker details the "awkward" tip-prompt process, especially at the drive-thru. That's when customers are often distracted by other things in their car (ie, the radio, their phones), and so need to be reminded by workers to leave a tip, or not, in the card reader.

"I can tell they get annoyed," the worker notes. They say that because they work for Starbucks, which offers a nationwide $15-per-hour minimum salary, they're not as desperate for tips as some other workers, and add that it can feel weird asking for a tip on a $3 cup of joe (the lowest preset tip option is $1). People aren't always nice about it, either, the worker adds. On the flip side, the Starbucks staffer concedes the tip screens have doubled her tip intake—and so she's not going to look that gratuity gift horse in the mouth. "Maybe it's worth the awkwardness for both the customer and the workers," they note. Still, "I'm sorry you feel pressured to tip and I won't hate you if you don't." Read the essay in full here. (More Starbucks stories.)

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