To tip, or not to tip? That is the question many Americans are grappling with in a country where the tip is king — but even at a grocery store or for a bunch of flowers?
“Either way, you feel guilty,” said Matt Schottland, 41, in downtown Washington, a salad and a fruit juice in hand.
In the US, tipping is not a matter of debate in restaurants. A gratuity of about 15 to 20 percent of the value of a meal is a must, as it often makes up the bulk of the waiter’s salary.
What about for a sandwich to go? For Schottland, outside of restaurants, the answer is generally no, unless the employees are “super nice,” or he is feeling particularly generous, he said.
No solution is perfect.
If he tips, he might feel “guilty in some way or annoyed or resentful” for spending more money, and if he does not leave anything, he feels “guilty” toward the employees, he said.
“It’s not a great system,” he said.
The dilemma is relatively new. Tipping is spreading into more and more walks of life, making bills heftier in businesses where it was never expected before.
In response, experts warn of the risk of “tip fatigue,” a scenario in which Americans, overworked and hit by inflation, would no longer know where to tip, or how much.
That phenomenon is in turn likely to open up debate on the increasingly criticized system of remuneration in the hospitality industry.
Dipayan Biswas, professor of marketing at the University of South Florida, said that this expansion is largely due to “digital kiosks,” the electronic checkouts that have become ubiquitous in the past few years.
On these screens, on which customers pay their bill, companies can add a lot of options, including tips. To not cough up, the customer must deliberately click on the “no tip” button.
“That makes a lot of people uncomfortable. They don’t want to do that,” Biswas said. “Companies utilize the guilt factor.”
The strategy works on Hannah Koban, 30, who said that she does “tip a lot more than I used to.”
The continual request for a gratuity for the server “does feel like a little bit more pressure,” the lawyer said.
Digital kiosks sometimes suggest amounts of up to 30 percent of the total, well beyond the usual rate.
As a result, “trying to figure out like, when to tip, when not to tip, what is the appropriate tip, is it like always 20 percent now? I don’t know, and so I feel like I’m googling constantly when I should be tipping,” Koban said.
She said that while she might smile at the whole thing, she has “friends who are quite upset.”
Biswas said he fears that if Americans feel they have to tip everyone, there will be less for those who really need it the most, such as restaurant waiting staff.
Saru Jayaraman — president of the One Fair Wage association, which defends a “fair” salary for waiters — said that to speak of tip fatigue is “missing the point.”
“If we’re sick of continuously tipping, then join the movement to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic, by reducing the number of times people were eating out, exposed the fragility of the remuneration system for waiters, in which their bosses pay less than the legal minimum wage. While Americans have since then returned to restaurants, the sector — known for its stressful working conditions — is still struggling to recruit.
The industry is undergoing “a revolution” because its employees are “resigning en masse,” Jayaraman said.
“Workers are saying: ‘I just won’t do it anymore,’” she said.
Things are changing. The US capital, Washington, in November last year joined a number of states in imposing a minimum wage, even for employees who are paid with tips.
“As long as there is a subminimum wage that exists for some, other industries are going to want to get the same free labor the restaurant industry has access to,” Jayaraman said.
The Investment Commission yesterday approved a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) application to invest an additional US$3.5 billion in its Arizona subsidiary to manufactured advanced chips. The world’s largest contract chipmaker’s board of directors last month approved the funding project after TSMC started moving manufacturing equipment into the fab in December last year in preparation for the production of 4-nanometer chips next year. TSMC said it has also commenced the second phase of facility construction in Arizona. The second fab is to produce semiconductors using 3-nanometer technology in 2026. Altogether, TSMC plans to spend US$40 billion on the Arizona fabs, doubling its
KEY SECTOR: Taiwan’s new chip legislation is insufficient, and a more strategic ‘chip act’ that covers the whole semiconductor ecosystem is needed, MediaTek’s chairman said MediaTek Inc (聯發科) chairman Rick Tsai (蔡明介) yesterday urged the government to formulate a state semiconductor strategy and comprehensive “chip act” that includes local chip designers and smaller-scale semiconductor companies, as they are facing intensifying competition from China. The government is playing an increasingly important role in safeguarding the local semiconductor industry’s competitiveness, given that the US, the EU and Japan are offering hefty subsidies and significant tax incentives to build semiconductor capacity domestically, as they have realized the strategic importance of semiconductors, Tsai said. To implement such a program, the government should take steps to finance a “chip act,” Tsai said
Microsoft Corp has threatened to cut off access to its Internet search data, which it licenses to rival search engines, if they do not stop using it as the basis for their own artificial intelligence (AI) chat products, people familiar with the dispute have said. The software maker licenses the data in its Bing search index — a map of the Internet that can be quickly scanned in real time — to other companies that offer Web search, such as Apollo Global Management Inc’s Yahoo and DuckDuckGo. Last month, Microsoft integrated a cousin of ChatGPT, OpenAI’s AI-powered chat technology, into Bing. Rivals
MOUNTING PRESSURE: Although bank failures in the US and Europe would not cause systemic risks, it would dampen consumers’ willingness to spend, GlobalWafers said GlobalWafers Co (環球晶圓), the world’s third-largest silicon wafer supplier, yesterday said that the financial turmoil in the US and Europe has dimmed the outlook for chip demand in the second half of this year, as growing economic uncertainty could dampen consumer spending. The Hsinchu-based wafer manufacturer said it is seeing greater pressure from economic uncertainty on the industry’s recovery, as customers would have not expected Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and a tier-one bank like Credit Suisse Group SA to collapse suddenly. Although the failures are unlikely to cause systemic risks, consumers would be cautious of spending on non-essential items, such