Got tipping rage? This barista reveals what it’s like to be behind the tip screen

Philadelphia barista Dylan Schenker provides insights into the changing and contentious nature of tipping in the service industry.

The backdrop: Barista Dylan Schenker has worked in the coffee industry since 2010 and feels the frustrations of the evolving tipping culture.
* He highlights the awkwardness of standing behind the tip screen as customers decide whether and how much to tip.
* His earnings from tips have increased significantly since he started, especially during the pandemic, and now he relies on tips to earn a livable wage.
* Tipping makes up 10-20% of Schenker’s income, but this varies greatly from week to week based on customers’ tipping habits.

Attitudes toward tipping: There are common misperceptions about tipping, including its role as a bonus for good service and how it factors into workers’ wages.
* Sylvia Allegretto, a senior economist and author of a recent study on tipping, argues that tips serve as a wage subsidy to the employer, not as a bonus for good service.
* Allegretto points out that tipped workers in the U.S. often earn a subminimum wage of $2.13 an hour with the expectation that tips will bring up their earnings to the minimum wage, but this does not always happen.

Economic implications: Aside from the contentious discourse around tipping, the practice also has critical economic implications in industries relying on low-wage workers.
* Tipping allows businesses to subsidize lower prices for consumers by paying employees less, implicitly treating tips as a part of workers’ intended wages.
* Metrics show that customers’ attitudes towards tipping are increasingly negative, with tipping down from last year in several sectors.

Impact on workers: As customers grapple with the tipping culture, service industry workers like Schenker are caught in the crossfire.
* Schenker admits that it can be demoralizing when a customer opts out of leaving a tip, especially when they seem to disregard the quality of service provided.
* Despite facing backlash online, Schenker maintains that tip refusal by customers is tantamount to taking advantage of workers in industries where tipping is expected and factored into wages.

View original article on NPR

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