Are new electronic payment systems causing customers to tip more?

Posted at 1:48 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 14:48:55-04

You’ve probably noticed new electronic payment screens when purchasing coffee or other items at a counter. With the new systems, do customers end up tipping more?  

An automatic tipping system called Toast says since 2017, quick service restaurants using their system have received tips on nearly 60 percent of credit card orders, compared to 28 percent previously.    

"The basic idea is to make it very easy for you, very convenient for you, and create an expectation that this is a norm,” says Dr. Kevin Masters, a professor at CU Denver. “And this is what’s usually done."   

Dr. Masters says the psychology behind the process is to cause stress for customers, which makes them tip no matter how much they decide.   

"These ones where you are at a coffee shop or taxi places like that, you're given this automatic tip, especially if there is a line behind you there is a pressure," he says.   

If you think you're the only one who feels awkward in this situation, you're not alone. Nathan, who works as a barista, says the feeling is mutual. But he does believe he gets tipped more with automatic tipping screens.    

Dr. Master's says whether or not you tip, it's all psychological with the pressure you feel.

"Most of us, I think, would rather just get it over with,” he says. “So, if it costs me a few more cents on this cup of coffee, [no] big deal."