America’s confusing tipping culture

  • TikTokers who have visited or relocated to the US are unanimous in their confusion about the tipping culture.
  • Many wonder why coffee shops ask for tips when ordering takeout.
  • Some American TikTokers have responded to explain their opinion on the need for tipping.

TikTokers around the world complain that they are surprised by the tipping culture in the US.

Tipping is not a cultural norm in many countries outside the US, and Americans who have moved abroad, as well as foreigners who have visited the US on vacation, are turning to TikTok to voice grievances about the practice.

One of the most common questions many of these users have is why they are asked to tip in places where they have not sat down at the table, such as a coffee shop.

“Why do I have to tip 20% to have someone pour coffee out of the machine and hand it to me?” asked a user in a video posted on June 9 that received 137,000 views.

The TikToker went on to say that she moved to the US 10 years ago after living in Poland, where she worked as a waitress but didn’t usually get tips from customers. Her post prompted dozens of commenters from different countries around the world to share their experiences of tipping in their own countries, with many users in Europe saying they had never tipped their waiter in a coffee shop.

Other users on TikTok have shared stories of not tipping or not realizing that tipping was expected when visiting the US, leading to awkward interactions with staff.

A TikToker whose bio indicates she is based in London, where it’s more common for venues to put a voluntary service charge on the check rather than expecting a tip, recalled a moment when she was a waiter at a bubble tea shop in New Jersey completely changed his behavior towards her and became unfriendly after she failed to tip at the checkout.

“The tipping culture in America is terrible,” she captioned her post.

Another British TikToker posted a video with a story about visiting a busy bar in New York in January. After ordering a few drinks and having a quick chat with the bartender before paying, the TikToker said she was confronted about not leaving a tip.

“She was like, ‘We live on tips, you have to tip. This is America,” the TikToker said, playing the bartender’s response.

“I don’t see how they can justify that, but here we are. That’s the tipping culture in America to which they’re entitled,” said the British TikToker, who explained that she didn’t think it made sense for staff to expect a tip from everyone, one of the hundreds of customers at the crowded venue all because she felt that the preparation of the drinks did not require much effort.

The video drew mixed reactions, with some users saying America’s tipping culture was too extreme in their opinion, while others defended bartenders and wait staff for requiring tips, as many places still pay workers a “tip wage.” “It’s a lower minimum wage that’s supposed to account for tips.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, tipped workers can only be paid $2.13 an hour, even though the federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Some American TikTokers have used the app to explain to visitors and newcomers to the US the need for tipping, based on how the government handles hospitality payments.

Tipping etiquette is a highly controversial topic on TikTok. Some US-based YouTubers have recently complained that they think cultural expectations around tipping are getting out of hand.

In May, a user said that a Ben & Jerry’s cashier was upset that she didn’t tip a $2 bag. She was angered by the idea of ​​tipping for such a small item, and described the waiter’s job of making the ice cream and handing it to her as a “transaction” rather than a “service” that would justify a tip.

The video garnered over 670,000 likes from users who seemed to agree, but once again cultural norms came into play. “As a Brit, I find America’s tipping culture wild,” read one top comment, which drew 47 replies as people debated the topic. It seems that the US discourse on tipping culture is going nowhere.

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