Tipping More If Everyone Knows

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tippingDipJar, which first hit the market in 2012, allows customers to use their credit card to leave gratuity. Now the company is gearing up to introduce a new model that lights up when a customer leaves a tip, alerting those around them.

The company says the new model was in response to customers not always knowing whether their tips were being received, but also wanting recognition for tipping.

“[Customers] want to make sure it worked, but also display to baristas that they are tipping, and to the other people behind them in line that they are being generous,” said CEO Ryder Kessler.

Fresco Gelateria Owner Ilias Iliopoulos in New York City, who has used a DipJar in his gelato and coffee shop since 2012, also said customers frequently ask if their card worked. “Our shop is pretty loud … you don’t want people always asking if it went through.”

Dipjar plans to release around 500 machines into the market place in June, mostly in New York City but has orders from across the country.

The etiquette of who to tip and how much has become murky as the practice becomes more widespread.

“It has become pretty ubiquitous,” said Richard Seltzer, a professor of Political Science at Howard University and author of Gratuity: A Contextual Understanding of Tipping Norms from the Perspective of Tipped Employees. “There’s a change box in every place you go … people are expecting a certain amount of tips to come in.”

But Kessler said his company isn’t trying to introduce tipping where it doesn’t conventionally happen. “Wherever people want to be generous there should be a DipJar. Our goal isn’t to force people into a tipping environment.”

While DipJar allows credit card users to show their appreciation, it’s not always replacing the old-school glass tip jar. At Fresco Gelateria, Iliopoulos said the majority of tips are still from cash left in the jar at an 80-20 split.

There’s also social pressure surrounding tipping, experts said, with people not wanting to look cheap.

Some sales systems used on tablets present customers with the decision to leave a tip when paying with a credit card, an option that Kessler said can make patrons and employees feel uncomfortable.

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