Absurd: The self-check-out kiosk at Newark Airport asks for tips

While I’m not one of the most anti-tip people, this is really crossing the line.

15-20% tip on airport self checkout transaction?!

Airport concessions are known for their inflated prices, especially in the US. While I can imagine that the costs are higher (rent is expensive at airports, employees are often paid more, etc.), the prices are still quite extreme at times.

But that pales in comparison to what appears to be a new trend. A viral tweet shows a person being asked to tip at the self-check-out kiosk at Newark Airport. This is in one of those airport concessions that sells all sorts of packaged and prepared products, and this person buys a $15.99 chicken salad and a $4.70 candy bar. Paying close to $23 for these two things is bad enough.

Worse still, when she checks out, she is asked if she would like a tip. And it’s not even that the recommended tips are in the 5-15% range, but rather that the recommended tip amount is in the 15-20% range. Yes, for a self check out machine.

This is beyond ridiculous

As I said at the beginning of the post, I’m not usually anti-tipping opponent. I mean, I don’t like the US tipping system because I wish workers would get higher wages from the start. However, I also realize that many in the hospitality industry make a living from tips and I want them to be well rewarded and I will not take my frustrations with the system out on them.

But imagining a machine asking for tips in an airport shop is enough to make me wonder if I’m actually in an alternate reality:

  • Who do the machine tips go to? The person checking themselves out, the greedy company asking for these tips, the person restocking the shelves, or…?
  • Isn’t the point of these self-checkout machines to eliminate staff? So the companies not only want cost savings through fewer employees, but also tips for this innovation?
  • It would be bad enough if they asked for a 5-15% tip or something, but I love that the tipping range for the machine is 15-20%; Yes, the machine where you pay for your candy bar deserves the same tip as a waiter in a restaurant

Let me take it one step further – even if a human were to check you out, I would find the concept of tipping ridiculous. Maybe I usually tip too much, and I tip housekeepers in hotels, I tip in cafes, etc. But if you’re just buying a packaged good from a store, it’s absurd that you’d be asked to tip at all of whether a human or a machine is burdening you.

This “Tipflation” thing is definitely real…

bottom line

I don’t normally have a problem tipping in the United States, not because I like the system but because I recognize that people do it for a living and I don’t think punishing the hardworking frontline staff ever the solution is.

The point where I draw the line is when airport self-checkout machines require a 15-20% tip to pay for your overpriced pre-packaged items.

What do you think is an appropriate tip for a self-checkout kiosk? 😉

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