Daily Mail

Why should I be asked to TIP when I shop online?

- By Rachel Johnson

THe two things that scare me most about going to the U.S.? Guns — and tipping. When I went to New York in December, every interactio­n was grimly transactio­nal, from the man who handed me a trolley at the airport to the cab driver who got very lost trying to find my hotel. Then, when I went down to the cool, street-level cafe of said hotel, I was asked to load a 20 per cent tip when I tapped to pay for a takeaway americano. I hadn’t even sat down!

I refused and the hot beverage was delivered with icy rage. Fine by me. It was my small protest against being guilt-tripped at every turn — the custom that makes daily life in the U.S. an anxious minefield of microaggre­ssions. Or even macro.

I remember being chased down Fifth avenue by a waiter shouting: why had we left only a 20 per cent tip?

Problem is, what happens in america doesn’t stay in america.

The clammy-making culture of adding a large gratuity on top of something that you’ve already paid for has now arrived on our shores — in a new and particular­ly insidious form.

Several online retailers who use the Shopify payment system have introduced the option to add a chunky tip on top of your basket total at checkout.

Online boutiques Verry Kerry (high- end kimonos) and Saint and Sofia (womenswear), and Kewbz (games and puzzles) all offer lucky punters the option to show their ‘ support for the team’.

Nestled between address and delivery choices, these neat tick boxes, starting at 5 per cent and going up to a whopping 20 per cent ( with calculated totals beside each one), make tipping seem like a natural addition to the purchasing process. There’s even a button where you can ‘enter a custom amount’ to show you really, really care.

Casually browsing on Saint and Sofia, I add a pair of dinky suede ankle boots to my basket, but baulk when the sizeable £244 price tag jumps by £48.80 if I plump for a 20 per cent ‘thank you, internet’ tip. are they mad?

at this point, I just want to stress I have a horror of meanness. It’s up there with being rude to waiters as a toxic tell of being badly brought up.

I have an automatic tip added to my Deliveroo account and I always tip after hair and nail appointmen­ts. But there is a difference between a gratuity to show gratitude for really good service and the U.S. beast of tipping.

There, employers have long expected customers to pay their workers’ wages direct, as many are paid so poorly they almost live on tips alone. In 16 states, the minimum pay for an employee on a tipped wage is a mere $2.13 (£1.75) per hour. In the UK, the minimum living wage for over-23s is £9.50 but many rely on government benefits to survive. Both here and in the U.S. then, we have systems that subsidise businesses to underpay their staff.

a pointless tip on your online order doesn’t ‘ help the team’; it simply encourages bosses not to pay their staff properly. I think we should resist it.

The reason I love all-inclusive resorts and used to take my kids to Beaches in Jamaica was because you were not allowed to tip. So you could really relax, especially when we were leaving.

In Japan, if you leave a tip, they come running down the street after you . . . to return the money they think you’ve forgotten.

It’s fine for Screwfix to ask if I want to round up my payment for a ‘micro-donation’ to charity. But I resent being asked to pay more online as a test of my generosity to strangers, who’ve shown me no great personal service.

I hope this doesn’t become ingrained in our culture but I worry we’ve passed the tipping point (sorry) already.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a tip the writer Giles Coren learnt from his father alan. When staying at a smart hotel, slip the concierge a big fat note or two as you arrive, never as you leave, whisper your name, and let the good times roll.

My husband tried it once in Cartagena, Colombia, and the concierge said, ‘I can provide anything — and I mean aNYTHING — you need, sir.’ Hmm.


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