Do You Tip on a Donut?

Photo credit: Mark Bonica, CC BY 2.0.

Here’s another Square-shaped story for today, courtesy of the Dear Prudence Podcast: Mallory Ortberg discusses the etiquette of skipping checkout app tip prompts with Matt Albrecht and Hannah Malyn of Hannah and Matt Know It All.

If you want to listen to the conversation, it starts at 32 minutes in; the consensus is that, despite the transition from the tip jar to the checkout app that asks for the tip, you don’t need to tip on a bottle of water or a donut. (We all know that sometimes you get your own bottle of water and the app still asks for a tip.) If you’re asking someone to make you a sandwich or a fancy coffee, you might want to consider tipping.

At one point they suggest that if you do want to tip on something like a donut, 20 percent is only a few cents—so it’s a good way to feel like you’re helping food-service workers without having to spend a lot of extra money.

Except those apps rarely give you the option to tip 25 cents. When I stop by a cafe and pick up a drip coffee or a chocolate truffle, I pay my dollar or two and then the app asks me to tip another dollar. And I usually do, because I don’t want to have to poke at the app and manually enter a 23-cent tip. That takes time. Maybe there’s a line. Maybe it’s embarrassing.

You don’t need me to tell you that Square and its competitors are well aware of exactly how much money they can get out of each of us, especially because they also get a cut.

So. Do you tip on a donut? And if you do, do you tip the app the amount suggests, or enter your own?

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