Whenever I go to my favorite pizza place to pick up the most amazing Sicilian pizza ever and I pay with my credit card, I always feel horribly guilty for putting a zero through the tip line.

Why is there even a tip option there? Why is there a tip jar on the counter? The people making the pizza and ringing me up aren’t working for $2.13/hour. They’re paid at least minimum wage. They haven’t served me. They sold me something that I paid for. Yet, I still feel guilt, but not too much guilt.

When I go to the coffee house that my friend and I work from frequently and pay with my Level Up app, I do tip. There’s a tip line at the bottom of my phone on the app that gives me the option to leave a 10-50 percent tip. Since I sit in the coffee house for several hours – usually getting a coffee when I first get there and a light lunch a while later - I feel like I should tip. The person behind the counter does ladle out my soup and bring it to my table and takes away the dirty dishes if there’s a chance.

My choices to tip or not to tip in these situations are completely arbitrary. They’re based on the amount of guilt I feel in the situation because tipping the person who rings up your take-out order or the person who pours hot water over a tea bag and hands a paper cup to you is a fairly new thing. Twenty years or so ago, tip jars weren’t on counters at places like this. Now I see tip jars everywhere - at fast food registers, mini mart registers, and on bake sale fundraising tables (where no one is getting paid and sales are clear profit). In addition to these tip jars, there is now the tipping option on payment apps to consider.

Slate brought up something interesting about app e-payments and tipping.

There are some early signs that electronic payment platforms may turn out to be very effective at persuading people to tip a bit more often.  
When the option to tip is “preloaded,” when the buyer can just hit a button on their smartphone for 10, 15, 20 percent or more, the choice to not tip becomes more deliberate than the choice to not throw some coins in a tip jar. It becomes as deliberate as me putting a “zero” in the tip line at the pizza place. A few seconds of your time is spent on the process of thinking, “I’m not going to tip. Other people tip, but not me. I’m not going to tip.”

That thought process is powerful. It can make people hit the 10 percent button out of guilt.

With Level Up, there is no need to push a “don’t tip” button if I don’t want to tip. But, with Square, the e-payment system that many merchants use, often customers have to manually hit “no tip.” Some are calling including a tip in this instance a “guilt tip.” Some people aren’t tipping because they realize they should. They’re tipping because they feel guilty for hitting the “no” button. They also don’t want to look cheap. They don’t want someone else to see them choose “no tip.”

So far, I’ve been able to avoid any additional guilt tipping solely because of the increase in e-payment options. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case for many people, though. Slate mentions that where Square has put tipping in a “customer’s face,” as one barista put it, tips have gone up, even though the coffee house she works at hasn’t gotten any busier.

Have you found yourself guilt tipping because it’s now an option with e-payments or do you refuse to be sucked into being persuaded to tip more often just because an app suggests it?

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