The $15 minimum wage, now $20 per hour demands, has led to the inevitable acceleration of restaurant automation.

Also, the bizarre “tipping culture” we now have in the U.S. might get short circuited by robots. Doubt people will tip robots.

The “tipping culture” has gotten out of hand. You walk up to a counter to place an order – there is no actual wait staff involved – and they flip around an iPad-based order entry system with prefilled in tip amounts – often starting at 18% and going up from there. The idea is “tipping under pressure” – since people in line behind you are watching and see your tip, you are under pressure to tip.

As some etiquette experts say, tips make sense in restaurants since many do not pay (And are exempt) minimum wage. Instead, the owner has outsourced labor costs directly to the customer via tipping.

But today, we have tipping at Starbucks and other venues that generally pay $20/hour or more to most staff, and provide full benefits.

Tipping was always for “service” – but how much service is there when you order on an app, walk in and pick up your drink, and then your app let’s you know you can add a tip?

All that said, during the pandemic and up to now I have been a generous tipper. However, with the new “tipping pressure” I am starting to rebel. A couple of weeks ago I didn’t tip when placing a counter order and handed the flipped iPad. Heck, at that point I had not yet seen the food item or the service quality and I’m expected to tip for an unknown service?

By EdwardM