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Reblogged:A Prompt to Think About Tipping

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The Wall Street Journal reports that automated checkout screens are prompting for tips -- even for completely machine-mediated transactions.

Amusingly to me, this raises a moral dilemma for some people:
Image by Clay Banks, via Unsplash, license.
Garrett Bemiller enjoyed not removing his AirPods or making eye contact with anyone when buying an early-morning bottle of water at an OTG gift shop at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport a few weeks ago. Seeing the option on the self-checkout screen to add 10% to 20% to his $6 bottle of water caught him off-guard.

"Just the prompt in general is a bit of emotional blackmail," says the 26-year-old, who works in public relations in New York City. He skipped the tip.
I agree that this can be irritating, but that's it because it might be an attempt at emotional blackmail.

But in the end, it's emotional blackmail only if you let it be -- specifically if you subscribe to the idea, frequently mixed in with tipping, that the mere fact of having money puts you in hock to those who don't:
Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer "No." Altruism says: "Yes." [bold added] (Ayn Rand, in "Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World," in Philosophy: Who Needs It)
I personally feel zero pressure to tip from such prompts or from tip jars at counters for services for which there is no longstanding custom of tipping.

Indeed, I'll take the companies at their word who "say tips are an optional thanks for a job well done:" I can conceive of a circumstance in which I might want to leave a generous tip.

So, great: I can do that, if it happens.

But for an unassisted purchase at an automated kiosk or a self-checkout station? Absolutely not, and unlike the person in the story who tips when someone is looking, I'm happy to explain myself if some busybody ever calls me on not tipping. I'll say it's not on me to make up for a cheap employer, and that the people there should find a better one.

-- CAV

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