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To tip or not to tip? Why there is a debate raging about new tipping culture in the US

It seems like everywhere you go these days, businesses are not-so-subtlely suggesting you should tip. Here are some tips on when you should tip.

HOUSTON — Changing habits and technology have changed who is asking for tips and renewed the debate around tipping workers in this country. That’s because almost everywhere you go now you encounter a screen with a suggested tip at the end of the transaction.

It’s not just in traditional restaurants where a server waits on your table. Food businesses of all types are now prompting for tips, everyone from food trucks to bakeries. Even non-food-related places are getting in on the act, with customers reporting places like movie theaters suggesting a tip.

In recent years, it has become customary to leave at least a 20% tip at a sit-down restaurant. That’s because tips are built into the pay structure for servers.  The minimum wage for servers in Texas is $2.13 an hour if tips bring it up to $7.25 an hour. The average tip went up during the pandemic as restaurant workers became frontline workers.

The bigger debate now rages around fast-casual restaurants and take-out orders. Both have surged in popularity in recent years, but should you tip if no one is waiting on you in the traditional sense?

The Emily Post Institute, which offers advice on etiquette, says in those situations treat the tip screen like a tip jar, you can contribute but you are not obligated. Of course, not everyone agrees and the debate rages on.

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