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Starbucks' New Digital Tipping System Slammed by Customers and Baristas Alike

Both sides have problems with the new system.

Tipping for good service is standard and most people are happy to do it. But the new digital tipping system that was recently implemented at Starbucks has many people caught between feeling either like a miser or a beggar. In fact, customers and baristas have expressed negative feelings about the new system.

Starbuck's "reinvention plan" which will build on its "51-year history of market-leading innovation" includes the expansion of digital tipping to all points of sale for customers, including at the drive-thru window.

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Going forward, whenever a customer pays for a Starbucks product with any form of digital payment option, they will be automatically prompted to leave either a $1, $2, $5, or a custom tip amount. The other option Starbucks customers have is to tap a "No Tip" button, something that, per what countless people have said via various social media platforms, makes them feel unnecessarily rude.

And further, making tipping so hard to avoid puts an undue strain on people who may already be spread thin financially. As one Twitter user shared: "Tipping has gotten out of hand. I can barely afford going to these places. Its [sic] a treat for me to go as it's expensive enough already. How do I explain I can't afford to tip when I go here? I guess I will no longer buy from Starbucks."

Others think the new tipping process is a way for the company to pass paying the barista on to the customer.

Customers are not the only ones frustrated by the new system; countless Starbucks baristas have sounded off on social media platforms like Reddit and TikTok calling the new digital tipping protocols gratingly awkward. They are now compelled to hand a customer a little screen the customer must use to award a tip or opt out just to finish the transaction, confusing some customers. Some baristas have been hitting the no-tip button before handing the screen to customers, which one TikToker warned was illegal and a fireable offense.

That said, not every Starbucks employee is unhappy with the new mandatory digital tipping system; one Reddit user reported a significant uptick in tip amounts with the new system, writing: "Can I just say that, at [my] store, we normally get around $500 in tips each week in cash. Our first week with cc tips… that number went up to $2500."

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven