Do New Point-of-Sale Technologies Make Workers Hate Me?

For the past several years, the use of new point-of-sales (POS) technologies, like Square, that use a touchscreen have become popular among businesses. These systems are sleek, easy to use, and have decreased the length of in-store credit card transactions. For me, they have also done one more thing – raise my self-consciousness about not tipping.

One reason shop owners love these systems, I assume, is that they increase tips. After the cashier swipes your card, they flip the screen around to face you and you see a screen that looks like this:

Square Tip Screen

Before these systems, a customer would have to write in a tip amount and calculate the total amount in order to leave a tip. Not only does this system make it easier to leave a tip and remind customers to do it with a single tap, it also makes it harder to skip out on a tip.

On a traditional receipt, the customer needed only to sign his/her name at the bottom of the receipt and walk away if a tip was not being left, an action the customer must do regardless. With Square, instead of NOT doing something, the customer HAS to push the no tip button. This simple change has the profound effect of making the customer feel bad about not tipping. At least, this is how I feel. Now when I don’t leave a tip, I feel like the cashier probably thinks I’m an asshole because I essentially went out of my way not to leave a tip.

But at the same time, shouldn’t us customers be pissed? Things that we used to buy every day like a burrito or a coffee – things that never even used to have the option of leaving a credit card tip – now request (if not demand) a 15% gratuity. Can consumers afford to tack on this 15% premium to all of the products we never used to tip for? And do business owners now expect these tips instead of earning and being appreciative for them?

For me as a consumer it is a lose/lose situation. I know I have shelled out a few hundred extra dollars over the last year or two than I would have in previous years because of this POS interface AND I constantly feel bad and judged when I don’t leave a tip for simple things like fast food. But hey maybe that is just my issue. I need to train myself to hit that “no tip” button without any emotional consequence. Until then, I have to hand it to these POS solutions, bravo.

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