Tipping point: the apps that make rewarding good service easier and fairer

As the pandemic accelerates society’s shift to cashless, restaurant tips are becoming completely digital. This has prompted a debate on how best to reward staff who provide excellent service.
A report this week found that more than a third of all transactions in hard currency were made in 2020. 13.7 million people live a cashless lifestyle, twice the number who did in 2019.

This change can also be a problem to workers who depend on gratuities. According to Planday, more than 10 percent of Britons feel the need to tip now that hospitality is back open. Planday conducted a survey to find out which cities had the highest percentage of tippers in Sheffield, with around half of those in the top 25 and 29% in Nottingham.
However, the money might not go where customers want it to. Pizza Express cut the tip share for wait staff last month and shared the money with kitchen staff who are often better paid.

Tip Pot, TiPJAR, and Easy Tip all claim that cashless systems are the answer.

Adam Pritchard, founder of Tip Pot, said that tipping has been stigmatized in the past. He also stated that UK hospitality before the pandemic didn’t have a reputation for tipping. “But, there are more and better people who don’t carry cash but want to leave a tip.”

To use the app, businesses must pay a subscription fee. This applies to all areas of business, not just hospitality. While the company does not take any commission, Stripe, which is the payments provider that backs its systems, does. Stripe receives 27p for tipping PS5.

All employees can have access to the tips account. This will ensure that employers don’t get rich.

Although Tip Pot’s model collects gratuities, it has not been widely accepted. Some wait staff at Pizza Express felt that chefs were being paid well enough, and that front-of-house staff needed more. Visit easytip.net for further information.

TiPJAR is a system James Brown, the managing Director of the Scottish craft beer brewers’ bars division, has created for visitors to BrewDog bars.

BrewDog was recently criticised by former employees for having a toxic workplace culture. However, TiPJAR seems to have been a hit with employees.

BrewDog customers and chain restaurants like Honest Burgers or Le Pain Quotidien can scan a QR code and reward their server. The customer can withdraw the cash at anytime.

TiPJAR charges a 4% tipping commission, which averages out to PS4.60. Customers have the option of making up the difference. The company stated that tipping has increased by more than 98% since the reopening of hospitality.

Ben Thomas, chief executive, stated that tipping can be done in as little as four seconds.

TiPJAR provides a physical terminal where staff can tap their contactless cards with a contactless card. The bar’s tipping account can be viewed by staff to ensure they aren’t being overcharged.

EasyTip is a rival that uses QR codes. These codes are printed on customer receipts. However, EasyTip charges a 2.9% transaction charge and allows customers to leave feedback for staff members at the venue. Evgeniy Chuikov, its founder, stated that it allows staff to regain some of their earning power.
These new systems are intended to improve on the tronc tip distribution system that takes its name from alms boxes in French churches. Troncs, in which a committee made up of staff decides how tips will be distributed, have been vulnerable to misuse by employers who control how the money is divided and not properly gauging staff’s wishes.

The trade union Unite is still skeptical about tipping apps’ rise.

Bryan Simpson, the industrial organiser of the union’s hospitality section, stated that while we support any attempt to make tipping more convenient, apps […] do not provide the solution.

We need the government’s commitment to 2016 to make tips fairer by introducing legislation that ensures gratuities stay with workers 100%. He said that while you can have the best tipping app, nothing could replace a tronc board that is democratic, accountable, and representative of all workers, strengthened by legislation.”