It's always awkward when you tip a waiter or bartender, then (for whatever reason) you hang around while they check it out. And it's especially uncomfortable if you don't tip at all. But even if you are loose and generous with your funds, tipping your servers is about to become a hell of a lot more awkward, thanks to an industry-wide credit card re-design that went into effect October 1.
New credit cards will be embedded with an EMV microchip (you've probably seen them before) and will do a whole bunch of commendable things, like increase security and comply with European devices -- but that's not what we're here to talk about.
While the change is already in effect, not every restaurant will be equipped to read the new cards. Instead, American chip card holders will need to input their four-digit PIN or give their signature on a hand-held device at the table, held in the server's/bartender's hand, no less. This will be the case till restaurants tech catches up with our cards -- which could obviously take a while.
Yes, that means when tipping with the new cards, your server will be standing right over your shoulder, waiting, watching, judging. No more swiping, tipping, then fleeing.
“The tipping culture of the US will see some behavioral shift based on the user experience with [chip cards],” Nick Holland, head of mobile at Javelin Research, a financial services research firm, told Quartz. “It’s another effect of the different, and longer, process [with chip cards].”
The piece by Quartz goes on to detail how the new system can lead to bigger tips out of pure guilt -- particularly if it's combined with a "suggested tip" option (like in NYC Taxi Cabs) where options of 20%, 25%, and 30% are set to default. So bottom line: these new credit cards could be a windfall for servers, and a nightmare for the underfunded and overly awkward.
Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He also works for tips. Follow him @wilfulton
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