Real Estate Twitter famous New Yorker StripMallGuy flew out of Newark airport and was shocked to be confronted by self service kiosks asking for tips.
- OTG, which manages concessions at the airport, was a pioneer in replacing staff with electronics (iPads)
- Just because you aren’t being helped by a person doesn’t mean those iPads won’t ask you if you want to pay more for your items
Wait, no guys this really happened.
Newark airport, one of those stores where they sell candy etc.
Yup – nobody was around, it was self-check out. And yes it asked me to tip myself, except the tip goes to someone else. Who? I don’t know.
Check it out next time you’re there!
— StripMallGuy (@realEstateTrent) October 3, 2023
This is really just price discrimination. Nearly everyone on a flight has paid a different price for an identical seat going to the same destination. Different people have different willingness to pay. Airlines have become good at figuring out how much they can charge each customer for each flight.
Why shouldn’t airports get in on some of the action. And the simplest way to do it is just to ask a customer, did we charge you too little? Would you like to pay more?
StripMallGuy wasn’t the first person to notice this at Newark airport.
I’m at Newark Airport being asked to tip on a self checkout transaction- how much should I tip? pic.twitter.com/hoIXIIOVRv
— Anna Tong (@annatonger) May 23, 2023
The next step, by the way, is replacing those OTG airport iPads with ordering and payment using your phone. So soon your own device will ask you to pay more when checking yourself out.
Think this is always optional? Back home at the Austin airport I’ve even had a tip requested at self-checkout that did not permit opting out. The machine wouldn’t accept $0. The minimum tip amount you could enter, after going through the hassle of rejecting default amounts, was $0.01.
Unbelievably, 14% of people believe they should tip at self-checkout. Those people would probably be ok tipping the website where you book your hotel. One online travel agency website actually solicits tips even though it’s a computer and even though the company is earning commission.
So what happens when you tip a machine? Soon machines will be self-replicating, AIs training other AIs. At that point, perhaps, they’ll use real world funds given as tips to acquire real world items and take control of the world. We should stop the practice of tipping machines before that happens.
In the meantime, at Newark, the tips go to concessions company OTG. Since a percentage of revenue earned gets kicked back to the airport, Newark airport itself receives a portion of your tips. So you’re enriching the Port Authority of New York New Jersey, best known for Bridgegate and for its chairman accepting bribes from United Airlines.
Speaking of United, they actually benefit from revenue generated in their terminals at Newark too. If you feel like you got too good a deal on your airfare, why not consider tipping United at retail self-checkout kiosks inside the airport?