I don’t like tipping generally, and detest the spread of American tipping culture around the world. Although when I travel abroad if I fail to tip in some instance where it’s recently become expected I figure the local will just think I’m British.
My usual practice is to ’round up’ with taxis, to tip 20% in restaurants in the U.S. and 10% abroad unless there’s a service charge added to the bill in which case I’ll round up, and not to tip in Japan. Though there are local nuances to all of this of course.
One of the things I love about Uber is that it’s seamless, push a button and a car arrives. When you make it to your destination you get out of the vehicle. When I take a taxi now I almost forget I have to pay at the end of a ride, rather than just having the billing happen automatically.
In Austin we’ve lost Uber (and Lyft) but fortunately I find that Fasten is a pretty good substitute, except during periods of peak demand, no one has managed to develop software that’s as stable as Uber’s platform (pretty much all of the Austin substitutes crashed during South By earlier this month).
Lyft embeds a tipping function in its app, while Uber does not. However Uber no longer advertises that tips are ‘included’ and allows drivers to solicit for tips. I’m not going to add the stress of cash, proper change, and the awkward friction at the end of a ride. Others take a different view.
I don’t like tipping but there’s no reason why it ought to be illegal — except to varying degrees it is in 13 states including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia!
Over the last three years, 13 states have passed laws restricting cash payments in some form. While none of the laws explicitly mention gratuity, there’s widespread agreement that most — if not all– of these rules apply to cash tips. Supporters of these rules have said they’re inspired by driver safety concerns. Each state’s restrictions are a little different, with some only banning the solicitation of payments and others banning any cash changing hands.
The idea behind the ban supposedly is to protect drivers from themselves, that carrying lots of cash makes them a target. I don’t believe that’s the real purpose, I respect drivers to handle their own cash in any case.
Banning cash transactions prevents individuals from working ‘off network’ without electronic payments set up or working through a service like Arcade City, reducing competition for Uber, Lyft and similar services. Hence the cash tipping ban is apparently part of model legislation shopped nationally by lobbyists.
The idea is spreading, and similar rules are under consideration in New York and Texas. The New York rule (which doesn’t apply to New York City) would fine drivers $50 for soliciting tips, though allows passengers to offer tips unprompted.
Some of these rules require transportation network companies to tell drivers to refuse tips. Uber does not comply with this requirement.