When Cody Winchester ordered a vegan crack wrap for lunch, she expected to leave a tip. What Winchester and her friend, who went to Big League Brews in Taylor, Michigan, for lunch, did not expect to see was a jaw-dropping 99% at the top of the restaurant's suggested tip amounts printed on their checks.
"It's insane. We seriously could not even believe it," Winchester said. "We both kind of looked at each other and went, 'Are they kidding us?' And Kathy, my friend, even circled it with the question mark when we gave it back to them. And then we just thought it was ridiculous. I've never seen anything like that before."
The 99% suggested tip amount was followed by 50%, and then 29%.
Scripps News Detroit was told that the owner of Big League Brews was not available to talk, but we spoke off-camera to the server who first said they were allowed to pick the suggested tips. She then added that it's supposed to be a joke.
We looked and found that the 99% suggested tip amount is also listed when you place an online order.
We spoke to Alex Davidson, assistant professor of marketing at Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University, who called the 99% "outrageous."
"It's understandable that people would get frustrated when they're asking you to leave a tip that's essentially equal to the size of the bill," Davidson said.
Davidson acknowledged that, for workers in service industries including restaurants, tips pay for critical needs including rent and food, making them incredibly important.
During the pandemic, a lot of people increased the amounts they tip at restaurants to show appreciation for their continued work and to help make up for the losses suffered during business shutdowns.
Davidson said a number of businesses grabbed hold of that increased generosity to present consumers with higher tip options.
"Most consumers are sympathetic to the service industry, but at the end of the day, they cannot simply afford to, for example, go out to eat and tip 50% of their bill," he said. "If this trend does continue, we'll probably see a decline in consumers who are participating in these services."
Winchester said she tips even if she receives poor service, but, like a lot of Americans, she said the requests to tip seem to be everywhere we go.
"I was at a concert recently and just to buy merchandise, the gentleman that was selling the merchandise turned the register thing around and wanted a tip for selling me a T-shirt."
This story was originally published by Kimberly Craig at Scripps News Detroit.
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