The Debate Surrounding EFTPOS Tipping: Pressure on Customers or Support for Hospitality Workers?

The introduction of new EFTPOS machines in restaurants, prompting customers to consider tipping, has sparked a debate within the hospitality industry in New Zealand. While some argue that tipping is a way to support hardworking staff, others believe it places undue pressure on customers. This article explores the perspectives of restaurant owners, staff, and customers on the practice of tipping through EFTPOS machines.

The Debate Surrounding EFTPOS Tipping: Pressure on Customers or Support for Hospitality Workers?

I. Tipping Culture in New Zealand:
Tipping has traditionally not been a part of Kiwi culture, with tourism websites explicitly stating that it is not customary or required. This is primarily due to the fact that employers are obligated to pay a minimum wage to their staff. However, with the current cost of living crisis, some hospitality workers rely on tips to supplement their income.

II. Perspectives of Hospitality Workers:
Many hospitality workers, such as Alex, a student at AUT, rely on tips to make ends meet. She emphasizes the importance of tips in helping her save money for future expenses. For workers like Alex, tipping is seen as a crucial source of additional income, especially amidst rising living costs.

III. Restaurant Owners’ Views:
Restaurant owners like Michael Dearth recognize the value of tips in supporting their staff, particularly those who are students. However, they also stress that tipping should not be enforced and that customers should not feel pressured to tip if they choose not to. Some owners even opt to deactivate the tipping function on their EFTPOS machines to avoid making customers uncomfortable.

IV. Customer Perspectives:
Customers, on the other hand, may feel conflicted about tipping through EFTPOS machines. While some see it as an opportunity to show appreciation for good service, others may feel uncomfortable with the perceived pressure to tip. The discreet option to decline tipping is acknowledged, but the introduction of tipping prompts a reconsideration of tipping norms in New Zealand.

V. Considerations for Restaurant Owners:
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois emphasizes that tipping remains optional, and customers can discreetly decline if they choose. Additionally, the practice of sharing tips among staff is common in the industry, with the majority of restaurants surveyed indicating that they participate in tip-sharing.

The introduction of EFTPOS tipping raises important questions about tipping culture in New Zealand and its impact on both customers and hospitality workers. While tipping can provide essential financial support for workers, it also raises concerns about customer pressure and accountability. As the debate continues, finding a balance between recognizing exceptional service and respecting customer preferences remains a key consideration for restaurant owners and patrons alike.

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