A man born in Japan — where tipping is rude — is part of a growing number of Americans rejecting tipping in the US

A man born in Japan — where tipping is rude — is part of a growing number of Americans rejecting tipping in the US
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A man sitting at a table at a Japanese restaurant.
Ken Ozeki has strong opinions about the tipping culture in America — particularly compared to his native Japan.

  • In a recent survey, more than a third of US adults said “tipping has gotten out of control.”
  • Californian Ken Ozeki,  born in Japan, said the Japanese don’t feel obliged to tip like in the US.
  • He told Business Insider he often pays in cash and picks up food to avoid the charges.

Whenever Ken Ozeki buys a cup of coffee, he will tap the “custom tip” option on the swiveling tablet and round up the price to the nearest dollar.

He would never consider paying the barista the 20% gratuity that has become standard in the US.

“I’m not that person,” the 41-year-old said.

According to a recent Bankrate survey, he’s among a population of frugal — often frustrated — consumers. Researchers found that an increasing number of Americans are unwilling to leave generous tips.

Thirty-five percent of respondents agreed that “tipping culture has gotten out of control.” A senior industry analyst at Bankrate, Ted Rossman, said rising inflation was partly responsible.

“Some of it is high prices, some of it is tip creep, some of it is maybe just people feeling like they don’t have a lot of money to go around,” Rossman told Business Insider.

Ozeki blamed much of his reluctance on contactless digital registers — which became popular during the pandemic — programmed to “demand” extra fees.

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“I went to a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, and they wanted an additional 20% at the register,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow! I’m tipping for the privilege of serving myself!'”

Ozeki has been living in the US since first grade but frequently travels to his native Japan

The public relations specialist claimed some businesses used new technology and the so-called “streamlining” of payments as an excuse to overcharge consumers.

“They think people will be more forgiving of sticker shock if they assume the increase is going to the person providing the service,” he said.

“But there’s no guarantee that the employees get it,” he added. “Companies are cutting corners and getting craftier.”

Ozeki, who immigrated to the US from Japan with his family around age 6, said tipping is anathema to people in his native country, which he visits yearly.

“There is such a high emphasis on delivering the utmost, interactive service when staff are dealing with customers,” the San Franciscan said. “They don’t believe in people giving them extra money for doing what is expected of them.”

He said it would be considered rude to hand a tip to a hospitality worker, such as a hotel concierge, in exchange for directions or a restaurant recommendation. “They would probably refuse to take it,” Ozeki said.

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Still, back in the US, he recognized the argument that low-paid workers in the service industry have traditionally relied on tips to earn a living wage.

Ozeki never ordered food for delivery

But he said that recent increases in the minimum wage have changed the landscape — at least in certain states.

In California, for example, the minimum wage for fast-food workers rose by law this year from $16 to $20 an hour. The deal was struck as a compromise to initial demands of $22 an hour with annual raises.

“The current minimum wage at a fast food place is higher than my starting salary 15 years ago,” Ozeki said.

He said he never ordered food for delivery because of the expected tip. “I pick it up myself,” he said. “There’s no need for me to tip the cashier for processing my payment or the person moving something a couple of feet across the counter for me to retrieve.”

For sit-down meals, he often rounds up the bill to the nearest dollar if the service is “minimal” and he doesn’t expect to return.

If the restaurant is more upscale and, he suggested, the waitstaff “attentively brings drinks and dishes to the table for 30 minutes or more,” he would honor the included service charge.

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The 41-year-old said taxi drivers prefer to be paid in cash

“An automatic gratuity indicates that the business is treating its staff well,” he told BI.

As for transport, he doesn’t use ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft — principally because of the expected gratuity. “I call a regular cab from my home and pay by cash, not a card,” Ozeki said. “The drivers are grateful because they don’t lose out by digitally processing the charge and paying the middleman.”

He also pays the woman who cuts his hair in cash — with no tip. “I go to a neighborhood place where she works out of her garage,” he said. “I pay the agreed amount and leave.”

Are you tired of tipping culture in the US or abroad? Have you seen your tips dip recently as a service industry worker? Please share some details with [email protected]

Read the original article on Business Insider

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