81% of Americans Aren't Ready to Ban Tipping

Caucasian woman putting money in tip jar
JGI/Jamie Gril/Getty Images

As restaurants move towards banning tipping because they feel that "the American system of tipping is awkward for all parties involved," consumers are pushing back against the no-tipping trend. Horizon Media polled 3,000 people in its proprietary research community and found that 81% of American consumers are not yet ready to embrace tipping bans, while Millennials and Generation Z are more open to change.

8 out of 10 restaurant goers want the status quo, which is the decision to tip when they choose based on whether or not they had a positive service experience. Over 50% of those who prefer the status quo feared that they would lose control over the expected service, and get poor service even though they were paying the same amount as otherwise.

While older consumers are hesitant to embrace the change, Millennials and Gen Z are more ready for a tipping revolution: 29% of people aged 18-34 said that tipping was an outdated and unfair practice versus 18% of people aged 35-49 and 13% of people aged 50-64. Fairness was an important motivator for those who would prefer no tipping: 62% of those who prefer no tipping said it would ensure the servers earn a fair and liveable wage (vs. 32% who wanted things to stay as is), and 45% said the current tipping structure is outdated (versus 15% among those who wanted things to stay as is).

The people Horizon surveyed aren't the only to believe that tipping can result in unfairness. Some argue that tipping rarely relates to quality of service and can be based on racial or sexual discrimination, while others argue that forcing workers to live off their tips can result in difficult and impoverished conditions for these workers.

Those who want to ban tipping also believe that no tipping policies will allow customers to better predict costs and ensure that the cost of an entire meal is clearer up front. Rich Simms, EVP, Managing Partner at Horizon Media. “Tomorrow’s restaurant-goers may find that not having to think about the tip is a core benefit of the whole transaction. Hospitality brands making the change now may be at the forefront of something that will become standard practice in ten more years.”