Tipflation: paying using debit machine.
Tipflation: paying using debit machine. Image credit: Nathan Dumlao @ Unsplash

It all started when I went to KFC. I pulled out my phone and brought up my trusty Foupon app to get my digital coupons. Working my minimum wage job, I needed to take a break and have a quick, cheap meal.

I found the coupon code for a 2 piece chicken meal which came to about $10 (still not so cheap). The worker is a nice dude that I talk to sometimes and he seems to know or remember my ugly mug. We made some random small talk while he punched up the total and handed me the debit machine.

Boom!! I was confused at first. There was a prompt to give out a tip with pre-rated tip percentages. 15%, 18%, 20%, and a custom tip square. While on the outside of my feeble brain, only three seconds had passed, but I was debating why I needed to give a tip and how much should I give to avoid looking like an a**hole! It seemed like an eternity, but I thought, “f**k it” and mashed the 18% button.

All in all, it seemed like a waste of time to even get a coupon out when you end up paying more for tips in what is a fast food restaurant. This man gets paid to do his job and probably makes more than me. And yet I’m being peer pressured into tipping KFC now!

At first, I had made up my mind to never come back to KFC again and eat elsewhere or bring lunch instead. But this is not practical. Due to time pressures, we as Canadians barely have time for anything other than getting ready for work.

Now I don’t mind tipping where it is generally accepted. But tipping at places where the worker is just doing his normal job and not running back and forth to serve you is something I have a problem with in principle.

I didn’t visit KFC for three months, but then one day I was feeling weak and went back and had forgotten about this heinous tipping practice. I once again pulled out my Foupon and went for a 4 piece meal and said hello to my little friend behind the counter. He mentioned that I was missing in action and I gave some lame excuse as to why. He applied my Foupon discount and handed me the terminal once again. Seeing the tip screen got me reeling again. Now I remember why I hadn’t come back in a while! I mashed the 20% square and smiled at him. I knew it was the last time I was going to see my friend’s wildly puffy hair that was barely contained in his sweat and gel-stained KFC visor.

Grumbling to myself, I moved on and forgot about the incident. Then one chilly morning I went to Subway and ordered a sub for my kids for their lunch. There was no food in the fridge that day so Subway was the way. Boom!! Again when it was time to pay I was met with the hated tip prompts. Four squares to choose your generosity. I mashed 20%, smiling through my seething anger. I mean the lady was nice and I was grateful to offload my kids lunch responsibility to her.

I thought about this more and more. I had no way of knowing these employees were actually getting the tips. Furthermore, I would prefer to provide a tip if I felt I wanted to show my appreciation for their service. However, prompting me and pressuring me to provide a tip just makes me feel negative about the whole experience.

Corporate greed certainly is to blame for this. Debit and credit machines make it so convenient for the customer and now more convenient for the corporation. This is all calculated, my friends. Debit machine companies have discovered this as a selling point and the numbers are proof it works. So now more and more fast food and places where tipping didn’t previously exist are using this wonderful money-making

So how do we fight this? CASH!!! As they say, CASH IS KING. When you pay in cash, the stupid machine cannot peer pressure you into tipping. If you feel like it, you could flip a dollar or two to your favourite employee of the day. But now CASH puts you in control of your own destiny.

It’s funny that cash has been declining in its use with the advent of the amazing debit machine. But now corporate greed is giving cash a serious comeback!!

So if you don’t want to go through that whole awkward moment where the Subway guy stares through your soul and decides whether you are an a**hole or not, just bring cash with you. Withdraw your spending money and pay for your fast food purchase in cold hard cash!!

When technology gets perverted by greed, it no longer becomes useful. And when the corporate hogs get a whiff of more profits, they only go one way. Now you can bring the fight back into your yard. I predict that as more Canadians rebel against this practice, cash will regain its usefulness.

My friends do not feel that you are being cheap when you don’t feel right about tipping. Most Canadians are generous and kind souls. It’s what makes us Canadians! So let’s start the movement today and make cash the true king again! The more we give in and take what’s handed to us, the more corporate greed pushes us to the edges. Good luck my friends and I’ll see you in cash heaven.