Your Money: When tip jars go high-tech, do US workers benefit?
With a quick dip of their credit cards into the sleek machine, grateful customers are able to leave a pre-set tip (generally $1) for baristas. An old-fashioned cash-register chime alerts them that the transaction has gone through, but there is no receipt. Counter workers later divvy up the proceeds, which right now are not subject to a processing fee.
DipJar, located in six stores, is just one high-tech innovation seeking to make up for declining gratuities as people pay for small purchases with credit or debit cards. More than 30 percent of debit card receipts were for less than $10 in 2011, with the median amount of all debit transactions just $19, according to the ATM/debit network PULSE.
Losing out, however, are workers, whose pay is directly impacted as fewer customers leave behind loose change as tips.
"Tip jars once upon a time could mean $2 or $3 more in hourly wages," says Richard Seltzer, author of the 2010 book 'Gratuity.' "That's a significant pay cut for the person behind the counter."
It is not just a simple bonus baristas are losing out on. "Employers have come to depend on wages being paid out of the tip pool," says Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Boston-based attorney who has represented workers in tipping cases for a decade. "Workers depend on tips to pay for things like rent, tuition- it's real money for
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