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Technology may be turning us into bigger tippers

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No change for tip? No problem with this new device. (DipJar)

Tipping between 15 to 20 percent for good service is pretty standard practice 

But new technology --where buttons automatically pop up tips of 15, 20, even 75 percent-- is making us unintentionally generous tippers.

The New York Times points out that services like Square, which allow small business owners to easily accept credit card payments through mobile devices, also let them pre-set tip amounts. An extra $1, $2 or $3 may not seem like a lot—but on a $4 cup of coffee, that can be 75 percent of the total.

There's usually a way to add your own amount—and thus being forced to to actual do math—yikes.  Most customers don’t want to waste time or feel awkward about that or feel worse about choosing the "no tip" option in front of a judgmental cashier’s gaze.

“The onset of iPad P.O.S. systems is completely changing the way consumers tip,”  Justin Guinn, a retail market research associate at Software Advice, told the New York Times. “Just this morning, I gave a 40 percent tip on my $2.50 coffee because the cafe’s P.O.S. system has a ‘smart tipping’ feature. It’s genius.” That feature adjusts tip amount based on the total dollar figure.

In New York City, taxi cabs outfitted with screens have the option of selecting 20, 25 of 30 percent tips when paying by a credit card. Customers can add their amount own but that requires yet another screen--  more buttons, more hassle, more math.

DipJar is an electronic tip jar that lets people swipe their credit card into special device by the register and enter whatever amount they chose. No change, no excuse. The company says it will have DipJars in 500 locations in the coming months.

ChangeTip is another company seeking to make the practice of tipping even more universal. The platform allows people to send Bitcoin payments through social media, email, Skype or even by text to anyone for anything. 

Nick Sullivan, founder and chief executive of the Silicon Valley start up, told the NYTimes most transactions have been small, a little over a $1, but the ease of service lends it self to the potential for “viral tipping” practices.

“One of the neat things with the way ChangeTip works is all those tips are public,” he said. “When I send you a tip over Twitter, your followers can see it, so there’s an inherent potential for viral growth.”

Considering the sometimes-overwhelming response when someone is stiffed on tips, we think there's a future there too.