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MARKETANALYST.US / MONEY 101

Tipping for Services Is Now Common, but It Was Once Illegal in Six US States; Here’s Why

Tipping was considered an un-American practice and the state of Georgia called tipping a “commercial bribery.”
PUBLISHED APR 11, 2024
Cover Image Source: Tips have become mandatory across the US (representative image) | Unsplash|Photo by  Clay Banks
Cover Image Source: Tips have become mandatory across the US (representative image) | Unsplash|Photo by Clay Banks

Tipping culture has been quite prevalent in the United States, and staff at food outlets and restaurants are always looking for generous tippers. Tipping has become so integrated into all shopping experiences that even self-checkout points have options for a consumer to tip. These days almost no purchase can be made without a prompt for a tip. A tip of 20% seems fine and is expected in most places. If one orders food or an item to be delivered to their place, they are expected to pay the tip before the delivery agent picks up the order. If the consumer doesn’t tip, the chances are high that one might not receive their parcel on time. This practice of tipping has blown up and has irritated most adults in the United States.

Americans are not happy with the way tipping culture is evolving. Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Christiann Koepke
Americans are not happy with the way tipping culture is evolving. Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Christiann Koepke

The tipping culture was not always prevalent in the States. In the early 19th century, tipping was even declared illegal in six states of the USA. At that time, tipping was considered an un-American practice and the state of Georgia called tipping a “commercial bribery.”

Some states had laws against tipping: South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Iowa, Mississippi, and Arkansas. These laws came into existence around 1915 and were eliminated in 1926. Since then the percentage of tips has been increasing gradually. Back in the 1950s, a tip of 10% was seen as a normal practice. By the 1980s, it increased to 15%. In 2024, consumers are expected to tip 25%, which to most people seems outrageous. But the debate of whether tipping is legal or not has again been stirred on Reddit, where a user @zinky30 started a post under the Subreddit r/todayilearned with the heading, “TIL in 1915 tipping was so unpopular that 6 states made it illegal to do so.”

Image Source: Reddit|r/todayilearned
@zinky30
Image Source: Reddit|r/todayilearned @zinky30

The post has gone viral with 13 thousand upvotes and 589 comments, most of which show the frustration that consumers have around how the tipping is burning their pockets. Some users even felt the need for tipping to be again declared illegal.

@johnwayne1 commented, “Can we go back to it being illegal? Just pay them a fair wage and charge me more.” The comment alone got 1700 likes. @YesOrNah agreed to it and responded, “Great thing is, I’m a sane world, we wouldn’t even need to be charged more. Just look at any other country on earth.” @Important_Radish6410 commented, “Bring this back, f**k tipping. Went to Spain for vacation. Ate amazing food, amazing service all at a lower price point and no tipping? How is this possible in every other country but not USA?”

Screenshot of a comment under the post. Image Source: Reddit|r/todayilearned @zinky30
Screenshot of a comment under the post. Image Source: Reddit|r/todayilearned @zinky30

Some users even presented historical facts about the beginning of tipping. @Hardass_McBadCop commented, “Prior to the Depression, tipping was seen as a form of bribery and anti-American in nature. When times got tight for restaurants in the 30s tipping was encouraged by the owners so they could reduce pay to make ends meet.” @eydivrks suggested removing tipping by commenting, “The only reason tipping exists is because 'tipped minimum wage' is lower than regular minimum wage. Remove the discrepancy and tipping will disappear overnight.” The debate around the practice of tipping is going strong and is not just limited to Reddit. People are taking up the topic on other social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram as well. Well, the debate will not settle any sooner. It is up to consumers whether they want to tip for a service or not since in most cases, it is optional.

Screenshot of a comment under the post. Image Source: Reddit|r/todayilearned @zinky30
Screenshot of a comment under the post. Image Source: Reddit|r/todayilearned @zinky30
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