A bride-to-be says she was asked to tip after purchasing her wedding dress at a store in Utah and her TikTok video about the encounter sparked yet another conversation about the tipping culture in the United States.
Ina Josipović, 30, was shopping for a wedding dress with her friend last year and with a stroke of luck, she found the perfect one at the first store she visited.
And it was on sale.
Josipović proceeded to purchase her dream wedding dress with a credit card and when the final sale went through, she was presented with an unexpected request – a tip.
FILE - Freeze frame from Ina Josipović's TikTok video about her tipping ordeal. (TikTok @inajosipovic)
"When I paid and then I saw the tipping option, I froze and was taken aback by the fact that I needed to tip at a retail store," Josipović told FOX TV Stations.
According to the TikTok video Josipovic posted, there was no one in the store apart from herself, her friend and some employees and someone who she believed to be the owner.
Unaware of whether or not this was a normal thing, she asked her friend, who had purchased a wedding dress the year prior, if she too had to tip when she made her purchase.
Her friend said no.
FILE - A woman tries on a wedding dress at Bridal Reflections Bridal Salon in New York. (Reece T. Williams/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
Josipović began to panic and attempted to do fast math in her head and wondered if she should tip as she should at a restaurant, but a 20% or even 10% tip on the dress she was about to buy would have been a couple of hundred dollars.
"I guess if you can afford a $10,000 dress, maybe a tip isn’t that big of a problem. But most people really can’t," she said in her video.
Josipović said she decided to do a custom tip and gave $50, which she estimated was about 1.5%.
She felt embarrassed for giving a lower-percent tip, however, she went on to say that she felt it was odd to ask in the first place.
Josipović noted that the stylist did a "great" job helping her find the perfect wedding dress.
"If you guys think your stylist deserves a tip, why don’t you just give her commission," she posited in her video.
The tipping debate
FILE - Tip options displayed on a mobile screen. (STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Josipović said she felt the tipping culture in the U.S. has "gotten weird lately" and asked if she was in the wrong for having qualms about tipping after purchasing her wedding dress.
After she posted her video to TikTok, thousands of people flocked to the comments section to give their two cents.
Many agreed that it was odd to ask for a tip after making an already large purchase.
"I literally have no shame just pressing ‘no tip,’" one person commented.
"Tipping for a wedding dress is 100% strange," another person said.
"I am on the no-tip plan for most things nowadays other than waitstaff, salons and misc helpful people. Tipping is out of control. I’m ok saying no," said another.
"I wasn’t expecting that, but I do know tipping is a huge controversy in the U.S. because it feels like we are tipping for literally everything nowadays," Josipović said.
More and more people in the U.S. believe that the tipping culture has gotten a tad out of control.
Traditionally, consumers have taken pride in being good tippers at places like restaurants, which typically pay their workers lower than the minimum wage in expectation they’ll make up the difference in tips.
But academics who study the topic say many consumers are now feeling irritated by automatic tip requests at coffee shops and other counter service eateries where tipping has not typically been expected, workers make at least the minimum wage and service is usually limited.
"People do not like unsolicited advice," said Ismail Karabas, a marketing professor at Murray State University who studies tipping. "They don’t like to be asked for things, especially at the wrong time."
COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on tipping
Digital payment methods have been around for a number of years, though experts say the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards more tipping. Michael Lynn, a consumer behavior professor at Cornell University, said consumers were more generous with tips during the early days of the pandemic in an effort to show support for restaurants and other businesses that were hard hit by COVID-19.
Many people genuinely wanted to help out and felt sympathetic to workers who held jobs that put them more at risk of catching the virus, Lynn said.
Tips at full-service restaurants grew by 25.3% in the third quarter of 2022, while gratuities at quick or counter service restaurants went up 16.7% compared to the same time in 2021, according to Square, one of the biggest companies operating digital payment methods. Data provided by the company shows continuous growth for the same period since 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.