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Canadians tipping more post-pandemic partially linked to higher payment prompts

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A recent survey shows Canadians are tipping more compared to before the pandemic, but it might not just be generosity that's driving the increase.

The Restaurants Canada survey shows 44 per cent of Canadians are tipping more than they did pre-COVID-19, with the average tip increasing from 15 per cent to 18 per cent.

Olivier Bourbeau, vice-president of Quebec and federal affairs with Restaurants Canada, says one reason for the increase is because people understand that cost of living is rising.

"Consumers, they want to help us. They know that we were struggling, they know that we are still struggling, and they want to just help us," he said.

But that generosity may not be entirely spontaneous.

'DON'T WANT TO BE A CHEAPSKATE'

Most people who spoke with CTV News Vancouver Island on Wednesday said they noticed the average recommended tip price on payment terminals has increased since the pandemic.

A marketing professor with the University of Victoria says there's a reason for that. Most people, about 70 per cent, will choose the middle option on a screen, even if it's more than they would normally tip.

"They'll reject the extremes, so when you look at those choices of 15, 18, 25 per cent, many people say 'I don't want to be a cheapskate and only give 15,'" said Brock Smith.

Tipping prompts have also been appearing in places where they did not before, such as at the Victoria Ice Cream and Fudge Factory in downtown Victoria.

Owner Alexya Skrlac says the ice cream parlour never used to prompt for a tip on their credit card machines, but it's an option that customers actually requested since many said they don't carry cash.

(File Photo)

"The staff really do appreciate it," Skrlac said. "We've got a high amount of students who need, you know, every little dollar helps especially as you know housing goes up and tuition goes up."

An employee at Big Wheel Burger agrees, saying tips help workers keep up with living costs.

"It really does make a difference as to whether I can pay my rent or not," said Evin Rydman.

At Smokin' George's BBQ Restaurant in Nanaimo, owner George Kulai says he rejects the current tipping trend and leaves it up to customers to pick their amount.

"If they want to leave a gratuity, the machine is not programmed to say five per cent, 10 per cent, 15 per cent or more," said Kulai.

It's a rare exception for diners in a post-pandemic world.

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