Tips gone crazy: hotel booking site asks for tips after you make your reservation
When I wrote about an airport store asking for a tip when paying with a credit card for a bottle of water – not just for a tip, but without a credit card no payment would be possible – most readers were baffled by the amount of American tipping culture has sunk.
You’d think tipping couldn’t be much worse than standing in line, showing your bottle of water at the register and then being forced to tip for it. But there is a version of this story that seems worse:
Almost as bad as being asked to tip a vending machine!
— Sean Mendis (@SeanMendis) January 18, 2023
If you are asked for a tip, you are usually asked for a tip a person. But what about asking for a tip on a travel booking website? You just made a hotel reservation and the computer asks you to voluntarily pay more money for reasons?
There are a number of hotel booking websites that undercut the prices you find directly on chain websites such as Hilton and Marriott. They take wholesale rates and charge you less instead of capturing the full commission. Sometimes this is allowed (genuine membership sites), while other times it violates price parity rules.
A website in this direction is Traveluro. Reviews from the site are generally not good, including complaints that they didn’t actually book the room even though customers were required to pay, and that they changed dates and shortened trips. Their parent company went public last year in a SPAC deal.
Apparently you have to pay Traveluro extra if you want customer service over the phone (for when you find out you don’t have a reservation at the hotel you booked?). They ask you for the extra $4.99 after you complete your reservation. But that is not everything. The online hotel booking site asks for tips!
The range of things that are asked for tips in the United States has grown tremendously. It seems that tipping is no longer limited to personal services that someone renders, such as a waiter in a restaurant or a stylist in a salon. You will be asked for a tip if you bring your own tray after queuing for food at a restaurant. You are asked to tip when picking up food to carry out. And the amount you are asked has grown, from 15% to 20% and now sometimes 25%.
Of course there must be a line. How much are we standing for? Isn’t it a reasonable principle that tipping should be reserved for the service provided by people and no machines?
(HT: Sam O.)