In a world where technology infiltrates every aspect of our lives, it’s no surprise that even the act of tipping has undergone a digital makeover. While some may call it sneaky, others see it as a crafty way for businesses to nudge patrons toward generosity.

Picture this: you’re at your favorite local restaurant, savoring a delectable meal. As the check arrives, you notice a subtle message on the touchscreen device subtly suggesting a tip of up to 40%. Is it guilt, convenience, or perhaps just a nudge from modern technology? Welcome to the era of “tipflation,” where the art of tipping has taken on new dimensions.

But hold on, there’s more to this story. A spokesperson from the popular payment platform, Square, has revealed a tantalizing secret. It’s not just about the percentage; some businesses are slyly incorporating the sales tax into their suggested tip calculation, sending the overall gratuity soaring.

As the Square representative puts it, “Sellers decide whether tips are calculated before or after taxes.” This choice can make a world of difference, especially for larger parties. Depending on your state’s tax laws, you could unwittingly be tipping an extra 10%, a fact that leaves many patrons perplexed.

In a world of gray areas, etiquette experts at the renowned Emily Post Institute shed light on the tipping conundrum. They advise patrons to tip between 15% to 20% on the pre-tax total at sit-down restaurants. It’s a simple rule that ensures transparency and fairness.

Tipping, however, isn’t obligatory for takeout orders, according to these experts. Nevertheless, the digital age has blurred the lines, making many feel compelled to tip, especially when prompted by a tablet or smart card reader. A recent Forbes Advisor report reveals that nearly 75% of Americans confess to leaving higher tips in the digital realm.

Guilt has a powerful grip on our actions, and tipping is no exception. About 31% of Americans admit to feeling the pressure to “pay it forward.” This phenomenon, known as “guilt tipping,” has been on the rise, driven by our ever-connected, tech-savvy society.

But some establishments are taking it a step further. Certain restaurants have made a good tip a mandatory gesture, adding an 18% or 20% gratuity to checks, even for solo diners. Jack Sinanaj, owner of Empire Steak House, plans to implement this policy to cater to international tourists unfamiliar with American tipping customs. However, not all hospitality professionals are on board with this approach.

Kyung Il Lee, managing partner of Sagaponack, a seafood restaurant, chose to rely on patrons’ generosity rather than enforce a mandatory gratuity. He discovered that most customers voluntarily tip around 20%, avoiding the need for compulsion.

Beyond the world of tipping, recent months have seen a slew of surprising fees creeping onto bills. Terms like “wellness charge” and “cost of living” fee have bewildered consumers. Some establishments have even dared to add a “bad parenting” fee, leaving patrons shaking their heads in disbelief.

In an unexpected twist, tip jars are popping up in the unlikeliest of places, from dry cleaners to hardware stores. These businesses, which traditionally never sought gratuities, now boldly request them. Even online establishments are jumping on the tipping bandwagon, encouraging customers to tip employees they’ve never met.

As the world of tipping evolves, one thing remains clear: it’s a conversation that’s far from over. From touchscreen prompts to unexpected fees, the art of persuasion has taken center stage in the world of gratuity. So, next time you dine out or shop online, keep an eye out for those subtle nudges. After all, the choice to tip generously should always be yours.