Starbucks Tip App Considered ‘Dumb Idea’ by Baristas


The new Starbucks app that will allow customers to tip digitally from Mar. 19, 2014, has failed to excite the end receivers- the baristas, with one Starbucks employee going as far as to term the app a “dumb idea.” For some, it is a loss as the cash, which was a sure thing, they used to get in their hands may now get lost or mismanaged in some digital space. At present, all tipping at Starbucks is done in cash.

A barista at the Starbucks on Route 70, Lakewood Township, New Jersey, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job, said she thought “it is a dumb idea.” She said that she was happy with the current form of tips distribution. “When people leave us tips in cash, it all gets pooled together and then distributed as is the norm in our store and it is an easy method too. However, I am not sure how this digital thing would work,” she said.

Speaking for a previous experience of working in a restaurant, she said: “Every time a customer tipped us on a [debit/credit] card, I do not really know where it went. This digital thing sounds familiar to the tipping system of a card. I am not too happy about it.”

Her co-worker, who was overhearing the conversation, agreed. “Yea, I do not get it either. I just hope I get my tips on time and the mobile app does not cause any delays in payment. I can tell you, I am concerned.”

When asked if they had been briefed about the app and how it would work, the girls shook their heads in unison to a “no”. An attempt to speak to the store manager about the lack of employees’ knowledge failed as the manager was “too busy.”

A few telephone calls to other nearby Starbucks stores resulted in two conclusions: One, many baristas are still unaware about the new app and two, several are concerned. One barista, who wanted to go just by the name Frank, even whispered over the phone that his store does not distribute cash tips fairly, so he was “least concerned” about tips gathered digitally “because it would never reach me anyway.”

However all is not bad news. Customers, for one, are excited about the digital app. “There have been so many times that I thought I had a couple of dollars when I did not and had to leave without giving any tip. It’s always made me feel bad. This is a great way to overcome the problem of not having any loose change,” Sally Adam said.

Faisal Haq also thinks it’s a great idea to pay with an app. “When you go to a proper restaurant, you can always leave a tip on a credit card but employees of QSRs (quick service restaurants) mostly rely on cash tips. And not everyone is willing to leave five dollar notes when they don’t have anything lesser so these employees would fall-out on them. This app is a great way to encourage better customer service and boost the morale of QSR employees,” he said.

According to a Starbucks announcement on Wednesday, an update in their iOS app will allow customers in the US, Canada and UK to tip baristas any amount ranging from 50 cents to $2 via a push notification option sent to their iPhones a few minutes after paying at the register. The customers will have a two-hour window to decide if they want to change the tip amount. The Starbucks app has been downloaded 10 million times already by customers, which accounts for about 11 percent or five million, of in-store purchases.

Tips are a touchy subject for Starbucks. In 2008, Starbucks was ordered to pay $86 million in tips (plus interest) to over 100,000 of its California baristas by a San Diego, California, judge. In separate cases in 2009 and 2013, the chain was once again involved in battle over tips with its shift managers and supervisors, which went in favor of Starbucks.

Keeping its history in mind, here is hoping that the new app is not really a “dumb idea” and would prove to be successful for the chain and the employees alike.

By Faryal Najeeb


4 Responses to "Starbucks Tip App Considered ‘Dumb Idea’ by Baristas"

  1. e   March 20, 2014 at 11:05 am

    so this dude knows nothing when it comes to starbucks, and should stop writing about it. 1, he is quoting random partners that obviously don’t do their jobs and read the internal documents that they send to us every monday on the computers in the store. he shouldn’t quote people who aren’t doing their job right, because if those partners went and did their job, they’d know how the tipping would work, and that it isnt like we aren’t going to get out tips in cash at the end of the week. all of the tips paid to a store will come right out of the register in cash, and be added to the same cash tip pool as before.
    Also, noting that QSR employees rely mainly on their tips? yea, except that starbucks pays about 5 times as much in wages than we get in tips. yea, I’m really relying on your tips for my life….. no not really. but they are greatly appreciated
    Then, this author goes on to discuss lawsuits about starbucks tips, which he got again. yes he was right about the California case, but he said that starbucks won the other two cases? uhhh, i think not buddy. go do research more on a topic before you try to write about things you don’t know.
    Also, no

  2. J   March 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I work tips at a Starbucks and I think it’s a great idea, however, it should be noted that Barnes and noble baristas and other baristas across the globe do not receive tips. Folks and barista at Starbucks, tipping is not a requirement, so therefor should be looked at as gratuity, or extra money, period. We’re lucky, as shift supervisors and baristas for Starbucks that we even get them in the first place because if Starbucks wanted too, they could cut it out, merely for headache reasons.

  3. Faiq   March 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Haha …. the world is going cashless … I prefer an app for tip so I can conceal the amount I am tipping 😛

  4. Fayez Najeeb   March 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    This trend is indeed increasing regardless how it results in. Either DD or Starbucks itself is planning to bring an App that would allow you to order coffee before you even reach !


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