As tipping culture continues to take a foothold in Australia, a local retailer has drawn the ire of an Aussie shopper by prompting her to leave a tip during an online transaction.
Louve Collection, a mobile phone accessory store, encourages customers to show "support for the team" by adding a 5, 10 or 15 per cent gratuity before completing a purchase.
Sharing a screenshot of the request, the frustrated shopper said the situation amounted to "tipping gone mad" and asked if fellow shoppers had encountered similar prompts while shopping online.
While Louve Collection makes tipping entirely optional in its online store, which is powered by Shopify, simply enabling was enough to generate a wave of criticism from Reddit users, with many arguing the practice has no place in Australia.
"Yeah nah... YOU support the team by paying living wages. There is no way the grateful staff are seeing any of that," one user commented, while another vented, "Leave that crap in America. Don't buy from any site that asks for tips. Abandoned baskets send a clear message, and the practice should die out."
Pressure to tip could backfire
Consumer psychologist Professor Jana Bowden from Macquarie University Business School says frequent tipping prompts have become an all-too-common feature of the online shopping experience, which could be a huge turn-off for Aussie customers. "Displaying a tip button at the online checkout with suggested levels of tips creates a sense of psychological pressure to tip, but this can backfire badly for brands," Professor Bowden explained.
"When the consumer is forced to click "no tip" they may feel guilt, but guilt isn't the way for brands to create positive and sustainable relationships with their customers," she said.
Professor Bowden warns this type of practice can lead to "churn and burn" as consumers will simply get fed up with feeling bad every time they shop, especially if they're already under financial pressure. "Consumers often tip due to perceived social pressure — from the store or retailer itself, or simply as a result of other consumers being socially present when it comes time to pay," she continued. "Asking consumers to tip when they are unsure about which services merit their gratuity is likely to raise their ire."
Brands risk backlash over tip requests
Professor Bowden suggests that with consumers already dealing with a cost-of-living crisis, tip requests may do Aussie brands long-lasting harm. "Forcing consumers to self-reflect and declare their level of generosity may lead to a barrage of retaliatory consumer behaviour from viral negative word-of-mouth recommendation about the brand, through to cart abandonment and even boycott," she warned.
"There's a very fine line between asking consumers to tip out of moral goodness, versus engaging in brand equity-damaging tip manipulation. Retailers really do need to weigh up the risks versus benefits of asking for a tip at the online checkout."
Yahoo News has contacted Louve Collection for comment.
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