LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The rise of self-checkout has eliminated the need for many customers to interact with employees in businesses all across the United States.

Despite the lack of employee interaction, Americans are being met with prompts to throw in some extra money at self-checkout machines in places including cafés, airports and stadiums, even if they had little or no interaction with employees.

At a time when inflation has already increased costs, many consumers are wondering where are those tips going.

Rachel Wolfe is a consumer reporter for The Wall Street Journal. She says it depends how you tip.

“The companies I spoke to said that the tips are going to employees, but tipping researchers aren’t so sure. Machines don’t have the same protections as tipped human employees. So while the law requires that something called a tip has to go to employees, when you’re tipping a machine, you can’t be quite so sure,” she said.

Experts added that people are much more likely to leave a tip when prompted by a machine.
Something they call “emotional blackmail.”

Wolfe says companies that are already paying their workers a living wage are using these tips as a sort of bonus, but researchers are worried that companies are using tips as a way to put the onus on consumers for paying employee wages rather than doing it themselves.