Apparently This Matters: The Dipjar

Dipjar is designed to help credit card users tip. Even cheapskates like Jarrett.

Story highlights

  • "Apparently This Matters" is CNN Tech's weekly, off-kilter look at the social Web
  • This week, Jarrett ponders the Dipjar
  • The "genius" product lets credit card users tip their servers -- or whoever
  • Be kind to your frozen yogurt vendor. Seriously.

Look, I'm not saying I'm a cheap bastard. I'm also not saying I'm a soulless ginger. Mind you, both are true. I'm just not saying it.

But to the first point, it's necessary to clarify that, despite the fact I've been known to show signs of lupus over the occasional restaurant bill, I'm actually an excellent tipper.

As for everything else in life, I'm mediocre at best.

So, this week we're going to talk about gratuity. And it all stems from a recent trending discovery on the interwebs about something called the Dipjar.

Now, I don't throw the word "genius" around too liberally. Generally, I save it for really important stuff like when a friend suggests we light something on fire. But I'm going to go ahead and drop a G-bomb on this amazing new invention. Because, for better or worse, when it comes to tipping, the Dipjar is an absolute game changer.

Or not. I've been known to get things wrong. "Gangnam Style" is still around.

Basically, the Dipjar is an electronic tip jar for store countertops in which a customer can -- as the name suggests -- dip his or her credit card to leave a fixed-amount tip for the clerk. And these days it's sort of a necessity

Increasingly, we are becoming a cash-free society, preferring the convenience of credit cards to carrying actual paper money. While this can be great for the consumer, it sort of screws over the hipster barista behind the counter who no longer gets to keep your change.

But, hey, he still has giant-gauged ear holes. So that's something.

Not only is cash becoming less popular, but it also seems that more and more credit card companies don't even require a signature for small transactions, thus eliminating the opportunity to write in a tip or, perhaps, leave that really cute server an adorable pickup line.

"I'm so alone. Hold me."

I almost never carry cash. Though, for me, it has less to do with convenience, and everything to do with racking up airline miles

I'm sort of obsessed. So much so, that when I actually go to book a flight I don't even use the miles I have. It's unquestionably because I'm a complete idiot, and figure why drop 40,000 miles to fly for free when I could spend $500 and get ... more miles?

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

Delta pretty much has me by the gonads. But it's cool. I get to board in Zone 1. And these are the things that matter to soulless gingers.

Anyway, Dipjar finally makes it easy for credit card users to tip without signing, and the company makes their money by taking a small percentage of each transaction. However, they insist that they'll always deliver at least 80 cents of every dollar to the store's employees.

Some people might say this is unfairly taking money from the people who actually earned it, but the counter-argument (pun absolutely intended because I'm awesome) is that this is money they probably wouldn't have seen in the first place.

I suppose there's no right answer here, but we should probably all get unnecessarily worked up and leave hateful, anonymous comments for each other. I'll start:

"This writer sucks!"

The future, of course, is cell phones where you either tap-to-pay or maybe just command Siri to do something useful for a change.

"Siri, pay the man."

"Where are your pants?"

"Shut up, Siri."

But, for now, until our cell phones officially take over the world, the Dipjar seems to be a decent intermediary. That said, we still have to ask: Who actually deserves a Dipjar in the first place?

These days, it seems like everyone is soliciting tips. And I legitimately don't know who should get them. Naturally, we have the old standards. Servers get 15% to 20%. Bartenders get a dollar a drink. And the guy who hooks me up with illegal HBO gets 20 bucks and a Miller Lite.

But as I spoke to people this week about tipping, and as I researched the topic online, there seemed to be a huge overall backlash against leaving money for anyone with an actual tip jar. Read: People who might use the Dipjar.

The general consensus was that, in food service, if you physically come to the table with my meal you get a tip. The frozen yogurt girl, on the other hand, can go die in a ditch.

Of course, tipping isn't unique to America. But it certainly seems to be a bigger part of our culture than in other countries. For example, in the United States we even take care of the taxi driver in the same way we tip a restaurant server. And it's kind of insane.

"Here's an extra five bucks for talking on your blue tooth for the last 30 minutes. You're the best!"

For comparison, in England, riders tip, but only a small amount. In fact, while on assignment in London before the Royal Wedding, I actually spoke to a taxi driver about proper etiquette, and he told me it's polite to just round up the fare -- that the normal tip is about 50 pence (or roughly 80 cents).

He said, "You don't look towards a tip, but it's nice when you do get one."

The moral of the story is never leave your house. Life's too confusing.

But for those who do wander and buy stuff, the Dipjar is definitely a clever idea. Still, I seriously don't know who should get a tip these days. So help me sort this out. Who's worthy?

And, more importantly, has anyone seen the frozen yogurt girl?

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