A phenomenon known as “tip baiting” has received a lot of attention. This is when an Instacart user attempts to induce a buyer to accept an order with promises of a large tip, only to reduce or remove the amount once the delivery has been made.
Instacart said it was not a common occurrence, but platform employees asked the company to change its application to prevent the practice. And the controversy highlights a longstanding battle over tips built into apps on concert platforms.
The base salaries that gig workers earn on platforms like Uber or Instacart are variable, depending on distances, level of demand and mysterious algorithms defined by the applications. That’s why Skylar Aud, a full-time food delivery driver in Los Angeles, says advice is so important.
“Tipping currently represents 50% of my income,” said Aud. “Without this advice, I would probably be below the poverty line.”
It therefore pays particular attention to applications. Some platforms define a default tip, while others choose to.
“What you ask and how you ask for it can have an impact on the amount people leave,” said Michael Lynn, professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University.
This is because the biggest tip factor is social pressure. In a restaurant, this comes from a natural person who is looking over your shoulder. But online, it can be integrated into the application.
“The larger this type of default options, the more those who tip leave more,” said Lynn.
But there is a catch. As demand increases, a higher proportion of people will choose not to tip. They have a negative reaction to social pressure, and this bitter taste is what concert platforms hope to avoid, according to Ravi Dhar, professor of marketing at Yale University.
“When you withdraw money from a relationship, that relationship goes from transactional to social, and people have a better overall customer experience,” said Dhar.
In theory, forcing users to think about a tip could make them less likely to use the service. That said, delivery driver Aud points out that there is another big variable that has pleasantly surprised him lately.
“The people are just amazing,” said Aud. “I have had many, many, many generous tips – many of them exceeding $ 100 for a single grocery run.”
And an adjustment of the application was not even necessary.
If you are a member of your local public radio station, we thank you because your support helps these stations to broadcast programs like Marketplace. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation – as little as $ 5 – helps us create more content that is important to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – be it radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in this mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everyone wins.