Showing tip amount examples guides how much tip people give

We went to a restaurant the other night with a few friends. While the food was so-so, we had a great time. When the bill arrived, a section of it grabbed my attention:


A few questions popped to my mind.

  • Why did they need to put this on the bill?
  • What was the design process?
  • How well does this design convert?
  • What could be a better design here?

Of course since I wasn’t part of the team creating this, I can just mostly assume. Just for reference, the usual amount of gratuity in Hungary is 10%, so slightly lower than the examples here.

Designing for such a specific cultural construct, like tipping is always a challenge. People arriving from different cultures may have wildly different ideas on how to do things, so the best they can do is to watch locals doing things and trying to imitate them. But this is difficult when it comes to paying. We had the exact same issue when a few years ago we visited Seoul, we wanted to give tips, but we learned in the end they are a no-tip culture.

A good way to educate all those people coming from different cultures seems to give examples, like this restaurant did on this bill. Not just a short instruction like “service fee is not included”, but also more positive description of what tipping would mean in this context, and what the exact amount would be. This lowers the cognitive load too, as it gets harder to calculate in the head the more alcohol you consumed earlier.

I’m not so sure about the conversion rate of this message however. For once because of the anchoring effect I’m guessing most people would choose the 12% option. They should add a 3rd, even more expensive option like one for 20%. Also the options doesn’t really differ, what’s the difference between 12% and 15%, besides that I have to pay more? Even a smiley like :) or :D would guide the decision better (and in that case there would be the implicit 3rd option of :( for 0%, maybe a good feedback for the restaurant on quality issues).