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“Tipflation”: Customer Calls Out Boba Place for Forcing Him to Leave A Tip

Collage of Bubble U Store Machine Screens
Source: @Joostan/TikTok

There’s a new craze in town concerning tips. Some call it “tipflation.” It’s the practice of demanding tips more frequently and in record-breaking amounts. 

Businesses and their employees alike are in on the new culture. At the receiving end are the innocent customers who just want to get good value for their money and leave behind some extra change if they feel up to it. 

Sadly, the ability to choose to give or not to give is under threat. Businesses and their staff are devising devious strategies to force extra money out of the hands of customers like the lady in this story. 

A TikTok user known as Joostan, with username @Joostanah, recently shared his ordeal in the hands of a business that seemed desperate for tips. While it is true that most fast-food employees put in more work than they get paid for, and therefore are deserving of tips, the blame for poor wages must be placed where it rightly belongs. 

Businesses are solely responsible for the welfare of their workers. But rather than own up to their responsibility, many of these restaurants and fast food places are shifting the burden to their customers. 

Joostan had visited a boba store known as Bubble U to get some drinks. In a video he posted online, with a text overlay caption that read “NO NO TIP OPTION,” which has attracted over 30,000 views, we can see that he made use of a touch screen for his transaction. Trouble, however, began when he got to the “add a tip” section. 

The screen displayed a message that read, “100% of your tip goes to Bubble U staff.” Fair enough! Beneath this message were several options for tips which were 10%, 15%, 20%, and $25 of the value of her purchase. What he couldn’t find was an option for “No Tip.” 

At this point, it was apparent that Joostan had been held hostage. He was forced to leave a 10% tip of $1.46 so he could complete his transaction. 

But as one of the video’s viewers later pointed out, there was an option on the screen for not giving a tip (the “custom tip” option). But it was hidden under the “Proceed” option. 


It is hard to determine if this error was deliberate or just a result of a bad User Interface on the kiosk’s machine. With the recent tipflation culture, the former seems like the most likely option. But Bubble U has denied any ill intention. 

In the store’s response to the video, they argued that the option for no tip was available. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we’re sorry about your experience. We checked our systems and found no problem selecting the $0 tip,” was their comment. 

Bubble U offered to refund the tip. However, their statement couldn’t justify why the option was inaccessible. 

Some viewers shared their similar experiences. One comment read, “Same happened to me at the Harry Styles merch stand so I had to tip like 40 dollars.” Another user, @prettyp504_, gave the store a stern piece of her mind. “The fact this business reached out on TikTok to refund you $1.50 is wild af. it’s the principal of letting the customer choose. pay your damn employees,” she demanded.


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