As a long-term Starbucks patron, I've always wondered how bad the kids behind the counter were getting hurt by a cashless society, meaning throwaway change and other types of tips are for the most part a thing of the past, right? A friend and reader of the Capitalist reports on how you using your #**#*# ****ing Visa for everything, including coffee, is costing a barista near you:
"Here’s the scoop on the impact of cashless society on baristas.
Katie works in a very busy store in downtown _____ (highest revenue in _____) with a line out the door for a few hours each morning. (Not many coffee shop options downtown.) She worked for Starbucks for 5 years from 2004 – 2009 in various stores in _____, the last stint was 2 years at the same store she is back with now, downtown. I asked how tips were now that so many people use cards to pay for everything.
At daily close, the shift leader dumps the tip jar into a (container?) and puts it in the safe. Every two weeks, on the Friday that isn’t pay day, tips are distributed in cash in envelopes, meted out based on the number of hours each person worked in the two week period. “It’s the only way that makes sense” said wise ______, as opposed to tracking who worked the highest volume shifts and other ways they tricked it up before.
I asked how tips were going now that everyone is using cards for everything. So when she left in 2009, tips averaged about $2/hour extra. So two 32 hour weeks would net her about $128, a big relief between paychecks right? Now, she says, with everyone paying with their damn iPhones it’s maybe $1/hour if that. (Emphasis hers.) So going from about $250 a month to less than half that is significant to our 20somethings who are trying to self-sustain. She added in a fuss about how corporate is even promoting it with their preferred customer cards with perks for frequent customers, who were formerly the best tippers. She said they have a few regulars downtown who throw in a $5 now and then, maybe to make up for all the quarters they used to toss in as though they were more trouble to keep.
Bottom line: A cashless America sucks for baristas. A hundred busy professionals throwing in 50¢ or more every day adds up to a lot of beer money…"
What's also interesting to me on this is that I'm sure baristas saw the trend and some said, "hell, I'm going to make them do the "sign of shame" and make them sign the credit card receipt", forcing a tip. At some point, Starbucks corporate had to take a stand on that and say all credit cards transactions should be paperless to speed up the total service equation (and save the planet).
And boom. With that edict, a starbucks barista near you lost $1,500 annually.
But I do love a paperless credit card transaction. Maybe I ought to throw some cash in the pot once in awhile.