TikTok shows automatic 10% gratuity for robot bartender

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The Tipsy Robot in Las Vegas is going viral on TikTok — though not just for being staffed by a robot bartender — as robots become more common at foodservice establishments. TikTok creator @Uptin posted a short video on TikTok showing that the bar automatically adds a 10% service charge to your order if you order a drink from the automated, drink-dispensing bartender, with seemingly no way to opt out of the service charge.

In the video — which has garnered almost 110k likes and 850+ comments — the poster quips “I normally wouldn’t mind an automatic 10% tip for making my drink, but you’re a robot,” which has led to a heated debate in the comments about whether tipping culture has gotten out of hand, with comments like “proof that tipping is just a scheme by capitalists” and “reminds me of convenience fees when buying tickets at home.”

The Tipsy Robot is located on the Las Vegas Strip and utilizes robotic arms technology from KUKA Robotic Corporation in Germany and includes ice and liquid dispensers. According to their website, customers can roll up to the Tipsy Robot, download the app and select from a pre-made list of cocktails or create their own, with a variety of liquors and mixers available. The customer then watches as the robot prepares their drink step by step and the app displays stats like waiting times and drink ratings from other customers.

General manager Victor Reza was unhappy with the popular TikTok and argued that it did not tell the whole story. First of all, users can opt out of the 10% service charge simply by choosing to order a drink from one of their human bartenders instead.

“Unfortunately, these type of posts do not reflect the reality [of our business],” Reza told Nation’s Restaurant News. “Tipsy Robot has eight employees, all working on an hourly rate. Most of them have been with us for over four years which is very rare in Vegas. They greet the customers, help them with the app to place the order, help them if there is cash payment, make sure robots are working properly, change empty bottles, clean, check IDs, etc.”

Reza said that once the reason behind the service charge is explained to confused customers they “gladly place their order.” The service charge is distributed to all employees except management. Reza’s approach to service reflects the slowly changing redistribution of labor and tasks in the hospitality industry. Even as many of the menial or repetitive tasks are automated, most restaurants aren’t becoming entirely automated—instead staff will just have different things to do. In this case, Tipsy Robot staff serve as both tech support and the friendly human face for customers craving a drink made by robot arms.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]



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