Freaking out over the new tipping systems

People are freaking out about the new Starbucks tipping system, but it isn’t just Starbucks.

The freak out is about the awkwardness of it all. At the airport recently I came upon this where when you pay with a credit card, you have to go through a process of tipping or not tipping before you scan your card.

This is now a thing everywhere – in person at the register and also on apps where you order food or drink.

I’ve seen this at ice cream stores, sub shops, fast take-away places and of course sit down restaurants. You order and then when it’s time to pay, the tip portion comes up. And you’re not even in the store when you order on apps and you are tipping before you even receive service, or even enter the store at most instances. Tip first, ask questions later.

And a new thing at many restaurants is where they use this new scanning device at the table; they don’t take the credit card away to process it anymore, which is a good thing, but the waitstaff now stands over you waiting for you to tip and pay for the order, You don’t really have time to think.

Last week I split a bill with a friend, we both gave a credit card and split it in half and we both tipped 20% and left. We didn’t get a receipt and we asked each other, “Do you even know how much the bill was?” Neither of us did.

In NYC recently I was at a diner with another friend, an expensive diner (diner, not dinner), and the waiter was quite pushy. He was an older guy and I guess worked as a waiter most of his life, so he knew the ins and outs.

He handed me the black box to pay and then said, “Put your card in this way,” and “Here is the tip section, I’ll push the 20% button for you here,” and he did. He pushed the tip button himself.

One thing about that tip thing – I think they are losing out because I usually give more than 20% tip and most times I’ll round up the tip to a higher figure. Like if the tip is $17 or $18, I make it $20. So if their 20% button gives them $17.25, if they left me to my own devices, I would have left them $20.00 and sometimes even more if I liked the waiter or waitress, or if I know them personally.

There is one Starbucks I frequent in NYC daily, it’s a convenient location for me. But they are terrible. They are slow, they ignore orders placed on the app, they once made me break a $20 bill for a 5 cent bag (they charge you for shopping bags in all NY stores now) and they are not tip-worthy. But if you don’t leave the tip ahead of time when placing the order, you worry about the treatment you will get. But now that I think about it, could it be any worse than the service you get now?

At the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was staying home, I used Instacart and had things delivered from the supermarket. You would tip in advance there, too. I usually gave $5, but at that time, they were so overwhelmed, they literally would take up to four days to deliver the products. Now it’s two hours, but then it literally was days, they would tell you on the app, “We’ll be there next Thursday, between 2 and 4 pm.” It was a mess.

But I read that if you gave a big tip, you would get faster delivery times, so I started giving $20 and it worked; I was prioritized and received my delivery on the same day. So it seems as if on these apps and such we are now paying to get a fast and decent order before we even get the fast and decent orders and it’s almost a bribe to get the fast and decent order.

I heard that people don’t tip Uber drivers much. I always do. I used to give them a cash tip, but now I put it on the app. It’s easier. As I exit the car I tell them, “I’ll put the tip on the app.” I don’t know if they believe me, but I always do add it later.

Receive an email each time I publish a blog post by clicking here

Informed delivery

I get this thing called “informed delivery” from the post office. Every morning, around 9 am, I get an email with photos of my mail that is being delivered that day.

I got it because I travel often, and sometimes I get important business stuff in the mail, so this way if I see anything that needs to be attended to, I can ask my neighbor, who takes my mail in for me when I’m away, if she can open it and let me know what it says.

Truth be told, that has never happened. It’s been about 10 years that I have this service and I don’t think I’ve ever had to have something opened because it was important and couldn’t wait until I get home.

I try not to look at it daily because my mail comes late – sometimes 6 pm and if I see something that I question or concerns me, I worry about it all day. Like yesterday – this happened yesterday.

I saw a notice/letter from the IRS. All day I worried about it. Do I owe them money? Are they going to audit me? What is it?

Finally, about 6 pm, I went to the mailbox, got the mail and know what it was? A pin code that I requested a week before. Apparently to get into your IRS account online, you need a pin code, which they send via snail mail.

This happened not long ago. I saw an IRS notice and freaked out and when I ended up opening it, it was a letter telling me they were adding interest to a refund they owed me. Since they were late sending out the refund, they added interest.

I’m thinking of getting rid of “informed delivery” or at least not looking at it when it arrives in my email.

Receive an email each time I publish a blog post by clicking here

Overpriced concert tickets

I wasn’t sure if people would get this cartoon, but they sure have. It’s hit a nerve with so many people. On social media people are letting loose with their comments. With this new “dynamic ticket” pricing, it’s saving all the good seats for those who can afford it, raising the price to thousands of dollars. Ticketmaster allegedly is scalping the scalpers.

I am surprised though at so many people who don’t like Bruce Springsteen, according to their comments anyway.

The last time I saw Springsteen in person was 1985! At the Orange Bowl in Miami. For years I’ve been thinking it was 1984, but this news article says it was 1985.

My mother even went! No, we didn’t need her to chaperone, she just loved Springsteen, too, so she was a fan!

My mom had eclectic tastes, she loved Springsteen, AC/DC, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac and it’s no secret that her favorite song was Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns ‘N Roses, but she also loved Frank Sinatra and Elvis, Tom Jones and basically everything!

There was a period where I went to a lot of concerts and I would get the best seats possible. I remember about 10 or 15 years ago sitting mere feet from Stevie Nicks at a Fleetwood Mac concert, she was just a few rows up and my friends and I were dead center. And I’m sure we didn’t overpay for the tickets.

Now the ticket prices are out of sight. Like gas, groceries and everything these days. I’m surprised no one has blamed President Biden for the cost of concert tickets yet.

Receive an email each time I publish a blog post by clicking here.

Van Go Moving and Storage

Today’s comic made me think of the real thing. What if there was a moving company called “Van Go” and and all of the movers looked like Vincent Van Gogh? We’ve all seen people in real life who look like Van Gogh, right?

But I guess it would be hard to gather a bunch together and have them work as movers, right? But it’s an interesting idea.

Or another idea I had was a arts and antiques moving company that used people dressed as or look-alike artists or art subjects. Like for instance you had the Mona Lisa delivering a painting you won at auction or Monet delivering a vase you got at a tag sale.

I remember years ago there was a restaurant in town that gave you famous names as you walked in along with your table buzzer. When your table was ready they would call out, “Marilyn Monroe, table for two!” “Clark Gable, table for four,” etc.

Receive an email each time I publish a blog post by clicking here.

Stolen credit cards

Someone was using my credit card in NY the other day. VISA contacted me to tell me that someone tried to spend $1075.00 at a Versace store, but they stopped them and blocked the card. They knew it wasn’t me from my spending habits! Which is correct, I don’t wear Versace. I’m a t-shirt and jeans guy. Basically a slob.

The only reason I bring this up is that I find it interesting that our credit card companies know more about us than Google or Facebook. They know what we spend on everything these days – people use credit cards to buy a cup of coffee. If I drink coffee every day and order tea one day, will they see this as fraud?

A few months ago I wrote about having my card declined at a gas station which was a few miles from home – it was out of my usual buying pattern.

A few years back I was notified by American Express – they said someone was using my card fraudulently. I asked them how they knew – they said they were buying motorcycle parts – which was out of my buying pattern. The same week, VISA contacted me, again it was a case of fraud. How did they know? Someone was buying Avon – which was out of my buying pattern. So I guess my buying pattern is somewhere between motorcycles and Avon.

I’ve been extra careful with my credit cards, I keep them in special sleeves so they can’t be scanned, but I guess there is always a crook out there who knows a loophole or two. I’m glad that the credit card companies are stopping sales in their tracks and not letting them through. Still – it’s all about getting new cards and dealing with changing all that info on auto billing places.

Last month I had to change my American Express card – someone set up a fake account on Etsy and they were charging small sales to people. They charged me for four items at $62 each. I only noticed because I have this thing set up where they email me every time I use the card where the card is not present – mostly online. Even when I guy something they send me an email, which I like.

They don’t send out new cards overnight like they used to. What they do is give you the new number through secure means and you can use that number until you get the actual card. I already changed out my Apple Pay account with the new card info.

Get my blog via email when it’s updated Click here.

The price of gas; and coffee

This cartoon from Friday really hit a nerve with people. It got so many shares, likes and comments, more than any other I think.

A lot of people were saying they didn’t like it because it made no sense – how can you compare one cup of coffee to gallons of gasoline? But the point of the cartoon is that if a guy buys a $5.00 cup of coffee, most likely he is doing it daily and most likely, he is doing it more than once a day, so for him to complain about the price of gas is disingenuous. Plus, anyone who buys $5.00 coffee really has no right to complain about the price of gas. It’s just a big metaphor. That’s all. Sort of like Elon Musk complaining about the price of a space rocket.

And yes, I know gas is more than $3.00. I was surprised to see some of the comments from Norway and other far away places where gas is $7.00 a gallon! But it was cleaner to read making it $3.00 a gallon rather than $3.79 a gallon or $3.99 a gallon or even $4.00 a gallon, since $4.00 was too close to the $5.00 amount of the coffee.

I was driving around my county the last few weeks and saw that gas in less populated areas is much less than popular and more upscale neighborhoods. Some differences as much as 50 cents a gallon and these places are harder to get to than popular neighborhoods and areas. So none of it makes sense other than supply and demand I guess.

And might I add that Shell gas stations are always more than any other station on any give day at any time of the year. I gave up buying Shell gas years ago. For spite I think they are higher in price. If one station is $1.99 a gallon, Shell, across the street is $2.29 a gallon. If gas is $3.79 at one station, at Shell across the street, it is $4.15 a gallon. I think they do it to see how many people are too lazy to drive across the street for the cheaper gas – and it’s not cheaper brands, it’s name brand gas that is cheaper than Shell. Always.

Get my blog via email when it’s updated Click here.
Go ahead, sign up – I won’t spam you.

CartoonStock

I’m proud to be a part of CartoonStock, which is a searchable cartoon archive on the internet where editors, and just about anyone, can find cartoons for their publications from newspapers, magazines, newsletters and online publications. At CartoonStock, people are buying the rights to publish the cartoons.

In 2018, CartoonStock was acquired by longtime New Yorker Cartoon Editor and Cartoonbank.com creator Bob Mankoff, and cartoon lover/philanthropist Lawrence Benenson.

Cartoons available were published in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, National Lampoon, Barron’s, and The American Bystander, as well as online collections from The Weekly Humorist and Narrative Magazine.

“By joining CartoonStock’s talent and technology with our longtime publication connections, we’ve created the platinum level in the cartoon universe, allowing us to showcase distinguished cartoonists alongside upcoming talent with content that is hilarious, insightful, and relevant,” says Bob Mankoff.

There are curated cartoons on various subjects, or you can check out each cartoonist individually and see their work, or you can type in keywords for whatever subject you are looking for and the various cartoons pop up.

Receive an email each time I publish a blog post by clicking here.

The slow mail deliveries

This cartoon published Friday, hit a nerve with many people. The postal service is getting worse and worse. We get our mail late – days late and late in the day – some days our mail carrier arrives at 6 pm. One day our carrier had a special delivery at 10 am, she handed me the 10 am package and then I asked where is the rest of the mail? She said, “I’ll deliver it later in the day.” I said, “But you are here now!”

Years ago, the mail arrived late at our office, so I got a PO Box and rather than wait till closing time to get our mail for the day, I would be able to pick it up early in the morning – it was always at the PO Box early and I could grab it on my way into the office.

Last summer I ordered a book from a lady in California. It literally took a month to reach me in Miami. She mailed it June 3 and it arrived July 3. After all that time I never ended up liking the book – it was a graphic novel on cartooning, but I found it boring.

I had a very nice Etsy business going months before the presidential election. I was selling lots of political things – hats, t-shirts, etc. it was turning into quite a large business. We would ship the items in three days and the post office took a month or more to deliver! People were getting so upset and I was concerned about them not receiving the merchandise in time, before the election, so I stopped selling the stuff months before election day – losing thousands of dollars in the process! I returned so much money, too because of constant complaints.

I used a print-on-demand company that shipped the stuff via UPS, but then after a day or two it ended up at the USPS and there they sat for weeks or a month before they were delivered!

One time, a few years back, it took two months for my condo maintenance check to reach our accountant. And it only goes a few blocks away. I think they thought I was lying about paying it, but when it finally showed up they saw I had mailed it months before.

I hear that the guy running the post office wants it to go commercial; rather than have the government run it, have a private company run it. I’m not sure how that would work because he would lose his job if that happened, right? So maybe that’s not true. Who knows. But in this day and age, you would assume the US mail could arrive fast and on time.

Receive an email each time I publish a blog post by clicking here.

Work from anywhere; just answer the phone

This cartoon from the other day reminds me of an old neighbor I had. She and her husband used to spend time between Miami and New Hampshire and I asked her how she did it. Didn’t her clients (they were lawyers) care that they were not always present or in the same city?

She said, “It really doesn’t matter where you are. They just care that you pick up the phone.” And I always remembered that. I don’t always pick up the phone – I prefer email or text. But I did like the thought that if you get the job done, who cares where you’re getting it done from.

She ended up moving away, but was still in Miami. She ended up on the city’s historical board and was probably the only one who cared about preserving history and was anti-development. I always agreed with her regarding that stuff. In Miami, there is no reverence for history – it’s all about new – new chrome and glass.

Regarding the fact that you could be anywhere and conduct business, it reminds me of when I first started an online business, back in the stone age when things were new online. Customers would call me on the phone to give me their orders. They didn’t feel safe putting their credit card numbers online. But the thing is, I would take the numbers and put them online myself, that is how you put the credit cards through the system – online. And when I would take the number from them, there were times I was at a restaurant or in the park and I was literally taking their info down on a napkin. So much for keeping their credit cards secure. It would have been secure if they had just put their numbers into the system online to begin with.


Receive an email notification each time I publish by clicking here.

Selling crypto art

I was talking about online comics and wondering how to make money at it and I think the future is NFTs – which are non-fungible tokens. This is a method to pay for original digital art sold through crypto currencty.

You may have read recently that Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, sold his first tweet for $2.9 million (in NFTs). The actual first tweet ever was sold. I don’t know how you sell a tweet, but it was done.

It seems that things can be sold now where in the past that was inconceivable.

The downside of digital art, as opposed to pen and ink or canvas and paint has always been that there was no original art. It’s all on the computer, there is nothing tangible. But now that non-tangible art can be sold through the NFT exchange.

Digital artist, Mike Winkelmann, recently sold a piece of digital art for $69 million.

CNBC sort of explains the whole concept of NFT’s here.

There is one concern about this selling of digital art – the rights. Who owns what? For instance if a syndicate owns or controls your cartoons, do they own the rights, or do you? A good reason for self-publishing and not being controlled by another entity.

I’m sure as time goes by, things will be more understood and perhaps I and other cartoonists can start selling the original digital pieces of our comics this way, and finally make a living at what we do! You know, maybe someone will like a specific cartoon and want to own the original digital piece. Hope so.