New York taxis nudge customers toward 30% tips

Riders, pay carefully! Taxis in New York City quietly changed the payment screen that appears at the end of a ride. Gone is the option for the traditional 15% tip. Now, the lowest tip option offered to riders is for 20%, and absurdly, a 30% is listed as a reasonable choice.

Well into the 21st century, most New York City taxis were cash-only. When credit card capability finally arrived in the yellow cab world, the in-cab payment screen gave three buttons for tip options: 15%, 20%, and 25%. New York taxi drivers carped endlessly, regularly complaining to their customers that credit card payments require them to give up too much commission, and begging them to use cash instead.

Even though businesses of every stripe must swallow credit card transaction fees and commissions as a cost of doing business, many cabs broke the rules and refused to carry passengers who intended to pay by plastic.

The new screens reflect a minor victory in their complaining campaign. The jump in suggested tip amounts -- now starting above the industry standard -- is meant to placate the city's whining chauffeurs and offset their unhappiness with the system.