The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Tech Without Insight Is Like Chefs Without Taste …
May 8, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I am an early adopter.

Obviously I’m not talking about music or fashion, but technology.


Actually, I should be more precise, I love gadgets.

Robot dogs, rabbits, cats and birds.

Cameras, games systems, phones and televisions.

Computers, lights, guitars and cars.

If it’s got some sort of cool gadget in it, I will either buy it or at least pay to try it.

In short, I am sad.

This addiction [and it is an addiction] has seen me spend untold amounts of cash on upgrades and silliness [robot ball anyone?] but one thing I’ve never done is spend my cash on something that tried to make me change my behaviour without addressing my concerns, especially if it concerns accessing my bank account.

What the fuck am I talking about?

This …

I know companies want us to live in a cashless society …

I know we use internet banking without a second thought …

I know we think nothing of handing our credit card details to shops via the internet or phone …

I know I’ve personally been ripped off by credit card fraud from Tunbridge Wells to Timbuktu

… but I’ll be fucked if I’m going to use a separate machine to ‘tip’ someone via my debit/credit card.


Well, it’s not because I’m a tight bastard [though I absolutely LOATHE how some restaurants automatically add a tip to your bill, meaning you have to specifically ask to have it taken off if you don’t agree with it – which I am more than happy to do, let me tell you] it’s because it makes no sense. No sense at all.

If this machine is by a cash register, then I assume you will have purchased something … and if you’ve purchased something, then I’m pretty sure you’d give any tip you want to give directly to the person taking your money.

I very much doubt you’d pay the teller and then shove your card into another machine to hand over a tip – not just because it takes more time, but because you can choose how much you want to pay at the bill is presented to you.

And god-forbid this machine becomes the new ‘charity collection jar’.

I know it might make sense in terms of getting people to hand over cash – given more and more are living via cards, than coins – but sadly, I think this would end up with them obtaining even less money than they do already.


Because handing over some coins doesn’t have the same emotional concerns or consequences as handing over your card … especially when coins don’t give access to your entire bank account.

The problem with this sort of tech is that it might make sense in ‘theory’ but life doesn’t work like that.

Humans are suspicious, cautious, hypocritical beings – regardless of age – and to get people to embrace a completely new way of behaving needs time, trust, education or incentive and this device, as far as I know, has none of those … which goes to show that while technologists are incredibly smart, some are not very clever.

36 Comments so far
Leave a comment

So says the man that blight a robotic ball.

Comment by Bazza

I meant bought, but blight works just as well.

Comment by Bazza

This is the equivalent of Donald Trump talking about the arrogance of the rich.

Comment by DH

Would you reconsider your opinion if I told you that one of the founders was a Wharton business economics professor who has researched “the norms that influence tipping behaviour”?

Or would you make a Cheers related gag about Norms?

Comment by John

I’d say it’s more evidence on the flaws of research. And education for that matter.

Comment by DH

Don’t mention education, you’ll just encourage comment from those loons who are still reading that Einstein post!

Comment by John

And that tip jar is stupid but so is buying:

Robot ball
Multiple robot dogs
Multiple robot rabbits
An original Dalek (not tech, but still stupid even if you did sell it for a profit)
A full size, remote controlled R2D2 with DVD projector in his head
Robot guitars
More ipads and imacs than the population of Australia

And don’t forget, only a few weeks ago, you almost bought a full size, working replica of Kitt, the car from night rider.

Just saying.

Comment by DH

Kitt car, eh. Some assembly required?

Comment by Ian Gee

Stalker. Like how I reframed this to be your issue, not mine?!

Comment by Rob

Robert. Were you really considering purchasing a replica of the Knight Rider car? I am unsure whether that information mortifies or impresses me.

Comment by Lee Hill

He only was considering it so he could rebadge it as a wiedenmobile.

Comment by DH

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t see it catching on, but I could see a business opportunity in the creation of a tip debit /prepaid card with a low daily limit that allowed people to tip without opening up their bank accounts to fraud.

Comment by John

NFC will make this even more likely.

Comment by John

If it needs a separate card it won’t work because people won’t want to carry it and if you have to use your main bank card it won’t work because of the reasons Rob is ranting about. But most of all, it won’t work because I don’t give tips because I never go out.

Comment by DH

1) I said it would have to avoid access to your main account.

2) It’s not a scientific survey, but I’m sure I’ve noticed people happily carrying tens of cards these days.

Comment by John

3) Or more likely it will be some micropayment app on your phone.

Comment by John

I agree this system doesn’t seem very practical (or very needed) but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. As with most new innovations, the real benefit is not in the product itself, it is in the possibilities it opens up in the minds of other technologists.
One day, we may well see an application that we come to rely on that can be traced back to this product. Though if I am brutally honest, this technology has been around in various forms for many years which somewhat undermines my spirited defence of this items value.

Comment by George

Google glasses?

Comment by Bazza

Well said George. At least until the last paragraph. ; )

Comment by Pete

iphone 4S and 5?

Comment by George


Comment by Bazza

Ooooooh, look at the tech rivalry claws coming out.

Comment by Rob

That is a great point George – very fair – but as you also highlighted, the technology being used in this ‘tip jar’ is hardly new … so while your point is incredibly valid, in relation to this particular product, it’s not. Ha.

Comment by Rob

People have already pointed out this post would be more credible if it didn’t come from a guy who rushes out to buys and use any new technology that grabs his attention.

But your point is good. If you want to change behavior, you have to understand what the current behavior is and what are the triggers that support it are and on first impression, this idea doesn’t seem to have any of those in place for the reasons stated.

But we should not ignore George’s comment (as if we ever would) because the real benefit of this idea may not be seen for a few years after the product has had chance to evolve and more brains get intrigued by what the concept offers them and they adapt it into their own technology and creations.

Comment by Pete

For all the people taking the piss out of me for writing about pointless tech, I would like to point out that if you actually read what I wrote [which is a big ask, I know] you’d realise I highlighted my absolute hypocrisy thank you very much.

Believe it or not, I’m more aware of my weaknesses than even you – but I appreciate all your efforts to make sure I am fully aware of each and every one of them.

Comment by Rob

to be fair, there’s plenty science around mental accounting that demonstrates that even with the mere exposure to cash, images of cash or reference to $ people may spend less but almost always spend more with cards (ergo the entire credit card industry) so the idea is on the right track but yes, the tech is clunky.

Comment by Eaon Pritchard (@eaonp)

Yes Eaon, but the flaw in that is the research is – as far as I have been able to verify – based on personal expenditure, not charitable so while it may be a great means to drive debt for brands like Visa, I don’t know whether it will drive ‘tips’ for retail assistants.

That said, I’m sure so much of my angst is based on the bad thinking of this current model and my hatred of giving tips for anything other than genuinely good service.

Comment by Rob

the cynic in me reckons this will make it easier to count tips into wages

Comment by Lewis Rosa

I think it’s a great idea and I would definitely use it, but I’m of the opinion the sooner cash goes away, the better.

Comment by tom

There’s start up’s in Silicon Valley right now praying you were their venture capitalist Tom.

Comment by Rob

I’m sure its very naive of me but I just find cash annoying and unnecessary. I use a card for just about everything now, if I could scan it quickly and that automatically tipped or donated money then I can see the need/use of that. I would consider it something that would encourage a new mode of an existing (but often sadly unpractised) behaviour.

Comment by tom

As with so much digital widgety cleverness. Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.
LIke bumming
Watching the X Factor
LIstening to Queen
Or making Nike cars

Comment by northern

Like bumming? BUMMING?

That’s a bit middle-American, über-conservative of you isn’t it?

And for your information, I’ve never suggested making a NIKE car, though if they did it like the Flintstones mobile, it would mean people would have to move to move … which is kind of genius.

Got to go, got a client to call right now …

Comment by Rob

I just like saying the word ‘bumming’ to be honest. Always makes me giggle.

Comment by northern

That’s even more concerning.

Comment by Rob

Not as concerning as taking the concept of balance bikes and ramping them up to automobiles

Comment by northern

Leave a Reply