Steven A. Shaw argues in the New York Times that we should do away with tipping. Here’s the crux of the matter:
Customers believe in tipping because they think it makes economic sense. “Waiters know that they won’t get paid if they don’t do a good job,” is how most advocates of the system (meaning most everybody in America) would put it. To be sure, this is a seductive, apparently rational statement about economic theory, but it appears to have little applicability to the real world of restaurants.
I have a standard formula for calculating tips from which I rarely deviate, regardless of the quality of service. (I generally leave $1 in gratuity per $5 of the bill, rounding up.) If I’m eating at a nice restaurant, I will leave a larger than average tip if service was exceptional. Also, if I’m a regular at a restaurant I’ll often tip a bit more, especially if the place is inexpensive, just so the servers are happy to see me when I arrive.