Tipping is a controversial custom: Just take a look at the comments on Ed Perkins' "What's the Appropriate Tip?" and the SmarterTravel Ultimate Guide to Tipping, and you'll see heated debates taking place in the comments. Even a recent article about scoring upgrades, which included a hint about tipping the front desk staff for a better room, roused the ire of at least one reader who compared the action with a bribe.
Reader RouteBG is pro-tipping, saying, "What travelers need to understand is that the wages of many of those who serve them are not fully included in the posted prices. What may theoretically have begun as a kind of incentive system has long since become a device for business owners to list prices that are below the actual cost of the service provided ... Believe it or not, people in the service industry aren't working just for the mere joy of it, and the skills and effort required are no less than those in other jobs."
On the other side of the coin, DancinBear offers this thought: "I find it insulting that I am expected to tip a service provider who more and more frequently could care less about the service they are providing."
Reader kokayi takes the middle ground, saying "I actually do not mind leaving tips. That probably comes from having a lot of close friends who work or have worked in the service industry. I do believe in basing it on the service provided though. So I have no problem not tipping a cabbie who takes the long route or a waiter who provides poor service. But, as my friends have convinced me, along with that I should not shy away from letting them know why I will not tip them. This is one way to encourage better service."
As for me, I typically leave 20 percent at restaurants, unless service was really poor. And I tip my hair dresser and manicurist that much or more (hopefully ensuring good service in the future). I don't, however, leave tips in jars on the counter.
So what's your stance on tipping? Do you think that the system is antiquated and a price gouge on customers? Or do you want to reward employees who go above and beyond? Leave a message in the comments section below—and remember, good service has a lot to do with being polite, so let's keep things civil.