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Here's a tip: You're going to pay one way or another

Tipping the wait staff is just a cost of going out for a meal. So would you go along with paying a surcharge or increased menu prices if the money was used to pay better wages?

Yes, some people are infamous for not tipping or leaving ridiculously small amounts. Most of us, I’ll bet, out of habit leave between 15% and 20%.

So why do we flinch when a restaurant adds a line to the bill with a recommended 18% gratuity? Some bills — for the math-challenged — offer amounts equal to 15%, 18% and 20%.

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells shoots down the myth of why we tip and makes an interesting case for ending the practice of tipping in the article “Leaving a Tip: A Custom in Need of Changing?”

On tipping, Wells writes:

Try one of these techniques if you want better service in restaurants:

1. Become very famous;

2. Spend $1,000 or more on wine every time you go out;

3. Keep going to the same restaurant until you get V.I.P. treatment; if that doesn’t work, pick another place.

Now, here is a technique that is guaranteed to have no effect on your service: leave a generous tip.

Some restaurants, he writes, in an effort to do away with tipping have increased wages and added a surcharge to bills or increased menu prices.

It would be good if this spreads throughout the restaurant industry. Keep the four pennies in your pocket. If you need to make a point about exceptionally good or exceptionally poor service, talk with the manager. And if the service is that bad, eat somewhere else.