I listen to the Freakonomics Podcast because I always like how they look through the existing talking points and expose me to new ones for various topics.
Take tipping for example. They discussed tipping in the podcast released this week. It wasn’t just the typical (but extremely valid) “You should tip because they are paid $2.13/hr.” (List of tip wages by state) Instead they focus on tipping behavior, who tips more, and what behaviors lead to more tips. There is also a link between countries with extensive tipping and overall corruption!
I know a guy who will only tip $2 for a meal. He doesn’t care if the meal cost $5 or if the meal cost $50. His belief is that the same amount of work is done by the server for the 2 meals. I don’t think he has eaten at many $50/person restaurants though since they typically have many layers (water boy, food runner, etc.) that usually get tipped out so the $2 is being split by several people, not just the server. Even cheaper establishments may need to tip out certain positions.
My restaurant tipping in the US (because I’m bad at mental math) is I tip $1 for every $5 pretax. I will round up or down depending on how attentive the staff was to keeping my water refilled. Also, if I feel I am loitering I will tip a bit more based on time since I am occupying a table that would have generated another tip.
If autogratuity is added I still may or may not add more. I usually don’t, but I also would not punish a server for a policy he/she does not control and autogratuity policies are fairly standard at many chains for parties of x or more.
I’m not against eliminating tipping and it is a very arbitrary and confusing system in the US, but since it is the system we use I follow the norm. In other countries I read up on their norms (but often guide books written for Americans make me think I need to tip everyone in other countries too) and try to follow them.