The origin of the word “tip” derives from the phrase “to insure promptitude.”

Thomas Keane makes this point in his op-ed piece in the Boston Globe, arguing that the U.S. should ban tipping in restaurants, and I agree with Keane on this point.

The discussion of proper tipping policies began heating up this month when Boston restaurant Legal Seafood was entangled in a lawsuit with members of its wait staff. Members of the staff were rightfully upset, as the restaurant had been violating the Massachusetts law on tipping, which states that an employee must make a minimum of $8.00 an hour, including base pay−the minimum wage of the state.

Now, servers make a base pay of $2.63 per hour. If that sounds extremely low, you’re correct. Wait staff make most of their pay due to tipping, but the employer has little control over customers’ responsibility to tip.

Because of this, I think that tipping should be banned. Having the customer’s tip included in the minimum wage of the employee’s pay causes multiple problems in the work place, where there are staffs that have disputes among themselves over the proportion of tips. Not to mention, there are customers who refuse to tip, or leave an extremely small tip. There is no way to ensure that each member of the wait staff will reach their base pay of $8 per hour because tipping is unique to each customer, not to mention that the flow of customers in a restaurant changes hourly.

I also think that the notion of tipping changes the entire purpose of service. Waiters should be working to provide good service because it is their job, and not in hope of a bigger tip.

The U.S. is one of the few countries that has customer-based tipping in restaurants. The practice of tipping originated in Europe, and later found its way to the U.S.  Europe eventually eliminated of the practice of tipping and replaced it with the practice of prix fixe. This practice allows the restaurant to add a proportionate tip for service received built into the bill of the meal.

There are states that have tried to ban tipping, but the law was not enforced. Restaurant owners have the freedom to choose their own tipping policy. California restaurant owner Jay Porter recently banned tipping in his restaurants, instead raising the average bill 18% and noticed a big improvement in the service; customers were happy and his restaurants became more popular, with a higher profit. His employers wage increased to $25 an hour and the kitchen staff was also given a raise in wage.

I understand tipping is what some waiters can live off, and it is money they can take away after long hours of working, but I believe that the tradition is outdated, and actually brings up more problems than it solves. We can avoid these conflicts by banning tipping and adopting a prix fixe system that ensures proper service and fair employee wages.