Should tipping be mandatory, should it be for good service, should you do it just because you'd feel guilty otherwise? And if you are a serial tipper, do you tip the same amount for all service - good or bad? Or does it depend where you are in the world, where you are eating and what you have had?
I am of the latter category. Many of my friends see me as a tight tipper, unappreciative of the service they have deemed worthy of a 15 per cent bonus. When I try and leave 10 per cent they flush with embarrassment, and one friend actually leaves the restaurant when it's my turn to pay.
But it's not that I am a tight-natured person. It's just that I don't see tipping as a given, more as something you work extra for. I don't want to come across as Scrooge-like but a waiter gets their salary for doing the job of waiting on you?
If I am out for lunch and pop somewhere basic, say Pizza Express, I order a quick pizza, less than £10, and in theory only three trips to my table with little customer/waiter interaction needed. On a £20 bill I would leave £2 - but according to some of my city friends that amonut is unacceptable.
It might be a family thing. If I go to a café for lunch with my mum she looks shocked if I tip at all. A 30-minute lunch consisting of a quick sandwich and a coffee, in a place where they offer you somewhere to sit, does not, in her eyes, warrant a tip. But who's right?
Recently I went to a nice restaurant and was made to pay a £15 service charge (which didn't seem to be optional), to an inattentive, moody waiter who made us feel guilty for ordering anything at all because it meant he had to do some work. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed.
Maybe that sums it up in my mind. Being happy at work when you are a waiter - or at least pretending to be - is an absolute must if you want my 12.5 per cent.