WHILE I understand the intuitive appeal of how implementing tipping and doing away with the service charge would lead to better service ("Encourage tipping, and do away with service charge" by Mr David Goh; Forum Online, Tuesday), I disagree that tipping should be introduced here.
Tipping does not necessarily lead to better service. Research has shown that service quality has a negligible impact on tip size - customers' assessments of servers' work account for only 1 per cent to 5 per cent of tip variation.
Tips depend instead on arbitrary factors such as the servers' race, gender and body language. In addition, servers discriminate too - they tend to provide poorer service to certain groups that they believe are bad tippers.
In every industry, employees are expected to perform well, and they are rewarded for their performance by their employers - service should not be any different.
In the United States, tipping makes customers the co-employers of servers. Thus, businesses pay their servers lower wages, knowing that customers would make up the difference. This adds an element of unpredictable emotional subjectivity to servers' wages.
Tips in countries like the US are not gratuities added on to reward good service, but obligations enforced through social pressure. They are similar to the service charge in that respect - consumers would still be expected to tip a minimum of 15 per cent of the total bill even if they receive poor service.
Tipping offers nothing over the service charge, apart from defining service industry workers as being dependent on the generosity of customers.
In fact, the service charge gives restaurants the freedom to spend revenue to attract talent to provide good service, which companies in all other industries do.
A diner's experience is the result of service provided not only by servers, but also by cleaning staff, managers and chefs. Introducing tipping would unfairly single out servers.