Tip or Sign the Slip?

Tipping, a venerated system of checks and balances that rewards good service and punishes bad, is under attack, or is it evolution?

Customary overseas, automatic service charges are making headway in America as hotels discover how lucrative they can be, as pointed out by this substantive article in the LAT which noted:

    “A 2005 poll of top-rated hotels and spas by Michael Lynn, a tipping expert and associate professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., revealed that almost 50% of those businesses added mandatory service fees and gratuities to guests’ tabs.”

That’s despite a Zagat survey that 90% of customers are averse to the practice.

Many hotels are adding service charges which should replace tips, but in some cases, the bellmen are still staring down customers for the handout.

What do you think? Should all tips be discretionary or does a flat “tip tax” ensure universal good service?