‘Tipping perpetuates an unjust social structure’

To tip or not to tip? Should you pay a discretionary service charge when it’s automatically added to the bill? Is it okay not to leave a tip at all? How much is too much? How do you know who keeps the tip?

Wednesday’s Moral Money dilemma was posed by someone who said they felt guilty for never leaving a tip because they are unsure if it always goes directly to waiters – a quintessentially British problem.

According to the response to the reader’s letter, Britons are notoriously bad at tipping in comparison to other nationalities.

A study by travel money firm WeSwap of more 2,000 people, shared exclusively with the Telegraph, found that a quarter of Brits do not leave a tip if they feel they can get away with it and a fifth don’t leave a tip at all.

Even when abroad in countries with different tipping expectations, British people prefer not to part with their cash. The survey also revealed that one in five Britons do not leave a tip while overseas and three in 10 holidaymakers do not consider tipping as part of their holiday budget. 

Telegraph readers pointed out many pertinent issues beyond the basic question of whether or not to leave a few pounds in gratuity. 

They said the practice raises questions about whether people who work in restaurants are more deserving of tips than others in the services industry; it shines the spotlight on the suitability of minimum wage; and it ultimately comes down to a question of decency.

Here are the best of their thoughts on tipping etiquette – but what do you think? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

@M McLean 

“I always tip reasonably generously. There’s the argument that tipping perpetuates an unjust social structure, but many things do that, and you are not going to reform society by refusing to leave a tip.

“The waiter is in front of you and, if you can afford to dine out in a restaurant, likely on much less money than you.”

@Althea Talbot-Howard 

“Restaurants need to pay the minimum wage – including time-and-a-half and double-time on Sundays and bank holidays, as appropriate. Customers should not then be obliged to tip, unless the service has been exceptional, and they wish to do so.

“I speak as one who did a lot of waitressing before in her late teens and early 20s, in England and Australia. The Australian model involved time-and-a-half and double-time payments.

“However, with rents and business rates as astronomical as they are in the UK, could restaurant owners afford to run their businesses with a more lucrative wage structure on top of their other, considerable, expenses, without raising the price of the food considerably?

“Tipping may very well be the reason why the restaurant in which one has just eaten is still open and the food reasonably priced (if indeed it was).”