I'd say I tip 98% of the time and I don't tip when service is really bad. My tips rates are the average of what the expected tip percentages are at the time. So, a while back ago, that average was about 10%, now it is 15%.
Why do I tip? Because I can. And I understand that the servers are making poverty wages in the most expensive city to live in... Vancouver/Metro Vancouver area. In many cases these servers are also students. Having to study and work at the same time is tough as I found out personally during my schooling years. My thinking is that these tips I give are really my charity donations. Rather than give money to some charity organization and rely on them to distribute it as they see fit (sometimes a certain percentage of that goes to administration, AKA, executive compensation), I'd rather give the money directly to people myself. As I am Canadian, I help Canadians first. Recently, in the news, it was said that 48% of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency! That is a sad and sobering state of affairs and I'm sure lucky that I'm not in that situation. I cannot fathom the stress and worry that a sudden and unexpected turn of events, such as car maintenance, could put you into a sitation where you will not be able to cover your monthly expenses.
Good points...I don't think it's just the customary tips to servers in the hospitality sector that is the issue but it seems like tipping is more and more expected at every turn (tipping creep) that maybe what is becoming frustrating. As others here have stated, tips seem to be expected just about almost everywhere these days, ie: picking up a pizza, oil change services etc along with the traditional hotel services, hairdresser/barber, it just feels like it's expanding exponentially (a bit of a hyperbole I know), but sometimes it feels like that!
Here's what I think:
Free market is the best way to run any business. Therefore, customers should be free to tip generously or not at all (likely based on service, or on whatever value is being offered to the customer). Mandatory tips are ludicrous. Tips are a self-policing service that allows customers to "rate" their experience. If a server isn't making enough money, they should increase service or find another job. That's how a free market operates. If a facility isn't paying their staff well enough, they will end up with lower quality workers and lose customers because of it. Again, self-policing. So I'm all for discretionary tipping! And I have both tipped generously and left without tipping on various occasions.
Tipping someone to walk you to a table, take an order or deliver food is just jokes
IF you tip you tip because someone gave you good service
I just found the coolest restaurant in Toronto area (open over a year so yes late)
Showing just how simple the average waitresses job is, they have replaced them with ROBOTS
You meet a Robo Hostess who takes you to your table
You place your order with a Robo Waitress (plus bonus of interactive menu, pictures, etc on the screen)
And then your food gets delivered to your table via a Robo Waitress (only funny thing is they wait for a tap from you to let them know you have unloaded all your food, they stand there waiting otherwise)
Give taps not tips!
There was a great episode of the X-Files that was all about tech going wrong and ominous. It was in the last season of the rebooted version. Episode 215.