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  1. #1
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    Mandatory Restaurant tips
    I was at a new restaurant last weekend, nice place good food, then I read the tab.

    It was about $70 so I was about to add 15% for a tip when I read "additonal tip".

    They automaticlly added a 18% tip on the bill of $60 without any notice, now if I didn't read it I would have added another 15%.

    Has anyone seen this forced tip before?

  2. #2
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    I've noticed when I travel some areas seem to do that but around where I live, most restaurants only do that for large parties. The typical amount I've seen is 15% automatically added with the option of the customer paying more for good service.
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  3. #3
    Full Member Tech Evangelist's Avatar
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    I've seen that with a few restaurants that automatically add a tip for 6 or more people. Personally, I think it is rude and I would not re-visit a restaurant that did that without notifying me in advance.
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  4. #4
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    That is common with hotels and their room service.

  5. #5
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Pretty common around here if the total bill exceeds a certain amount. Advance notice is usually printed right on the menu or on signage near entrance or cash register.
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  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Makes you more payroll dept. than rewarder of good service.
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  7. #7
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    I think it is completely legit...servers get stiffed a lot and because most of them do not actually get a paycheck, they rely on tips to live. If people do not pay attention and read their bills, then IMO it is in their error that they tipped more. You are a wise consumer in that you do pay attention and read your bill.

    Also, the servers do not always have a choice in adding gratuity. It is just the policy in some restaraunts and hotels like at the intercontinental where the last summit was. Every bill I had regardless of price or party size had gratutity added on. It was just their policy. If you don't like the policy, then you don't have to go back.

    When I was in Austin, there was a restaraunt I went to a lot that had two gratuity policies, if your party was 8 or more, it was added on, or if you had your check split, even if it was just two of you, it was added on. It is a way to protect their wait staff just as you have merchants and networks doing their best to protect your cookies.

    By them enforcing a rule like added gratuity, their servers can feel a bit more secure in that they will have money to eat with etc... just as when a merchant regularly cleans their programs of parasitic affiliates, it protects the affiliate from loosing sales so that they can make a living.

    However, if it leads to bad service, talk to the manager and explain why you don't feel this is correct because of the service you received. Any good manager will take care of you when you are upset in their establishment.
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  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Liquidate ... but that eliminates the motivation to perform. I think studies have shown if the pay is the same regardless of the performance than the level of performance continually diminishes.

    I would think there are as many people who will leave larger tips for extremely good service than there are people willing to stiff a waiter or waitress who performed extremely well.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by visitourmall
    Liquidate ... but that eliminates the motivation to perform. I think studies have shown if the pay is the same regardless of the performance than the level of performance continually diminishes.

    I would think there are as many people who will leave larger tips for extremely good service than there are people willing to stiff a waiter or waitress who performed extremely well.

    I agree with you, that is why I added in that if service is poor, contact management and have them do something about it...if that doesn't work, call their corporate office. If they are some local shop, just tell your friends how bad it was because they rely on the locals. If you really feel angry, put in a free complaint in one of the local papers. Most of them have them and love little things like that.
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  10. #10
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    I think studies have shown if the pay is the same regardless of the performance than the level of performance continually diminishes
    Survey waiters and waitresses, asking them if they would rather work for an establishment with a policy like this, or a place that doesn't. My dollar says that you'll get a pretty unanimous response. Getting stiffed by just one diner is enough to ruin one's entire day.
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  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager JusticeforGirls's Avatar
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    I'm new to this site, but I have strong feelings about this. I worked in the restaurant industry for 5 years.

    To novice restaurant goers: Most servers only work for tips. An added gratuity is restaurant policy and servers usually can't change that per table i.e. if they gave you wonderful service and you think you would "tip them more if they didn't add it on there", they probably know that too. They aren't trying to insult you or cheat you. As a previous poster mentioned, you can request to speak to a manager if you feel the service wasn't worth the the added gratuity. And to everyone who says, I didn't notice the added gratuity so I tipped on top of that... Don't feel tricked. Just pay attention to your bill!

  12. #12
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    someone's gotta keep those Brits in line.

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by visitourmall
    Liquidate ... but that eliminates the motivation to perform. I think studies have shown if the pay is the same regardless of the performance than the level of performance continually diminishes.

    I would think there are as many people who will leave larger tips for extremely good service than there are people willing to stiff a waiter or waitress who performed extremely well.
    I agree that compensation should be based on performance. However, for years I have followed a practice that is not only fair to the restaurant and wait staff, but also the customer. You might consider trying it - it works for me.

    If a restaurant follows this policy, and the service does not warrant the added tip, I call the manager over, (and if applicable the waiter / waitress) and inform him/her to re-ring the bill without the house tip, and then I assign the tip accordingly. I am also not shy about explaining why the tip is what it is.

    I understand that wait staff get stiffed occasionally, and when this happens even though good service is given, it is unfortunate. But that does not warrant entitlement to a 15 - 18% automatic gratuity regardless of the service rendered.
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  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Sheri's Avatar
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    gra·tu·i·ty /grəˈtuɪti, -ˈtyu-/
    Pronunciation[gruh-too-i-tee, -tyoo-]

    –noun, plural -ties.

    1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
    2. something given without claim or demand.

    Many servers receive a base pay (Read around $2.15/hour), and some receive actual minimum wage. (although restaurant owners sometimes pay this counting it as a base pay and a tip "credit" so the person has to at least get the "credit" amount in tips before collecting further tips.)

    I am always happy to tip well. I rarely tip below 20% unless the service is very poor. I tip better if the check needs to be split, if my party spends time sitting and chatting taking up the table time, or if I have made any special requests for my food.

    However, when I see a tip that has been automatically added at 15% - 18% then that is the tip that they receive. They are only shooting themselves in the foot if they do that.

    The very definition of a gratuity is that it is to be above and beyond the price listed for the food. If they are going to make it mandatory, then they should just raise the price of their food, and tell patrons not to tip. Pick one option instead of trying to have both.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Sheri

  15. #15
    Yup, Sure ... now let me check ... Cagles Mill's Avatar
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    Ditto to what Sheri said.
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  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Primarily, I've seen "mandatory tips" with larger parties and in areas with a lot of international tourists. Tipping isn't done in some areas of the world, so servers can really get stiffed if people don't know that a tip is expected.

    I tend not to go to restaurants who have mandatory tips, because the service very frequently reflects it (i.e. is very bad).

    I've been to a few places where tips were included (Sandals, an all-inclusive resort, and Disney World with their dining plan). These types of places focus very heavily on service, so you would expect them to be excellent even without tips. The lack of tips, however, really bring the service down. At both places, I would estimate that the service at 25% of my meals were excellent, 50% were good, and 25% were inferior. At normal restaurants (with tips), it's probably more like 40%/50%/10%.

    I've been to several restaurants with large groups where I was paying the bill and where the restaurant has a policy of adding the gratuity for large groups, but where the server didn't automatically add it. In each case, the service had been phenomenal and I left a considerably larger tip (20-30%, often $50-$100 or more).

    I always tip 15-20% for average service and often much more (sometimes as much as 30-50%) for exceptional service. On the other hand, in those rare times when I get bad service, I have been known to tip 10% or less. For really, really bad service, I have even left $0.01 on a few occasions to send a message.

    I think it's also important to realize what is under the waiter's control and what isn't, and that you don't penalize the waiter for something he can't control. If drinks go unfilled (my biggest pet peeve), that's the waiter. If a steak is overcooked (and the waiter handles your complaint right), that's something the waiter has no control over. If some food is missing or a special order isn't done the way it was requested, that's a marginal issue. A really good waiter will quickly double-check before bringing stuff out, but I'm not sure I would penalize a waiter for missing a kitchen error (as long as they resolve it quickly and professionally).

    Tips to me are a natural selection process. It encourages/rewards wait staff to do a good job. Those who just don't get it either improve or move on. Those who are exceptional stay. Over time, it makes service considerably better.

    I went to one restaurant that had an unposted mandatory 20% tip (for a party of two!). The service was absolutely dreadful. We were there two hours, sitting at the table waiting almost the entire time. We hardly saw the waitress and had numerous problems that were never resolved. Nowhere in the restaurant or on the menu did it say that there was a mandatory tip. I left the charge slip unsigned and disputed the charge when I got home.
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  17. #17
    Staril - Mad Cat Woman Sue's Avatar
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    I never know what to tip while in the US. Here, in Switzerland, 15% is included in the price of drinks and food etc ... it isn't added at the end but actually in the listed price. This was done as the waiters/barstaff/etc are taxed on that 15% of what they have sold/served. So, if they didn't receive a tip they would actually lose money by having to pay the tax anyway. The Swiss tend to leave maybe $2 per person after a meal ... if the service is good I do leave more, maybe 10% and any Swiss with me will tell me it is too much.

  18. #18
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    I am also 100% with what Sheri said.

    I actually wanted to start a thread on exactly this topic back half a year ago when we returned from Venice. All restaurants we ate at in Venice charged us a "tip" of 15% without asking me a word prior to including it in the credit card charges. Now, I'm perfectly okay with it if and when the service that I have received has really been one that I am grateful for (words like 'gratuity', 'grateful', 'gracious', 'grace', etc -- all stem from the root "grat" which in Greek means "pleasing"). Unfortunately, there have been a couple of instances on our trip to Venice when we were neither pleased, nor grateful for the service we received, but we were still charged the "gratuity".

    If no one minds, I would like to add a poll to this thread (on whether people think it is acceptable or not). Maybe it's just that I am very much into measuring things now, but I believe it would be interesting to see the results of such a poll.

    Geno

    PS: Michael entered his post while I was typing up mine. I am totaly with him on this issue too.
    Last edited by Geno Prussakov; November 1st, 2007 at 11:29 AM. Reason: PS added

  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager JusticeforGirls's Avatar
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    As previously mentioned, most of these policies stem from the restaurant not the servers. I would be in favor of restaurants reviewing this policy on some levels i.e. large groups make sense if its easier for the customers, but a couple who spends over $X shouldn't be forced to tip.

    As a former server, I despise poor service. I will also leave a 10% tip for someone who hasn't provided good service.

    However, Restaurants should do a better job of training their employees to "EARN" that mandatory tip if that's their policy. I also agree with the previous poster who mentioned that it's a process of evolution. Good servers stay (5 years for me; paid for all of college) and bad servers don't last long. Unfortunately, restaurants need to do a better job of evalutating who needs to go...

    In the end, I think the burden lies on the management to establish best practices, good policy and good training.

  20. #20
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Have to be careful with this in some seetings. There's a hockey team in Buffalo, which shall remain nameless, that when you have a luxury box for a game, automatically add an 18% gratuity (at least they did 2 years ago).

    As it turns out, the suite hostess doesn't even GET that gratuity... It goes to the sports service company that handles the concessions stands and suite hostessing.

    Since I learned that, I've been dead against forced gratuity. As a side note, I'm also the most generous tipper I know... Our pizzas are at our doorstep very quickly. The drivers know who pays, and they behave accordingly.
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  21. #21
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    I think it should be based on performance also.

    Just out of curiosity do you think you can be forced to pay the 18% tip or any tip for that matter if you had bad service?
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetsWarehouse.com
    Just out of curiosity do you think you can be forced to pay the 18% tip or any tip for that matter if you had bad service?
    Unless it's clearly posted on the menu or in the front of the restaurant that it is added and mandatory to pay, because of the definition, you probably don't have to pay it.
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  23. #23
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Make no mistake, this practice does not necessarily benefit the server, it's designed to benefit the restaurant ownership.

    From the U.S. department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

    A tipped employee engages in an occupation in which he or she customarily and regularly receives more than $30 per month in tips. An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 per hour in direct wages if that amount combined with the tips received at least equals the federal minimum wage. If the employee’s tips combined with the employer’s direct wages of at least $2.13 per hour do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference. Many states, however, require higher direct wage amounts for tipped employees.
    This practice allows employers to pay well below the minimum wage and in some cases probably results in servers making less in tips when the patron settles for the 15% as opposed to 20% or higher that some of you have said is customary for you.

    So you are in fact paying a portion of the hourly wages for the server when you visit an establishment that adds a minimum gratuity to the bill.

    -rematt
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  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetsWarehouse.com
    I think it should be based on performance also.

    Just out of curiosity do you think you can be forced to pay the 18% tip or any tip for that matter if you had bad service?
    No, you are not required to pay the automatic added tip amount if service did not justify it. Let's all try to remember that "tips" are something that are awarded by the patron based on service rendered. Tips are not an obligation, but an award for quality that added value to the dining experience.
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  25. #25
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Make no mistake, this practice does not necessarily benefit the server, it's designed to benefit the restaurant ownership.


    Which is one reason I think that restaurant owners should pay their staff properly. I hate the concept of tipping and yes I realize that puts me in the minority.

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