Mandatory Gratuity?

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  #1  
Old 04-02-07, 07:07 AM
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Mandatory Gratuity?

Went out to dinner last night with some of my wife's family - party of seven, five adults and two toddlers. An 18% gratuity was added to the bill. Is that truly part of the bill or can one pay only the food and tax total or somewhere in between? Service last night, in our opinion, did not rate anywhere near an 18% tip, but none of us knew whether we could pay less.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-02-07, 08:18 AM
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I sorta think 18% is a reference point. You decide if the service was better or worse than 18% and adjust accordingly.

Just be prepared for a bit of awkwardness.

Reminds me of the time I turned down a time-share sales person in Hawaii. We were the first to leave and she shouted at us in a room full of people all the way to the door. Made everyone else scared to leave or they'd get the same treatment.

When I go to the bar, I usually give the gal 2 - 5 bucks but I am only spending $10.00. If we go for a sit-down, I will give 15%. If I have a coupon, I usually bump up the tip since I saved some money.

I hate giving tips for useless things I could do myself.

I will lug two sets of golf clubs 2 miles on my back before I give the guy at the bag-drop a tip. They jump on your cart as you pull into the lot and start shining your clubs. Or when I check into a hotel and the bell boy grabs my gym bag and won't give it back! To me its just organized begging.
 

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  #3  
Old 04-02-07, 08:55 AM
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It is usually specified on the menu if there is a mandatory gratuity for groups over a certain size. When you ordered, you accepted the terms. If don't like the terms, you can discuss them with the manager before ordering - or vote with your feet and walk out.
 
  #4  
Old 04-02-07, 09:22 AM
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The mandatory tip for large groups irks me, especially when they start at 18% (and that is common, and yes, it is mandatory unless specified on the bill). I do understand it, large groups are known to be cheap, however, there should be some way to reward good and punish bad service. In my book, 18% is for good service, not average service. If they make you pay it, they had better provide it. It would be more reasonable (if they feel the need to make it part of the bill) to start at 10% and encourage the customer to leave me, as opposed to the alternative, force it on the customer, tick them off, so even if the wait staff was exceptional, they will get no more than 18%.
 
  #5  
Old 04-02-07, 11:10 AM
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Some restaurants in my area have the same requirement for groups over a certain size and unfortunately, NO, you can't leave less just because the service wasn't up to par. In fact, I think because they know they're going to get a certain amount, they must figure why bother. Several of these places around here, have gone out of business since they started that practice. Wonder why?
 
  #6  
Old 04-02-07, 11:35 AM
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The policy is common
It basically came about as the wait staff often gets the short end of the stick...er tip, with large parties
To the point where they would rather not spend their time on them, when 3 smaller parties will produce more tip money

If they know they are ensured at least 18% tip, they are more likely to take the large party

Yes tips are to reward good service, but as far as the government (and management) goes, it's part of salary
(the govt. collects taxes for tips even if the waitperson in fact collected none)

All professional wait staff I know personally and the better ones I've dealt with on a professional level waive the "mandatory" tip, as they fear (and rightly so) that customer being forced to tip, won't be as generous

They know they will receive more w/o the arm-twisting

I suppose with some places, the staff does not have that option
But I have found it amazing how many do

Although I don't begrudge the policy (well...I understand the why anyway), I do find that those places that insist on enforcing it tend to have less then top quality wait staff

At any rate, if it says it will be added, and it is when the bill comes, you must pay it, it's part of the bill
 
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Old 04-02-07, 03:19 PM
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I second the comments on the wait staff often getting the short end if there's no built-in tip on large parties. My H.S. senior daughter is working as a hostess & server at a family-type grill & bar (which does NOT have the add-on) and she's been stiffed more than once. We're talking on one occasion where a party of six expanded to a party of ten (I'm guessing they combined could have easily rung up a $150 tab) and when the table was cleared there was something like $8 TOTAL in tip money (and the server doesn't get ALL of it). What happens is that everyone ASSUMES that if everyone in the party gives a little bit it will add up to a tidy sum, ignoring the fact that some cheapskates will duck out without leaving anything. I would prefer that all restaurants raise their prices 15-20% and pay the staff a decent wage with no need to tip, but it ain't gonna happen. Besides which, it would tend to discourage the wait staff who are real go-getters from working as hard.
 
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Old 04-02-07, 03:40 PM
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Once or twice a year our church will have a dinner at a restaurant. If I'm not mistaken we are always asked upfront if we wish to add the tip to the bill. Last Christmas I made the mistake of having gift certificates added to the bill so we only had to cut one check. I realized later that we paid a tip on the entire amount
 
  #9  
Old 04-02-07, 04:15 PM
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actually depending on what state it is in, you can leave less, or actually nothing if you want.

If they list it as a gratuity, that's what it is. If they want to make it mandatory, they have to list it as a service charge. State dependent.

BTW; the reason many restaurants do this is often when the bill comes. nobody knows who left what for a tip and it often ends up with little or no tip being left, inadvertantly rather than intentionally. Large groups get lost in conversation.

tow-guy; I don;t know what state your daughter works in and who is getting some of the tip but there are laws that restrict or even prevent that from happening. If you want to check it out or I could look it up, let me know what state is involved and who she is splitting the tips with.
 
  #10  
Old 04-02-07, 06:46 PM
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Working large parties is very difficult for the server and all other staff because instead of things happening in a trickle or stream, you get hit all at once. It's extra important for bussers, dishwashers, etc to be on their toes to make sure no one notices the slam elsewhere in the restaurant, thus the tip share. Also, the large party may be the only table the server is working at that time, and occasionally for the entire shift. One table, one shot at a tip. 18% makes sure you don't run your rear off for nothing, with no chance to redeem elsewhere.

Tips should always be made for the entire amount, regardless of the coupons/discounts. The server does the same amount of work whether or not you have a coupon.

If you are EVER unhappy with service, tell management. Or do what I did once - At the time my date and I were both servers and always tipped well knowing how hard the job could be. But we waited nearly 30 minutes for the order to be taken without ever being asked if we wanted drinks, food was served promptly, and just as promptly (about 5 minutes later) instead of being asked how are meal was, we were asked if we were ready for the bill. Yes we were still eating, and the first drink order had just arrived as well. I left a very unhappy customer note on the receipt and 2 cent tip.
 
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Old 04-02-07, 07:44 PM
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ah, the old 2 cent tip. I have done the same. That way the waitstaff knows you didn;t simply forget. It makes a point.
 
  #12  
Old 04-02-07, 08:03 PM
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"I will lug two sets of golf clubs 2 miles on my back before I give the guy at the bag-drop a tip. They jump on your cart as you pull into the lot and start shining your clubs."

Me too. And he's probably trying to use a nasty looking rag that he wet in a mud puddle to "clean" your new $400 McBlaster.

I am a firm believer in tips. I usually tip 20% for good service. Mostly because I know what servers get paid. However, I will also "reward" poor service with a small tip. Sometimes I'll tell the waiter why the tip is so small. That usually embarasses the hell out of my wife.

My best tip story is 15 years ago when we had a business dinner at a mid scale restaurant in NJ. There were 24 of us seated at one giant table. We had two waitresses assigned. They busted their butt all evening and they got everything right. The boss bought the meal and we provided the tip. We each left $25 on the table which was probably what the dinner would have cost. I wish I had stuck around to see the servers expressions when they cleared the table.
 
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Old 04-02-07, 08:21 PM
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I've got one similar but accidental

had just cashed a paycheck at the bank. Had some 20's and some 50's and such. When I left the money in the little folder pad, I accidedntly used a 50 instead of a 20 (along with some other cash). The waiter ended up with about a 100% tip. I didn;t realize it until later when I went to pay for something else and realized I was short a 50. I bet the waiter was surprised.

Now I know why the restaurants are so dark.
 
  #14  
Old 04-03-07, 04:21 AM
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My mother has been in food service at a Supper Club (a concept not known to the world outside the midwest so it seems), so I always try to be fair to the wait staff and reward them for good service. I don't really mind the mandatory tip, but do not make me pay the tip for good service, make me pay the tip for less than average and let me add on as I see fit.
 
  #15  
Old 04-03-07, 04:36 AM
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Good point, Dave; instead of an 18% aded gratuity it would be more palatable if they put on 10% as the base and let diners tip additional for excellent service. Having bussed tables as a teenager, I tend to err on the server's side unless the service is pretty bad and I NEVER penalize them for things outside their control, like my steak coming up undercooked (and of course when we eat where my daughter is serving she gets a BIG tip).
 
  #16  
Old 04-03-07, 05:05 AM
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one of the local upscale restaurants was founded in 1905 every September they have a "1905 day" where they roll the prices back to what they where in 1905

we can get a great dinner for two for around $10.00

they do remind you that the servers are living in the present not 1905 so I usually leave a 10-15 tip on a 10 meal .

(I base it on my estimate of what the meal would cost any other day )

I would prefer the restaurant raise the price and pay the servers a living wage but with the current structure if you cant afford to tip ...stay home
 
  #17  
Old 04-04-07, 10:38 AM
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I don't believe in mandatory tips.. you tip because of service...! I do believe in tipping at a reasonable rate, if the service and at the level of service I receive. I boycott, or don't frequent places that add tips on automatically... that is a service I reserve for myself! A place of business cannot legally get away with this gesture as far as I am concerned, so, if you get lousy service, which will happen a lot because the tip is automatic, just delete it from the bill!... A lot of places with this auto tip give lousy service because they will get their tip whether they work for it or not.. so, keep "TIPS" your right to pay for GOOD service!...

Cruise ships used to do this, service basically went to hell... I've noticed now that you can choose to not do the auto tip, and if you'd like, put your personal tips in envelopes for the employees on board. Much better way of saying thank you and gaining back that service that was going down hill...
 
  #18  
Old 04-22-07, 10:35 PM
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I actually think that it is law. I don't think that you have a choice...unfortunately
 
  #19  
Old 04-27-07, 12:40 AM
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Red face tips and wages

Also remember, the waitstaff does not make minimum wage either. The going waitress rate here in the midsouth is around $2.35 an hour. The rest of their wages does come from tips. They are also required to tip out to the bartender and the the kitchen staff in most restaurants. So, even if the service wasn't up to par, please at least tip 15%, and more if they were really good.
 
  #20  
Old 04-27-07, 05:32 AM
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No. 15% is for service about which there is no complaint. I have no problem going 20-25% for excellent service, but I'm not going to tip 15% for less than adequate service. That's the whole issue here, the service was lousy and 18% was not deserved by the server.
 
  #21  
Old 04-27-07, 12:03 PM
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I tip anyway...

Did you talk to the manager about the service? He could have reduce the bill for you. Also, if your server isn't up to par, then you can always be seated in another section. Just talk to the manager. Some restaurants will even move the 'new' waitperson to you instead of you having to move your party.

Just something to think about...my daughter recently worked for a restaurant that claimed bad waitservice (customers). However, if you looked behind the scenes, it wasn't the waitress, it was the cooks and kitchen. The owners' seemed to think it was okay for them to cuss their help and for the head kitchen to throw knives and walk off. The waitresses were left empty-handed and making excuses for the food not being on time. Honestly, you can't tell the customer that head cook got mad, threw a knife at the dishwasher, the cook was out back chasing the dishwasher trying to get them back inside even though they quit and were leaving. I'm talking a really nice restaurant here that receives tons of awards in this area for its catfish.

I do agree that if the service wasn't up to par then 18% wasn't fair to you no matter what was happening behind the scenes. Do talk to the manager when you feel shorted. Be sure to state exactly what the problem appeared to be. This way, the blame goes where it should, not just on the server themselves - unless of course the server just really was a bad server period *smile*.
 
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