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boagman

Gratuities tacked onto bills...where's the line?

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Comments like this one imply that you see the waitress as someone who can do no wrong. Without even knowing the full details behind the level of service, you feel it is your right to assume that she was an excellent server, providing above average service. What made you think that she was deserving of 20%??

In this case, the percentage she deserved is not relevant. There was an autograt and the OP and his party refused to pay the full amount. That they did not see the fine print indicating an autograt on the menu is the collective party's fault.

How often do you ask to speak to management when 87 cents worth of your experience is not quite right. I'm sure it's all the time.

Had the service really been inadequate, it would not have been only 87 cents they were questioning. They could have spoken to the manager and said 20 percent was unacceptable. The manager could have taken the full 20 percent off their bill, and they they could have either given what they wished or stiffed her altogether.

But it was up to the manager to decide whether to remove any part of their bill, not them. If they had issues, they should have brought it up with management. They did not.

Now according to the OP, the autograt should only have been 15%, not 20%, so he's going to speak to management about it. If he's willing to speak to the manager about being overcharged (after paying), why wasn't he willing to speak to the manager at the time?

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Comments like this one imply that you see the waitress as someone who can do no wrong. Without even knowing the full details behind the level of service, you feel it is your right to assume that she was an excellent server, providing above average service. What made you think that she was deserving of 20%??

In this case, the percentage she deserved is not relevant. There was an autograt and the OP and his party refused to pay the full amount. That they did not see the fine print indicating an autograt on the menu is the collective party's fault.

How often do you ask to speak to management when 87 cents worth of your experience is not quite right. I'm sure it's all the time.

Had the service really been inadequate, it would not have been only 87 cents they were questioning. They could have spoken to the manager and said 20 percent was unacceptable. The manager could have taken the full 20 percent off their bill, and they they could have either given what they wished or stiffed her altogether.

But it was up to the manager to decide whether to remove any part of their bill, not them. If they had issues, they should have brought it up with management. They did not.

Now according to the OP, the autograt should only have been 15%, not 20%, so he's going to speak to management about it. If he's willing to speak to the manager about being overcharged (after paying), why wasn't he willing to speak to the manager at the time?

You know, when I was a server, there were times that I dropped the ball. I knew it, even if, at the time, it burned me to have people not tip as well as the next. Usually, by the next day, upon reflection, I could see whether those who didn't tip what I expected were just cheap, or perhaps I just didn't earn it.

Now, if someone spoke to the manager about my lacking service, I can guaran-freaking-tee you that it was well worth a few cents to me to not have them do that. I mean, they're still tipping me a darned good percentage, I didn't serve them as well as I should have, and they don't want to get me in hot water? I appreciate that, or at least, I would have at the time. Speaking to management just causes undue anxiety for the server, for the most part. Or at least, it did for me, because I cared about my job, and about how I performed at my job.

The server didn't deserve 20%, and really didn't deserve 19%, but hey, I didn't want to rake her over the coals...apparently, with those who disagree with what I did, I should have, since there's no middle ground. I would disagree with that.

Having walked in those shoes, I thought then, and still think now, that the autograt is STILL NOT MANDATORY. To those who disagree, bene. You say that an automatic gratuity is a contractually obligated charge, and I say it isn't. I'm sure that Ruth, and myriad other servers on the board here are quite conscientious about the level of service that they offer, and deserve to be compensated well for their efforts. In this case, the server didn't deserve to be compensated at the level we were being strongarmed at, and so the gratuity, ever so slightly, reflected that.

Again, I'm still in a service-oriented business to this day (though not food service anymore), and if I'm charging for something, I'd darned well better be fulfilling on my end, if not going beyond the call of duty.

I guess there's no good way of doing this except to embarrass the server by calling on management and pointing out the problems, instead of just docking the tip by 1%. A shame, that, since I would rather be discreet about things and let her day go relatively smoothly, than point out her faults and make it an issue. I can see now that there's no middle ground. She's either the sister to Mother Teresa, or she's the Cruddiest Server Ever.

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Yet the harried waitperson making about one third of minimum wage plus tips that got your order correct, and made sure all of the food for your large party came out at once should have to suck it up and take hard earned money out of their own pocket ??

Comments like this one imply that you see the waitress as someone who can do no wrong. Without even knowing the full details behind the level of service, you feel it is your right to assume that she was an excellent server, providing above average service. What made you think that she was deserving of 20%??

Because it should have been printed on the menu.

By your logic then if the $4.00 cheese dip wasn't up to par then the diner can just pay $3.50. Bs.

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I don't understand that either, nor can I explain it.  It's simply a cultural norm that has evolved over time.  The standard tip is now 18-20%.  Perhaps it's tied to inflation and cost of living, perhaps it's a leftover after effect of the dot-com boom.  I don't know.

Could it be because the waitstaffs wanted to make more and just raised their expectations? Do you think it would help all the employees of a company to get a salary increase because the tell their boss that that's what's expected? How does the waitstaff explain to the kitchen staff that now they're making an even higher salary in the kitchen people do? I know several people who work as waitstaff in a midlevel restaurant who make well in excess of $80,000 which based on the hours they work and how hard they work seems excessive. Not disputing that everyone needs to make what they're worth but they shouldn't expect to make themselves rich working in the service industry.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Maybe the 87 cents was really only important because of a POS system that required a balancing entry?

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Again, I think the fact that it was printed on the bill is the concern here. If the OP wanted to dispute the autograt.. now people are saying its not mandatory?? Well.. then you have to take it up with the management.. if you want to say "I dont agree with a 20% auto-grat, I want to leave less", then fine. If you're saying it was only worth 10%, then you'd have to bring it up to someone because this 20% was not a suggestion, it was a part of the bill. If you really wanted to make a statement, you wouldnt have paid any of the autograt. Now youre just being lazy.

*Insert snappy one-liner to really zing the other side of the argument, it really adds to my post*.


Edited by turkeybone (log)

Rico

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If the autograt was posted on the menus or on a sign in the restaraunt it's part of the bill. You pay it. Even if the service was bad. Period. If you don't like autograts the time to discuss it was before you sat down.

If not, or if it was different from what you were charged you have a beef. I personally don't like autograts but I see the need, and with the exception of one time when I was a college student I don't feel I've ever noticed worse service due to autograts.

That said. . .

Katie, you seem to love your job, you seem to be very good at it and I would love to have a drink there some day and have you educate me about bourbon.

But, if I had been sitting at the bar and watched you call out somebody else for a small tip, I would have nodded in agreement with you that you were right, then paid my tab and left. And I wouldn't come back to eat/drink there again.

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certainly servers (even katie) make mistakes and sometimes even provide bad service, but this should be taken up with someone else. has anyone on this forum ever flown on a commercial airline before? They can delay your appointment by days and treat you like garbage and you have to jump through hoops to talk to someone, let alone try to get any money back. in a restaurant it's simply 'leave what you want'. stiffing a server is simply easier than having to confront a manager about a problem. i've dined with many many people who go out of their way to pick out flaws in service so as to have an excuse to leave less of a tip. if you have a problem with the service, the system, or any other aspect of the meal that you think warrants you paying less than everyone else does, you should have the stones to take it up with mgt. and not simply take it out of the server's pocket. they have a hard enough time dealing with dozens and dozens of people who are looking for reasons to pay them less while being gracious, cheerful, and hospitable, for $2.65 an hour.


Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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If the autograt was posted on the menus or on a sign in the restaraunt it's part of the bill.  You pay it.  Even if the service was bad.  Period.  If you don't like autograts the time to discuss it was before you sat down.

I don't think that's necessarily true. You could agree with the amount of the autograt when you arrive but after eating you could feel the service was lousy in the autograt amount was too high. In that case you should talk to the manager and explain the situation. Nine times out of 10 they won't have a problem reducing the amount of the autograt.

But, if I had been sitting at the bar and watched you call out somebody else for a small tip, I would have nodded in agreement with you that you were right, then paid my tab and left.  And I wouldn't come back to eat/drink there again.

Definitely have to agree with this! There was no reason to have the confrontation, the customer paid his bill. Maybe he didn't leave you what you wanted for a tip but he paid what he wanted to, or what he felt appropriate. If I was in a restaurant and saw this happen it certainly would be a place I wouldn't return to. I would however bring it to the attention of management.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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I think that the OP knew his party didn't take the right path on some level, or else he wouldn't have felt compelled to come get validation for his choices here.

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Let me preface this by saying that I have been a waitress in a diner, I've received good tips and received bad tips (penny under the glass of water trick).

The automatic gratuity is a problem for me.

1st gratuity (from Merriam Webster) - is something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service. If a place wants to tack on a change for large parties fine, but call it a service charge (of course there may be tax ramifications). If it is a true gratuity than the patron should be allowed to dispute the amount and the amount should not include the tax for calculation purposes.

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Let me preface this by saying that I have been a waitress in a diner, I've received good tips and received bad tips (penny under the glass of water trick).

The automatic gratuity is a problem for me.

1st gratuity (from Merriam Webster) - is something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service. If a place wants to tack on a change for large parties fine, but call it a service charge (of course there may be tax ramifications). If it is a true gratuity than the patron should be allowed to dispute the amount and the amount should not include the tax for calculation purposes.

Finally somebody who works on the waitstaff of a restaurant who has some sense and realizes what the term gratuity mean! I'm sure you normally get great tips because you think like and respect your customers! I wish you were a waitress at a restaurant I am a regular customer of.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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I don't understand that either, nor can I explain it.  It's simply a cultural norm that has evolved over time.  The standard tip is now 18-20%.  Perhaps it's tied to inflation and cost of living, perhaps it's a leftover after effect of the dot-com boom.  I don't know.

Could it be because the waitstaffs wanted to make more and just raised their expectations?

Waitstaff hasn't set the regulatory amount for tips, the public has. It's grown over time because waitstaff now have to share a percentage of tips with kitchen staff, whereas many years ago they didn't.

How does the waitstaff explain to the kitchen staff that now they're making an even higher salary in the kitchen people do?

Because kitchen staff don't have to put up with the shit from customers that waitstaff do. That earns you extra.

I know several people who work as waitstaff in a midlevel restaurant who make well in excess of $80,000 which based on the hours they work and how hard they work seems excessive.  Not disputing that everyone needs to make what they're worth but they shouldn't expect to make themselves rich working in the service industry.

Why the hell not? If you want exceptional service, they you generally need service from someone who has chosen to make a career of it. And if they've made a career of it, they deserve the right to make as prosperous a living as they can, just like everyone else does.

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If the autograt was posted on the menus or on a sign in the restaraunt it's part of the bill.  You pay it.  Even if the service was bad.  Period.  If you don't like autograts the time to discuss it was before you sat down.

If not, or if it was different from what you were charged you have a beef.  I personally don't like autograts but I see the need, and with the exception of one time when I was a college student I don't feel I've ever noticed worse service due to autograts.

That said. . .

Katie, you seem to love your job, you seem to be very good at it and I would love to have a drink there some day and have you educate me about bourbon. 

Thank you. I do love my job. And I'd be delighted to talk to you about bourbon, other spirits, wines, cocktail history or anything else behind the bar. One of the reasons I do what I do, is because I need to direct my wine/cocktail geek babbling. Otherwise they'd just throw me in a rubber room, or I'd look like an incurable lush. This way I can talk to anyone that will sit on the barstool long enough to listen. They get a good drink and learn something. And I keep the guys with the butterfly nets away for one more day. :biggrin:

But, if I had been sitting at the bar and watched you call out somebody else for a small tip, I would have nodded in agreement with you that you were right, then paid my tab and left.  And I wouldn't come back to eat/drink there again.

When someone leaves me a 3% tip, I need to know why. My management needs to know why. If there was some service that wasn't performed, their drink wasn't to their liking or whatever. More often than not it's either drunk math, or a simple miscalculation. I assure you I handled it quite politely. If the skinflints are embarrassed, so be it. They won't fix the tip and skulk out. I don't really care if I see them again anyway, to be honest. I have had some regulars whose company and personalities balanced out their bad tipping habits. I'm not against all bad tippers, you see. Just the ones that are incredibly high maintenance and have no other redeeming qualities. And anyone that can actually quantify their displeasure into .87 cent petty miniscule little increments won't ever be missed by me or any service staff anywhere.


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Let me preface this by saying that I have been a waitress in a diner, I've received good tips and received bad tips (penny under the glass of water trick).

The automatic gratuity is a problem for me.

1st gratuity (from Merriam Webster) - is something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service. If a place wants to tack on a change for large parties fine, but call it a service charge (of course there may be tax ramifications). If it is a true gratuity than the patron should be allowed to dispute the amount and the amount should not include the tax for calculation purposes.

Finally somebody who works on the waitstaff of a restaurant who has some sense and realizes what the term gratuity mean! I'm sure you normally get great tips because you think like and respect your customers! I wish you were a waitress at a restaurant I am a regular customer of.

Sorry, but this is BS. A tip is mandatory, assuming a competent level of service, whatever you want to call it. Going to the dictionary to play word games is just silly.

Large parties get a mandatory service charge because large parties tend to stiff their servers. If you don't like it, blame the 83 million previous parties who tipped 3% after their deadbeat friends ran off without leaving enough cash to cover their beers, burgers and a reasonable gratuity.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Since the discussion seems to have run its course and evolved into a general discussion of the benefits of the tipping system, we're closing this topic. Thanks to all who participated.

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