Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Gratuity Included


zeffer81
 Share

Recommended Posts

Without going into too much detail and thus revealing my thoughts on the matter, I would love to hear your thoughts on my experience at dinner on Friday night.

We took my mother to a relatively new BYOB that was just awarded a glowing review by the local critic. Food was delicious, service was attentive without being over the top (isn't a white tablecloth kinda place)--and the server was quite a character. All in all, we really enjoyed the entire experience.

My father and I split the bill. Because he had the actual bill, I did not look at our actual receipt, just my credit card receipt. OK, fine, it may have been the prosecco and wine we had during dinner, but who's counting...I tipped 20% or so and left. I went home to record our meal and pulled up the dinner menu online which read "mandatory gratuity of 20% for parties of 6 or more." Turns out we tipped 20% on top of the added gratuity. The server did not pick up our billfold until after we left.

What would you do?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not much you can do that isn't going to have a negative aspect to it.

You can't ask for the money back, and it's not the restaurants fault you didn't look at the bill.

It's just a honest occurance.

I would just chalk it up to experience.

Of course, if you return there shortly, and request the same server, you are probably going to receive exemplary service.

:rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would probably call the restaurant and tell them about the mistake and, given that you had a good time, I'd probably be satisfied with a gift certificate of roughly the amount that you overtipped. I would make sure not to sound miffed when I called, since it sounds as if the server was not trying to cheat you or trick you into tipping twice. You had a good meal, you paid a price that you thought was accurate and then you realized later that you may have overpaid for the service.

Incidentally, are you sure your table had gratuity added? I mean, you obviously know whether you had 6 people in your party or not, but if you didn't see the actual bill, it's hard to say whether gratuity was added or not. Sometimes, a server forgets to add gratuity, and then other times, a server "forgets" to add gratuity. For example, I work in a restaurant where we state on the menu that we add gratuity of 18% for parties of 5 or more. However, we have regular guests that are known to tip more than 18%, and given that knowledge, when they bring in large parties, I leave off the auto-grat specifically because I know that if I grat them, they will not only get angry, but I will be cheating myself out of a larger tip. In other situations, sometimes a server just likes a certain table and imagines that they are probably pretty good tippers anyway, so why not leave off the gratuity and trust them to tip properly.

Of course, the problem with gratting certain tables and not gratting others is that accusations of discrimination can follow. One mustn't grat all of the tables of purple people while never gratting tables of green people, because that would really cause a stink that would most likely involve lawsuits and such. But, I'm just saying that sometimes it does happen.

Call the restaurant to find out for sure, and then see if anything will be done if a mistake was actually made.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This could be awkward!

After all, your father looked at the bill but didn't mention that gratuity was included (which could be because it wasn't listed on the bill, maybe it's just on the menu?) and the restaurant can't be faulted for that. It could be said that your party knew gratuity was already added (meaning your dad) by virtue of it being printed on the bill) thus it was your choice to add another 20%.

Any chance your dad remembers if it was on the bill?

I wish I had the words to help! I can't imagine how to begin the conversation, but guessing that your bill could have been $200, they added $40, and you added another $50.... it adds up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JeanneCake hit the nail on the head. Our bill would have been around $200. We split $240 and then added another $50 to that.

Thanks for your responses. My Dad and I disagreed on this one. He thought we should go back to the restaurant ans ask for part of the added tip back. I feel we should chalk it up as a loss. As some of you mentioned, it was our mistake and the restaurant/server did nothing wrong. Holly and FoodTutor--if we hadn't had such a nice experience, I would probably pursue it with the restaurant. Coincidentally, I was looking at the menu to clarify some of the things we ordered so I could write up my experience on the PA board, Holly. At this point I am willing to just hope I'll get a little bit of karma sometime down the road!

Just Jim--I suggested the same thing to my Dad!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I worked in restaurants, we would auto-grat on parties of 8+. Occasionally the host wouldn't read the bill correctly, and added an additional 20% on top. If contacted by the host, our restaurant would issue a credit, on the credit card used to pay the original bill. If the bill had been paid in cash, the mgmt would verify w/ the server, then issue a gift card.

Karen Dar Woon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your dad was right and you were wrong. (Kids; why don't they listen to their parents?)

Expecting anyone them to remember you the next time is unrealistic. The waiter may not be there or be your waiter. Even if you get the same waiter and they remember you, what will your extra $50 buy? You already said the service was great to begin with so maybe the waiter will comp you a $12 appetizer?

Unless you are okay with giving away $50 and expect absolutely no return on the investment, get in touch and receive a refund. Good karma will follow you regardless.

Edited by Mano (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And kids, remember. When dining with a larger group, always check to see if the tip has been included. While I'm a little surprised that a high-end spot would do this, it is a sufficiently common practice that one should check routinely.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

House rules at my place is that if the tip is manually doubled on an auto grat, it is not inputted, unless specifically clarified with the customer prior to them leaving that they meant to do so.

I've had more than enough people call me the morning after panicing that they mistakenly doubled the tip, and when I tell them that we never charged their card the 2nd time, it is appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with TheFoodTutor that your gratuity may not have been added. At my place, the servers often don't add the grat if things have been going especially well or if we know the customer well.

When it is added, our policy is for the servers to mention to the guest that the tip is included when the check is dropped. Since a manager has to add the grat to the check, the server is reminded of this as well. This clears things up nicely, and we are sure that any additional gratuity is intentional.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The server should have notified you of the service charge when the check was dropped. Certainly that's how I handle it with large parties that are autogratted. That way if more is left on top of the standard automatic gratuity, I know they were really really pleased with the service and don't have to wonder if it was a mistake that will haunt both of us down the line. FoodTutor is correct. Sometimes it's better not to autograt a regular or someone that seems they'll be kinder/potentially less insulted/whatever if left to their own discretion.

However, given that it doesn't seem that anything shady was going on with the autograt, and that the server didn't pick up your check before you left, I'd chalk it up to a learning experience as well. Certainly, if you're upset about it you should contact the restaurant, but if you left $50 instead of the requisite $40, it would seem you were mightily pleased with the service already. Does the $50 mean more to you or the server?? Only you can answer that question...

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

chalk it up to a learning mistake. Any time the bill seems a little high look it over closely and if need be ask about it.

I both want to not over tip, unless the service called for it of course, but at the same time I never assume that just because it looks high the tip was added. I could have done the math wrong or other mistakes could have been made and I want to make sure they server gets their proper tip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the restaurants I've worked at, any additional gratuity on an auto-grat table must be initialed on the credit slip by the customer. Otherwise, management wouldn't allow the server to accept it. The exception being if a table added, say, an additional few dollars to make the tip 20%, rather than the 18% added to the pre tax total.

That said, any respectable restaurant should give you a chargeback for the amount; it's better for a server to lose a few dollars than for the restaurant to lose a guest.

Bartender @ Balliceaux, Richmond, Va

"An Irish Lie is just as good as the truth."

- Egan Dean, Table 6 cook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with TheFoodTutor that your gratuity may not have been added. At my place, the servers often don't add the grat if things have been going especially well or if we know the customer well.

When it is added, our policy is for the servers to mention to the guest that the tip is included when the check is dropped. Since a manager has to add the grat to the check, the server is reminded of this as well. This clears things up nicely, and we are sure that any additional gratuity is intentional.

Leaving the decision of whether or not to add a grat to a guest's bill to the serving staff can be viewed as discrimination. I worked in a restaurant that got sued and lost their tail because of a server's decision on this matter.

In my restaurant, the staff is required to add a gratuity of 18% of all parties of 8 or more. When we opened, I let them in on making the decision on whether or not we would have a grat policy. They wanted the safety net. The servers must also stamp the bill with a "gratuity was added" stamp and let the guest know verbally that the gratuity had been applied.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For restaurant front-of-house / owners:

If a guest hosting a six or eight top, when making the reservation or upon arriving at your restaurant, requested that no service charge be added to his bill - that he would add the gratuity based on his judgment, would you comply?

If no, would you cave if the party then opted to not make the reservation or to leave?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The server should have told you. I think it's borderline unethical to not tell guests that a gratuity has already been added to their bill.

"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

House rules at my place is that if the tip is manually doubled on an auto grat, it is not inputted, unless specifically clarified with the customer prior to them leaving that they meant to do so.

I've had more than enough people call me the morning after panicing that they mistakenly doubled the tip, and when I tell them that we never charged their card the 2nd time, it is appreciated.

Very classy and honorable policy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How timely is this topic!

We recently took relatives to dinner while we were on vacation - a restaurant in their town, 12 hours drive-time from where we live. I don't think the relatives go there often either - although I don't consider the place expensive (or really all that great) they consider it a treat. I'm talking $15 entrees on average.

None of the 6 people in our party noticed the '18% service charge added for groups of 6 or more' statement on the menu. I discovered it when looking at the restaurant's website the next day. The bill was hand-written and messy, and my husband didn't recognize any additional charges on it, but also couldn't easily check each line item since some of our party had the daily special which was not priced on the menu. The waitress never mentioned the automatic charge. My husband took the check to the cashier to pay with a credit card, where he proceded to add his normal 20% tip to the total (the service was decent, and he generally gives that for a tip when he's at home). The cashier also didn't mention any automatically-added charges when she rang him out.

Now, here's the question: The menu explicitly listed the 18% addition as a 'service charge'. If that's not the same as a gratuity, who gets that money?

I am going to write to the restaurant voicing displeasure with the situation, but I don't really expect anything of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In a restaurant situation a service charge is normally the same as a tip.

I would phone rather than write and I would expect that your credit card tip be removed. Not only did you tip twice for the meal, you also tipped 20 percent on your tip.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...