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"18% tip included" a spreading problem

39 posts in this topic

Twice in 3 mos I've had a check with 18% tip included when I was dining as a single or a double. Both were hotels, the W South Beach and the Elysian in Chicago.

This is getting out of hand.

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Twice in 3 mos I've had a check with 18% tip included when I was dining as a single or a double. Both were hotels, the W South Beach and the Elysian in Chicago.

This is getting out of hand.

Did you pay it without giving thought to whether or not the service warranted it?

I have on several occasions over the last five years or so refused to pay the "automatic" tip that was "added for your convenience" after receiving dreadful service.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Tacking a mandatory service fee on my bill is one way to assure I won't be back to your restaurant. Restauranteurs, if you want your waiters to be able to make a living without depending on the doubtful generosity of the harridans in table six who had to wait A WHOLE TWENTY MINUTES for their shared green salad with raspberry balsamic vinaigrette, please just pay the poor bastards a wage, the way every other industry does it.

That said I wouldn't refuse to pay it if it came to that.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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This common at hotel restaurants. They have to deal with people from other countries who don't / won't comprehend our tipping custom.

A friend who has waited tables at a hotel restaurant assures me that you're not obligated to leave that amount. It's there so you don't forget. The only unscrupulous behavior is when people miss that line on the check, tip double, and when the server doesn't alert them to the mistake. It's best if the server mentions up front that service is included, to avoid confusion and build goodwill.

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Restaurant people are notorious for over-tipping when they go out to eat and I'm no exception. When eating in a quality establishment with decent food service I can't imagine tipping less than 20%. Exceptional service can elicit 30%. In a more pedestrian venue it is usually even more. Just because my lunch special at the little Mexican restaurant in town only costs $5 it doesn't mean that it was any less work to serve than a full-price meal and I'll typically leave at least $2 (40%). Anything less seems insulting. Wine service is also a special case and I'll tip 10%-20% depending on the bottle price (less for high priced wines) and whether the actual sommelier is involved or not etc.

Most good waiters, especially at the higher end places where this trend of included-gratuity for everyone seems to be most common, would be furious to "only" get 18% on average. I think it is a bad policy from every point of view EXCEPT perhaps for the poorest-quality wait staffers who don't know how to give proper and reward-able service. For them, I'm sure it is manna from heaven. Like tip-sharing (which I also find very distasteful in most instances) it is a bad step toward socializing a penultimately capitalistic profession.


The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

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please just pay the poor bastards a wage, the way every other industry does it.

Ummmmm....Ultimatly, its the customer who pays for everything. Start paying everyone above minimum wage, and the dining experience becomes alot more expensive.

You see, there are Unions in the hospitality industry, but they don't actually do anything---not in the way Unions for other trades do, anyway. There's far too much competition in this industry for anyone to actually take a stand and start paying everyone what they're worth. And the customer votes with his feet.

So tips, or just higher prices, one way or the other, it's the customer who pays..............

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Ummmmm....Ultimatly, its the customer who pays for everything. Start paying everyone above minimum wage, and the dining experience becomes alot more expensive.

How do you figure?

You raise your prices so the bill comes to $5 more, then pay your waiter $5. Or, I give the waiter $5 directly. Or, you add $5 as a "service charge" to my bill. It's still $5, my dining experience is still the same price, not a lot more expensive, not even a little more expensive. The same.

If I hire an incompetent machinist, I fire him or retrain him, I don't let him loose on my clients' parts and then let them decide if he deserves 30% of my price, 5% or nothing at all, and I don't tack on 18% to my bill as a "service charge." His work is included in my price for the job, which I'll either deliver to a previously agreed standard or not at all, in which case I don't get paid, but the machinist still does. It's a risk that every business (except restaurants!) takes and we're so used to it we don't even think about it.

Our industry has managed to survive like this since the start of Industrial Revolution, btw.

I understand the tipping system is so ingrained in Western restaurants doing away with it one restaurant at a time is impractical, but replacing it with an included service charge is just absurd. The supposed benefit of ensuring properly obsequious service is removed without guaranteeing a living wage to the server, who basically becomes a commissionist. It's the worst of all possible systems.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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The difference is that if I have truly bad service (as I did at Elysian) I cannot express myself in the tip. If I decide to not pay the tip then there will be more unpleasantness in store for me than the lousy service.

Pay the people a fair wage and allow me to tip as I see fit.

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The difference is that if I have truly bad service (as I did at Elysian) I cannot express myself in the tip.

You 're right that you can't express it in the tip (assuming the better wages - lower tip amount model that is part of this discussion), but (as mentioned above) you could choose not to return to a restaurant. You could also take the time, if you so desired, to contact the restaurant management telling them why they are losing you as a customer. It then becomes the responsibility of the owner to figure out how to keep his business open by dealing with his/her staffing issues.


Edited by Porthos (log)

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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Ummmmm....Ultimatly, its the customer who pays for everything. Start paying everyone above minimum wage, and the dining experience becomes alot more expensive.

How do you figure?

You raise your prices so the bill comes to $5 more, then pay your waiter $5. Or, I give the waiter $5 directly. Or, you add $5 as a "service charge" to my bill. It's still $5, my dining experience is still the same price, not a lot more expensive, not even a little more expensive. The same.

If I hire an incompetent machinist, I fire him or retrain him, I don't let him loose on my clients' parts and then let them decide if he deserves 30% of my price, 5% or nothing at all, and I don't tack on 18% to my bill as a "service charge." His work is included in my price for the job, which I'll either deliver to a previously agreed standard or not at all, in which case I don't get paid, but the machinist still does. It's a risk that every business (except restaurants!) takes and we're so used to it we don't even think about it.

Our industry has managed to survive like this since the start of Industrial Revolution, btw.

I understand the tipping system is so ingrained in Western restaurants doing away with it one restaurant at a time is impractical, but replacing it with an included service charge is just absurd. The supposed benefit of ensuring properly obsequious service is removed without guaranteeing a living wage to the server, who basically becomes a commissionist. It's the worst of all possible systems.

It would make common, practical sense to add $5 to the bill, or 5%, but the waiter would not be happy. Depending on type of restaurant, a good waiter can clear over $200 in tips per shift, the salary is just beer or rent money. I have trouble too, with the concept of giving the waiter 15-20% of the ENTIRE DINING EXPERIECE. Granted, the waiter is entitled to a tip, but he/she is not responsible for the entire dining experience and should be tipped accordingly. %5 sounds fair.

How do you make it stick?

There is no private or Gov't body that has the "right stuff" to impliment this, the Unions do pay well, but Union Hotels (Union restaurant are virtually non-existant) make up maybe 10% of the entire hospitality industry, and no one would vote on a 10% reduction of income (15-18% tip vs a %5 tip)

What's a machinist earn? A good plumber charges around $70.00 per hour, our Strata pays a handyman $35 an hour to fix fences and do odd-jobs. Pay the waiter $12.00 an hour, and now he's making more than the cook, and now you've got trouble 'cause the busboy and the dishwasher want in too. You can't raise the menu price by only $5, you've got to raise everyone's salaries, they're all part of the package.

In Europe...... Yeah, yeah yeah. But seriously, in Europe there are standards for waiters (most countries it's a 2 yr apprenticeship), for Cooks, (3-4 years) and actual fuctioning Unions who set wages--irregardless if it's a union shop or not, as long as you have the qualifications. The employees are paid a fair wage, and most places have a 10% sevice charge built into the menu, and it states very clearly on the menu NOT to tip ontop of the menu prices.

Here in N.America we have no such standards, and the employers pay as cheaply as possible--because there are no standards, and no one to stick up for waiters, or any other employee. Unions only care for their members, and even at that, it's "seniority based" so you can work a loooong time at starvation wages in a Union place before you can earn what you're worth. No one is setting any standards, with most other trades it's the Union who does this, but not in the hospitality business, the Unions are only here to garnishee pay cheques......

I have to disagree with you on the bit about restaurant's risk of not getting paid. There are frequent cases of "dine and dashs", which is, theft. Many cases of patrons refusing to pay for an item because they felt it was not worth it, thousands upon thousands of dollars given aways as "Comps", or compensation for poor service or food, and the chiseling, conniving and industrious customer that EVERY business gets trying to get something for nothing.

But automatically tacking on an 18% charge onto the bill? That's going to go nowhere fast. On the other hand, it does leave a rather nice paper trail, and I'm sure the tax boys will sit up and notice........

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It would make common, practical sense to add $5 to the bill, or 5%, but the waiter would not be happy. Depending on type of restaurant, a good waiter can clear over $200 in tips per shift, the salary is just beer or rent money. I have trouble too, with the concept of giving the waiter 15-20% of the ENTIRE DINING EXPERIECE. Granted, the waiter is entitled to a tip, but he/she is not responsible for the entire dining experience and should be tipped accordingly. %5 sounds fair.

How do you make it stick?

There is no private or Gov't body that has the "right stuff" to impliment this, the Unions do pay well, but Union Hotels (Union restaurant are virtually non-existant) make up maybe 10% of the entire hospitality industry, and no one would vote on a 10% reduction of income (15-18% tip vs a %5 tip)

Nobody's going to vote for a pay cut, and I don't think anyone but the customer actually has much say in how much they tip. I'm more in favor of forcing restaurants to treat their employees the way the rest of us do - if you want, start them at minimum wage and let them earn the rest in tips, pay overtime? Something of that nature. Treat your employees like human beings!

In Europe...... Yeah, yeah yeah. But seriously, in Europe there are standards for waiters (most countries it's a 2 yr apprenticeship), for Cooks, (3-4 years) and actual fuctioning Unions who set wages--irregardless if it's a union shop or not, as long as you have the qualifications. The employees are paid a fair wage, and most places have a 10% sevice charge built into the menu, and it states very clearly on the menu NOT to tip ontop of the menu prices.

Here's a question for someone who knows a lot more about this than I do: Was American-style tipping ever the norm in Europe, and if so, did this change to the current European practice before or after European restaurants started paying their waitstaff like regular employees?

What's a machinist earn? A good plumber charges around $70.00 per hour, our Strata pays a handyman $35 an hour to fix fences and do odd-jobs.

Depends on your experience, training, location, union vs open shop and the actual work you're going to be doing. Starting out in an open shop in the American South babysitting a CNC machine will get you a little over minimum wage. 10 years experience in a more demanding job might get you around $30/hr base pay, and if you can do something really special and/or work on an offshore oil rig you can just write your own paychecks. This is salary, not comparable to your plumber who only makes money when he can actually bill the hours. (I was going to say "when he's actually working" but you know plumbers.)

Which brings me to this:

I have to disagree with you on the bit about restaurant's risk of not getting paid. There are frequent cases of "dine and dashs", which is, theft. Many cases of patrons refusing to pay for an item because they felt it was not worth it, thousands upon thousands of dollars given aways as "Comps", or compensation for poor service or food, and the chiseling, conniving and industrious customer that EVERY business gets trying to get something for nothing.

Okay, we don't get "dine and dash" ("grind and go"? "machine and move it"?), but we do get clients canceling orders after we've bought thousands of dollars worth of materials and put in tens or hundreds of hours of work, people changing specs in the middle of a project and the inevitable jerk who wants to renegotiate the price after you finished the job. Compact, valuable tools disappearing. Sales reps steering customers to the competition for a little cash on the side. Oh, and free grills for everyone (does that count as a "comp"?). That sort of thing is universal.

That's not the risk I was talking about.

What I was talking about is the risk that (as often happens) business unpredictably gets slow and the company has to pay a bunch of highly trained technicians to wipe down the machinery, sweep the floors and hold up the walls. Not crying here, just pointing out some facts about running a "regular" business, where the employees are paid a wage rather than depend on gratuities.

Yet, somehow, we deal with all this. Many of us do all right, actually.

But automatically tacking on an 18% charge onto the bill? That's going to go nowhere fast. On the other hand, it does leave a rather nice paper trail, and I'm sure the tax boys will sit up and notice........

Well, I'm glad we see eye to eye on this.


Edited by Dakki (log)

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Without getting too political or into a whole lot of detail, from my point of view (actually working at a hotel right now), I think the 18%, for now, is a good idea - people who tend to argue with it or don't like it IMO, chances are, don't tip shit, or at all in most cases.

The hotel I currently work at only started doing this about a year ago, due to the fact 85% of people just flat out wouldn't tip at all. Something about staying at a hotel somehow entitles people to thinking that being served is now a free service, and when you see room service and breakfast servers bust ass for a 10$ take home, it doesn't rub you the right way.

We can argue all day and night about *if* they were paid a better flat rate, or *if* there were systems in place like across the pond - but honestly, nothing would change in the near future, and right now, most hotels need an included rate so that their dick customers, or people from out of country who just don't understand the tipping system here, don't screw over the server.

Do I think this is the best answer? No, I don't. But for now, I really don't feel bad for people who bitch about it.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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I am reminded of a discussion some friends and I had about restaurants here in the San Francisco Bay Area (don't know if it happens elsewhere) automatically adding an 18% gratuity to the bill for parties of 6 or more. In the end my conclusion is that it's because tips do tend to be less with large parties. Payment is often dutch, but on a single check, so people calculate what the menu price is for food they ordered, often forgetting tax AND tip; in a situation like this someone always gets the short end, typically the last person who gets "all the rest" on his/her card, and the staff who then see a lesser share of the tip.

I tend to agree with MattyC -- as long as service professionals must depend on gratuities, it's a necessary evil. It's not even something that's easily fixed by the single places in question paying their staff a living wage, since they then have to raise their prices, which then seem (artificially) inflated in relation to other places. This is the only country I know where sales tax is not already figured into the sticker price of items, and it's for the same reason -- so that things seem cheaper than they actually are. But to fix that would require a change in the entire culture, which will take time.

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Tacking a mandatory service fee on my bill is one way to assure I won't be back to your restaurant.

Exactly.

I can see adding such a tip on a large dining party but on a single diner? No sirree, Bob.

Not only would I not return to that restaurant, I would jot off a quick note to the manager of the hotel to let them know your displeasure with the policy, let them know you will be informing your friends and business acquaintances about the policy and letting the manager know you won't be returning there to dine because of it.

Like dear Ann Landers, the advice columnist, once said: You can't be taken advantage of unless you let yourself be taken advantage of.


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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

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Without getting too political or into a whole lot of detail, from my point of view (actually working at a hotel right now), I think the 18%, for now, is a good idea - people who tend to argue with it or don't like it IMO, chances are, don't tip shit, or at all in most cases.

The hotel I currently work at only started doing this about a year ago, due to the fact 85% of people just flat out wouldn't tip at all. Something about staying at a hotel somehow entitles people to thinking that being served is now a free service, and when you see room service and breakfast servers bust ass for a 10$ take home, it doesn't rub you the right way.

We can argue all day and night about *if* they were paid a better flat rate, or *if* there were systems in place like across the pond - but honestly, nothing would change in the near future, and right now, most hotels need an included rate so that their dick customers, or people from out of country who just don't understand the tipping system here, don't screw over the server.

Do I think this is the best answer? No, I don't. But for now, I really don't feel bad for people who bitch about it.

Yup, that's the attitude I've been dealing with for the last 25 years...

First, let's discuss your assumption about people who "argue against the 18%, or don't like it (IMO)don't tip shit,or at all".

I'm argueing against it, and when I go out, I tip. Then again, I'm an owner, when I serve, I don't get tipped, becasue the customer knows I'm the owner and for some reason, and not entitled to a tip.

Second:"When you room service and b'fst servers bust ass for $10.00 take home, it doesn't rub you the right way". Don't like $10.00 /hr eh? TAKE A NUMBER AND STAND IN LINE LIKE THE REST OF US. You think the cooks, busboys, dish-dogs or even the hostess is getting any better? How about the managers? Yes, they get salary, but they work 70-80 hr weeks, divide their paycheck by the hours, and it's under $10/ hr.

We get paid crap because the competition is deadly, if overhead goes up too much, the guy acrsoss the street starts buying your equipment and taking your customers. We get paid crap becasue this industry has no standards, no payscale set according to standards, and no guild or Union to impliment standards. The woners very rarely make money either, which is why you see restaurantsand hotels change hands every few years-or go belly-up. Besides, most hotels already factor in that F&B is not a profit making dept., rooms division makes all the money.

Thirdly: When you speak of the 18% tip, do you mean that money is soley for the waiter, or is it for everyone envolved? If it's just for the waiter, it's a heck-uva an acomplishment, for this suggests that the waiter is responsible FOR THE ENTIRE DINING EXPERIENCE: Everything from taking reservations, seating, pre-dinner drinks, preparation of foods, serving, dishes, decor, music, etc. If you feel you are responsible for all that, congratulations, you are entitled to the entire tip.

Watch your back, and never call your guests "Dicks", or "Don't tip shit". Like it or not, they are the ones who pay the money, which in turn comes to you. You never know who's reading on a public forum .......

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I have trouble too, with the concept of giving the waiter 15-20% of the ENTIRE DINING EXPERIECE. Granted, the waiter is entitled to a tip, but he/she is not responsible for the entire dining experience and should be tipped accordingly.

The waiter is responsible for a portion of the dining experience, and generally only gets a portion of the tip. It's commonplace for tips to be pooled and shared according to some scheme by the whole front of house staff.

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Without getting too political or into a whole lot of detail, from my point of view (actually working at a hotel right now), I think the 18%, for now, is a good idea - people who tend to argue with it or don't like it IMO, chances are, don't tip shit, or at all in most cases.

You use an ad hominem argument here. Instead of addressing the point being discussed, you attack the speaker in some way on personal grounds. It is the sign of a weak argument on your part or just bad manners.

In fact I usually tip greater than 20% and said so to the waitress in both cases.

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Without getting too political or into a whole lot of detail, from my point of view (actually working at a hotel right now), I think the 18%, for now, is a good idea - people who tend to argue with it or don't like it IMO, chances are, don't tip shit, or at all in most cases.

You use an ad hominem argument here. Instead of addressing the point being discussed, you attack the speaker in some way on personal grounds. It is the sign of a weak argument on your part or just bad manners.

In fact I usually tip greater than 20% and said so to the waitress in both cases.

And to me, anyway, the "point being discussed" is not whether or not the server deserves 18% (because sometimes they deserve less and sometimes they deserve more) - it's the policy of automatically adding that percentage onto the bill, even for a single diner.

I don't think it is a "good idea." I resent it, and I'll "argue with it."

I am a good tipper. I usually tip more than the 18% for myriad reasons. I definitely see justification for adding a service charge for groups, for all the reasons given. On more than one occasion, I've been the one that noticed the tip was really low for the server and added substantially more from my own pocket.

But I do not like the idea of automatically adding 18% to my bill when I'm dining alone. Even when I'm going to tip more than that, I don't like the idea of feeling forced to.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I don't really mind the "18% tip included", I usually tip 20% or more anyway. What really ticks me off is when they include the 18%, then have a blank line to add the tip. It feels like they're trying to trick me into tipping twice.


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

Visit my food blog! http://goodformeblog.blogspot.com/

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That MattyC made an ad-hominem attack doesn't render the rest of his argument invalid, however. I wish we could have more hotel staffers chime in, because I'd love to hear more. Sure, the people frequenting these forums for the most part tip well; the same would not necessarily be true of other people. My agreement is completely predicated on one person saying that at hotel restaurants, the prevailing practice is to not tip, or tip poorly. Based on that, putting the tip on the bill has as much validity as putting it on a large party's bill -- in hotel restaurants only. I believe it was Fat Guy that said in the thread about babies and children in restaurants, that generalizing is necessary. It ticks us off because our practices and tastes are outside the general public's, but such is life.

Now, if MattyC's assertion that most people dining at a hotel restaurant don't tip, then no, I wouldn't say it's valid. Can we get someone that can confirm or refute this statement?

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I'm trying to analyze my feelings about this, which are complex.

On the one hand, I am annoyed at having the option to, let's face it, punish truly bad service, removed from my control. On the other hand, I realize that service has to be paid for somehow, and it will either be reflected in the cost of a meal, or more honestly passed on as a service charge.

I think its the 18% number that annoys me -- there's an assumption that the service is going to be -- or damn well should have been -- at least somewhat above average, which I find immediately triggers my skeptical-resistance circuit. But really, most of the time they just took your order, brought your food, and eventually brought your check when you finally managed to flag them down at the end of the meal. Nothing special. Seldom (in my experience in these hotel restaurants) does the waitstaff know anything about the wine list, or the ingredients in the various dishes. And if there's a breakfast buffet -- there's not a lot of interaction with your waiter that could possibly justify 18% on top of an already overpriced meal.

The other problem with the 18% charge is that I seldom bother to tip higher, because it's too complicated, so it removes the incentive to provide better service.

I guess from now on if I see a notice about an 18% service charge on the menu, I'm not going to let poor service pass anymore. If the waiter doesn't know what ingredients are in a dish, they better go find someone who does know, and I'll explain why. And if they don't know anything about the wines on the list, they're going to have to go find the manager, and I'm going to explain exactly why I expect better service.

And let me say that I seldom ever tip below 20% when I dine out. I usually consider 15% a devastating blow. But somehow, this just gets to me. Maybe because I seldom eat in these places unless I'm stuck there -- I'm a captive audience.

Does anyone else have this reaction?

[edited to fix poor word choice]


Edited by Lapin d'Argent (log)

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Is this 18% charge mandatory or optional? Can we put in our own amount?

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If 18% is an appropriate amount for average service, then the restaurant is charging too little for their food. :hmmm:

I think part of my resentment is that I like to see myself as a decent tipper but I'm being priced out of the market by the tip inflation.

I don't mind clearly stated "service included" but then just include it in the price rather than tacking it on at the end so the meal initially appears less expensive than it actually is.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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If 18% is an appropriate amount for average service, then the restaurant is charging too little for their food. :hmmm:

I think part of my resentment is that I like to see myself as a decent tipper but I'm being priced out of the market by the tip inflation.

I don't mind clearly stated "service included" but then just include it in the price rather than tacking it on at the end so the meal initially appears less expensive than it actually is.

Exactly right.

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<snip>On the other hand, I realize that service has to be paid for somehow, and it will either be reflected in the cost of a meal, or more honestly passed on as a service charge.

I don't understand. Why would including a service charge in the price of the meal be less than honest?

Don't get me wrong, I prefer traditional tipping methods - I'm just curious. One never sees other costs broken out on a guest check (so much for the cooks, so much for overhead, so much for the food cost, dish breakage, utilities, etc). Why should service be different if an all-inclusive bill was to be presented?


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My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

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"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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