Dave And Buster's Adds Mystery Service Charge To My Bill

Nothing like a sneaky additional charge slapped on a bill to get customers to shell out more money, right? Consumerist reader Pat writes in to tell a story of gratuitous gratuity trickery at Dave And Busters recently.

Pat was sitting at the bar alone and was lucky to be careful enough to read the bill very closely when it arrived.

Pat was surprised to see an additional charge was added onto the bill, above the normal “Gratuity” line and saw nothing advertised about any such charges in the menu or at the bar.

I stopped in to my local Dave & Buster’s while running errands this afternoon for a quick lunch and to catch the college football scores. Everything was cool until the bartender brought my check and I was surprised to see a “16% service charge” added in (see attached receipts). While she stepped away, I checked the area around me and a menu to see if this charge was posted anywhere — it wasn’t.

I then politely asked her what the deal was. She said they had just begun implementing the charge “a couple weeks ago” and that it was gratuity. Now, I understand a lot of restaurants do add a mandatory gratuity amount for larger groups, but it was just me at the bar. Usually, those gratuity charges are posted conspicuously. I pressed her further about the nature of the “service charge” as there was clearly a separate “gratuity” line, but she confirmed that the service charge went to her.

I thought this was pretty confusing and totally inappropriate, as I wasn’t notified of the charge. Had I been drinking or in a bigger hurry, this might have tricked me into overtipping. I wish I could tell a story about putting my foot down and demanding it be removed, but $1.82 just wasn’t worth it. I paid it and left, but I would’ve definitely tipped a bit more had they not decided for me.

We agree that it is confusing — when an automatic gratuity will be added, it should be posted in the menu and should be labeled as such. Keep an eye on your bills, diners.

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