NYC Restaurants Caught Sneaking A Tip On To Your Bill

Sneaky! The New York Post caught several restaurants in NYC sneaking a gratuity on to the bills of unsuspecting customers. Tsk, tsk. That’s not allowed.

The NYP says that consumer laws prevent tables of less than 8 people from being automatically charged a tip — and no one can be charged a tip without a warning on the menu. That’s not stopping some restaurants, however.

From the NYP:

Rebecca Christian, a resourcing manager from Manchester, England, who visited the swanky River Café in Brooklyn over the holidays with her boyfriend, said she was hit with an unannounced 15 percent gratuity on a $400 check.

In fact, the menu said, “Gratuity and sales tax not included.”

Despite being “absolutely shocked,” she said, she paid the bill because she thought it was an American custom.

The eatery denies adding on secret gratuities.

The paper offers several more anecdotes and says that the city Department of Consumer Affairs can issue a violation if a restaurant is caught sneaking a tip on to your bill. The fine is between $50-$500 per instance.

SNEAKY FOUL TIPS [NYP via Gothamist]
(Photo:The GirlsNY)


Edit Your Comment

  1. henwy says:

    I’ve seen a lot of restaurants that now just add 15-20% automatically for the tip. there’s usually a sign somewhere that notes it’s being done though.

    • oneswellfoop says:

      Where are these restaurants? At any restaurant that I’ve worked at we’ve always been required, at a minimum, to put a big circle around any added grat. I usually verbally notify the host that I am required to add a minimum grat to any table over 7 people and that any extra is not necessary but appreciated. Our grat is 18%, should be 20% honestly. I can’t imagine not notifying someone in SOME way. Making your customers feel like you’re trying to pull something over on them is a good way to make sure they don’t come back.

      The restaurant industry is tremendously competitive right now, and very few places can afford to loose any customers.

      • Davan says:

        @oneswellfoop: “should be 20%”, yeah, forget actually earning the tip or, god forbid, being paid by the restaurants. Tips, especially automatic gratuity, are the biggest scam ever levied against the eat-out public. And the fact that servers hold tips over your head makes you feel compelled to give money even when they do nothing to earn it.

        • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:


          Tips, especially automatic gratuity, are the biggest scam ever levied against the eat-out public.

          Mr. Pink agrees

          • GyroMight says:

            @TinyBug: I love that scene and this has led to many arguments among my friends and I.

            • Murph1908 says:


              Servers should NOT be paid hourly by the restaurant. Doing so would guarantee you will see more servers standing by the kitchen talking than actually serving customers.

              Just look at retail for proof. Employee on commission? He’s always in sight ready to help (sometimes too eager). Employee earning hourly wage? Good luck finding him.

              I worked for several years before, during, and a little after college as a bartender and a waiter. And know this…automatic gratuities are a necessary evil for large tables. If I get an 10-top and provide good service, I can’t handle many more tables. If that 10-top stiffs you (which happens even after good service, thanks to the Davons and Mr. Pinks out there) I have worked my ass off for 2 hours for nothing.

              BTW. How does a server hold tips over your head? It’s the opposite. The customer holds it over the server’s head. The customer is in power here. Not the server.

              • metrophage says:

                @Murph1908: Flip side: Being paid commission encourages said retail employee to help you purchase the most expensive item they can talk you into, as opposed to helping you buy what you actually want/need.

                There is really no happy middle ground. In my experience, people perform to how they’re measured. If you get paid extra for how much you earn, you will sell the most expensive things you can. If you get paid on how many people you help, you give shoddy service to get to your next customer. All of this is my opinion, my observations, and I’m sure that exceptions abound, so read at your own risk :)

                • Murph1908 says:

                  This will not change in a ‘no tip’ system. The servers will still be under pressure from the restaurant to up-sell drinks, appetizers, etc. Probably even more so, as the restaurant now has to make sure they sell enough to pay the servers.

                  You are right, no middle ground. But I for one enjoy being in the seat of power as a consumer for once, instead of being dictated the common terms of the industry.

                  • Davan says:

                    @Murph1908: “Again, I worked as a waiter for years. And if I didn’t do my job, I’d fully expect to not be tipped. As many on this thread have pointed out, it is not a ‘requirement.'”

                    Just because many people choose not to tip, doesnt mean it hasnt evolved into a requirement – and it is. Thrash as you might against it, the post that you’re responding to should be proof enough for you, if not your own mention of charging large tables automatic tips. Automatic tip = requirement, does it not?

                    “Oh yeah. That’s why we get stellar service from all the businesses we frequent, and why sites like Consumerist are completely unnecessary. Please. It takes a simple search for Circuit City on this site to see what moving people from commission to hourly will do to service.”

                    Please dont ignore my entire comment regarding “WELL PAID” employees. Sure, pay them minimum wage and youll get what you get. Pay them $35k a year and your customers will enjoy excellent service.

                    “Coincidentally, I never once in my response to you implied you don’t tip.”

                    Quoted by you — “If that 10-top stiffs you (which happens even after good service, thanks to the Davons and Mr. Pinks out there” — looks like saying I dont tip to me. Oh, is it cause you misspelled my name? I didnt realize that was an out.

                    • Murph1908 says:

                      Oops, forgot about linking you with Mr. Pink. But I’ll claim my out is the fact that you both speak against the system, not that you both don’t tip. =)

                      “Pay them $35k a year and your customers will enjoy excellent service.”

                      Right. Keep believing that. You know why the vast majority of salespeople work at least partially on commission? Because if your pay is linked to your performance, you work harder.

                      Sure, one can argue that everyone’s pay is linked to performance in the form of reviews and merit increases, but it’s not the same as daily reinforcement of hard work in the form of monetary gain. If that were the case, salespeople would be on the standard system.

                      You know what happens when you pay all your employees well? Your cost of doing business goes up. This increase in costs must be passed to the consumer in order for you to remain profitable.

                      So what you are ultimately suggesting is that restaurants pay their servers well, and then pass the costs onto the diner in the form of higher prices.

                      And in your perfect world, every one of those servers will have a good work ethic and continue to provide you excellent service.

                      Good luck with that.

              • Davan says:

                @Murph1908: This is a ridiculous comparison, and is completely unfounded. The SOLE reason restaurants have moved to a low pay + tip format for their employees is to allow customers to feel as though the food they are buying is cheaper than it actually is, hoping they will spend more. They do not care if the customer stiffs their help or not, they view it only as a money-making scheme. When tipping originated, it was a reward for exceptional service, something that you gave someone over and above their wage as incentive to perform above and beyond the call of duty. Now it is a requirement, even when Ms.Fancybritches cant be bothered to get off the cell phone long enough to bring me some napkins or refill my water.

                Well paid employees with benefits will perform their jobs well or they will be fired. That is how 99% of businesses are run and it has proved a perfectly adequate business model. There is no reason to think that waitresses are somehow ‘better’ than everyone else in every other service industry — they just advertise themselves that way. Flailing about on message boards about how terribly unjust the world is to them and how no one ever tips! Its awful!

                There might be a particulate of a valid complaint here, if it werent for the fact that waitressing is apparently an over staffed and highly desirable job, and those without experience can trust on having long days washing dishing or hostessing to earn the right. This fact by itself takes any oomph out of these arguments.

                As far as holding tips over your head, mayhaps someone that only intends to frequent a restaruant once will have no issues with this, but anyone that might return to a resturant where they had stiffed a waitress has hundreds of stories of sneezing in food, dropping food on the ground and other repulsive stores to entertain them. This power over your food should move any sane person to tip, just on the off chance that the waitress remembers you next time. When I delievered pizzas in college, I saw some things happen. If the customer had a reputation for tipping, I guarantee you they would not have occured.

                Coincendentally, I take umbrage at your implication that I don’t tip. Although I do not appreciate the tipping culture in the U.S., I participate in it because that is the way that things are done. I would sincerely love to see this ridiculous practice go away, but until then, 15% for your uninterested, half-assed, uncaring, apathetic service. And I will NEVER give 20%.

                • Murph1908 says:

                  “Now it is a requirement, even when Ms.Fancybritches cant be bothered to get off the cell phone long enough to bring me some napkins or refill my water.”

                  Again, I worked as a waiter for years. And if I didn’t do my job, I’d fully expect to not be tipped. As many on this thread have pointed out, it is not a ‘requirement.’

                  “Well paid employees with benefits will perform their jobs well or they will be fired. That is how 99% of businesses are run and it has proved a perfectly adequate business model.”

                  Oh yeah. That’s why we get stellar service from all the businesses we frequent, and why sites like Consumerist are completely unnecessary. Please. It takes a simple search for Circuit City on this site to see what moving people from commission to hourly will do to service.

                  Yes, there are flaws with either system. But I would rather be ‘forced’ to tip something (10%) for inadequate service than be forced to pay the restaurant more for my food regardless of service. And for good service, I do tip 20%. 15% for adequate service.

                  And the opposite effect of your spit-food example happens. If you frequent a place, and are known to be a good tipper, you get EXCELLENT service.

                  Coincidentally, I never once in my response to you implied you don’t tip.

              • NinjaPoo says:


                How you get paid should not effect how you work.
                I believe that when you are employed then you have responsablities. For a waiter that would include providing good service regardless of the size of the table and if you think you’re going to get tipped or not.
                If servers are standing by the kitchen talking then they have an issue with lack of work ethic and the managers have a control issue.

        • 420greg says:


          I never understood why a restaurant owner gets to benefit from our tipping in the first place.

          They should still have to pay them normal minimum wage.
          With regular pay raises and merit increases.

          • Davan says:

            @420greg: I agree, although I would say more than minimum wage would be appropriate. If one day everyone stopped tipping, waitresses would riot, restaurants would start paying living wages again, prices would be more reliable, and people would feel more comfortable eating out without the discomfort of the bill and tip coming. Seems a win-win to me.

      • henwy says:


        The information is usually posted somewhere, either as a small placard in the front of the house or on the menu. It’s not uncommon to see it nowadays and it’s no longer just something that pops up for groups of 7 or more.

        My parents ran at least one restaurant ever since I was 10 (22 years total) and only just sold the last one this past year. We also had the whole 15% added gratuity for parties of (I think) 6 or more. There were plenty of times that despite the signs and the fact that it was itemized on the bill, people would double tip. We were never sure whether it was intentional or not but it always made wait staff happy.

    • bobloblawsblog says:

      @henwy: When i was a kid (like 16) working as a waitress,the other waitresses would tell me they’d add 15% on for asians, black people, and those obviously from out of the country. totally racist, i know, but apparently it is (used to be?) industry standard.

      just knowing what a bitch waiting table is, i usually do 20% for average service; 15% only if its really bad (like sat night when i ordered a second drink before my food came, reminded him again when the food came, and at the end of the meal it was still not there, with no apology).

      • henwy says:


        You can’t work any time at all as a waiter/waitress and not realize that race and age (to a lesser degree) are great determiners of whether someone is going to leave a shitty tip. There are always people who will buck the trend, but in my experience, it always held true across the long run. The auto-gratuity was based on the number of people in the group though, and not other factors.

  2. Ben Miner says:

    Could somebody please explain why restaurants add a tip for parties over 8? Is it because they think the the servers will be short-changed by a bunch of cheapos dining in large groups?

    • fordpickup says:

      @Ben Miner: Yes, basically.

    • winstonthorne says:

      @Ben Miner: It’s because a server getting shorted on a party of 8 gets REALLY screwed tax wise due to the necessary size of the bill.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @winstonthorne: It’s pretty sad that restaurants are required to do this because of dishonest cheapskates who dine and dash.

        • ojzitro says:

          @dragonfire81: That’s not what he meant, he means that waiters have to claim taxes on all credit card tables. The restaurant is given a minimum to withhold, from what little the waiter is already being paid, to be taxed automatically. If you don’t tip on a credit card, that waiter just lost money waiting on you.

          • johnarlington says:


            This begs to ask the question, What is the best way to tip. I try to always leave my tip in Cash, even if paying with credit card. Would it be better to put the entire tip on the card so that the restaurant will deduct the correct taxes?

            • veronykah says:

              @johnarlington: Tip in cash, write cash in the tip line if you are paying by credit card.
              Some restaurants withhold waiters CC tips, some STEAL them, some put them on a paycheck. In any event, for the server it is always better if you tip in cash.

            • alexcassidy says:

              @johnarlington: Depends who you ask. The waiter would definitely prefer you tip cash. The IRS, not so much. The restaurant is probably indifferent.

          • TGT says:


            That doesn’t sound right to me. Does that apply only to a specific locale?

            When I waited tabled, the restaurant reported our tips a completely different way. It was Credit Card Tips * Total Amount of all Checks divided by Total Credit Card Checks. If you get the same % tip in cash as you do in credit, this is a valid approximation.

            If there was a $1000 bill paid in credit with 0 tip, then the server would do better than a $1000 bill paid in cash with no tip.

            Since that’s the way it worked when I was a server, whenever I go out to eat, I pay in credit and tip in cash to lower the estimated amount of tips.

            As other people have said, there is 1 reason for automatic gratuity on large tables. (1) People tip less in large parties. (Whether it’s bad math, socially acceptable cheapness, or any other cause, the result is less tip.)

            • Luckwouldhaveit says:

              @TGT: Consider also that it is more difficult to wait on a large group of 10 than three tables of 2-4. Your server has to remember what everyone is having (difficult esp. when people hop around the table) and has to time everything to come out at the same time, and get it out quickly so it’s hot when it hits the table. Also, large groups are loud and boisterous, so it can be difficult getting everyone’s attention. Also (and the list could go on) a large table sits for much longer, meaning the server’s tables don’t turn over, so she doesn’t get a second or third seating (something all of us who sit and dawdle over dinner should remember).

        • Greatech says:

          @dragonfire81: Whats dishonest about it? There are no rules/laws or ordinances that requires patrons to tip.

    • karmaghost says:

      @Ben Miner: I think there could be quite a few reasons for doing this and I’m not sure there’s a generally accepted answer that all restaurants would agree on. I’ve heard that it’s a guaranteed way to ensure a tip (and a tip of a certain amount) is left, that it’s a way to simplify things, etc. I once spoke to a waiter friend who said that people in large groups tend to tip lower because they don’t feel as personally responsible and feel more anonymous, especially when the people in the group aren’t related.

      I personally have wondered why places will charge for delivery, especially when the driver usually gets none of that money and still relies on tips.

      • Anonymous says:

        @karmaghost: Most places charge for delivery because customers stiff the driver; the driver keeps anywhere from 40% to 100% of the delivery fee, which may be increased if the customer consistently stiffs the driver (At least, that’s what we did in our Pizza place). Honestly? I think any bill over $50 or parties of 6 or more should have a tip added onto the bill as a common practice: in my experience, people stiff the server or driver more when the total climbs above $50, since they’re surprised by the sticker shock. Then again, it also depends on where you work or live. Here in WV, the vast majority of our customers stiff us on every single delivery, which led to retaliation by us by delivering slower, taking the wrong route on purpose, or jacking up their delivery fee a dollar or so.

        Moral of the story: You better tip your driver and server, or else.

    • Doreen DelPurgatorio says:

      @Ben Miner: yes. But also because in many cases people dining in large groups will go “dutch” — either everybody pitching in cash (which may not actually cover their consumption plus a decent tip), or the server has to process four or five different credit cards (where people leave their own idea of a tip, which can vary considerably).

      Getting stiffed on a table of 10 is a lot more exposure for a waiter than getting stiffed on a two-top.

    • ojzitro says:

      @Ben Miner: If you read my post above, you can understand the automatic gratuity, because a thousand dollar table on a card, would be a significant loss for the waiter if they choose not to tip.

      On top of that, a party of eight is usually in for the long haul, and is often more demanding of a waiter’s attention. It can sometimes be the only table a staffer will get all night, if they sit for 4 hours or so.

    • TheMonkII says:

      @Ben Miner:

      Its simple. Typically speaking, servers rely on their tips to off balance their shoddy hourly wages, these are generally far less than minimum wage. So, say a server spends the majority of their shift working on a large group of 8-15 people and they decide to be cheap and either leave a miserable or less than “standard” tip, then the poor server gets “screwed”. In some instances, its warranted, but i think that its safe to say its not.

    • Brian Johnson says:

      @Ben Miner: Yeah, kinda of. Usually if a large table comes in then a waiter has to spend more time on that table and may get skipped in rotation. It doesn’t matter to me because I have worked as a waiter before I usually leave a tip above 20%.

    • unajuaner says:

      @Ben Miner: One study showed largegroups tip less than individuals. I don’t mind a gratuity on large groups as long as it’s stated on the menu beforehand.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @Ben Miner: Restaurants don’t want to have to pay workers. That is why they force a tip whenever possible. Tipping is optional, so if you don’t do it, it’s no big deal to you or the server. But the business is upset because they will have to pay their workers more out of their pocket. I know too many people who tip. But if I ever was at a restaurant with the right 8 people it would be awesome to leave exact change for the bill after they forcefully add the optional tip. If a tip is added automatically, you should try to never pay it. It should be illegal, because it completely undermines the purpose of tipping.

      • welsey says:

        @Corporate_guy: No, the business doesn’t give a shit about how much the individual table tips! It may be no big deal to you but it is a big deal to the server – just because one party didn’t tip doesn’t mean the manager makes up for it on payroll. It’s just lost money for the server. Until it becomes illegal for restaurants to pay workers under minimum wage, restaurants will continue to do it. Fighting a personal war against restaurant workers not being paid enough by stiffing them is just a shitty thing to do.

  3. Jevia says:

    I haven’t seen it when my family of 3 (plus baby) have dined out, but when my husband’s family was in town, I saw it for our group of 7. I recalled that most restaurants would add the gratuity on parties of 8 or more. I’m now seeing it listed for parties of 6 or more.

  4. ScottRose says:

    I want to know what asinine headline the Post made up for this one..

    “Skipped Tips Cause Restaurant Quips”?

    I’m too lazy to think of one that makes sense.

  5. waffles says:

    I almost always tip higher than that anyway. But once someone has decided how much I should tip, they start losing money from me.

    • TGT says:

      @waffles: I second this as well. If I don’t want to strangle my server at a busy restaurant, I figure they’ve done better than I could do (I was a horrible server). I tip 20% most of the time, 25% or more for excellent service, but I will not tip a penny over comp.

      • Eric Jay says:

        @TGT: At one place I waited tables, the 15% automatic tip was not an option, it was automatically added based on the party size. If I’m reading your post correctly, you’d have docked me 5-10% to punish me for the management’s policy of trying to protect me?

    • Heresy_Fnord says:

      @waffles: I agree. I basically tip 20% regardless, but in a situation where someone “forces” a tip on my I would leave it at that. (parties of 8 or more, or whatever rule the restaurant instituted.)

      However in this case, where it was only 2 people, I would have whipped out my phone, calculated the difference without the auto-tip and paid only that much. Leave cash, they can’t force you to pay then.

  6. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Americans are automatically tipping their way across European restaurants, depsite lax and mediocre service.

    • your new nemesis says:

      @Ash78: Actually, i have noticed that European restaurants are a little more customer oriented. On top of that, at least in Germany, when you sit down you basically own that table for the night. They don’t rush you out as quickly as Amerian restaurants. The only servers I was unimpressed with were the French, very snooty towards Amricans. Other than that, European dining was more relaxed, and the wait-staff was more pleasant.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Ash78: I frequently DO tip when I receive good service when I’m being a tourist in Europe because a) I’ve lived in a tourist destination and I understand the love-hate relationship one has with tourists and want to show the love and b) I know it’s kind-of expected that Americans will be ignorant enough to tip, and especially in smaller/less wealthy areas, that can be very welcome. (I DON’T tip when I’m living there or dining out with local friends, because then I’m not a tourist.)

      Once I was in a restaurant in France (as a tourist) and this waitress took the opportunity to excoriate me throughout my dinner on how all Americans are ignorant pigs who don’t know anything about other cultures and blah blah blah.

      So I showed her I did know about other cultures and didn’t tip her. :P

      • your new nemesis says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: What is it with French servers? Not to stereotype, but France had to be my least favorite place to visit, and mainly due to the arrogance of the people. Again, i don’t want to blanket their whole culture (I met some realy nice French people also) but in numbers, other places were much more pleasant to be. I think the worst was Paris, once I got out of there, the people were more friendly.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @skizsrodt: I loved Paris, and found most people I encountered to be very nice and welcoming, though I did certainly feel there was a superiority complex.

          But the most welcoming place I’ve ever been to was Prague. There, the people seem to really enjoy being a tourist destination, mostly because for such a long time, they weren’t. Their economy is doing better now because there are more people visiting, and seeing their beautiful city. I loved being in Prague, and the exchange rate is really great. When I was there it was $1 for 18 Czech crowns.

          Belgium was a very nice place as well. Lots of very down to earth people.

          • your new nemesis says:

            @pecan pi: I regret I never made it to Prague. But I enjoyed Belgium also, wouldn’t mind going back. I spent most of my time in Germany, so that would have to be my favorite. I would like to return someday to see friends I made out there. At least I’d have a place to stay and a translator :)

          • ScottRose says:

            @pecan pi:

            I had a good experience in Paris as well, customer-service-wise. Well, and in general too. Can’t forget that some NY waiters can be jerks as well.

            I am a bit sick of people from other countries lecturing on how Americans are all ignorant and etc. It’s the very height of hypocrisy and just goes to show how ignorant they are of Americans. (Granted, a lot of Americans are complete asses, but you get my point).

            PS – That last paragraph is just some venting in light of my having been on the receiving end of such a lecture recently.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @Ash78: In my company, we are required to tip in foreign countries, because we want to create a good impression of the company. We aren’t required to overdo it, just to err slightly on the generous side.

    • oneandone says:

      @Ash78: Young relatives of mine in Norway work in the hotel industry in the summers. When I asked them what people think of American tourists, they said it was a mixed bag: Americans leave the biggest tips for housekeeping staff, but also leave the messiest rooms.

  7. lincolnplacelovesyou says:

    seriously–i feel for the server in that scenario. even though europeans KNOW they’re supposed to tip, they just don’t.

    • pigbearpug says:

      @lincolnplacelovesyou: Agreed. The restaurant should put a notice on the menu, but what did the customer expect? To not leave a tip on a $400 meal? It’s only $60 and if you’re spending $400 on a meal, $60 shouldn’t be a big deal.

    • ojzitro says:

      @lincolnplacelovesyou: Agreed, my wife’s British, and they know better, but play dumb.

      • theczardictates says:

        @ojzitro: “they” who?

        Apparently the Comments Code forbids blaming the OP, but is perfectly fine with ignorantly slandering entire nationalities.

        I AM British, live in America now, and have lived in several european countries. I always tip according to local custom (which, by the way, is 10% in Britain for service that you’d tip 15% for in the US). And every Brit or European I know does the same: they take the trouble to know the local custom, and follow it. I’ve never met anybody who deliberately played dumb — although I’ve had to explain to a few that there are things you tip for in the US that you wouldn’t tip for in Britain, like a haircut.

        • MsAnthropy says:


          I tip for haircuts in the UK (and the US), and I’ve been a Brit for all 32 years of my life! :)

          I live in the US and find myself over-tipping because I’m so aware of the “tightfisted, non-tipping euro-person” stereotype. I have to stop myself tipping way more than necessary just to prove servers wrong in their expectations. So I’m doubly pissed-off on the rare occasions that I get surly, half-arsed service – I can’t win whatever I do! If I leave a less than hefty tip the lazy bastard server will just think it’s because I’m a Brit and don’t tip, and if I leave my usual generous tip, they’ll consider it no more than they deserve. Bah!

          • theczardictates says:

            @MsAnthropy: ha, maybe it’s only us guys that don’t tip for haircuts in the UK :)

            • MsAnthropy says:


              Aha, maybe! :)

              I think it’s just being related to my mother that does it. If I left the building without leaving a fiver for the hairdresser (plus something for the hair washing girl), I’d feel like a bad, bad person. Same thing with chambermaids – my (American) husband thinks I’m crazy, so maybe that’s not the done thing in the US either…

              • MsAnthropy says:


                I’m a Brit with an American husband. He always tries to tip bartenders in the UK, and it will invariably end up with some awkward exchange involving him trying to make them take the money, them refusing/saying they’re not allowed to accept tips and acting all horrified at the very idea… either that or the money sits there so long that it ends up being pocketed by some other customer. Still, he just can’t bear the idea of buying a drink at a bar and not tipping…

                • MsAnthropy says:


                  (and this reminds me – at the one bar job I ever worked in the UK, we were all told we were absolutely NOT allowed to accept tips or offers of drinks etc from customers. Anyone caught doing so would be fired. But still, at least we were paid minimum wage, rather than a fraction of it).

          • HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

            @MsAnthropy: Do what I do in those situations: give ’em 2 cents. There’s no mistaking that tip for mere cheapness (well, unless your bill came to exactly $x.98).

    • your new nemesis says:

      @lincolnplacelovesyou: Ok, European tipping isn’t as big huge deal or custom as it is here. Having traveled Europe some, and spent a few years there, tips aren’t automatic or as expected. It’s still a courtesy we often stuck with, but on a few occasions i was told by German friends not to leave as large tip as I was going to.

      • econobiker says:

        @skizsrodt: Because Euro waitstaff have health insurance and get paid a decent wage.

        • your new nemesis says:

          @econobiker: yeah, oddly enough the reasoning behind not leaving large tips was that it was an insult. I never understood it, but the places I ate at the most were more “Americanised,” so they didn’t take insult to it as much.

          • djanes1 says:

            @skizsrodt: To them a exorbitant tip comes off as customers throwing their money around. They see these large tips more as unwanted charity rather than generosity. So, in that way, it is insulting.

      • VeiledThreats says:

        @skizsrodt: In Germany, tips are automatically added into the total of the bill. Tipping on top of that might make you seem generous, or just uninformed of the tipping standard there.

        • your new nemesis says:

          @CapitolStorm: Maybe at high class restaurants or something, but not as a rule. I was able to consult with a German friend of mine right now on yahoo messenger. And from my experience, I don’t remember seeing any additional charges. I believe what you are thinking of is the tax. Tax is uncluded automatically into the price tag, of just about everything. All 19% of it. BTW, the word for tip is “trinkgeld.”

  8. admiral_stabbin says:

    Well, just to make a point…the next time I’m in NYC…I’ll starve myself.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I had dinner at the Olive Garden in Chelsea last week and was charged an automatic 15% gratuity (printed on the receipt as such) for two of us. The menu stated only that parties of 8 or more would be charged.

    Or, perhaps that was just the penalty for thinking it was a good idea to have dinner at the Olive Garden.

  10. Argy says:

    Disclaimer: I’m not agreeing with restaurants that automatically charge for tips. BUT…

    If you can afford to pay $400 for one meal, then is 15 percent on top of that for the service really going to bankrupt you? It’s impossible for me to feel bad for the person in the example.

    • winstonthorne says:

      @Argy: I think it’s the fact that they weren’t informed that’s at issue.

    • drjayphd says:

      @Argy: (uses the Google)

      Well, an extra $60 slathered on your bill isn’t exactly insignificant…

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      @Argy: The point isn’t they weren’t able to pay, the point of the post is that it is illegal to add a gratuity to a bill unless noted beforehand. No where in the article does it say they couldn’t afford the tip.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Cat_In_A_Hat: Exactly. It’s sleazy and illegal regardless of whether they could afford it. Just because you can afford the tip, doesn’t mean you should just take it lying down because there was no statement written anywhere that the restaurant would do this, and it’s not right.

        If it had been $10 tip on a $6 burger, wouldn’t you say something? It’s the principle of the matter – that they’re imposing on you an amount they were not supposed to, and you should call them out on it. If you wouldn’t take it lying down, even though you can surely afford the $4 tip, why should these people take this practice lying down?

    • El_Fez says:

      @Argy: If you can afford to pay $400 for one meal, then is 15 percent on top of that for the service really going to bankrupt you? It’s impossible for me to feel bad for the person in the example.

      So, me at my barely minimum wage job save up for several months so that I take my mom somewhere real nice for her 70th birthday, can afford it?


      • veronykah says:

        @El_Fez: If you can’t afford to tip your server, then NO you can’t afford it. Start saving a bit earlier and work in the gratuity.

        • El_Fez says:


          Good going, you managed to completely mis the ENTIRE point. I responding to “I cant feel bad for this guy because clearly he has deep pockets and 60 bucks is peanuts to him.”

          What if it’s not peanuts? What if he save for 4 months for this special occasion? Just because they’re spending 400 bucks on a meal doesnt mean that stinkin’ filthy rich.

          Do try and keep up, will you?

          • Hyman Decent says:


            What if it’s not peanuts? What if he save for 4 months for this special occasion? Just because they’re spending 400 bucks on a meal doesnt mean that stinkin’ filthy rich.

            Just because a diner is not “stinkin’ filthy rich” doesn’t make it O.K. for him or her not to tip 15%-20%, even if the tip is not written or printed on the check.

            • El_Fez says:

              @Hyman Decent:

              When the hell did 15-20% become mandatory?!? I tip what I choose to, based on level and quality of service. If chatting with your friends in the kitchen is more important than attending my needs, if you never come by the table to see how things are going, if the food arrives stone cold, if you cant be bothered to fill my water glass ONCE – then my ass you’re getting a 20% tip, let alone a mandatory one.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @Argy: It sounds like an overpriced meal. Most likely it included an expensive bottle of wine. In the end the amount of work done by the server was probably much less than one that works at a Denny’s. So please don’t suggest a server deserves a bigger tip because the food is priced higher. That is total crap. Right now a meal probably costs around 8-10 bucks at a decent priced restaurant. Tip based on that figure, not inflated food priced. And if anything withhold a tip when food is overpriced. If a restaurant is over charging for food, they can afford to pay their workers more.

      • JustThatGuy3 says:


        $8-10? Hell, an extra value meal is $8.

      • Bailen says:

        @Corporate_guy: That’s the way I see it, Why should a server get tipped more for opening a $200 bottle of wine than a $30 bottle? Last time I checked it was the same process.

        Just because they managed to get a job at a fancy high priced restaurant doesn’t mean that they are doing more work. Sure maybe they are more refined in their craft and that does deserve a to be taken into account, but certainly not a doubling or more of the tip because the food is more expensive. And I know sometimes the tips are shared with the cooks/chefs but I have a feeling at the higher end restaurants their food staff get paid accordingly and don’t rely on tips.

        • HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

          @Bailen: Because they are taxed more for opening a $200 bottle of wine than a $30 bottle. The gov assumes that most people tip based on cash value, and levies taxes accordingly.

          As well, one expects the service to be better at a fancy, high-priced restaurant. Therefore, they should be tipped higher, because they earn it. It’s not like the server just opens your wine and disappears, after all.

          Not to mention, if you’re wasting $200 on wine, you obviously have more money to tip with, tightwad.

  11. Joedel263 says:

    I don’t think the article is meant to say you shouldn’t tip.. I think it’s trying to point out that people are double-tipping (once printed on the bill, and once leaving cash on the table because they don’t read their bill)

    I don’t have a problem with them doing it for large parties (because my coworkers are mean and cheap..) but it needs to be announced..

  12. Shaftoe says:

    I am a bit torn on this. On the one hand adding 60 dollars to a bill that is at worst illegal and at best a bit sleazy is worng, but then the poor wait person that serves that table gets taxed on the 400 dollar sale regardless of if the customers tipped or not.
    Frankly I am inclined to come down on the side of the severs here but I understand that it is not legal to do.

    • leprofie says:

      Servers getting taxed on the sale is only a problem because people underreport tips. If people honestly reported tip income, this would not be a problem

    • cparker says:

      @Shaftoe: Huh? Why should the server pay taxes on a meal? Am I reading this wrong? Everywhere I go, taxes are rolled into the bill…

      If you mean taxed as in the amount of energy it takes to wait on a table with a 400 dollar check, well that’s part of the job.

      I myself can’t imagine a 400 check, unless I’m feeding like 20 people.

      • Anonymous says:

        the waiter pays INCOME tax on a percentage of their sales for the pay period, whether or not they actually receive that percentage (how you figure out how much to tip) as income.

      • stacy75 says:

        @cparker: The server has to pay taxes on “expected tips” whether or not s/he actually makes that amount in tips.

        Where I’ve been in restaurants, your taxes are automatically figured at 8% – 10% of your total sales for the night. You’re supposed to adjust it up if you make more than that, but you can’t adjust down (I don’t know why).

        So If I had two parties with a $500 bill each, I’d get taxed as if I had at least earned $80-%100 in tips, regardless of the actual tip amount earned.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @cparker: Servers pay income tax. Their income is estimated based on the amount their customers spend, and withheld by the restaurant.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @cparker: Business really stick it to servers. They have created a system where the server has to claim something like 8% of the food sales as a tip whether they got the tip or not. It’s a way for businesses to protect themselves from ever having to pay the extra money needed to ensure the server gets their minimum wage. It’s disgusting. And a good reason not to tip. Supporting such a stupid system is wrong.

        • Sys Admn says:

          @Corporate_guy: Uh, businesses didn’t invent the system where servers had to report a percentage of food sales. The IRS required that after noticing what tax cheats people paid in cash can be.

          Businesses do benefit from not paying a straight wage – because the public wants an $8.99 entree and doesn’t think about the $1.99 soft drink, $4.99 dessert, and 20% tip.

          • jamar0303 says:

            @Sys Admn: So I bring my own soft drink, skip the dessert, and eat at a place that doesn’t demand additional compensation on top of listed prices. That’s the most annoying thing about eating in the US- tips.

          • Corporate_guy says:

            @Sys Admn: Businesses can charge the same price if they paid their workers a full paycheck. From my experience restaurants that don’t expect tipping because they pay their workers 7-10 bucks an hour tend to have cheaper or equal prices of a sit down restaurant.

  13. Kevin Neveloff says:

    Perhaps I’m just cheap, or more likely I have a habit of getting worked up on principle, but if I went out for dinner with another person and upon receiving the bill found that they had automatically added the tip despite the legal prohibition on doing so I would probably first call over the manager and ask that it be removed and if denied just leave half of what was suggested (or less) simply because.

  14. semanticantics says:

    What if they tipped cash? Duh. What if they paid their share of a $400 meal, which could’ve been $60, and then got hit with $60 for a tip? That’s 100%!

    Too many variables to act like we know what is “right”. What isn’t right is credit card fraud.

    Also, this person is from a country where tipping is not customary.

  15. hills says:

    PopBurger (off of 5th Ave) added a $13 tip to my $7 order – Before disputing the charge I spoke with the manager who tried to tell me it was just their standard 20% pre-authorized charge and would not post. Well, it had posted and of course $13 is WAY more than 20% of $7. Obviously, amex reversed the disputed amount without a problem.

  16. Kevin Neveloff says:

    Or at the very least when required to leave a tip in contravention of the law regarding automatic tips use these:

  17. ApologeticBale_GitEmSteveDave says:

    They stole an idea from Apple Computers, and now add on a “BIG Apple Tax”?

  18. Anonymous says:

    depending on the restaurant, the server has to tip out on the total cost of the meal as well, regardless of the size of the tip. adding 15% gratuity automatically guarantees that the server doesn’t LOSE money on the table, which happens if the size of the tip (or the lack of a tip entirely) doesn’t cover the size of the tax/tip out. is it illegal to add the gratuity in this situation? most likely. can you blame the server for doing it (especially if it’s become clear that they’re not going to be tipped for providing their service)? that’s up to you.

  19. your new nemesis says:

    Although not necessarily related to NYC, some places can actually pay a waiter less than the min. wage based on the fact/idea they will be tipped. Although if a waiters tips come up short, then the store has to make up for it. However, demanding that someone pay for service without prior notification is sleazy, and this borders on extortion. Would she have gotten away without paying the gratuity? This is going to be a lasting impression of a foreign visitors view on America and Americans. Sad.

    • veronykah says:

      @skizsrodt: When I worked as a cocktail waitress in NYC I was paid $2.13/hr. Not ONE of the clubs I worked for EVER made up for the difference when I didn’t make any money.
      NYC is a whole different animal than most anywhere else in the country. Many many places don’t even PAY their staff, let alone the measly minimum that is required by law.
      When I first moved to California and was given a paycheck for bartending I was mystified. Really? I get paid by the bar and get tips? Amazing.
      In NYC you are lucky if you get a shift pay.

      • your new nemesis says:

        @veronykah: That sucks. I used to work pizza delivery for a while, and while we were paid a wage and a per delivery rate “compensation,” that job wouldn’t have paid for itself without the tips. Delivery is hard on a vehicle, and maintanance costs can add up real fast. I find it hard to beleive that a business can get away with that. As far as I am concerned, the tips are the whole reason to work at a place like that. If all they are is part of the wage, whats the point?

      • VeiledThreats says:

        @veronykah: Uh, yeah, seriously illegal. You have a valid labor board complaint there. If you don’t make enough in tips plus your hourly to meet min wage standards, your employer MUST pay the difference. Fortunately in California, they must pay everyone at least minimum wage now and tips can’t be counted against your hourly pay. Federally, even in NY, you must make at least fed min wage after tips or your employer is on the hook.

        • welsey says:

          @CapitolStorm: Labor law violations are just par for the course in the service industry! I used to work in a restaurant that regularly gave people 10-14 hour shifts with no breaks. Not like the occasional thing that happens with doubles or parties that STAY FOREVER – this was a regular thing. You were expected to do 14 hour days at least a few times a week. You better not have been caught sitting down unless you wanted both owner and manager to scream at you in front of everyone else. The plus side was they almost NEVER fired anyone for anything.

    • TGT says:

      @skizsrodt: I think it’s most states that have a standard minimum wage and a second minimum wage for tipping industries.

    • Ratty says:

      @skizsrodt: The employer is required to pay any shortcomings between the waitstaff wage + tips and the minimum wage of the area. if they’re not, that’s illegal.

  20. El_Fez says:

    I use a simple equasion here: Add any gratuity to my bill, then my gratuity will be ZERO.

    • veronykah says:

      @El_Fez: Very nice of you. Some places that place an auto-grat on a bill do so through the computer system, the server doesn’t arbitrarily put it on your bill or necessarily have any control over whether or not its put on your bill.

      • El_Fez says:


        When you’re doing me a service – bringing a pizza or my General Tso’s to my house so I dont have to get my lazy ass off the couch, then I tip *WELL*. If you’re johhny-on-the-spot at the resturant, with the water glass filled all the time with a great attitude, then you’ll be getting a big, phat tip. You start dicking me around with these mandatory 20% fees, and prepare for the cold harsh reality of a dime tip.

        Treat me like a king and get rewarded. Play games and get the shaft. It’s that simple.

        • dtmoore says:

          f’ing eh.

        • Beerad says:

          @El_Fez: Yeah, you’re totally teaching a lesson to the underpaid wait staff who have no control whatsoever as to what the mandatory fee on your bill is. That’ll show ’em!

          I guess it might be more productive to talk to the manager about how the auto-tip is unfair and you won’t pay it, but then you wouldn’t get the smug satisfaction of being a turd to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        @veronykah: True, but usually you can tell from the context if it’s been added by a computer, due to being a large party f’r’instance, or if it’s being “suggested” by a handwritten note on the bill by a snarky waiter.

        Computerized note, I may dispute with the manager, based on the circumstance. Snarky handwritten note gets stiffed. Or, depending on how much pocket change I have, a big frowny face made of pennies. But like I said, it depends a LOT on the context.

    • Adrienne Willis says:

      @El_Fez: I agree with you, tipping is for a service provided it is not mandatory. If I receive shitty service you are getting less than my usual 30%, sometimes you get nothing. Don’t like it? Dont work in the restaurant business. I will not ever be forced to pay for something that is optional.

      *Disclaimer – it has been a long long time since I have not tipped below 30% before you decide to rip me to shreds for stating my opinion*

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @Adrienne Willis: Why do you tip 30%? What is the point? Do you normally get tips at your job so you feel everyone else should be tipped for doing theirs?

        • nycwaiter says:

          @Corporate_guy: Waiters in nyc typically make about between $3 and $5 an hour after taxes, and after taxes are taken out for the tips we declare there’s not much left. Bi-weekly paychecks are roughly $20. You may not get tipped at your job but it IS common practice among decent people in America and other places to tip at least 15% on a bill. Many waiters have to tip out bartenders, hosts, busers, and the kitchen at the end of our shift. At my restaurant an automatic 5% is taken out for “tip-share” which is kept by the restaurant and distributed among the paychecks of those being tipped out by me. So when you and your co-workers come in and ring up a $100 and leave me nothing it actually cost me $5 to wait on you. And actually it is completely legal to add gratuity on parties of 6 or more thanks to a law passed by the mayor. And an added gratuity is not at all an insult, it’s just to save the waiter from being stiffed, after all many large parties when collecting money to pay the bill forget to add the tax and tip and assume someone else will, or if one person pays for the whole party they may not leave a tip, especially if they are foreign and don’t know common tip practices. Maybe it’s not a glamorous job but someone has to serve your food, so help us out and tip.

    • Preppy6917 says:

      @El_Fez: While that is entirely your right to do so, some of the higher-end restaurants that I’ve worked at blacklist guests like you. Especially if it’s a restaurant that isn’t hurting for business.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @Preppy6917: How do you blacklist a customer for not tipping? Tipping is optional.

        • Mark DeGeorge says:

          @Corporate_guy: In most states waiters make less than $3/hour, but get taxed based on their sales. Servers are required to claim that they made at least 8% of their sales in tips, whether they made that or not. So if you rack up a large enough bill and then stiff the server on the tip, that server lost money by taking care of you. That is why many restaurants will blacklist habitual non-tippers – it’ll allow them to be able to keep a quality waitstaff. If they allow crappy customers, the better waitstaff will find another place where the owners take care of their employees.

  21. tjrchicago says:

    Sidebar questions:

    Check for dinner for two is $120. $60 of that is food, the other $60 is a single bottle of wine. How much would you tip?

    I’ve never been comfortable tipping 15 or 20% on expensive bottles of wine, but I’ve never seen guidance on what is expected. When you are talking about bottles costing in excess of $100, are you supposed to tip 20%?

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @tjrchicago: Generally it’s 15-20% of the entire bill no matter what you bought. Presumably, if you’re spending $60 on a single bottle of wine, you’re likely in a place that has good wait staff that should be worth the tip on that bottle.

    • dtmoore says:

      I wouldn’t tip on the wine – 12 bucks for them to bring a single bottle of wine out. Percentage based tips are a sham in general, I still never tip more than 5 bucks at a fancy restaurant. Just because the place charges too much for food it’s worth more for someone to carry it out to me? please.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Wow. Don’t ever go to any place twice.

      • mrgenius says:

        @dtmoore: I bet you have had more than your fair share of spit in your food over the years (and deserved every last drop).

      • Beerad says:

        @dtmoore: You’ve obviously never actually been to a fancy restaurant, then. You do realize that that attitude actually penalizes servers for your cheapness, yes? While you say “oh, an $80 bill — that’s worth $5.00 to me” the government says “oh, an $80 bill — we’ll assume the server made 8 bucks or so on the tip and tax them accordingly.”

      • Philthadelphian says:


        I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you meant you wouldn’t tip more than $5 for a bottle of a wine (i.e. if you spent $100 on food and $50 on wine, you’d tip $25 instead of $30).

        Otherwise, your writing skills are about on par with your tipping and social awareness skills. Unless you had HORRIBLE service, a $5 tip on any check over $30 is an insult.

        If you really tip $5 regardless of service/overall check, and you came to me crying about how someone broke into your house/stole your wallet/Grand Theft Auto-ed your car, I’d laugh in your face and hope that one of the servers you screwed over was the culprit.

    • Beerad says:

      @tjrchicago: If you can’t afford to pay the tip on the entire bill at the restaurant, you shouldn’t be eating at the restaurant. You’re expected to pay a tip on the whole amount. Feel free to make up your own tipping rules, but don’t expect your server to be thrilled that you decided to cross out certain items from the calculation because the service “wasn’t worth it”.

      • Charles Mousseau says:

        @Beerad: … Unless of course it’s a small bill, then you shouldn’t be tipping based on a percentage, you should tip an absolute amount reflective of the service you got. Just ask any waitstaff, and they’ll tell you.

        Just like casino dealers. Should you tip for the service or for whether you’re winning? Depends. If you’re winning, tip for winning. If you’re losing, tip for the service. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

        • ScottRose says:


          It’s a valid question. I usually tip 20+% on the final line item (food, drink, tax, everything). I’ve had a lot of friends that worked in restaurants in college, and I guess it’s the guilt from hearing their stories of getting shafted that makes me do it. I’ll give 15% for mediocre service, and 10% or less for crap service.

          But a lot of older people I know (my father for one) will tip based upon the pre-tax amount, minus some or all of the drink tab. He’s usually winds up in the 15-20% range of the pre-tax total anyways.

          So is this a generational thing, or what?

          BTW – At least in my little world, the drink tab does not make up anywhere near 50% of the total bill. If I’m at a restaurant where the only drinkable bottle of wine is $60, I’m definitely spending at least $150 on food (for 2).

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @Beerad: Tipping is optional. You are acting as if it is required.

  22. Plates says:

    Tips should be based on service taking into account the bill. Good service gets more, bad service gets nil.

  23. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    I have a question of clarification:
    Are the automatically added tips being thrown on by the waiter and/or host, or are they policy (or sneakiness) of the restaurant.

    I only ask to clarify that if a fine is imposed, does it go against the waiter/host or the restaurant?

    If the waiter/host did it, and they’d face a potential $500 fine, then I’d bet it’d stop immediately. Even $50 out of a waiter/host’s tips for the night is a pretty big chunck (generally speaking).

  24. Gabryael says:

    Doesn’t just happen in NYC. I had it happen at Dakotas’ in Latham, NY. I don’t go there anymore.

  25. TrueBlue63 says:

    There are a couple of things that are going on:

    1) Foreign tourists often feign ignorance of American customs, and even when informed will refuse to tip appropriately.

    So while illegal it wouldn’t surprise me if a waiter just added it on, without informing the restaurant.

    2) Large tables tip added – I am not sure why this is the case, my experience is that service at large tables sucks. Perhaps with 8 or more people all getting up and leaving, places and their servers were getting stiffed.

    What bugs me, is that they will try to put 18% on everything, including tax and the entire bar tab. If you order a $100 bottle of wine with dinner you don’t have to tip 18.00 on it. That is why in high end, old fashioned restaurants the bar tab is separate, you tip on the food, and on the bar tab, but you have to use your judgment. Otherwise its just a surcharge, not a gratuity.

  26. H3ion says:

    Having been there, I generally leave 20% but compute it on the total bill, including tax. It actually works out to around 22 or 23%. But if there’s already a gratuity on the bill, that’s what I leave unless the service has been extraordinary, in which case I might leave something on top. Restaurants that automatically add a gratuity might be doing their wait staff a disservice.

  27. P_Smith says:

    I have one basic rule about tipping:

    Any restaurant expects or demands a tip doesn’t deserve one.

    And besides the point of forcibly demanding extra money from customers – this isn’t a “tip” – a large party with a large bill should actually cost a restuarant less per person and not need as large a tip. Small groups are more likely to cost the restaurant in terms of labor.

    This isn’t about gratuities. This is gratuitous gouging of customers. They should raise prices instead of trying to steal from customers.

    • veronykah says:

      @P_Smith: The gratuity doesn’t go to the restaurant, that is illegal. It goes to the server. A large party most certainly is MUCH more work, time and attention than a small one.
      It has nothing to do with the cost to the restaurant.

      • sir_eccles says:

        @veronykah: Perhaps P_Smith meant to say:

        You EARN a tip through good service you don’t DEMAND one in advance.

        • TGT says:

          @sir_eccles: The difficulty with that is that not everyone will tip a living wage, and (at least in most states), the minimum wage for servers is considerably less than standard minimum wage, much less a living wage. I earned $2.38/h when I worked as a server, now I believe the minimum where I live is something like $3.50/h for servers, compared to nearly $8/h minimum wage

          • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

            @TGT: “the minimum wage for servers is considerably less than standard minimum wage, much less a living wage.”: Which according to many state labor laws is completely illegal. Why should I as the consumer have to make up for the shady wage practices of restauraunts? I feel the amount of a tip given is based on service and shouldn’t be determined prior to me being served. I have been to a few restaurants that have added “mandatory” gratuity and the “service” part of my service has gone out the window. I find having to fork over $50 bucks to a waiter that has payed little or no attention to my group of 5 (yes 5!!!!!!!) unacceptable.

            • mrgenius says:

              @Cat_In_A_Hat: If you don’t want to pay, stay home. If you get bad service, complain to a manager and/or don’t go back.

              You act as if there is some inalienable right to be treated like royalty because you decide to eat out. If you feel like a tip is not based primarily on what is being served, then you are just a cheapskate, and no amount of equivocating or rationalizing will change that fact.

              Also, your assertion that the minimum wage for servers being less than the standard minimum wage is illegal in many states is misleading. The federal minimum wage made a specific exclusion for service jobs like serving. The states can set higher rates if they wish, and many do.

              • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

                @mrgenius: I live in California and according to CA wage laws, restauraunts cannot make up the difference using tips so I am speaking from the perspective of a California resident. And I do not expect to be treated like royalty when eating out, but just like everyone else in the restauraunt. I tip very well and acknowledge good service, however in this circumstance I am speaking of one incident where my server was rude and I still had to pay an added gratuity.

    • couldberunning says:


      you dont tip the restaurant, you tip the server for their service. Therefore, if you bring a big party in why should you tip less? It is more work for that server to provide you with better service and if you receive it you should tip MORE. Dont get confused with the money the restaurant makes and the money the server makes.

    • mrgenius says:

      @P_Smith: I feel bad for the men and women who have to serve you. Would it make you feel better to call it a “service charge”?

      It’s part of the cost of dining out people!

      Cheapskates who get all haughty about tipping should do us all a favor and stay home. Anyone who tips less than 18% reflexively unless some major problem occurs is ususally a douche.

      I’d have no problem with raising the prices of food and wine 20% if that 20% goes to the server. This has an added effect of scaring off all the cheap-os before they choose to make an ass out of themselves at the restaruant.

  28. maxx22 says:

    Very simple. If you have a bill of, say $100 for two, there is no problem with giving the waiter $15 – or even $20 (in NYC, our tax is 8 3/4% so doubling the tax provides a reasonable tip).

    But supposing you have 10 people and have a $500 check – how do you feel about giving the waiter $75 or $100?

    Or suppose it is one the many restaurants that overcharges for wine and 8 people pick up a $1000 check. Would you leave the waiter $150 – $200?

    So it is a matter of degree. Pelple are unhappy with large tips in absolute dollars.

    Thus, the automatic charge.

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      @maxx22: $75 for a $500 bill? Sure, why not? Think about it – if that table of 10 ate alone at $50 per, they’re pay $7.50 each as a tip. That’s bus-fare!

      If I managed to suck back $50 in booze and food, I’m sure even the most lackluster waitperson has earned at least $7.50-$10.

      In my circle – if a waitperson can manage a group of 10 – drinks and food right and food roughly at the same time, they’re on the fast track to a 20-25% tip. (Managing that many people must be a nightmare.)

      And, thanks to someone upstairs, it’s gonna be a cash tip from now on.

    • Hyman Decent says:

      @maxx22: The total sales tax rate in NYC is now 8 3/8 %. Bloomberg has proposed raising it (back) up to 8 5/8 %.

  29. Petrol42 says:

    Although I tip regularly and pretty well, the whole idea of tipping is BS, especially if you get crappy service.

    Some people here mention that if a party is able to afford a $400 meal, then a $60 tip should be no problem. Well, what if it was a special occasion that these people got together and all the couples went Dutch because these people don’t get paid well or they got other expenses that are important like the heating bill or diapers.

    I work as an A/V tech in a hotel and I get to see some of the shenanigans that go on such as how the banquet staff gets screwed with the tips. Typically in a hotel, the banquet staff gets a cut of a tip pool. But sometimes when the Convention Services manager gets cash and is suppose to distribute it, he/she doesn’t and pockets the $1000 or so dollars. And because its cash and isn’t on the books anywhere, the manager gets away with it. I don’t know about most of you guys but I would like the money I tipped to go to the people who actually did all the hard work.

    I think a better solution would be that all the restaurants should raise the prices a little more and give their servers a better wage. A tip should be reserved for people who give exceptional service and those people’s livelihoods shouldn’t have to depend on the tip.

  30. balthisar says:

    I don’t get how this is sneaky… am I the only person who looks over a bill prior to paying it?

    Given that, I don’t like the practice, as it usually ensures a lesser tip that I otherwise would have left. But all the same (other than where the law says otherwise), I don’t see anything sneaky about the practice.

    • floraposte says:

      @balthisar: Even in places where it’s legal, I would consider it sneaky if it’s not openly stated on the menu. (I see such a statement fairly often, so plenty of places are prepared to state it up front.) You tell people what you’re going to charge them for the services they request. Avoiding doing so is sneaky.

  31. LatimerFantazmical says:

    Once again Consumerist is making a big deal out of nothing. It is normal to add gratuity at least here in NYC. Unless you are cheap you will have to give a tip that is within the same range as the required gratuity. If its already added to your bill then just dont pay any additional tip.

    Additional advertising impressions for Consumerist!

  32. couldberunning says:

    Gratuity is a necessary evil imo. I made 2.15 an hour when I used to serve. Luckily, I worked in a upscale restaurant so I did not feel the need to add gratuity most of the time but sometimes I did. You know the groups that are about to stiff you after working your tail off for nearly an hour or more. Nothing is more annoying than getting stiffed when you provide great service. To add the double edge to that sword we tipped out our bus boys 2% of the total bill so if a table did not tip we lost money.

  33. the_gank says:

    I wonder what we happen if she had just paid $400 and refused to pay the imposed tip. Would they have called the police?

    What kind of society do we live in these days? or is it because it’s 2009?

  34. Adam Driscoll says:

    My wife used to wait tables and a couple of times parties of 8 left her no tip at all.

  35. Killer_Silly says:

    400 MEAL!?
    that’s enough to feed my family for a month!

  36. xip says:

    I can’t say that I’m a big fan of automatic tips like this. I understand where they’re coming from, but an automatic tip really isn’t a “tip” at all.

    I usually tip very well, but my tip depends on the quality of service as well as the effort that the service requires.

    If I go to somewhere like Waffle House where my meal costs a total of $5, I will often leave a 80% tip if the service was good. I just can’t see tipping $1 for 30 minutes of good service, even though $1 technically meets the 20% norm. However, there are other situations where I tip less than 20% but still consider it a good tip. For example, I have gone to bars before and ordered, for example, a round of 4 shots. Depending on the shot, I have had 4 of them run up to $24. However, since it only take a bartender 1 minute or so to pour 4 shots, I don’t tip $5.

  37. Chris Bellido says:

    Want to avoid the tip eat at one of the many available McDonalds Burger King White Castle etc. If you can pay 400 bucks for a meal tipping the customary 15 isn’t going to kill you.

    On the other side of that coin if your establishment is going to automatically include the tip then give them some warning period end of story.

  38. RogueWarrior says:

    This happened to me at the Rosen Centre hotel in Orlando. Their normal restaurant automagically sticks a 15% tip on there. So the question is what are the laws concerning this nationwide?

    Beyond that, I went to another restaurant that calculates suggested tips at 15%, 18%, and 20% and prints that on your bill. Pretty handy, IMHO.

    But, also IMHO, don’t feel pressured (by anyone) to tip anything for lousy service. We ate at the Ocean Aire in Orlando and the service was so bad that the guy at the next table tore the waiter a new orifice. Personally, I knew the evening was going to be a problem when the waiter didn’t know what kind of beer they served and actually used the word “carbs”. Go back to the gym, pal. You need more than a couple of brain cells to be a decent waiter.

  39. Sudonum says:

    I took a few co-workers out to TGIF after work the other night. We were a party of 4, the tab was over $150, they added an 18% auto-grat. The server explained it when she left the check, they put the auto-grat on any tab over $75. I’d never heard of that one before. I usually tip 20%, not that night.

  40. Shannon Braun says:

    Ok I’m Australian and have worked in the industry for 5 1/2 years and we receive a wage. I’ve since been working in America in the same industry for a few months now and can honestly say the tipping system just seems to cause more problems for both customers and employees. Here’s my two cents:

    Tipping system:
    -When I try to go above and beyond for customers like I do back home, customers respond negatively towards me, the same way they would towards an overbearing salesperson on a commision (you’re not serving me, you’re just in it for the extra money)
    -When I go to work, I never know if I’m going to come home with 50 cents or $200. This is irrespective of the length of shift and both of these situations have happened to me on multiple occasions.
    -Some customers, no matter what level of service will NEVER tip. That said, some customers no matter what level of service ALWAYS tip. The latter is seemingly less frequent.
    -Pooling tips is unfair. At $4/hour/staff member, employers can post extra staff members ‘just because they can’ and at the end of the night, the employer gets the sales and the staff’s pay is diluted significantly. Also, some staff members will slack off knowing that other people are making the money for them.
    -Most places have good and bad sections for staff members to work and those with any leverage with the managers will always find a way to pillage these sections from other staff members.
    -Some places will ‘tip-out’ the earnings from one section to others who help out say bartenders to barbacks. This is usually a percentage of sales and is generally not reflected by the level of work done by the helpers or the tips actually earned in the first place. Some staff members are forced to ‘tip-out’ even if they made no money that night and will end up losing money by coming to work.

    Wage System:
    -I love working hospitality and when I’m on a wage and give good service I’m doing it because I have passion for the job. Customers will tip extra if it is deserved. Bad employees can always be dismissed. If you’re good at what you do, the company will give you more shifts and thus earn you more money.
    -On a wage, all staff members are considered equal. It doesn’t matter what night of the week your work, what section you’re in, what party you get etc… you all have the same title, and do the same job and will get paid the legal rate neccessary for your position. If you are at a classier place, you will get more pay for the level of experience necessary.
    -Increased menu prices does not mean higher tip levels placed onto customers. A customer can choose to tip but it is not always expected.
    -On a wage, we are required by law to have at least a 30min break after working a 5hour shift or more. On a tip system I have seen staff members work 14hours double shifts with no breaks for fear of not missing out on money.

    These are just my thoughts, I know I am biased and probably because I have grown up in one system. But hey, pick away at it and tell me your thoughts.

  41. haoshufu says:

    Also watch out how they calculate the 15%. Some restaurants will add 15% to the total that includes sales tax. Say your sub-total on all items is $200, add 8.75% sales tax in NYC and that’s $217.50. They then calculate 15% based on $217.50 instead of $200. Are we supposed to tip on sales tax these days? Not a lot of $ from each customer but they add up for the waiting person.

  42. savdavid says:

    I never understood why the percentage goes up.

    Tips rise with inflation, right? A $10.00 dollar meal in 1990 @ 10% = $1.00 tip. Now the exact same meal is $20.00 because of inflation. The tip would be $2.00 today.

    HOWEVER, the tipping % has gone from 10% to 20%. So that tip is $4.00 today, not $2.00.

    Tips are rising with inflation PLUS they are rising on the higher percentage of the bill.

    Are they working harder now than people did 20 years ago? Inflation has gone up for everyone. So why has the percentage of the tip gone up too?

    There may be excellent reasons why I just don’t know what they are.

  43. Jon Doe says:

    Seems to me that tips are just a very subtle form of extortion these days. “Give me some extra money or I’ll give you a dirty look, or maybe I’ll spit in your food next time.”

  44. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of what the management may say, you never HAVE to leave a tip. If it’s on the bill & you want it removed, they must remove it ~ it’s gratuity.
    Servers (in California) are taxed on 12% of sales per table regardless of what the actual tip was. The owners force the servers to claim this much or they will take away their future shifts. (This by the #1 restaurant in the country!)
    In general, large parties are poor tippers. Many times one person thinks someone else in the party took care of the tip, and so do others.
    Large parties can take up all of your shift, or most of it. 1 complaint from the party will easily get the server a “write-up” regardless of who dropped the ball (cook, buser, etc.)
    I have NEVER heard of companies that don’t pay servers minimum wage, perhaps that is legal in other states, I don’t know. That’s a horrible policy if it’s so.

  45. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Why is it still called a tip/gratuity if it’s added to the bill automatically? Shouldn’t it be called a Large Party Fee?

  46. BrandiLagnarok says:

    Happened to me and a friend a couple of weeks ago. Little tapas place in Sheridan Square. Couple of appetizers and a couple of glasses of wine before something else. 18% added.

    DISCLOSED as such on the bill. Here’s the amazing part: after the auto-tip, there was a line on the credit card slip that said, I kid you not, “additional tip”.

    Jeff Yablon
    Virtual VIP

  47. SugarMag says:

    Wow. Very interesting.

    18% was added to an Appleby’s bill in Manhattan. Not 15…but 18%. I was pissed. This was for two people – I didnt appreciate Appleby’s telling me how much to tip. There was no mention of their “policy” anywhere – just appeared on the bill after bad service and bad food by a waiter that was mostly non-existant until he was done with us.

    As far as the Appleby’s “shudder” – we got in at midnight walked for a bit while really hungry but found nothing opened except Appleby’s and were so desperate, we actually ate there. Yes, I’m embarrassed.