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Dec 14, 2007 05:02 AM

Dined alone. Tip added to bill!

I was in Miami last weekend. I stopped at a nice "upscaley" restaurant a short distance from my hotel for dinner. When the bill arrived they had already added an 18% gratuity, with a suggestion to add. I consider myself an above average tipper. I enjoy fine dining and dining alone when I'm out of town or when my wife is out. I thought this was irritating and presumptuous. I've seen gratuities added for large parties, but never this.

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  1. There are many threads on this forum which cover this topic. (Try searching "automatic gratuity" or "autograt").

    Bottom line for me: Unless a "service charge" (i.e. not a "tip") is disclosed verbally and/or on menu prior to dining you are not obligated to pay it. You may "tip" the amount you want by altering the credit card slip or by paying cash.

    1. South Beach is notorious for adding gratuity everywhere. I can only think of a couple of places in South Beach were it wasn't added.

      It started because their international clientele wasn't tipping properly so in order to keep help, most establishments added the automatic gratuity.

      7 Replies
      1. re: BlueHerons

        Too bad so sad, as far as people not tipping properly. That's no excuse for this tactic unless it's posted before ordering.
        This practice is pure fraud unless the menu states the compulsory tip.
        Part of the problem with scams like this is that consumers are too meek to speak up and complain.

        1. re: Leonardo

          Similar to the 'we're adding 18% if we seat you after 11:00pm' idea.

          IF I miss the verbiage that alerted me to either, I would complain.

          IF I see the verbiage that alert me to either, I would walk out.

          In both cases, I would never go back.

          I wonder, what patrons do restaurants who do this hope to attract?

          1. re: Leonardo

            Well, to be fair to the international clientele, tipping is neither a custom or expected in a lot of countries. In fact, some people will be offended in some countries.

            That being said, shame on tourists who expect people from the U.S. to be up to speed on their customs and get all discombobulated when you don't follow them, then come here and don't follow some of our customs...namely, TIPPING

            1. re: Cat Chow

              It's a common belief among servers that tourists and foreign clientele know that tipping is expected, but "pretend" that they aren't familiar with this whole tipping concept. It's hard to believe that tourists find out where all the hot spots are and where the good places to eat, shop, and hang out are... but never came across the tipping practices.

              I agree with you, regardless. It's your job as a tourist to familiarize yourself with the customs of the place you're visiting. I'd never go somewhere new without first hitting up the internet or some guide books.

              1. re: Cat Chow

                Hey, Cat Chow, we Europeans love it when you Americans are not up to speed on our tipping customs.

                We pay a serving staff a proper wage; add our 12.5% service charge to the bill and then, when you don't know our customs, you go and add a further 18% tip. Please keep coming to European tourist hotspots - our servers need you for the luxuries in their lives.

                1. re: Brit on a Trip

                  Oh Brit. Our pleasure and given the current exchange rate the extra tip at 18% is the equivilent of >30% a few years ago. For a New Year's Resolution all of us are asking that the term "The Ugly American" be changed to the Glorious Tippers.

                  Probably back in the UK for some lamb next week. :-))

                  Happy New Year

                  1. re: jfood

                    And a happy new year to you, my NJ friend.

                    Have a good trip - I'll look out for your report on the UK board (I may have changed my username by then - but I'll still be banging the drum for our regional produce.)


          2. The bigger question is - Are you OK with the tip?

            If you enjoyed the meal and the service and the tip is resonable, pay it and move on?
            If you want to leave more, then do it?
            If you want to leave less because of something tht occured, speak with the MOD.

            But if you were happy with everything and the tip is in line with what you would have left, then smile, pay, and move on. Life's to short to worry about non-events.

            And when you return because you enjoyed it, then there are no surprises. Should it be on the menu, sure it should have but to complain about seems like you are looking for a gotcha. You seem to be above that nonsense.

            8 Replies
            1. re: jfood


              i think the presumption -> irritation reaction is reasonable. we often react to
              "what might have been" even when there isnt "material damage" ... somebody
              runs a stop sign in front of you etc.

              and in this case i think the explanation about the internationals is pretty
              reasonable. i think that would cause me to ex post reconsider.

              1. re: psb

                Hence jfood's use of the word "surprises" in the last paragraph that assumes the first would have been a surprise.

                Jfood is tired of reading all the "presumptives" that are permeating these threads lately. He just wants to go out for a meal, enjoy the company and food, pay the bill plus tip and go home with Mrs jfood. Life is too short.

                1. re: jfood

                  Yes, life is too short. And restaurants that pull this sort of 'nonsense' should be dealt with accordingly.

                2. re: psb

                  Usually I agree with jfood, and he makes a good point. However, in this case I think I might resent the presumption that I would NOT tip (yes, I know about the Europeans' proclivity for not tipping and why).

                  1. re: Cheflambo

                    correct in resenting, no disagreement there. But can not get to presumption on the data provided since jfood was not present.

                    but how to handle the situation is the question.

                    If there is no upside to aguing other than feeling better, why? you would be in the same position 15 minutes earlier with no aggrevation by just paying and possibly mentioning in passing to the MOD of the way out. and you know better for next time.

                    Is it right not to make mention on the menu? nope. Are you going to change it? nope. and jfood would ask if it was on the menu and just missed (it happens) or the MOD decided to auto-grat that night. Don;t know from this chair.

                    jfood had this exact conversation with mrs jfood about a month ago when leaving a resto. Bill was received, auto-grat of 18% included and he paid. On the way out he mentioned to the MOD that he should consider placing something on the menu so as not to put his servers in an uncomfortable position. MOD thanked jfood. Mrs jfood asked what happened and jfood explained. A little smile on her lips (yes he is trainable). In the old days jfood would have made a scene, but no one was hurt (maybe some protocol violated), but no biggie and it cost jfood absolutely zippo, why increase the BP?

                    They enjoyed their meal, they paid what they would have, server was not at fault, so why should he take the hit, and the MOD was politely informed. Hindsight is 20-20 and jfood is proud of his mature handling of the situation.

                    1. re: jfood

                      I have had a laugh or two with my wife when this very, very rarely occurs because I usually say "We saved about 3% on the tip just now."

                      1. re: Servorg

                        funny, servorg!

                        autograt undisclosed to consumer before ordering? fuggedaboutit!

                3. re: jfood

                  I agree completely, jfood. More often than not, any automatic gratuity is, in fact, somewhat lower than what I'd have left if left to my devices/mathematics. My general reaction to automatic gratuities when I didn't expect them (ie, not a large party or a pre-ordered dinner or some such out of the ordinary dining situation) is to pay the amount they've included if I was happy with the service or, as you note, speak to the manager if I feel the service was substandard and unworthy of the automatic gratuity.

                4. Boo! That's not okay! That almost asks for a 36% tip because you may not have realized it was there...

                  1. I wouldn't have a problem with it unless the service is bad. South Beach does tend to get a much more European population than many other places in the states and in many states in Eurpoe gratuity is already factored in, and so I understand. I completely agree with Jfood. I normally tip 20% so I might add some if the service was very good. But I read all my bills there are so many errors. Here in Washington DC our food critic will often point out the number of mistakes he finds on bills, amazing. And I have caught a number of errors, as well. Very important to read. But if you were not happy and would to pay less I would either talk to a manager or scratch out their totals and write new ones in.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      It's not just the Europeans, but the Latinos coming in from Central/South America. In a lot of these countries, there is no tipping.

                      1. re: Cat Chow

                        True...but I have never traveled to a foreign country without reading a travel guide that explains the custom in said country.

                        1. re: sparkalina

                          that was my point earlier (if I understood you right). We as U.S. travelers are expected to KNOW everyone's customs when we travel and god forbid if you don't, but the folks coming to the U.S. from other lands don't seem to reciprocate...

                        2. re: Cat Chow

                          Cat Chow, are you kidding? We (in South America) tip more than you guys. Always.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Not when I was in Ecuador! Granted that was 12 years ago! I'm guilty of generalization, tho, Sam. that being said, don't they add it as "servicio" automatically vs. leaving a space for "propina"? That is what I recall from Colombia, although again, I could be wrong...last time I was there was 1994.

                            No tipping in Guatemala or Costa Rica...the exception would be places frequented by americans...then they expect it! But at a comedor? That would be something!

                            1. re: Cat Chow

                              I've been here since 1994, work all over Latin America (and elsewhere). I'm talking about more up scale restaurants (no Americans) where tipping takes place. Tips in most local/comun y corriente eateries almost don't exist.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Fair enough Sam, I respectfully defer to you ;) I have not lived continuously in Guatemala since '87, have not been south of Costa Rica since the mid-90's...and when I do travel outside of the U.S., I travel as an I do tend to tip as I would here in the U.S. unless it is quite obvious from either prior reading or just observing once in situ that tipping is not accepted/welcomed ;) Props!