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Adding gratuity to your bill


Just want some input from fellow CHs. I've noticed many restuarants are now adding gratuity to our bill these day. Personally I don't believe it's fair. Especially if it doesn't state their "policy" on their menu, website or in the restaurant. I can understand if it's a huge group and they were told at the time of booking, however, these days even if you have a party of more than 4, it's added to your bill. Seriously, why should I have to pay it if the service and food is crappy. Does anyone know if it's mandatory to pay? I've tried contacting the consumer information website by the Government of Canada but it doesn't have any information. They directed me to their website which doesn't help. Just want to see what your feedback is and the normal practice in your province.

Thanks for your help!

  1. I was on the Kelowna website yesterday, looking for some tourist information (going up there next week) and found this blog on their website:

    "Gratuities & Tipping

    Providing a tip or gratuity for service has become a standard practice in Canada. The amount is not calculated on your bill, so it is suggested that you add 10% - 15% to the amount before taxes. However, the amount should vary and be dependant upon the quality of service you received"

    Here's the Link:


    1. My policies are what matter to me.

      1. Groups in excess of a certain number, where the number and gratuity % are stated on a menu, the servers forehead, wherever, get paid. If the service is crappy, then I complain like Hell and never go again, and spread the word unless something is done to soothe me.

      2. If nothing is stated, then I pay what I want for a gratuity. Don't get bullied, you can't be arrested. If you get hassled, explain yourself, and, once again expect to be soothed, or never go again and spread the word.

      3. Simply don't go to places that add a gratuity no matter what the number of patrons. This practise is nothing other than getting a patron to subsidize low wages and possibly accept compromised food and service quality.

      Ignorant restauranteurs need to be put out of business. (as long as it is the restauranteur who is ignorant and not the patron)

      1. IF the practice is stated on the menu, I don't see any issues. The vast majority of the time I have ever seen this, a 15% tip is assumed, which is the minimum standard tip for reasonably good service according to practices that most people in N. American society currently accept.

        The fact is that large tables (say 6 or more) do have an added element of complexity in timing all the food to come out at once and providing good service. Furthermore, larger groups may have the tendency for everybody to "throw in some money" towards the bill, which can result in little to no tip when all the dust settles.

        1. Who and where are they doing this?...I've seen this for groups of 8 or more, pretty standard.

          1 Reply
          1. I don't think it is even legal. I usually tip what I feel like.

            Were the restaurants anywhere close to the tourist areas? I was at Rosie's at the Rosedale Hotel. At the bottom of the bill, they printed "guides" for gratuities, at 15%, 18% and 20% :) I asked the server about it and she said a lot of tourists do not tip (not in their custom to). It is a subtle way of saying "Please tip".

            1. I feel it is an insulting practice to add a service charge or automatic gratuity to your bill. It feels like they are saying that they think the majority of us are cheap. You can't do much if the restaurant has that charge, but it if you get awful service demand to speak to the manager before paying and let them know that you don't feel your server deserves that tip.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bryn

                Its exactly what they're saying (the majority of people are cheap) and they're generally right. Folks on Chowhound aren't a good cross section of society, by and large. People here, almost by definition (literally), value food more than others and value good restaurant experiences more than others. We're willing to pay more when appropriate (sometimes paying more for great chow isn't necessary) and tip more when appropriate (more often than paying more for the food itself). Many people are not. Large groups compound most of the risk involved in gratuities for the restaurant and staff. The staff will spend longer on the table, the table will likely be there longer (the larger the group the longer they normally take for a meal) meaning less change to turn the table and the fewer additional tables a server can handle. The bills for those larger tables are also, of course, larger and many people who may not be "cheap" will still get wide eyes when that large number appears at the bottom of their check. They may well decide to skimp on the tip as a way to keep the grand total for their night down. Then that server who spent most of the shift on one table really gets hammered for the night. Setting an included gratuity for parties 6 or more is fairly regular here in Charlottesville, VA and was pretty normal in San Francisco, CA when we lived there for the past 3 years.

                So long as its on the menu as a policy and the % is within reason (I've seen 15% to 18% and I have no problem with that range) I'm fine with it. If its higher, I may well choose to take my group elsewhere and if the service isn't at least good, I have no problem saying something to the manager (though I'm also the sort to go find the manager as soon as I get to the point in the meal where I think its going to be necessary to say something).

              2. If the service experience added to or enhanced the dining experience, then by all means I have no problems giving them a tip in the 15-20% range...possibly more on some occasions. If service is terrible, I have no qualms with leaving nothing.

                I've heard that Montreal is the absolute WORST place for dining & dealing with gratuities. A friend of mine once told me that they went to a decent restaurant, and the waitress berated them when they paid and basically tried to tell them that it was illegal to not tip at least 20%....lol

                1 Reply
                1. re: fmanning

                  fmanning, it's unfortunate your friend had a bad experience in Montreal but don't judge a whole city based on that, it's really not true.

                2. Definately not, unless the policy is stated on the menu, and if they add it, I ask to have it removed.

                  1. My take: If it's not on the menu it's not mandatory to pay. If it is, but is listed as a "gratuity", it's not mandatory. If it listed as a "service charge, it is mandatory.

                    What really burns my hide is when the server doesn't tell you, which -- especially with a big party - winds up with some people tipping on the amount *with the "service charge"!

                    I was a server for many years, and believe me, I completely understand why it's added for larger parties. I simply would point it out to whomever I gave the check. I was never told not to do this, although I imagine some places do tell the servers not to say anything. I found that most of the customers seemed grateful. Either that or it was my charming personality...

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Richard 16

                      Wow, I'm surprised reading some of these comments. I worked in a tourist bar on the hollywood for many years. I would have to say that 70% of the tourists don't tip. How would you feel if you weren't being paid for your service? I think that restaurants should support their staff and apply a 15% gratuity on all bills. That will save you the trouble of having to add it up. You could leave additional if you like, but not required. And to answer your questions, most people don't tip right in America. $1.00 on two beers is not acceptable. I'm not insulted at all when I walk into an SBE establishment and they add 18% gratuity, or Disneyland (who autimatically adds 18% also). Some consumers can be selfish. It makes me sick that you expect someone to wait on you hand and foot and smile every step of the way and you can hand them some change out of your purse. It's not the service industry's fault that they are paid minimum wage or less. Serving, bartending, barbacking, busboys, they are all jobs. It should not be looked down on. You might be the exception. You might be the one person that always tips nicely and good for you. That is something to be proud of. You care about the well being of others. Adding a gratuity is not to insult you, it is to save servers from abusive consumers that care about noone but themselves. And managers and owners that don't care about their staff. I can't wait for that Government law to pass. Come on America! Love your servers! They work hard!

                      1. re: toddles

                        Why not do as the French do? Eliminate tips in restaurants.

                        Service compris is now standard in all French restaurants up to & including 3 stars. If you leave anything its a bit of small change.

                        The trick is to pay the staff a decent wage to begin with. Why should restaurateurs foist off the majority of their wage bill onto their customers? Just add 15% to the prices, plainly say so and leave any tipping strictly up to the customer?

                        Tipping used to be common in France, but was stopped long ago. The change just might have had something to with unreported earnings. I wonder how much income tax is avoided in tipping countries?

                        1. re: yankinparisot

                          I'm with you.

                          I think the system in France & Belgium is by far the best and wish it'd spread further in Europe - I have the view that it leads to better service. That said, I'm reasonably content in the UK, when a 10% service charge is simply added to the bill

                          1. re: yankinparisot

                            America will never accept these radical communist ideas. Legislating fair wages?! Never!! Live Free or Die!

                            N.B. My tongue is 3/4 in my cheek.

                          2. re: toddles

                            It's "not the service industry's fault that they are paid minimum wage or less"?

                            Whose fault is it, then?

                        2. I keep an eye out, as we dine in the UK often, and "service charges" are common there. If there is not a full itemization, I will ask. Same for the US and most of the rest of the world.

                          With the fewest of instances, I will always tip more than an applied gratuity. When one is added, with no notice, such as "parties of 6+.... " I will often just let it go with the added SC, unless the service was stellar. In my case, more restauranteurs shoot themselves, and their staff in the foot, but I assume that it's because more people stiff the severs, and that I am an exception.


                          1. When I had a "real" job (worked as a software engineer) and therefore a real salary, I tipped well. But the problem I had was that servers invariably ignored me because I was a single female - and I felt NO compunction whatsoever about going to a restaurant by myself. I really do not understand women who won't go out and get the meal they want simply because they don't have a man to sit across the table from them.

                            Anyway. When that happened, I tipped poorly. When I got good service, I tipped well.

                            One night I was in one of my favorite watering holes and I heard two waitresses standing by the kitchen doors talking. The first one said, "Oh no, it's HER again! I don't like waiting on HER!" The second one said, "REALLY? Well I'll be HAPPY to take her."

                            They were talking about me. One of them had consistently given me crappy service with a sullen attitude, treating me like I was wasting her time, the other had consistently given me excellent cheerful service. And I had tipped accordingly. I'm sure you can guess which was which.

                            1. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.