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Mar 14, 2009 04:53 AM

Question for Waiters

I have never beena waiter, but I have noticed more and more that menus state that gratuity is included for parties over six. I seem to remember when this policy was for parties of eight or more, but now it's for six.

Here's my question. Do waiters like this? Do they usually get stiffed in these siuations?

Here's why I ask. I went out and there were six of us (3 couples). The bill came to $292. Each couple threw in $120 and handed the waiter $360. He was a standup guy and pointed out that the tip was included. So we were ready to give the guy 23% (and this bill was drink heavy). We ended up giving him what the bill stated which was exactly 20%. The bill before tip would have been $245, and we definitely would have split it three ways and threw in $100 a couple. Sounds like nothing, but it cost him $8. If that 3% happened on every bill, he'd be out a few hundred dollars a week.

What is a waiters point of view?

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  1. Yes, in my experience the more people at the table, the more likely you are to get almost nothing for a tip, that's why this has been instituted so many places. Especially when you get a group of 8 or 10 and they all want separate checks, there are always a few couples who don't tip at all - people miscalculate or it's more than they expected or they don't chip in for the appetizers that the table shared so the person who pays for them doesn't want to tip or what have you.

    I once waited on a party of 30 people by myself in a lunch shift, it was a kids' soccer team and their parents. They insisted each child have their own check and the 2 other people who were supposed to help me with the party never showed up so I had to do it all myself from start to finish, it was not fun to say the least and they left a HORRIBLE mess at all the kids' tables.

    Not only didn't they leave a tip, but instead left those religious cards explaining why Jesus loves me and thus why they don't tip, but they didn't even leave quite enough to cover all the checks, which I had to make up out of my own pocket. The party took up my entire lunch shift and my station was closed before they had even left, so not only did i not make one dime that day, I ended up paying a couple of bucks out of pocket too. There are dozens of stories people have like this, which is why it's been instituted.

    You are always free to leave OVER the mandatory gratuity if you think it's deserved, I don't know why you felt slighted and took away the server's extra money you would have otherwise given them just because their restaurant has a policy in place to prevent the waiters from getting shafted.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      oh-that is a horrific story! takes me back to the days when I was a server and used to get stuck with the "ladies that lunch" tables.....ugh :-(

      1. re: rockandroller1

        I've gotten those cards before - more insulting even than nothing. In the places I've worked the "automatic" gratuity for parties of X isn't actually automatic, it's at the waiter's discretion. As a server you look at the group and decide whether to apply it or not, knowing that if you do apply the automatic charge you are unlikely to get anything on top, even if that customer is usually a big tipper. But if you don't apply the charge, you risk getting less.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          I was estimating the amounts, but what had happened was someone took money from two couples and put it on their CC. They then gave the exact amount of what three couples would have split and bought the next round at the bar.

          Oh and I've been in that situation from the kids team point of view. I was 19 and took my little league team out for pizza. It was (I thought) assumed that the parents would come and chip in. I had twelve 11-12 year olds and the check came to somewhere around $100. I ended up having to pay for the entire meal myself, plus tip, which of course, even at the ripe old age of 19, I gave the servers about $40 on the $100 bill.

        2. I have the distinct feeling that you and your friends may be more of the exception that proves the rule (or reason) of why many restaurants impose this rule. Also, from the waiters point of view the chance of working very hard for a much longer period of time on a large party, which takes him away from his typical evening of two and four tops, and then getting screwed at the end of the night makes the downside of missing out on your $8 pretty slight.

          And, just as an aside, didn't you all feel like throwing in an extra $10 for your waiters honesty in the face of a scoring a possible double tip?

          1 Reply
          1. Great subject but I'm speaking from a customer perspective - Hubby and I always give more when it's warranted, even if it's on the bill (some areas, even with two people - it's included) - we are just careful to know what it is and whether we should leave more. Miami area is many times included to reduce prejudice. Our trip to Bahamas was included most of the time too.

            1. As a customer, a waitress, as a co owner of a restaurant. I am in favor of the tip included with larger parties. However, when I served I found that most people added extra by leaving it on the table. Also I waited many times and got basically stiffed with large parties, so the tip included outweighs the tip not being included for these large parties. Anyone who has been in the restaurant business for the most part will usually over tip anyways. It was honest of the server to mention it however.

              1. while I undestand that with some(myself included), the Autograt is actually below what they would have tipped, its not the norm. The restaurant and servers have taken the trade off that they would rather insure atleast a baseline type from the 90% that would shaft them, and limit their tip from the 10% that would have tipped more.

                My Peeve about this issue is on the rare occasion that the service is so bad that I get offended by having to tip the server the Autograt. It ends up being just one more negative towards the restaurant!

                10 Replies
                1. re: nkeane

                  Understand your point ... Question, ever been a server and waited on large parties, not the nice ones but the many that under tip or don't tip at all. I'm not being sarcastic, but once you have waited on large parties and got stiffed so many times, I am understanding of the 15%.

                  Maybe because where I have worked as a server is an area that isn't a big city and most would barely give 10 not even 15. Now where I live, lots of tourists and retirees so 15 is asking a lot. Where when I worked in my restaurant is was different. I think the make up and demographics of who the restaurant caters too and serves also has a part in that. I know that most people I know in the business prefer the add on gratuity for the larger parties.

                  When I was a server, they always gave large parties to me cuz no one else would take them. I always got compliments on their way out. The best server, she was great etc. Next time we will ask for Kim, etc. I still barely got 15 if that.

                  Just my thought, please don't take it personally

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    No waiting, but I have(and contemplating a return) bartended. Yes I fully understand and relate to why its(autograt) done. Like I said, its the 90/10 rule.........

                    from my experience, larger groups foster a sense of anonimity, and thus, people feel like they can "cheap out on this one" and no one will know who the deadbeat is!

                    1. re: nkeane

                      I think people often don't mean to cheap out. When they get their own bill, they know they owe bill amount + tip. The restaurant does the math for them! When they are on a group bill, they do their own math, forgetting perhaps the tax or one pint of beer or a shared app. They come to a total that seems reasonable to them, and if the table is short, it must be someone else who is being cheap! It's still somewhat self-serving, and annoying, but not totally evil IMO.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        Yep, I remember "customer math" - "Oh, my share is $28.50 - 10% is $2 - here's $30". Do that six times around a table of ten, and even if the other four are generous, you still end up with a lousy total, and one table of ten is much more difficult to take care of than two 4's and a deuce. I'm all for service charges on big tables, even though I stopped waiting years ago, and I don't mind paying them now so long as I get decent service. If I don't, you can be sure I complain to the manager.

                        1. re: KevinB

                          I had to laugh, though there is a real down-side to the bit. I have been the one doing the gathering of all payments, and have encountered similar, but I loved the way that you stated it. That's when I just put in the extra to make up for that/those diner(s) and then add an appropriate gratuity, regardless of the "contributions," or their "logic" behind their amount.

                          Thanks for the chuckle. Glad that I had already swallowed my wine!


                  2. re: nkeane

                    I have had a couple of occasions where the service didn't even warrant the basic included gratuity; if you complain, they will remove it.

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      I have too, and I would too complain. Absolutely. As a restaurant co owner I refuse to let my wait staff not be on top of things. We have "not training" but get togethers, very informal every Monday am. Just to go over specials for the week, special wines, and everyone hired gets trained by the owner, not other staff. They should be knowledgable but if they don't know just admit go and ask and then go right back to the table. If busy, just admit and ask anyone who has a minute to help you even the manager. I wouldn't of minded. It is all about comforting the table. Even as a bartended I took many orders over personally to a table when the server was busy. I didn't mind, it helped them out. Too many places don't allow that. Everyone has a job and they don't work together. My place was never run like that.

                    2. re: nkeane

                      Nkeane....that was a subjext for another day. I definitely find that when there is an automatic tip, in general, the service is less than stellar.

                      1. re: jhopp217

                        Most of those in my restaurant and those I still know who work in catering and local restaurants will differ. They actually work harder to impress hoping they can get more. It usually works.

                        Where are you from

                      2. re: nkeane

                        I am less a fan of the automatic gratuity, but then I tend to tip generously.

                        Considering your scenario in the last paragraph, that is where I usually write a letter to the management to complain about the service and also the practice.

                        Unfortunately, there are some servers, who will slack, because they know they will get 20%, or whatever, gratuity. Fortunately, not many, but some.

                        I've been the guy, who picks up the total tab, and receives the cash from the other diners. Some times, they do not calculate a tip, though one is mentioned. I always just pick up the full bill, with appropriate gratuity, and often the "miscalculation" of the other diners. This stuff just happens, and someone needs to buck-up for the server. When the calculators and copies of the menu come out, I usually know that I will pay my bill, my tip and then a good deal of "underage." Then, I seldom dine with these folk again.