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Oct 13, 2011 09:15 PM

18% gratuity charge for five or more.

I don't have a problem with this. But I really do if the service is bad. I usally tip 23-25 % or more. With the gratuity charge I feel like it's taking away from my privlege to tip. So the tip will often end up around 20% just because of this. The service I have had at multiple restaurant's with groups has always been good and have tipped very well ,then why the charge ? I can figure why. But does this hurt your tip's sometimes ?

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  1. I've waited on very large parties at places where there was no group minimum and have come away with maybe 5% tip overall. Some people don't tip at all, some people are very poor tippers, some average, and some good, but it seems in a big party that servers were often coming away with less than they deserved, so many restaurants started to impose a mandatory service charge to ensure they'd at least get SOMETHING worthwhile.

    1. There's a significant risk in groups that they will be going Dutch, as it were, and that individuals in the group will underestimate their portion and also act as free-riders, and that the individual who takes responsibility for counting up might be laboring under a culturally enforced norm of Niceness that prevents him or her from telling people they've not ponied up enough.

      This is in my many years of experience of dining in large groups much more likely than getting service that is so bad that it should be tipped below norm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl S

        As a former server and as a large group dinner, I absolutely agree with Karl S's post.

        In our own group, we have someone who will absolutely free load if not watched carefully. When we go out as a group, payment duty is given to either me or another friend.

      2. Last year l had to organize a dinner in a rural town in Roumania. It was a travel group of generally older people from rural Texas, not that Texas was at fault. The meal was fixed except for beverage. l, stupidly, took the responsibility to take all the money and pay the bill. The bill was @ $ 300 for 20 people, how much less expensive could you get,what l received totally was @ 220. l wound up making up the rest, as people said, l have no drink, l did not eat the soup, etc. Heartily agree with the 18% fixed gratuity as wait staff often does get nothing, the restaurant gets lucky if the whole bill is paid before tip. Also l no longer organize dinners for groups.

        1. I have a problem with "added gratuity" of any kind if the service is bad. Nothing is worse than bad service because the wait staff knows they are getting 18% regardless - hello SouthBeach are you listening.

          That said, I have worked (long time ago) in the restaurant world and I know that not only do large parties often go dutch as already stated - but even when not going dutch often times people just look at the tip amount on a large check and feel like "that is a lot of money for tip, I think $20 seems right for one table (even if the tip should have been $120 @ 20%) or they start doing the whole - "yeah but 40% of the bill are drinks so we'll just tip that at 5%" and things like that they most people just don't do on smaller tables.

          So I get it for large parties and I think most servers would rather take the risk of getting a slightly smaller tip from a "normal tipper" (18% rather than say 20%) than risk a super small tip from a bad table (10% rather than the 18%).

          4 Replies
          1. re: thimes

            My niece is a server in a family restaurant and gets stuck in the "corral" where they put the large groups. The restaurant doesn't have an auto-grat policy and she often gets stiffed on the tip (either nothing or very little). She keeps asking to be moved to another section, but the mgmt feels she's too good at dealing with large groups (she's looking for another job). Sucks to be good at your job, huh.

            1. re: thimes

              Separate checks are so lovely. If that's not possible, I have no problem having 18% tacked on for a large party. The server has almost always earned it in spades.

              There's nothing like being the person stuck with collecting and counting the money for a large party, to bring you to a quick assessment of the true characters of those in the party. The free loaders, the bad tippers, the get out of dodgers, etc.

              1. re: 512window

                I used to be that person, for few years. Once, I was being feted for my birthday by the group (20-30 people involved) and I discovered that my housemate, who took over my usual duties, had to fork over an additional $80+ as a consequence of the free-riders. This was not a group of kids; people ranging from mid-20s to mid-50s in age. I was mortified. Usually, I'd be out about $20-25, but this dinner saw a lot of people skip out early, paying what they thought before they saw the bill.

                What I've learned is that the Rule of Being Nice should be suspended in this situation; people who are collecting the money should have full warrant to discuss the adequacy of contributions with all paying guest. Any guest who finds that to be a problem should be permanently disinvited for the remainder of the future.

                1. re: Karl S

                  We'll often gather at a pub a few times a year. By the end of the evening 20+ people have passed through. Some who leave early have the social grace to have their stuff moved to a separate bill but as someone who usually shows up and leaves late I have been stuck many times. Three beers and a burger has cost me $70 so the server would get a proper tip. It is more often three or four of us left figuring out the bill and making sure the workers are taken care of. Not that all my friends are cheap. We've just as often end up giving back money from the pile in the middle even after a 25-30% tip. Generally, I'm OK with the gratuity added on as long as it's made clear that it's there ( no double tipping) and there's an extra line if we want to leave more.

            2. I've got no problem with it, for all the reasons stated thus far. If service was really an issue, I'd speak with a manager about it--I'm pretty sure they can't legally bind you to paying 18%--, but I've never had that happen.