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Joe Beef - Gift Certificate

I was fortunate enough to receive a wonderful gift over Christmas - the latest Joe Beef cookbook and a $200 Gift Certificate to the restaurant. But the gift cert has some hand written text on it that strikes me as very odd..."non-refundable, tax and gratuities not included".
Well the gift giver called back Joe Beef for an explanation on 'tax and gratuities not included'. She was told that is their policy - you must pay by other means to cover these items!? Irregardless of the amount of the certificate ($600-$800?) you will be asked to pay separately for tax and tip.

I have purchased restaurant gift certificates before and never seen that sort of policy. I can't understand why they would do this.

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  1. Most restaurant gift certificates I've seen do have this policy and most restaurants don't actually enforce it, except perhaps for the gratuity.

    1. I don't know if this clarifies or muddies things, but Revenu Quebec says:

      "The sale of gift cards and gift certificates is not taxable. However, the GST and QST apply to the total price of the goods or services purchased using a gift card or gift certificate, as in a cash purchase. The gift card or gift certificate thus covers all or part of the amount paid for the item. "


      2 Replies
      1. re: kpzoo

        kpzoo - That's interesting. Revenue Quebec clearly states that the gift card can cover the tax.

        1. re: JedZ

          It CAN cover the tax, but Revenue Quebec can't regulate a restaurant's hairbrained policy of NOT covering it.
          I never heard of this before.

      2. I could be wrong, but if the gift certificate is deemed to be inclusive of tax, then the taxes must be declared and remitted immediately upon sale. Whereas if the certificate is net of tax, then taxes are remitted only when and if the certificate is redeemed.

        3 Replies
        1. re: eat2much

          I think you're right eat2much...and that's what Rev Quebec is saying.

          1. re: eat2much

            Just to be clear, are you saying if the gift certificate is inclusive of taxes, Joe Beef would have to declare a sale of $176.21 and remit 13.5% ($23.79)? (or worse, declare a sale of $200 and be on the hook for $27?)

            And on the other hand, the certificate is net of taxes. So tax only has to be remitted when the customer redeems the certificate? In this scenario, whats the problem with the certificate being able to cover the tax. Example, pre-tax total came to $176.21. Tax comes to $23.79 for a total of $200. Why can't the customer hand over the $200 certificate and call it even (and leave a $40 tip in cash).
            Could it be a wording thing? Example: your pre-tax total is $176.21. Redeem the gift certificate, get $23.79 in change, then pay the tax in "cash"?
            Just curious...

            1. re: porker

              I think it's just a cash grab. Nobody's going to go there twice with one certificate, so not including taxes and service guarantees that the client will spend more on food or, even better, on booze.

          2. If it includes the taxes then the taxes are due and payable at date of sale. In an ideal world if the meal is only $150 or so then the balance should be used towards taxes and tip. I don't see it as being a cash grab but rather a way to keep as much of the money tax and interest free for as long as possible. Nothing wrong with that....

            3 Replies
            1. re: eat2much

              eat2much, I'm still not clear...
              "if the meal is only $150 or so then the balance should be used towards taxes and tip"
              but the OP says
              "you will be asked to pay separately for tax and tip"
              In other words, you CANNOT USE the certificate towards taxes or tip.

              So I'm wondering for argument's sake, if the pre-tax amount is less than $200, do you kiss the difference goodbye and have to shell out the tax and tip out of pocket?
              Sounds wonky.

              1. re: porker

                porker - Joe Beef will not give any of that $200 back in cash. Nor will they give me a gift certificate for a smaller amount if my meal does not total => $200. That I know for certain. I need to spend => $200 (not including tax/tip) to use the full amount on the gift certificate.
                That probably won't be too difficult at Joe Beef - a bottle of wine alone will be $75.

                The issue is also about the certificate "gift giver" - that person says to you "here is a certificate for a wonderful meal, but YOU have to shell out for you tax and tip". In my case the gift giver apologetically added some cash to the gift. That was the only way she could truly pay for a meal at Joe Beef.

                Joe Beef's policy is tacky, selfish and classless.

                1. re: JedZ

                  You're right, topping out at JB will easily be > $200, so our discussion is somewhat acedemic.
                  But I share your frustration. A total less than $200 is a cash grab on their part.
                  And yeah, I can understand how the giver would feel, sheepishly furnishing cash to make up for the policy.
                  I think there was a time when JB was a relatively small business happy with selling oysters. They would have scoffed at such a policy then. I feel they became more corporate (selling out to the man) as their celebrity grew and forgetting (or changing) their initial mission, created such policies.
                  Just my opinion.

            2. Whatever or however hairbrained the policy at Joe Beef is, you might want to consider using it before the end of the year. On January 1 the QST goes up 1%, and while in the grand scheme of things $2 ain't gonna change much, you're still gonna get more bang for your buck this week than you will next.

              1. Before everyone piles on in a Joe Beef sellout hatefest I should point out that almost every major coupon deal (Groupon, Living Social, TeanBuy, etc.) is also net of tax and gratuities. In that a decent meal for two with booze will easily exceed the $200 gift the question is indeed moot. At the end of the day it is less an issue of fairness in restaurant policy but rather whether one should give a gift that obligates the recipient to lay out cash.

                4 Replies
                1. re: eat2much

                  "Before everyone piles on in a Joe Beef sellout hatefest I should point out that almost every major coupon deal (Groupon, Living Social, TeanBuy, etc.) is also net of tax and gratuities."

                  Agreed, but this is not a coupon it's a gift certificate. Gift certificates and gift cards are usually as good as cash at a particular place of business and should cover any part of the bill.

                  What the Joe Beef guys are doing is just trying to get more money out of their costumers.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    Groupon, etc. all offer gift coupons. This is not the proper forum, but if you look into the small print of gift cards from many major retailers you might be shocked to find that many of them expire after a certain period of time and your money disappears into thin air.

                    All I am saying is that JB has the right to dictate the terms of their gift certificates and the public has the right to not buy them.

                    1. re: eat2much

                      "you might be shocked to find that many of them expire after a certain period of time and your money disappears into thin air."

                      That's actually against the law in Quebec.


                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        Yes, you are right. It's illegal to have expiry dates.

                2. if you read the cookbook that accompanied the gift certificate, you would have a better grasp on the fact that the guys at joe beef can do whatever the hell they want :)

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Soupkitten - your comment about 'read the cookbook'...are you referring to the way McMillan spoke to David Chang (he said "Who the f*ck are you")?

                    Or are you referring to Meredith Erikson's mention that management let her tell customers "Maybe this restaurant's not for you"? Not exactly a warm welcome. Ya...I read the cookbook. I'll say it again - no class.

                    And snackhappy is right - this is not the same as a Groupon coupon...the JB gift cert policy deviates from other high-end restaurants.

                    Incidentally, this IS the proper forum to debate a gift certificate policy for a restaurant that The Montreal Gazette's gourmet food critic said was one of the best of 2011. And I will accept any reasonable explanation for this policy - so far I haven't heard one.

                    But let's kill this debate - Joe Beef CAN do what ever they want...but that cavalier attitude wears thin quickly in a town like Montreal.

                    1. re: JedZ

                      if you have a problem with the establishment, or the way the owners choose to run their business, you could always decline the gift. i don't really see the problem or get why people would want to "debate a gift certificate policy" or criticize a perceived attitude. the restaurant does not choose to pay taxes on goods/service until the goods/service is actually provided. . . big deal, it's bookkeeping.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        As I'm reading your post, the television is on Anthony Bourdain's new show on the Travel Channel, The Layover and they feature this restaurant and the two owners.....very irreverent pair indeed... in a mischievous way, not malicious. Interesting place.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          yeah. those guys aren't going to be very upset at the thought of their house policies turning some non-customers off. they are truly independent-thinking restaurateurs, and all of their places are full all of the time, because they make great food. there are lots worse problems than the thought of eating a $200-subsidised meal at joe beef... imo the op is making mountains out of molehills. time to just relax and enjoy a new experience with good humor and congeniality.

                          1. re: soupkitten


                            if not mistaken, when people, i.e., diners pay the check with a gift certificate and also assume they can leave the gratuity.....in this case say the bill is 150 and they indicate to keep the remaining 50....don't the in house staff usually trade off the remaining 50 on another check paid with cash when they turn in the receipts?

                            1. re: fourunder

                              i think this is mostly true, but it can vary between establishments. sometimes the pos system won't let a server use 1 gc on multiple checks. the server would get hosed in that instance, or would have to do shady accounting by applying the gc to another meal w a higher final tab... joe beef may be trying to avoid this. the op makes it clear (above in response to Porker) that joe beef doesn't give cash back (nor should they) on a gc nor give another gc to a customer as "change" if the entire gc amount is not used up. perhaps joe beef has gratuities separate from gc balances in order to more accurately record and report server tip income for tax purposes. they may just prefer to streamline their bookeeping or protect themselves from audits. maybe the owners frequently give out gcs to friends or business contacts, and just want to 1) make sure their staff get the tips from the free-meal folks 2) not have those tips coming out of the house take, in addition to the food-cost & overhead from the free meal. who knows?

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                Thanks for the details and insight. Happy New Year to you and yours.

                            2. re: soupkitten

                              I didn't get the impression that the OP was making mountains out of molehills.
                              JedZ's 1st line is "I was fortunate enough to receive a wonderful gift over Christmas - the latest Joe Beef cookbook and a $200 Gift Certificate to the restaurant" which doesn't sound uptight, contrary to a new experience, bad humor, or uncongenial