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Room Service Tipping Question

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Seeing the tipping on delivery or take out thread made me think about an experience I had over this past weekend. We were away visiting my daughter in college and stayed in a Marriott Hotel. (I’m stating this because I’m not sure if this is a specific policy for this group of properties).

Saturday night we went out to dinner then back to our room to watch a movie, the mom and kids wanted to do a room service desert for enjoyment during the movie. We ordered, my desert consisted of 4 cordial’s (it was a long day then night don’t judge me), when the room service arrived I was calculating the proper the tip amount when I noticed a 20% service charge was already added into the room service total. On the receipt there was an additional line for “additional gratuity” listed as well.

It’s been awhile since I’ve ordered room service so is this something new? Also I was fairly surprised that the service charge was 20%, and not 15% or 18%, with the option of additional tip? Is this the new standard on room service?

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  1. As a chica that loves room service, this is standard.

    Did you see an additional 'Delivery charge' too?
    Usually, its about $3 to $5 per delivery..this is the one that pisses me off.
    That is why when ordering, I order off the kids menu and bring my own beer, wine, champagne, etc..

    Nothing like chicken tenders with fries(sometimes they will substitute tater tots), fruit and a sundae for about $6..

    2 Replies
    1. re: Beach Chick

      Agree with BeachChick, you are definitely paying for the convenience.

      20% does seem high for the auto-grat, but I guess Marriott is keeping up with the times. It also could be the location you were in is higher because it is either a big city or major tourist location.

      Also, the items on the room service menu are often a dollar or two more expensive than the same items on the menu in the hotel dining room. Ordering alcohol at a hotel is always exorbitant. However, when you've been traveling all day and you're exhausted and don't have a lot of other alternatives sometimes you have to do it.

      Having said that I will sometimes add a couple of dollars to the credit card folder if the service was friendly and prompt, and that includes when I call in the order and when it's delivered.

      1. re: Beach Chick

        Aloha BC,

        Most often, I see a "delivery charge," plus a "gratuity," but depending on all the factors of that service, I might add on something, in addition.

        Hunt

        PS - I have seen that many Hilton Inns have cut out any room service. Not sure how that is going for them?

      2. I do lot of room service dinners. Get off plane, find hotel, grab room service menu. Order burger (I know you wouldn't do that), fries, salad and two beers. I'm a creature of habit on the road. Always get that 18% service charge. As beach chick says, what's with the extra $5 in room dining charge? Its not like the burger is cheap to start with.

        1. Has anyone worked in room service management and know the mark up? The prices of the dishes are much higher than the same in the restaurant, there is the service charge (I usually see 18% and assume it goes to the person bringing the food) and then the room charge of up to $5. I don't begrudge them the profit since it's so convenient but do wonder if it's considerably more than the attached restaurant's, which is also often higher priced than other restaurants.

          I have had a server (is that what they're called) tell me that the service charge went to the dishes/trays and he got none of it. He had forgotten a couple of our dishes and when he left, I placed a call to room service and was told he did receive the service charge. I would have loved to take back some of that 18%.

          As for the additional line, I think it's for people who want to leave more than 18% which I have when the person goes up and beyond what he/she should.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            "I have had a server (is that what they're called) tell me that the service charge went to the dishes/trays and he got none of it.

            ~~~~~~~~~~~

            he was lying.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              That's what they told me when I asked the main room service number. That's why I would have loved to get my 18% back, plus that he forgot a couple of dishes and seemed unconcerned.

              1. re: chowser

                that's the trouble with auto-grats like that.

                there is a hotel here that does it and the service in the bar is nonchalant at best.

          2. Enjoy your room service while its still available..
            Their getting rid of it at major hotel chains.. opting for pre-made sandwiches and cold drinks by the front desk.
            : (

            13 Replies
            1. re: Beach Chick

              What? That sounds fairly ridiculous to me? What could their possible motivation be for that?

              I really can't remember when last time prior to this I ordered room service of any type.....so it won't be missed by me, but I don't understand how that benefits the hotel chain at all.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                I think the higher end hotels are keeping them..but more of the mid range hotels.

                www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/business/r...

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  I have been to two examples of this, the Hyatt Place chain and the Aloft chain (Starwood Hotel Group). They are business traveler hotels. They don't have a restaurant or banquet facilities, but the hotels are new and the rooms have every amenity one could expect.

                  Hyatt Place (at least the locations that I have been to), had a beer and wine bar in the lobby and a sort of "deli case" where you could pick up a sandwich, salad, dessert, etc.

                  Aloft (I have only been to the one in Plano, TX, suburb of Dallas) has a full bar and you can order hot food, but it's basically just microwaved stuff, like a small pizza. I believe they also have the cold items available. Aloft has very striking modern decor.

                  Since hotel room service food is not often that great, this compromise is not the worst that you could face. It's a lot better than trying to eke out a dinner from a vending machine.

                  1. re: pamf

                    We encountered this during last year's cross-country road trip--a mini 7-11 kind of deal in the lobby. There was a separate bar (prices were high, but after 10 hours of driving, we needed some wine), but no restaurant. We bought a few things at the little grocery-ette, but prices weren't listed, we didn't ask, and we had it added to our room. We had sticker shock the next day at checkout--purely our fault, but we were hungry, sick of being in the car all day so in no mood to go looking for a restaurant nearby during rush hour traffic. We called it the Idiot Tax.

                    1. re: pine time

                      I really dislike when stores don't post prices.

                      1. re: salsailsa

                        While we certainly coulda/shoulda asked, I don't think we coulda/shoulda have to ask about prices. So, we just paid and didn't grumble.

                        1. re: pine time

                          Agree-you shouldn't have to ask. A really cheap stunt on the hotel's behalf. I've been put in that situation too. Amsterdam was full of places like that which really turned me off.

                2. re: jrvedivici

                  I think you just answered your own question:)

                  I too pretty much order room service only at starvation or gunpoint, visualizing the kvetching faces of my parents at how I'm being overcharged. But on a recent business trip to Snowmass, CO, we found ourselves hungry—and thirsty— late at night. There was a bar down the street, but it didn't serve any food. The hotel was kind enough to serve us room service in the lobby, so we could hang out, and have a beer down the street while waiting. Expensive, but decent turkey sandwiches. SInce there were no other options, was glad it was available.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    Normally, it is a reduction in the overhead of having a staff in the kitchen, to provide the "room service."

                    Hunt

                  2. re: Beach Chick

                    I will say that if a hotel gets rid of room service, it will lose me as a customer. I will pick another place that provides it. Most of my trips involve leaving the office late afternoon and running to the airport. I catch a flight that may be 2 hours or inter-continental. I will typically arrive after dinner hours and I'm in no mood to find some place to eat after having avoided the crap in airports and the stuff they serve in planes. Heck, I get to travel in the front on the plane most times and other than on cross continent or overseas trips, the food isn't worth eating. I will have often have room service breakfast the next day, go to meetings and then get on the next plane. So if the hotel doesn't offer 24 hour room service, they will lose me and others like me as customers. Admittedly, I may not be the typical traveler but there are many others like me. Enough to justify a market for someone even if others decide to forgo it.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      As mentioned in a reply above, Hilton (at many properties) is dispensing will ALL room service.

                      I still see it offered at some, and also at a lot of boutique hotels. However, with a few of those, if they have a "late-night bistro," then they are curtailing such service too. It just depends on the inn.

                      As we too often are arriving at late hours, this has become something that I have concentrated on. We often will fly to Point A, so as to not have to fly at a horribly early hour, overnight, then fly out at a better time. Depending on where, and when we arrive, I check out the options closely, and note times and days carefully.

                      At most of our "Point A" hotels, there is an adequate bar, bistro, restaurant, and we just dine there - limited menus and wine list, and all.

                      Still, "room service" might have its days "numbered," at least in some corporations. Sort of like the in-flight meals (you get to buy a box of something, if you have a credit card), if one is not in FC. For such, we have searched out, and found airport options, where we fly often. Now, if we could ONLY find something good to eat at LAX, but that is fodder for another thread - like "airport food."

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        I've done take-out a few times at hotels, so it will be interesting to see if local delivery places try to start picking up the business of delivering to customers in hotels that previously would have ordered room service.

                        1. re: Cachetes

                          There are services that already do this. Seamless is one of them in select cities.

                      2. When doing "room service," I first check the hotel's menu for service charges, etc., to get an idea. Next, I check the bill, to see if those have been added, and if there are other, additional charges as well.

                        Then, I factor in other aspects - how quickly did the order arrive? Did the server set things up, how and where I instructed? Did they have to open my wine, and did they pour it properly, etc.?

                        If all went well, then they usually get something extra, but that is my choice.

                        Hunt

                        1. This is normal, and pretty standard (even the 20% for the service charge).

                          And if you're in NYC (and many other cities), the hotel levies an "in room dining tax" on your final room bill.

                          So, at the hotel I normally stay at, I get a free breakfast (either in-room, or in the hotel restaurant which is a Michelin 1-Star, for what it is worth). For those times I choose to dine in-room, my meal is comped, but on my hotel room bill I end up paying something $10-15 (sometimes more) because there's a tax on the price of the comped in-room breakfast. Lovely.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            If the hotel you are speaking of is in NY please do share.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I'm curious about this, having not seen it. (Not that I doubt for a moment that it exists, mind you.) So, your comped/free breakfast that the hotel offers as part of its package, ends up costing you ten to fifteen bucks as a tax (like, percentage)? What in tarnation kind of value are they putting on that breakfast? I should grant you, I did mean to ask if the dollar amount was over a number of days, but I just wanted to use the word "tarnation." So: 10-15 over multiple comped breakfasts over a stay, or is that just for one in-room meal?

                              1. re: cayjohan

                                Each meal.

                                It's not that big of a deal. Have you seen a typical hotel invoice recently? More taxes and surcharges than your phone bill.

                                Also, it's just like you would leave a regular tip even when your meal at a restaurant is comped, or discounted.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Each meal. Oof. Granted, I understand that your travel and my travel are two entirely different animals, and these things (charges) come up, but this seems a little over the top. I can't imagine a comped breakfast as part of a hotel package as meriting a ten to fifteen dollar tax per meal, never mind gratuities. Enlighten me please: are the 20% service charges for room service and and "extra" gratuities (like josephni suggests in the case of room service servers not getting gratuities) levied atop that hotel charge? At some point, it seems like we're talking about mandatory 20% service charge levied, plus a gratuity of 20% in case we're worried about where tips go, then a $10-15 extra charge on in-room dining. Sounds steep. And yes, I get the convenience.

                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                    Enlighten me please: are the 20% service charges for room service and and "extra" gratuities (like josephni suggests in the case of room service servers not getting gratuities) levied atop that hotel charge?
                                    ________________

                                    Yes. But, mind you, it is a CITY tax that is mandatory for in-room dining. The hotel does not levy, nor keep it.

                                    In any even, it's room service. Get used to it.

                                    And in the grand scheme of things, when the room is anywhere between 500-700/night, a $15 tax on in-room dining amounts to, essentially, a rounding error.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      <<And in the grand scheme of things, when the room is anywhere between 500-700/night, a $15 tax on in-room dining amounts to, essentially, a rounding error.>>

                                      Yep, I can see that at those rates, it is rather a minor drop. My own travel maxes out at half that, and rarely. And room service is a non-issue for me generally, as I have to travel with my own food in many cases.

                                      But here's another point of curiosity for me: what dog does the "City" have in the fight over people eating in their rooms, to the extent that it needs to be taxed steeply? Is it just a revenue grab? Something hidden in expense reports? It seems like nickels and dimes are getting bigger.

                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                        Revenue grab.

                                        It's just like (and I forget the details) how there are certain taxes for dine-in items, but not for takeout. [shrug]

                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                          Its not at all uncommon for local taxing jurisdictions of various sorts to hit the hotel patron with a heavy tax burden. The common view is that since the guests are not locals, its an easy way to raise revenue without getting the complaints you would have if there was a general tax increase that hit the voting population. I've seen various taxes and surcharges that have added 20-25% to the room charge.

                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                            It's like how states tax sports players (a port of their per game salary) for each game they play in that state.

                                            I find that sort of ballsy (pun intended).

                              2. Room service. When you order it give a healthy tip. Put yourself in their shoes. I even clean up after myself when I leave the room. And also leave a tip.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: emglow101

                                  You tip on top of the 20% service charge that the person already receives?

                                  1. re: emglow101

                                    Not that I want to discourage empathy (and I agree with you on generally leaving the room tidy), but what do you mean by "put yourself in their shoes"? They are gainfully employed and presumably receive a regular wage in addition to tips. We should all treat each other with kindness but why the idea that room service employees are down trodden?

                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                      there is a line between empathy and pity.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        Agree with you completely. I always tip generously, but see no reason to tip excessively anyone, regardless of their job, unless I receive extraordinary service. This idea of "putting oneself" in a presumably gainfully employed person's shoes, seems a bit much to me. I have far more concern for the millions of unemployed, very poor and hungry persons living in this country and abroad. Perhaps reading about the substantial cuts in food stamps starting today, makes me particularly sensitive about this.

                                    2. As someone who rarely orders room service, I think the relevant question is who gets the 20% service charge? If it's credited to the tip pool for the servers, then either no additional or only a modest additional tip is appropriate (depending upon the service received). If the management keeps the service charge (I think it's ludicrous and would likely either not get room service or stay elsewhere) a full and appropriate 20% or more should be given to the server, preferably in cash and in his/her palm. Who usually gets the service charge typically added to room service tabs?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        I don't think there is an exact answer to the question of where hospitality service charges end up. When it comes to the major hotels, a lot of them are union, meaning that it may be a matter of a specific contract agreement between a particular union and the hotel. From my understanding from hotel F&B employees that I know, if the union has the firepower to be aggressive enough, those hotel jobs can be pretty nicely compensated compared to regular restaurant jobs. But then, whether a hotel is union is probably subject to a variety of factors, including size, geographical location, etc.

                                        1. re: josephnl

                                          Call me gauche, but I just ask the person who delivers the food. And most times, they have responded that that the money is going to them. If not, I give them a tip in cash.

                                        2. I recently ordered room service and was charged a 20% auto tip. I asked the guy who delivered it if the tip went to him. He said it did. I gave him a few extra bucks anyway because he was timely and there was nothing I needed to ask for, no condiments, etc.