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Jan 6, 2014 08:53 AM

Dinner contract includes 22% gratuity

Just asked for a reservation at a restaurant for a group of 15 - they wanted a credit card form filled out in advance to hold the reservation- no problem with that - they asked for a $200 cancellation fee 24 hours in advance - ok with that - then in the small print it says a gratuity of 22% will be added to the bill - I have never seen that - I have seen 18% and normally up that to 20% but has anyone seen an establishment ask for a 22% service charge?

I am awaiting a response from the manager - I have requested a reduction to 18% on food and 10% on beverages - normally I would have paid 20% on everything but think they are being obnoxious asking for 22% - what do you think?

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  1. If you have a party of 15, and want appropriate service, you will probably have a server assigned to your table exclusively, meaning that he or she will not have as many covers as normal for that time. Adjusting the tip up a little is not a problem for me in that case.

      1. re: Janet from Richmond

        restaurant agreed to 20% on food and 10% on wine - the server just lost about $60 (10% on 6 bottles of wine @ $100 each) - I would have agreed to 20% on everything - the 22% number just rubbed me the wrong way - thank you for pointing out that you would not have been affected by it - I will make sure the server gets the extra dollars - just did not like the automatic extra tip

        1. re: carlylecat

          Agree on the feeling about the automatic.

          FWIW, I would inform the server and who ever is bussing that the required amount is the minimum, that you are open to leaving more.

          1. re: carlylecat

            I think it was unlikely it was going straight to the server anyway. Also, your negotiations were possibly affected by it being slow season ie/ they charged you the party season rate and were willing to back down for the off-season business... but won't necessarily do the same another time of year.

            1. re: julesrules

              Agree this time of the year is classically slow for functions, if it was in June, they probably would have stayed at 22%.

            2. re: carlylecat

              call me cynical, but:
              i always leave the servers with green-money-cash tips IN THEIR HANDS.

              i like really knowing that the gratuity, indeed, goes to the server(s).

              1. re: westsidegal

                I've read that's the best way to leave a gratuity, however, when my daughter was waiting tables in a chain restaurant, the manager expected to get all the tips, including cash, into one pile to be split amoungst the entire staff. That job didn't last long.

                1. re: mikie

                  wonder how much the manager took for his/her share?
                  bet there was nobody auditing the take. . . .

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    in many states if the manager took one cent of the tip money it is illegal

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      in those same states, it doesn't stop them from doing it.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        the managers at starbucks did it for years before they lost their case in court.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          It's hard to imagine that any deep-pocket organization would allow for something stupid like that to happen given that the class-action lawyers would form a mile-long line outside (And the word "stupid" is an understatement. As a restaurant investor, if I suspected that anything like that was going on at a restaurant, I wouldn't touch it with a ten-feet pole, of hundred-feet pole, or thousand-feet pole.) But here is a link to the Mario Batali suit:

                    2. re: mikie

                      Tip pooling can be illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act, depending on who gets a cut. The manager, for example, is not allowed to take servers' tips.

                    3. re: westsidegal

                      In France where 15% is included in the bill, that money does not go to employee who is on salary, it goes to repay the owner who is paying the employee.
                      If you add a pourbois, or little more, give cash to the server directly.

                    4. re: carlylecat

                      > the 22% number just rubbed me the wrong way
                      i agree. good job.

                    5. That extra two or four percent may be being given to the banquet coordinator.

                      1. It's pretty standard for a group of that size to have an automatic, larger tip than some people would expect to pay. Also, depending on what state you are in, the service charge/gratuity/tip may be subject to tax. When the SC/tip is negotiated, it becomes part of the sale and is thus subject to tax.

                        1. the extra 2% above 20 frequently is the commission for the person that booked the party. Assuming they do a healthy business where contracts are required, a large party/private dining coordinator is who you're dealing with.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: plaidbowtie

                            it was the restaurant owner/chef's wife

                            1. re: carlylecat

                              as somebody who worked in restaurants a very long time...

                              anything over and above 18% is most likely NOT going to your service staff. the extra is going to the house. since you say there is no function coordinator, then yeah, it was going to the wife.