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Mar 2, 2014 02:45 PM

18% Gratuity Included...Wha???

I traveled to Miami for the first time last week, and every nice restaurant I went to had included a mandatory 18% gratuity to the bill. (This was dinner for 2, not a large party.)

First off, I don't really care, the service was fine, and I normally tip 20%, so it's not like I wouldn't have paid it.

But...It struck me as REALLY weird. No other city does this. I had to actually ask the waiter that I interpreted the bill correctly.

So, my question is, what is it about Miami that you include an gratuity on a normal tab?

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  1. Many European and Latin American tourists don't pay tips because it is not done in their respective countries. So most of the places that are tourist dependent charge the 18% automatically because of this as they get a lot of these tourists.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tpigeon

      Interesting. I assumed it was something like that.

      I wouldn't mind if all restaurants just included service, like they do in most of Europe. It just struck me as odd in the US.


    2. If you think that's bad you'll love this... Was just at the golf tournament at Doral yesterday. We had lunch at the outdoor cafe. The lunch was buffet style so the only service was for your drinks.

      Lunch wasn't great, but that's fine I knew what to expect going in. However when the bill comes there was an added gratuity of 24%!!!

      I'm a consistent 20% or better tipper, but a 24% included tip on a buffet... Sheesh.

      3 Replies
      1. re: coffeyucf

        The Donald strikes again! Good tournament, though. Ray Floyd did a nice job redesigning 18, I hope The Donald sets his ego aside and doesn't mess with perfection.

          1. re: drongo

            Wow, great memory. Article is interesting as well.

        1. If it is labeled a gratuity my (non legal) understanding is that you are not required to pay any or all of it. So if someone wanted to tip more or less they can't stop you. However service charge can be enforced.

          6 Replies
          1. re: foodieX2

            You are correct. It can no longer be labeled as a gratuity but must be service charge.

            To the OP, in South Beach there would not be a single server working if they couldn't add gratuity. Europeans are HORRIBLE tippers.

            1. re: BlueHerons

              Europeans are not horrible tippers except when visiting the US. In other parts of the world servers are frequently paid more than $4 something an hour and are not expected to make up their earnings with ridiculous 20% tips from the diner. In most of Europe you just leave a few coins, and in the UK it's 10-12%. The culture is different and they don't know when they visit the US that they're expected to up the menu price by not only state tax but also by 18-20%.

              1. re: smartie

                Not knowing is no excuse. It's plenty easy to do a little research and find out what the cultural norms are in the countries you're planning on visiting. Most Americans do!

                1. re: smartie

                  On the opposite spectrum from the OP. I was just in London for business. Went out for dinner with a local and ne said not to tip. At pub I tried leaving a pound after each pint and the bartender thought I was weird and even said it wasn't necessary to tip.

                  1. re: smartie

                    Not knowing is a silly excuse! When traveling to a foreign country you should learn about their customs. I think a lot of people visiting from countries where service charges are added on conveniently "forget" to tip in the US.

                    1. re: zackly

                      No kidding. I can't imagine visiting a foreign country for a business trip--or for that matter any purpose--and not having spent three minutes on Google learning whether there is a tipping custom and how much is appropriate. Nowadays, we all know it's different everywhere in the world and that the US is a big headache for visitors. There is no excuse for not learning some basic local survival skills before setting foot in an unfamiliar place. Whether to tip or not and if so, how much, is about as basic a required social skill as learning to say "hello," "please" and "thank you" in the local language. (I would add "beer" to that list.) If one can't do that much, stay home.