Author Topic: automatic tip  (Read 2055 times)

Offline tschmidlin

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automatic tip
« on: April 14, 2013, 02:32:05 AM »
I was recently at a pub with some people, and apparently we hit their "automatic gratuity" number of patrons - there was 6 of us, which seems like a low number but ok.  I didn't realize this, and when the tab came I threw down a card to pay for it without going over the details.  When they ran it and brought it back the itemized receipt was gone and there was no tip listed.  So I tipped a good amount and didn't worry much about it, although the total did seem high.  We had been having a lot of fun including sampling nearly 20 beers, so I was not as focused as I could have been.

I will concede the fact that the double tip was my fault, but I am still a bit grumpy about it.  I feel the waiter should have at least made sure to point out it was included when he dropped off the tab (which happened at another place earlier in the day when more of us were out), or if not, then it should have been obvious I didn't realize it was included when I threw a full tip on top of the automatic tip.

It's not that I necessarily want my money back - in fact I don't know what would make me happy.  I guess it just comes down to a bad experience, one that I will survive (have survived).  I want to say something to the owner but that feels like going a bit too far.  It's not really fair to the pub, but that one guy left me feeling cranky about the place.  Blah.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 03:10:27 AM »
I think tipping should always be consensual. Auto tip for a certain sized group always tells me "we don't want large groups of business"
Instead of compulsory tipping just crank up the price 15% and pay your help more.

Tipping should mean "you did a great job"  not "sorry for coming to your pub and making you do your job"

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 04:39:38 AM »
It sounds like the server pulled a little sly one on you Tom. They should have included an itemized printout along with the CC slip even if it was presented previously. I've seen this little scam happen time and time again where the server is hoping the customer will tip on top of the gratuity- especially with a group that is tipsy.

I'd certainly call the manager and explain the situation. They should realize that this is a practice that turns customers off in a big way. You can be reimbursed the extra tip on the card.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline nateo

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 05:32:37 AM »
Automatic gratuities exist because when large groups go out, what usually happens is everyone throws in their money, there isn't enough money to cover the check, everyone gets annoyed at each other, and then no one tips anything.

The automatic gratuity is sometimes discretionary, and since it's 15%, a good waiter will usually waive it and gamble on getting a better tip.  If it's not discretionary, and their POS system won't allow them to waive the automatic gratuity, I wouldn't leap to the conclusion that anyone is trying to scam you. If they did a good job they should get more than a 15% tip, which would mean tipping on top of the auto gratuity. 
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 11:24:56 AM »
In some (I think most, maybe all) states the mandatory gratuity for large parties does not have to be tipped out to the waitstaff. The restaurant can pocket the money and if you don't tip on top of it then the waiter doesn't get any tip for serving the large party. It basically comes down to the language used in the notice of the mandatory gratuity and how much of an ass the restaurant owner is.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 12:37:12 AM »
I've never seen an automatic gratuity that was less than 18%, and I typically tip more than that even for mediocre service.  I've been a waiter and I know what a crappy job it is, especially when you work in a state that has a lower minimum wage for people who are expected to be tipped.  So I don't necessarily mind tipping at all.

But clearly the waiter was hoping for (and got) the double tip.  This is in contrast to the place earlier in the day where the waitress not only told us explicitly that the tip was included, but when she ran the card and brought back the sip for a signature it showed the amount, then the automatic gratuity, then a line for extra gratuity, then you had to add it yourself.

I don't mind an automatic gratuity, but I mind it a bit when it is not acknowledged very clearly.  But then I was the waiter who would take the check back to people and say "are you sure you meant to tip me this much?"  Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't, but either way I'd rather earn it than trick people.

If I see the owner I might talk to him about it, but I really don't want to make a big stink.  He's a good guy and would probably like to know because it sort of reflects badly on his establishment even if it is just one employee.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline MDixon

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 05:23:18 AM »
I do not like the automatic gratuity, but understand why they do it. I'm not sure what happened in your case, but I always get my mits on the check and announce if the gratuity is included when with a group. We recently got screwed by poor service and cool food while out with a group of neighbors. I probably will never go back to that restaurant with a group and may not return for awhile period. We've had great service in the past, but had never been with a group.

If it is a place you frequent regularly I would speak with the manager. If it is a place you rarely to never go I would probably let it ride. I doubt you will be getting the money back since you signed the tab.
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Offline SecondRow_Sean

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 06:49:53 AM »
Yeah, I think the waiter should have a)given you an itemized receipt (if available) and b)mentioned to you that the tip was already included when he saw you tipped him again.

I understand why restaurants do it, but I absolutely HATE the automatic gratuity. If your waitstaff does its job and treats me well, trust me they'll be compensated accordingly. The percentage amount is irrelevant, I typically tip 20% for normal service. It's just that I don't like being told what I need to add on top of my bill.

Another topic entirely, but I'd rather pay more for my meal and have restaurants provide higher wages for their staff.

Offline MDixon

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2013, 07:30:57 AM »
I often say I would rather pay for my meal, but when I went to a Co-op in Austin, TX where tipping was not allowed I must admit it was a little odd.
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 07:57:49 AM »
I wouldn't feel there is any problem with calling the owner and telling them what happened. Myself, I wouldn't ask for the money back. But if I were the owner I'd offer to find the bill and refund the extra tip. The last thing I'd want is customers that feel duped, intentionally or not, by their staff or computer system. Either way, the owner should welcome the feedback. If not, big strike 2.
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 08:20:52 AM »
I think it's likely a 50-50 shot on the waiter trying to get a bigger tip.  Either way, they should have told you up front or, at least, when they delivered the check.  Around here auto-tipping usually kicks in at 8+ so 6+ seems a bit low for the head count.

I would let the owner know that you were not informed and let them decide on refunding your extra tip or not.  I'm pretty sure the owner will at least come down on the person who did it if only to save their reputation.  It takes a long time to win a customer and only one mistake to lose 20 who never show up because of this type of thing. 

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Offline jeffy

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 09:36:49 AM »
I've had the very same waiter tell me once and not tell me another time that an 18% tip was already included.  I told the owner, since he's a friend, and he told me he would have that changed on the point of sale system for the next time.  It's worth it to talk to the owner.
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Offline tom

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 04:14:10 PM »
Now, whenever they don't bring the itemized receipt back I ask for it again.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 01:33:15 AM »
Well, we plan to go to lunch there again tomorrow, but I doubt I'll say anything.  Like I said, I'm cranky about it, but not enough to do much.  I should have checked, but I was in a rush and trying to hide the total from the other people because we were picking up the tab, so I didn't review it.  My fault really, even if I do think the waiter should have pointed it out.  I might send a note to the owner and mention tweaking the POS to put it on more clearly, but there's no rush on that.

I can forgive the waiter for not saying anything when he dropped it off, but not mentioning it after the fact?  Not ok with me.  Maybe we'll get the same waiter tomorrow. ;D
Tom Schmidlin

Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: automatic tip
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 05:34:13 AM »
I can forgive the waiter for not saying anything when he dropped it off, but not mentioning it after the fact?  Not ok with me.  Maybe we'll get the same waiter tomorrow. ;D
I'd almost expect the opposite. Most waiters would give some acknowledgement for a ~40% tip on a big bill.

But I'm with you - I'd probably say "Doh" and move along.
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