Automatic Gratuity

Automatic Gratuity

Postby my2bits » Nov 13th, 2011, 4:44 pm

Last night while out at a West Kelowna pub, I was shocked to find that the bill I was given already had a 20% gratuity added. The server said that it was done automatically for large groups. (Our table started as 4, a few friends joined, a few left, people were paying bills individually, and by the end of the night we were seven).

One of us had already finished paying with his credit card. Using the hand-held card reader, he unwittingly added a second tip. When we noticed the tip moments later, we all insisted that we be given bills for what we had consumed, and that we would personally determine how we would tip.

Whether the service was deserving of a 20% tip or not is NOT the issue, (the service was quite good). I am shocked that they feel they can decide how much of my money I must leave as a gratuity. I was not made aware of the policy when I ordered, and would have objected if they told me. Although the tip is clearly indicated on the bill, this struck me as sneaky and presumptuous.

I might expect this for pre-booked, large parties, with a set service or menu. But for a table at a local pub it took me by surprise. I would encourage everyone to be extra careful as this seems to be a practice that applies to some tables and not others.

(to respect the rules, let's avoid naming establishments, and instead focus on the practice of adding a tip to a bill.)
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby JayByrd » Nov 13th, 2011, 4:53 pm

They should have informed you of the policy prior to serving you. Other than that, I have no problem with it.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby barnstorm55 » Nov 13th, 2011, 5:14 pm

I understand your dismay. Just chalk it up to "lesson learned".
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby French Castanut » Nov 13th, 2011, 5:43 pm

Is it not illegal to add the gratuity on the bill?
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Advocate » Nov 13th, 2011, 5:53 pm

The law states that this mandatory gratuity must be posted at the entrance of the facility, as well as on the menu. Had this happen, but noticed prior to paying, had lousy service, so left exact cash for total minus gratuity and walked away.
The irony is that large groups should get a discount, not be charged extra for bringing extra paying patrons with your group.
I'll check and see if I can find what I found a few years back, when this happened to us at Whistler.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Advocate » Nov 13th, 2011, 5:56 pm

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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Advocate » Nov 13th, 2011, 5:57 pm

The Law:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents ... 4657-a.htm

THE CONTENT OF THE BILL:

House Bill 4657 would create an act to require that patrons of food service establishments be given notice of any automatic gratuity or service charge that would be added to their bills. Specifically, a food service establishment that charged an automatic gratuity or service charge, or both, would have to include, at least, a notice indicating the amount charged, either as a fixed amount or as a percentage of the customer's bill. The notice would have to be printed upon each bill and upon either the menu or upon a poster placed conspicuously in the customer service area of the establishment. The notice would have to be printed in a size and format that was conspicuous and easily readable. If the establishment charged an automatic gratuity, it would be required to ensure that the entire automatic gratuity was distributed to the appropriate staff. If the establishment imposed a service charge where only a portion of the money would be distributed to the staff, the notice provided by the establishment would also have to include the percentage of the service charge that would be retained by the establishment. The bill would not apply to a food service establishment or caterer when serving a banquet, but would apply to that part of a food service establishment open to the general public and not serving the banquet.

An establishment that failed to provide the required notice would be responsible for a state civil infraction; the establishment could be ordered to pay a fine of not more than $50 for a first violation and not more than $500 for a second or subsequent violation that occurred within a 24-month period.

An "automatic gratuity" would be defined to mean money required in addition to the price of a meal, drinks or other products that was given to the staff in recognition for service provided to a customer or group of customers. A "service charge" would mean a charge that was imposed by a food service establishment and was not related to a specific service or product. A "banquet" would mean an event not open generally to the public and occurring in a food service establishment where the establishment was hired to serve food in honor or commemoration of a particular guest, group of individuals, or occasion.

The bill would take effect 90 days after the enactment date.

The bill is nearly identical to House Bill 5056 of the 1997-1998 legislative session; House Bill 5056 was passed by the House of Representatives.

Our law is similar to this, still looking...
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Advocate » Nov 13th, 2011, 6:02 pm

http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily- ... staurants/

To be clear, the auto gratuity restaurants ‘mandate’ for parties of six or more, eight or more, etc, is in face not mandatory at all.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby dodgerdodge » Nov 13th, 2011, 6:24 pm

We had a group of at least 8 when we went to a West Kelowna pub but we did all pay separately and she knew this from the start so the bills were correct but when one of the party paid for his 3 guests with cash she didn't bring back the change. When he asked she looked quite disgusted that he should want the change and he said "giving a tip and deciding the amount should be up to me not you" She didn't seem to like that at all.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Captain Awesome » Nov 13th, 2011, 6:38 pm

One of my favorite restaurants in Kelowna does it. I don't really mind, they do deserve 15% tip - food and service is always excellent.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby dogspoiler » Nov 13th, 2011, 7:21 pm

This process is simple theft, I was nailed for a considerable amount, and the service was acceptable, not anything special. Watch your bills or you will end up wishing you did.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Advocate » Nov 14th, 2011, 10:57 am

The simple solution folks is to check your bill before paying, and speak with the manager if you are not satisfied.
Even with mandatory tipping, even when announced on the menu and upon entrance, a patron can always dispute the 'mandatory' gratuity. If service is not good, the manager will remove the gratuity from your bill, and speak with the servers.

If owners and managers paid the staff properly to serve, which is what they are hired to do, there should be no need to 'tip'.
TIPS is an acronym for Tl Improve Prompt Service. It used to be given before the service, in order to 'guarantee' above average service. Now, it is taken for granted as a 'top up' to underpaid wages. In some provinces, people who work serving drinks are paid lower than minimum wage, because it is expected that the employee will receive good tips, as people drink more alcohol. This policy removes the responsibility from the owners and managers to pay their staff according to minimum wage laws and provincial labour codes.

My personal tipping policy has nothing to do with any percentages. Percentages are set as guidelines to make up lost wages.
If we go out to lunch together, and I order a salad with water for $7, you order a salad, soup, burger, and coffee for $20, why on earth should you pay $2.00 - $4.00 (depending on your personal percentage scale), and I only pay .70 to $1.40 for the exact same service? Because you ate and drank more than me, because I wasn't as hungry as you, why should you pay more than I to top up the server's wage?
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby JLives » Nov 14th, 2011, 11:01 am

I would have been very upset too. Either set the price higher or keep it voluntary. I tip for exceptional service only. I don't tip just because you brought a plate of food to my table and then the check. I see tipping as a gift not an expectation. Back in my chambermaiding days I would be thrilled to get a couple of bucks but if there was no tip that was fine too. I budgeted on my wage alone. Tipping has gotten way out of hand.
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby grammafreddy » Nov 14th, 2011, 11:08 am

Just out of curiosity ... was the tip applied before or after the HST was applied?
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Re: Automatic Gratuity

Postby Advocate » Nov 14th, 2011, 11:12 am

jennylives wrote:. I see tipping as a gift not an expectation. ...... Tipping has gotten way out of hand.


'Auto-grat's' take away a consumer's right to decide whether you tip or not (especially if you do not know you do not have to pay it), only when we allow it.
The words 'automatic' and 'mandatory' are quite misleading.

There are a few reasons I think that tipping has gotten "way out of hand":

a) we are ignorant of the rules and regulations around restaurants who choose to do this;
b) we allow ourselves to be ruled, rather than guided, by societal norms;
c ) we allow other people's personal policies to rule our own, to save ourselves embarrassment;
d) we lose our ability to reason a little more with each drink of alcohol.

Once we change our views and make our own policies, regardless of what the norm is deemed to be, regardless of what suggestions are given by those who are trying to help visitors learn our general norms, regardless of how much money we have to spend on a meal or service, we take the power we have to make our own decisions, and we hold accountable those who are not in alignment with our own policies.

It's like anything else, as long as we allow others to make these decisions for us, it will continue.

If you feel strongly about this issue, write a letter to the editor of your local papers, to expose the restaurants who add mandatory or automatic tips to the bill. This will help others to be more aware, so at least they are in a position to be aware that they may be 'double tipping', and can oppose the gratuity if they wish.

Write letters to the head offices of larger chains, managers of smaller chains, to actually effect change.
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