Gratuity Misinformation

After dinner the other night (upscale chain), the check arrived, complete with that “handy” calculation of what a 10, 15, or 20% tip would be. It didn’t look right, so I whipped out my phone and ran the numbers. Turned out the amount given for a 20% tip was actually 30%! When I pointed this out to the manager, she just shrugged and said, “Oh well, that’s optional.” What do you think is going on here? Honest mistake? Scamming customers? Scamming servers? What, if anything, should I do?

Perhaps, they included tax as well? I’ve seen that in those “helpful” calculations before. Although, that shouldn’t account for an additional 10%.

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Did you say, “Well, so is tipping in theory.”


Which chain?

You’d need a tax/surcharge rate of 50% for a 20% tip to be equivalent to a 30% tip without tax/surcharge.

It seems odd it would be a scam; sounds more like a glitch. What I don’t get is a manager shrugging it off. It’s their freaking job to address issues like that.

I’ve always been very annoyed that those “hints” are usually on the post-tax total. I was in a restaurant the other week that actually calculated them pre-tax, and that made me happy enough to tip a buck more than I usually do - even though the server probably had nothing to do with it. LOL

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Agree very much with your last point. When places suggest tip, it should be on the pre-tax subtotal. Why would I tip on the tax? Of course they get more, but sometimes a humble restaurant’s gesture of good faith in not requesting/suggesting so much in fact makes me want to reward them with a bigger tip. On Saturday I ended up throwing in an extra $10 because there was great service but they only included an 18% service charge, and the tip ended up being 23%. I had no problem with that, but I can’t stand other places who nickle and dime people with some kind of misleading tactics.

I’ve noticed 3 tip-baiting practices in particular:

  1. Places that claim to include gratuity with an automatically applied additional “service charge” BUT THEN have yet an another tip line. E.g. a sandwich at $14 + automatically applied 18% tip, THEN an additional tip line. Such places claim to do away with tipping, but they simply just enforce an automatic tip (not incorporate it into prices) then have the gall to suggest additional tip. When pressed on whether the auto-gratuity was “tip,” one restaurant responded “well, it’s a service charge,” and avoided the patron’s question. The patron next to me turned to my way and we both laughed at the presumptuousness of the place…To be clear, I have zero problems with a place that automatically add an 18 or 20% service charge in lieu of tip. Many of my favorite restaurants do that and I’m ok with that. It’s the places that have BOTH 1) the automatic service charge and 2) an additional tip line AFTER that, with whom I get upset. What, do they want ~36% tip?

  2. Misleading suggested tip options of 15%, 20%, and 25%. It tricks one into thinking that 20% is just an average tip because it’s in the middle. I’ve even seen 18%, 20%, and 25% (of the post-tax total) - ridiculous. In my book, 18% is average and 20% is pretty good. 25% is quite a lot, especially if it’s post-tax. Again, suggest a little less and I might give a little more. E.g. at one of my sushi spots which suggests only 12%, 15%, and 18%, I usually tip over 20% to reward their humility. Some have told me that is actually not a nice practice to tip so much to Japanese, but since we’re in America and tipping here is customary and accepted, I still think that tipping a good amount is a gesture of showing my appreciation for their service.

  3. At establishments that use Square, when a customer pays via credit card there is a “select a tip” option to go through before getting a receipt. This happens at bakeries, coffee joints, boba cafes, even olive oil retailers. Since when did grabbing a muffin from the case warrant a tip? Up until a couple years ago, it wasn’t, but what changed in the nature of the service rendered? Of course one can select “custom tip amount” or “no tip,” but it’s almost like sending a message, so one feels some pressure to add a tip.

Ah yes, Square. A lot of my favorite breweries use that in their tasting rooms now. I find that the percentage tip option is typically non-applicable in bar situations, because I’m going to tip the bartender/beerslinger $X, not Y%.

18% vs 20%? Pre- vs post-tax?

You do realize we are arguing about chump change? Is $1-2/pp going to make a difference to you for a $100 meal? There are more important things to get an ulcer over.

However, that restaurant that is miscalculating the tip is committing fraud.

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Saying one is annoyed by something is hardly arguing about it.

I’m confused. Are you arguing with me now? Or just annoyed that I pointed out you were arguing?

Neither. Just saying that my petty Seinfeldish quirks don’t rise to even being any sort of argument. In essence I agree with your math.

Fuck . Doesn’t anybody know how to leave a base twenty percent tip . Doing the math in your head ? 2x …

My wife would double the tax. Lol

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So the tax is ten percent .

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This is what I do too. Our tax rate here is 9%, so doubling gives me an 18% tip. I then adjust from that number as needed.

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I’m still so confused.

Recently, I didn’t read the receipt until after leaving the restaurant and saw the following: “An 18% service charge is added to all guest checks to allow us to pay our team members above minimum wage. Any tip left on top is distributed amongst the entire staff.

Since I hadn’t seen that tip was added, I tipped 20%. So I left a 38% tip? Fuzz. I guess I should have read the receipt, but am I alone in thinking that the server should make mention of this when they hand you the bill? Or did I do the right thing by leaving an additional tip?

I would ask what the service charge entails. No way should a customer be obligated to pay 38% of the original charges.

I would hope not, but I feel duped. Duped, I say! I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on the fine print of my receipts moving forward.

When I am forced to go to tourist trap restaurants in Little Italy Manhattan I have experienced this where they included tip in the bill and then some customers tip on top of that. Really a shame some businesses do this. Even more shady that they might hide the tip as “service charges” instead of figuring out a way to run more efficient.

Definitely. The thing is, this was at a great restaurant in LA. I’m all for servers and staff being well compensated, but it’s just a bit tough to navigate when there isn’t consistency across the industry.