Tipping point – family locked in restaurant for skimping on mandatory gratuity
May 10th, 2012
11:15 AM ET
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Our sister site HLN reports that a Houston, Texas family claims they were locked inside La Fisherman restaurant after refusing to pay a 17 percent tip on their meal. The restaurant's policy states that the percentage will be automatically added to the tab for parties of five or more.

Customer Jasmine Marks told Click2Houston.com that the staff was rude, the drinks weren't refilled and her group received generally poor service. Marks asked if she could speak to a manager to have the auto-gratuity stripped from the bill, but claims the staff locked the doors and told her that her options were to pay the 17 percent or speak with the police outside.

According to Marks, the police officer who was summoned was unable to give her a straight answer on the legality of the situation. Her party eventually paid the tip in order to avoid any further difficulty.

Automatic tips, or "autograts" as they're sometimes called, are often used by restaurants to ensure that their staff is fairly compensated for the greater amount of effort it takes to tend to larger parties. The server will sometimes have a larger table as their sole focus for the duration of the meal, and won't be making tips from any other tables. This tip, which is generally clearly stated on a menu, or when making a reservation for a larger group, ensures that a server will be compensated for their time and not miss out on earning money for that shift. Often, the tip is shared with other members of the floor staff, like bussers and bartenders.

Having a stated policy in place - usually 18 percent of the pre-tax amount - can eliminate awkwardness and confusion over tipping etiquette, especially if you're dining with business colleagues or people you don't know especially well. On the flip side, patrons sometimes feel they're being tricked into tipping more (especially if the server hasn't pointed out that the gratuity was already included) or discriminated against if the auto-grat isn't always applied. And servers, while they're ensured a base tip, run the risk of earning a lower tip than they would have if diners had been able to decide on the percentage, themselves.

Our tip: always check the restaurant's policy when you're dining with a large group, and be sure to pore over the bill at the end. Weigh in on the auto-grat in the comments below, and we'll share our favorites from both sides of the table in an upcoming post.

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Filed under: Lunchtime Poll • Restaurants • Service • Tipping


soundoff (1,424 Responses)
  1. tip or else

    Ok so some of you out there don't understand that many servers work for no salary at all or so low that taxes all but take care of everything you made. In other words unless you leave a tip we make nothing and in fact when you report your sales at the end of the day which most restaurants do these days. The government taxes 8% of those sales. Chew on that! And I know the type who are saying tipping is not mandatory or complain about the service. Bad service happens, I realize that, but servers take the brunt of everything whether it took to long for them to be seated or their dinner was cold or not ordered correctly. There are many moving parts in the restaurant but only 1 takes the fall for everything no matter what. That's ok though don't leave me a decent tip and come back to the restaurant, you'll get the special treatment. I guarantee it! Bon Appitite!

    May 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Eric Long

      Woah daddy, it's an attitude just like yours that makes people act this way. Or else? Or else what? You'll adulterate the food in some way? Do so and risk losing your freedom, because you can be thrown into jail for it. I've worked in the food industry for a good deal of my young life, probably 12-15 years looking back on it. Here's the deal. You have a certain amount of people you serve. Out of that amount of people, there are always the 20+ percent tippers that make up for the deadbeats that don't tip. Having said that, I've had my fair share of people that simply didn't tip. These could be regular patrons too,but they just don't tip. In the scheme of things, you're ultimately there to make money for the person that owns the restaurant, and make money for yourself too. Always do your best to give a customer a great experience no matter what. You may not be putting money into your pocket with the notipper, but you're keeping the doors open another day for the ones that tip well which will ultimately come back to you anyway. But seriously, don't mess with peoples food or drinks. Not only is it poor form, but you really can get in major trouble for it and also give the owner a black eye that they may never recover from. If the tips are that bad, find another job.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Kreslev

      tip
      I understand that a lot of things are out of the wait staffs hands and I my self use to be a waiter. That being said, however, I will leave a poor tip if I get crappy service from my server specifically. Taking a long time to seat or a long time to get food or a wrong order isn't the fault of the server and I will not get angry at the server for those things. Letting my drink sit empty for an entire meal or disappearing for extended periods of time is the servers fault and the tip will reflect such. Also, a simple apology goes a long way.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Tip this...

      We know that most waiters cheat on their taxes, you collect 18% and declare 12%, so go F yourself.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  2. Don

    I can see an autotip on a large party where the wait staff works one table or even a separate room. But if any decent wait member can't work multiple tables of five, they should not be hired.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  3. totally unknown to public

    I waitressed for many years and the general public does not really know that wait staff/bartenders only make half of minimum wage. That's like $3-4/hr. I completely agree that it is RIDICULOUS to be able to pay your employees that assuming they will be tipped. The truth of the matter is that no matter how hard you work to provide great service, some people WILL NEVER TIP you, which means that waiting is often near slave labor. I also agree that we should be more transparent with our meal price. The restaurant should pay decent wages and charge for meals accordingly. That way tips are just that, tips, and not a much needed part of an income.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Eric Long

      If that is the case, you need to find another job. I made more money working less hours in the restaurant business than I have 'in real life' if that makes sense. I almost always walked out the door with at least a Franklin in my pocket. That was on average after a 5 or 6 hour shift. Usually, it was in the 200 hundred range. Plus, I got a regular check every two weeks at 2.15 an hour. You have to claim 15% of your sales when you're a tipped employee, at least in my state. Or maybe that was the rule of thumb, I can't recall now. But, I never had a problem hitting my 15%. Uncle Sam got his, and I for sure got mine.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  4. M.Hunt

    I agree if party is larger but at least 8 – but if the service sucks – No Way

    May 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Jessica

    Soooooo maybe the police officer didn't know what to do in the situation about the tip....BUT he should have known what to do when he found out that the party was LOCKED in the restaurant and not allowed to leave w/o paying the tip! Legally, you can't hold people against their will.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • truebob

      Slam dunk false imprisonment since they were witless enough to call the police as a witness. Plus if they were willing to pay and only the tip was in dispute, it is a civil matter and not a crime. Lawsuit will score a lot more than the tip. Bad press will ruin the business. Guess they don't understand they are in the hospitality industry.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  6. Lauren

    I'm usually a pretty good tipper as long as the service is decent. But I should not be forced to tip a server that blatantly ignores me or provides generally bad service. Auto-grats are truly unfair for this reason. Plus, I don't know if it is common practice there, but I could not understand why in Miami, all of the restaurants added an automatic 17% percent to my bill, when it was just myself and my boyfriend!

    May 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • bellatita81

      Everywhere in Miami does not do that, not sure why the place you went to did. I grew up there, never had that problem, neither has anyone I have known who has only visited.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
      • Lauren

        I was in a touristy area so that could be why. It was surprising.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  7. Dena from Alaska

    I'm fine with autograts, but it short changes the server. I normally put a 20-25% gratuity on a restaurant bill, but if the restaurant has a policy of automatically adding an 18% gratuity than the odds are that's all I'm going to pay unless the service was absolutely exceptional and then I will add to it. I do believe firmly that if the service is poor that a customer ought to be able to protest the autograt and have it reduced or removed entirely.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Auto tip for 5? That's too low a number at the table.

    8 people I get it- not 5.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • petz

      They lost more than 5 customers. With this being publicized, MANY diners will stay away from this place in droves. Most times I don't mind the gratuity being added to the bill for a larger group – if the service was acceptable. It sounds like the service for this group was not only poor but downright insulting. I would fight like they did to not pay it. And tell everyone I know to eat elsewhere.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  9. Don

    The wait staff got their 17%, but in the long run, the restaurant lost five customers, plus those they told about it. If a customer has a good experience, they tell 2 friends; if they have a poor experience, they tell 10 people. A good owner/manager would have let the customers pay what they felt was fair for the service, then used it as a teaching lesson for the wait staff.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Lauren

      Pretty much. I live in Houston, and when I heard about this story a couple of weeks ago, I vowed not to give this place any of my business.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  10. SkyKing

    I don't like the idea of an autotip, but unbelievably, some people do not tip, so it is a necessity.
    Waitstaff earn less than minimum wage. Restaurant owners expect they will make up the difference with tips.
    Before I had daughters working as waitstaff, I was not aware of this. They work hard and often endure abuse, not just from surly customers, but kitchen staff and management. Less than great service might be from one of these factors.
    As a result, I never tip less than $2, even for just a cup of coffee.
    And I tip at least 20% unless the waitstaff is just really bad, but even then, maybe only 10%, to get the message across. And if the waitstaff is particularly good, I'll tip 25% or so. I round the total of the bill up to the nearest dollar.
    Try waiting tables before criticizing and shortchanging those who work their butt off doing it.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • craig

      The Tip is for the service. If I didn't get any, I'm not tipping. Actually, however, I will tip. I'll leave a pittance, simply to point out that 1) I understand you expect a tip, and 2) your service was so poor you deserve nothing.

      If you're counting on the tip to help pay your bills, then don't treat me like dirt. I'm not a tough customer. Bring what I ordered, properly cooked, in a reasonable time frame, check back now and then...not every two minutes...to see if anything else is needed, skate the water and coffee if appropriate, and simply be polite. I'll gladly reward your efforts. Be a complete pain, or simply disappear after delivering un-edible food, and...well, yeah.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
      • @craig

        But do you realize the waitress is only getting $2.00 per hour or $60.00 per week? Therefore tips are expected not only by waitress but by the federal government who allows them not to be paid. If they got minimum wage and were rude no tip makes sense. When I screw up at work I still get the same base pay (which is well above minimum wage). If I screwed up and they doc my page OK that makes sense too. There are idiots out there who will never pay and say things like 'I don't need to tip 'cause they should get a real job'...even if things are good. Some things will be out of the waitresses control like if the food is cooked or if another customer is a pain in butt taking too much of their time then they might not get your drink refilled properly.

        Stop being a tight wad and expect to pay a tip unless something heinous happens like they drop something on you or are flat out rude. Go into the restraunt expecting to pay a tip. If you walk into the resteraunt with enough money to leave a decent tip it makes sense. Why go with an attitude of they better not screw anything up: especially now you know that it is legal to pay them less than 1/3 of minimum wage. Think of the tip not as they deserve a tip because I am such a great person who deemed to dine at this establishment were they are duty bound to please great and wonderful me vs I am expected to pay this slave laborer decent money to get me out of here fed and with health intact. The restraunt manager is the one who is banking a salary and could care less about your service: as long as lots of people are in, turned out fast so more can come in and pay the same amount of money for food, they really don't care how you are treated.

        Because in truth if waitressing was 'fair' and a tip was 'a tip' then your meal would cost a lot more since instead of 60 dollars per week your bill would include the contributions toward paying your server approximately 300 per week.

        May 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • David

      Thanks for this comment. I waited tables for several years and you are 100% correct.
      Not only do servers deal with rude customers, but they very often deal with a kitchen staff that, if they decide they don't like you, will purposefully make sure your order takes a long time or screw it up. They receive a paycheck regardless of whether the food and service are good or not.
      The management will often be abusive or total pushovers who let the kitchen staff run the restaurant...which is why they can get away with the former.
      Also, whatever tips that a server obtains must be shared with the bartender, busboy, and hostess. So if a server receives $300 on a Friday night, they will actually walk out the door with $210 although they will be expected to report and pay taxes on the full $300.
      Also, the government assumes that a server is bringing home 15% of each individual check. This is what they are required to report...even if they did not receive it. So, when someone leaves a tip for less than 15% that server is actually losing money on that check.
      It is also good to remember that in most parts of the country (particularly smaller towns) the base pay for a server is $2.13 per hour.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  11. doctrx

    People, ever heard about the associative property? You will get the same amount of money if several tables with let's say 4 persons paid 15% over their bill vs less tables with let's say 5 or more persons paying 15% over their bill. In the end it will be the same amount over the total earned in cost of food!!! Simple basic math!! Secondly, how can it take more time to get an order from one large group vs several smaller ones? Doesn't the waiter have to greet and introduce himself to each group and does that not take time? So would it not take more time to take orders from many smaller groups vs less larger ones? Do these people have to take math at school?

    May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • rialuticheque

      doc – as someone who waitered through college and grad school,you miss 3 points. first, large groups (and no – 5 is not a large group, i would say 8 or more) stay significantly longer than a table of four. at least 30 minutes, possibly closer to an hour, so simply put, you get less tables. second, large groups typically dont follow the associative prop, in that a table with a $100 bill will leave 15%, but a table with a $500 bill will leave 12% because a $60 tip is way too much. Finally, large tables are loud, and annoy other customers, which in some cases results in lower tips from them. The best restaurant I worked for would not allow parties larger than 7, unless the patrons were known by management. Great policy. Wait staff hell is a table of 12 with 6 kids under the age of 15

      May 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • doctrx

        OK, I see. Rude and inconsiderate people always screw up all math and logic. I was just seeing this from a bean counter point of view, but group dynamics can really alter the normal order of things.

        May 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Waitress

      Larger parties tend to linger longer, so the tip potential is not necessarily equivalent. Also, larger parties do tend to take more time as the kitchen gets slammed with more orders are once rather than a few at a time. Phone numbers are 7 digits long (without area code) because research found that is a comfortable number for the brain to compartmentalize and remember. Once you add any more digits, the memory is far less accurate. Four "numbers" with four "digits" is easier to process than one "number" with 16 "digits".

      That being said, if the service is lousy, if the management had any business sense, they should remove it from the bill and allow the customer to tip a lesser amount. Then have a conference with the servers to see if they can perform their job the way it should be or if they need to find other employment.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  12. louise

    I worked in restaurants in college–in the kitchen. We did not get tipped and got 10 cents above minimum wage. Wait staff got minimum wage plus tips. They would put the orders in late, not pick food up on time, goof off, often flirt with good looking customers, etc and collect tips that put them well over our wages but we got the blame if the food was not correct. (do you know what 20 minutes under the heat lamp does to a rare steak?) Tips are for good service–provide the service, get the tip, don't provide the service, have to live on minimum wage like the rest of us.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Stephanie

      Excellent point Louise.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • David

      Unfortunately minimum wage is not the base pay in a lot of cities. When I was waiting tables a few years ago, our base pay was $2.13 per hour. We were expected to receive an average tip of 15% on each check to make up the difference.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  13. Bull Dung

    First of all, I think restaurants paying less than minimum wage and expecting us to tip the difference is BS. And for those that say, "If you want them to get minimum wage, expect entrees to cost more.", I say BULL. Restaurants I go to are overcharging you for meals as it is and then keep raising the prices even more. Also, why do waiters/waitresses "expect" to get tipped for giving us food when people at Burger King are not deemed tip-worthy? They are serving us food too correct?

    Personally, I will tip depending on the service and not just tip because I have to. If I get awesome service, I will tip 25% or more. If I get horrible service, you might get a few cents and some comments. One day, a few of us went out to a local Buffalo Wild Wings. Our waitress took a very long time before she even took our drink order (like 15-20 minutes). After we ordered our drinks, it took her forever to get them to us. Once we got them, she said, "I'll be back to take your order." which was another 15-20 minutes. You get the point. She was horrible. We were there about 2 1/2 hours just to eat some crappy wings. I kept seeing her going out this one door and was puzzled by it. My friend said he had this waitress before and she would go out every 5-10 minutes for a smoke-break. We actually had to get up and get our own drinks because she didn't fill our drinks once in 2 1/2 hours. I kept flagging this other waiter down for things and he was kind enough to help us out even though he wasn't assigned to our table. After we were done, I gave the helpful waiter a $20 bill. As for our waitress, I rounded up the bill up to the next even dollar which happened to be $.08 and wrote down all the reasons why she only got that much in tip at the bottom of the receipt. I also talked to the manager who was not too happy with her and said he would correct the situation.

    As for "large group auto-tips", I will not pay it and have not payed it in the past if the service is terrible. Some say a server has to dedicate all their time to that one table so they should get that auto-tip and I'm calling BULL on that. I've been in restaurants with a big group and our server is servicing our "large group" plus every other table in his/her section. If our quality of service is lacking because he/she is servicing other tables, those other tables can cover part of the "large group auto-tip".

    May 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bill

      I agree with everything you said.....you get what you pay for, so why should you be expected to pay more for bad service or bad food.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  14. stepk

    TIps are antiquated and a copout for restaurant management. Meal prices are completely arbitrary anyway. Why should I pay 10% or 20% of this arbitrary price to the server? The best solution would be for the restaurant to have a no tipping poliicy. Calculate the cost of the meal so the restaurant makes a profit and add 18% to 20% to that cost which is earmarked for the staff. All of this would be transparent to the diners. Then MANAGE the staff so that they provide the service that is required. In addition, the government will make out better since the sales tax would be generated on the amount paid and the salary would be fully accounted for personal income taxes. Everyone wins and I don't have to calculate another tip amount.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Candy

      That makes complete sense....which means that it will never happen!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  15. PokingBears

    Where is that Reservoir Dogs Mr. Pink quote when you need it...

    100% of the time when gratuity is included the service is sub par.

    I included statistics in my generalized statement which means it is true.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  16. Craig

    I don't have a problem with the auto gratuity. I feel that its easier settling the bill with large parties. Personally, I usually leave 20-25% tips when I dine out. 20% for o.k. service, and 25% for excellent service. HOWEVER, I also think that tipping is done in appreciation of good service, and I should not be obligated to pay for sub-par service. At the end of the day, that server chose to work in the food service industry. So, they should provide the best possible service to increase the tips that they make.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • CuriousG

      Finally someone that I agree with. I tend to be generous with tips. I also tend to ask for the same waiter/waitress at my favorite restaurants. There have been time that I felt I received bad service and thought about leaving no tip, but my wife reminded me that "maybe" it wasn't their fault. So I always try to leave a good tip. By the way, I would never working in the food service industry, it is too much work and people don't appreciate you. I have noticed that most people are lousy tippers.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Bill

      20% for OK service? It's because of people like you that we are only getting ok or crappy service. If I get bad service, wait staff gets nothing (and I will probably be tlaking to management), I get good/acceptable service, wait staff gets 15%, and if I get great service the wait staff will get 20-25% (and I will definitely be talking to management). That is how you encourage good service, by only paying for it when received.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  17. Mythos

    I'm against auto-tips but do understand why they're necessary. I've never worked as a server myself but have known several people whom have and at restaurants where they don't have it, it is definitely a problem. The main problem that I see with it is that it's too high. The typical 18% is worthy of good service. But good service isn't guaranteed. I think a lower percentage would be better. Or, one restaurant I was at, handled it with a 'seat fee'. It wasn't really accurate because it wasn't per seat but rather by table with each of their tables holding 4 people. So basically you got one table free but if they added a table there was a fee. I don't remember the exact cost but I think I figured it to be around 10% of their average check for 4 people. And it was clearly stated in a sign as you entered, on the front of the menu and I heard the hostess explaining it to a group while we were waiting to be seated. This, to me, seemed to be a solution that more accurately reflected the issue. I was only there once while on vacation so I have no idea how well it actually worked, but it seemed like a better solution.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  18. Chris

    Here is my take, I dont have a problem with it being added for large groups, but it should still be suggestive and I should retain the right to have it removed.

    As far as the family in the current situation...American Express! Put it on your Amex, then write a very detailed letter to Amex on why the bill should be adjusted to a lower amount. Dispute the bill, Amex will not pay the business and the business will have to re-negotiate the fee. Another option is small claims court. Give the business a chance to refund the tip or they will be on the hook for the tip and the cost of small claims court.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  19. Dean

    The restaurant pays them to bring me my order. I tip them if they do it competently. A lot of times the food is not served the way it is ordered....No tip.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Anon

      If your food is not brought the way you ordered it, that is often not the servers fault. That is often the kitchen's fault. If your food comes incorrectly, bring the problem to the server's attention, and if he/she apologizes and corrects the problem, you should still tip for the SERVICE. Keeping a meal you are unhappy with then stiffing the server is passive-aggressive and unproductive.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  20. bob

    LA Fisherman just lost far more $$ due to this press than they gained by standing their ground with the Marks' clan.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  21. If only

    If only.....everyone was paid by the quality of service their businesses provided! Imagine the great customer service people would receive! No way would I have paid a tip for bad service. Tips are for good service! I get that a waiter or waitress has their moments. Might forget to bring something back or the kitchen was busy and they couldn't control it. But there is no need for more than one error! This restaurant should be ashamed and the waiter/waitress should of been reprimanded! If the waiter/waitress was not reliable or qualified enough they should not have been hosting a larger party. A group of people coming for a dinner is HUGE advertising opportunity!!! If they all liked it, imagine the people that would be coming to check out this great restaurant Sad!!!

    May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  22. Terri

    To Insure Prompt Service = TIPS If I don't get that service it should always be my right to leave smaller "TIPS", or even no "TIPS" at all (very rare for me even with lousy service. I go out to eat for service, I can cook at home if I don't want this. I generally tip 20% to 30% when service is good, 10% on the rare visit I get poor service. If "TIPS" are included in the bill I will not return to the establishment and on that visit my "TIPS" will be no more than required. I should be able to leave the amount appropriate for the service I receive. Establishments with this type policy should consider paying staff more rather than having their customers pay their employees.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Bill

      Really? You leave a tip when receiving poor service. Do you also walk around with a bottle of KY for those occasions? It's because of people like you that we are only getting ok or crappy service. If I get bad service, wait staff gets nothing because that's what they deserve/earned (and I will probably be talking to management), if I get good/acceptable service, wait staff gets 15%, and if I get great service the wait staff will get 20-25% (and I will definitely be talking to management). That is how you encourage good service, by only paying for it when received. Paying for poor service only encourages them to continue to provide poor service.

      May 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  23. LIZ

    If you don't want to pay an auto-tip for your large party, simply dine elsewhere.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  24. custumer

    TIPS ARE FOR SERVICE EXCELLANCE. ANY EATERY THAT IMPOSES A COVER CHARGE OR SET A MANDTORY AMT.
    IS MORE THAN LIKELY TAKING A CUT PRIOR TO THE WAITER OR WAITRESS GETTING A PITANCE. IF THEY WANT TO
    DO BUSINESS,THEIR PRICES SHOULD INCLUDE GREAT SERVICE. IF THE FOOD IS GOOD AND SERVICE IS CIVIL, YOU
    WILL GET A REPEAT CUSTOMER. REPEAT BUSINESS WHAT THEY THRIVE ON. I HAVE SERVED THE PUBLIC FOR 50 YRS. NEVER EVER LOST A REPEAT CUSTOMER.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • migraine

      STOP YELLING!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
      • xj32

        Really?? You know it's just text on a screen, they are not really yelling, you're just reading something.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
        • Anne Eurism

          In today's technological culture, it's yelling. That you actually posted what you did tells everyone what a noob you are.

          May 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
        • xj32

          Actually, Anne, I'm aware of this rule of netiquette. I just think people who call others out on it are lame grammar police types, like you. Your condescending tone and ability to label me a noob is really impressive! IT'S JUST CAPS LOCK!

          May 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  25. not a server

    It astounds me how anyone that has ever been a server complains about how people chould not eat out if they don't tip. That is bull!!! I am paying for the food that I bought and insist that it be delivered to my table and not thrown from the back of the kitchen. That is a normal expectation. If the server has done well, then I will tip well. DO NOT SAY THAT I OWE YOU A TIP!!! I came for dinner. That fee is given to you by the restaurant owner. I work for a living and do not get a tip every time a turn in a report on time or give a presentation without messing up. It is my job. If I do not like my job or think that I do not make enough money, then it is my responsibility to get a different job. I don't care if they pay you $3/hr, they told you that when they hired you. If everyone would just stop feeling so entitled, then it would be a hell of a lot better. And for everyone here that says they were a server and tip everyone, I call BS!! Because if you made so little money, you would not be able to tip everyone.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bonnie

      I was a server, and I tip appropriately, and it's not BS. Know why? Because I was a server while I put myself through college and now make over $300,000 a year. Maybe YOUR income/net worth hasn't changed since you were 19, but most of the rest of us are smart enough that we've established and advanced in our careers.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  26. jamesnyc

    Tips should not be mandatory. If the service is bad, which was the case in this matter, they shouldn't have to pay anything. Servers should be paid more for the work they do. I have been a bus boy and I have actually witness where someone's tip was a piece of paper with a Bible scripture on it. Pulease.
    However, when a tip is automatically added at 18%, that is too much and it shouldn't even be called a tip any more. It should be called a "service charge".
    The police should have arrested the manager of the restaurant for false imprisonment.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Lauren

      THIS! I live in Houston and won't be giving my business to this restaurant

      May 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  27. gaucho420

    And I'll add, if I ask to see the manager and a place refuses or brings the bill instead...I simply walk out. Serving a meal isn't good enough to get paid if you get insulted and receive bad service. I've done it before, and I"ll do it again...you'd be surprised how well it works and how little they try to stop you.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Capt. Obvious

      That is called stealing. Thanks for admitting that you lack morals.

      And most places teach their staff not to interfere with a robbery in progress.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  28. waitress

    I'm noticing here alot of bashing going on. Put your self on the other end. You give fantastic service to this group of people who run you ragged all night long, take up your table for an extended period (i.e. prime dinner service) and then when all is said and done leave you a terrible tip....but everything was "great" – verbal tips don't count. In all fairness, waitresses depend on tips to make a living. We dont' work for free. Tipping is part of dining out...if you can't tip adequately when the service you received was outstanding, or even good, then you should not eat out. Period.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • gaucho420

      There's no law that says you have to tip. GET REAL. I've worked in retail, moving boxes from the store to the car, sweating in the heat, going to people's houses to set up their furniture. You know how often I got a tip? NEVER. Your salary is what you get paid, a tip is bonus IF someone lets you have one.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
      • Andy Raxis

        Agreed, my college job was in a lumber yard at a hardware store. 5 days a week I would load doors, drywall, cement, concrete, shower surrounds, sometimes items weighing well over 100lbs. Typically by myself, while the customer watched and asked me to be careful and not scratch the car (why are you putting 10 – 80lb bags of cement in the trunk of your Camry anyway?). I always did so with a smile, when I was done I always removed my gloves, offered to shake hands and thanked them for choosing "my store". I got a lot of good comments left at the gate for my service.

        I was offered a tip perhaps a half dozen times in the 3 years I worked there. I refused them all (in full disclosure, company policy did not allow us to accept tips, but who would have known?). I really did feel that I was already paid for my service by the company.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
      • SlaveWorld

        Commenting on something you know nothing about is ignorance. Have a good day

        May 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
        • Former waiter

          And you obviously dont eat out much "Slave World".

          Tips are for services rendered, and are NOT a given.
          Crappy service= NO TIP.
          Good service = TIP.

          Look at it this way- how about I charge you for leaving a comment, but in the end I don't let you do so.
          Would you want your money back?

          Thought so.

          May 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
        • SlaveWorld

          @Former waiter Do you know how many people complain about bad service when they really didn't receive bad service at all just to try to get something for nothing? I tip when I eat out because that is our culture. If I get really bad service, I ask to speak to a manager but I still give a tip because most of the time, its because the servers were in the weeds and being a former waiter, i'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. I've actually waited tables in college so I know what I'm talking about. Take care

          May 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
      • Vinny

        Sorry gaucho, but in America, tips are standard. if your experience is in retail then you do not understand the restaurant business. Tipped servers received a reduced minimum wage because it is expected that tips will make up the difference between that small amount (somewhere in the vicinity of $3/hour these days) and an acceptable wage. When people choose not to tip, they are basically forcing someone to work for that pittance of pay. In other countries or often at all-inclusive resorts or even country clubs, tipping is discouraged, as servers are paid appropriate hourly wages and do not require supplemental money to make up the difference between their pay rate and the standard minimum wage. So if you never got a tip moving boxes, then perhaps you were unlucky enough to only work for folks who had little concern for your efforts. But you were in a business where gratuities were not part of the payment equation and never have been. On the floor from local dinettes to the finest 4-star restaurants, tipping is part of the deal, like it or not.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
      • tip or else

        Some of you out there don't understand that many servers work for no salary at all or so low that taxes all but take care of everything you made. In other words unless you leave a tip we make nothing and in fact when you report your sales at the end of the day which most restaurants do these days. The government taxes 8% of those sales. Chew on that! And I know the type who are saying tipping is not mandatory or complain about the service. Bad service happens, I realize that, but servers take the brunt of everything whether it took to long for them to be seated or their dinner was cold or not ordered correctly. There are many moving parts in the restaurant but only 1 takes the fall for everything no matter what. That's ok though don't leave me a decent tip and come back to the restaurant, you'll get the special treatment. I guarantee it! Bon Appitite!

        May 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
        • the internet

          the internet has the ability to bring the miserable human beings out and give them a voice, you are an example

          May 11, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Robert

      I would nag at the owner for a raise. they will raise to prices for the food to pay the wait staff a proper wadge and tips will go back to normal, like in europe, just a doller or two.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • If only

      Tipping is part of quality service! I have waitress-ed and made darn good money. It is not owed to you, you earn it! You don't like it, complain to your boss and ask for a regular pay!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bschulman

      Did you read this article? Apperantly not because nothing you have said has ANYTHING to do with it. They got horrible service and were forced to tip...that is the only thing being discussed here. I tip 20% standard...I would have walked out on this place if they locked me in...are kidding? Insane!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Cow Tipping

      I agree with gaucho. As a server, you need to work for your tip. Yes, some people will "stiff" you, but that is life...MOVE ON. I'm sorry, but this whole "pity me because I'm a server" thing is starting to get ridiculous. I generally tip at 20%, I leave less if the service was less than adequate. I've probably stiffed someone ONE TIME because their service was terrible.

      As a server, your JOB is to take orders and deliver food and drinks (which the restaurant DOES pay you for). Your TIPS are accumulated by giving GOOD SERVICE to the customers. These people were mad enough at the server to refuse to pay the gratuity and I'm SURE they were right. Don't go up in arms trying to defend the "rights of a server and their tips" because you know whether or not you gave good service or not. You won't know if one of your family members, friends or random server noted in an article gave good service or not.

      As gaucho mentioned, when was the last time YOU gave a tip to someone doing some job (which isn't related to tipping) that you still had to give them money for? Such as giving a tip to a mechanic for fixing your car or giving a tip to a salesperson (like at best buy or the apple store) for giving you really good insight as to what pros and cons come with the products you are going to buy.

      If you think your situation is much different, then don't bother trying to respond because any opinion as to why your job deserves tips but other occupations do not is completely null and void.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  29. troy

    I have found when a server knows they are going to get a certain amount regardless of how well they serve, the service is horrible. I am sick of getting tagged with an 18% gratuity for a person who takes 30 minutes to fill a drink order, no refills and brings out food that you watched sit under a heat lamp for 20 minutes. I have worked in a restaurant for tips. I understand what it can be like when the place is busy but the last 2 times I went with a group, we were practically the only people there and the only table our server had.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  30. gaucho420

    Auto tips are a guarrenteed way to get poor service. A tip is earned...it is NOT AN ENTITLEMENT! Being a waiter doesn't pay enough? Find a new job, I'm not putting out some sort of income subsidy via a tip.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  31. Diana

    I wish America would move away from the whole tipping culture. Employers should pay their employees appropriately, charge customers what is appropriate, and ensure employees are providing good service – always. Why would you put the customer in the awkward position of determining what your employee should get paid? Some people are cheap or not familiar with our tipping culture (i.e. foreigners) and won't pay the standard regardless of the service provided. If the price was set and a customer doesn't want to pay the price to eat there, then they won't. This is just a way for restaurants (and other service-based companies) to skimp on wages. Btw, tipping shouldn't be necessary to get good service. You'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever been to Japan.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  32. Illeagle-j1

    I spent most of my working life in fine dining restaurants, as such when I step out to a fine dining restaurant I expect to receive prompt courteous service as well as food that is well prepared. The fact that the food is not well prepared is not the wait person's problem, but surley and negletful service I will not tolerate. I have walked away from an unsatisfactory meal leaving only a note, "LEARN YOUR JOB". No one should be forced to pay a gratuity. Too many wait people feel that they are entitled to a tip regardless of their attitudes. Simple solution, advise the restaurant owner of the problem, and refuse to patronize, this day and age the average life expectancy of a new restaurant is 9 months. Wait and there will be a better establishment within 10 months.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  33. bressanvido

    I don't have a problem with the auto-tip for large groups but 5 is not a large group. I regularly escort a large group of people while eating out & pick up the tab with a company credit card & it's much simpler with the auto-tip. Most restaurants I go to consider either over 6 or over 8 a large group. I can't recall going to one that considers 5 a large group.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Mike

      I disagree with the autotip (although I have friends that are GREAT tippers and some that are POOR tippers). But agree, how is 5 a 'big group'. A mother and father with 3 kids (like my family is) would be 5 people, so how is that a LARGE group?

      I've seen autotip on a bill before and I've asked to have it removed if the party is small "6 or less", especially if they didn't mention that 'autotip' was applied. I'm a generous tipper, but when they try to 'sneak' this in and hope that we don't notice, that just ticks me off so I won't tip as high as I normally would.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  34. Dave

    Absolutely not.

    When the onus is placed on the customer to pay the server's wage, we get to place the onus on the server to do their job. You don't get paid for showing up to work sloppy, rude, and inept.

    Automatic gratuities are fine, but they should be immediately removed at the request of the customer. If the customer is willing to go through the trouble of challenging an automatic gratuity, your establishment/staff is likely to blame.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jay

      Dave, you sound like a person who gets spit in his food a lot and doesn't realize it. If you have such a problem with tipping, then why don't you cook your own food? Servers work hard, deal with RUDE customers, and work long hours, so forgive them if they don't serve you on a silver platter. Many servers are college students trying to make their lives better.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
      • Dave

        Jay, you should be devoting a little more time studying those books instead of parading your presumptuous ignorance all over an internet forum.

        I, too, spent long hours getting through University (and I didn't have mommy or daddy to pay for it). I have zero problem tipping (and have never tipped anyone less than 10%, and that was for poor service). However, you don't get extra cash to buy your Abercrombie rags when you take 45 minutes to deliver a glass of water. That's how it works.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
      • JohnC

        Jay,
        I disgaree with you. I spent my fair time being a server when I was younger and I had plenty of rude patrons. However, tipping should reflect the service provided. If you are a RUDE waiter, and did not get my order correct or ignored me.... I really don't care if another customer was rude. I will not be rude and will be civil as I believe every server deserves that. But don't expect a big tip. BTW, I tend to still be forgiving and give one, just not as much as I normally do (about 20%).

        May 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  35. JC

    I hate doing employee reviews for my staff, and do not with to do them over a restaurant meal. It's time to eliminate tipping entirely, and let restaurant owners take responsibility for hiring, training, supervising, and paying their help properly. I would much prefer to pay a standard 15% more and not have to deal with this.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  36. Jenn

    I don't have a problem with auto-tips honestly, but the service still needs to be on point. Paying an auto-tip for poor service is unacceptable.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Joshua

      TIPS = To Insure Prompt Service.

      No prompt service, no tip, very simple.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  37. Business 101

    These restaurants act like they are loosing money when they serve alot of people. Think about it. This table has three people at it and this one has 8 people. Let's piss off the table with 8 people because we would rather have three customers instead of 8. Sounds like a good businees decision to me. Bottom line is that you go to a restuarant and order food. You expect to get the food that you ordered and have enough napkins, condiments and drinks. Not that hard people. If you go to McDonalds, you order food, get your own food and fill your own drink for about $5-$6. If you go to a restuarant someone takes your order, brings your food and fills your drink for about $20. I think they made enough to warrant that server being there.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  38. AutoGrat for 5 People

    I cant belive they put an Autograt on 5 people....thats not a giant group of people. Today, thats about the average size of a family! I can understand autograt for 7 or more, but 5 is a little rediculous. And 17% is quite much for someone who doesn't provide great service...I would refuse to pay as well...

    May 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  39. JeffreyP

    I am a professional server from Canada. The reason I refuse to work in the U.S.A anymore is simple. Americans are rude and clueless when it comes to fine dining. In Montreal, I have never had to add an auto gratuity to a check because people do not try to stiff servers here as much. The article stated that the drinks were not refilled. I am willing to bet these are some of those pigs who abuse free refills, and expect to be treated as "royalty" ect. Last time I went out with a group of Americans. I had to explain tipping to them almost like in reservoir dogs. Here in Canada, I make over 100k as a waiter, and will never force a gratuity on my guest.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Andy Raxis

      Abuse free refills? Yes, perhaps I am a some grotesque American neanderthal but – well heck, the English language didn't change did it? free refills are typically understood to be "free unlimited refills" – in which case how the heck can I abuse them?

      May 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
      • richardbrunt123

        TIP is to insure proper service. It's an extra, as a gesture of appreciation for those that go above and beyond the minimum required and do a great job. Tipping everyone regardless of performance is rewarding failure. For me, average service gets 10% on the food – not the drinks. exceptioanl is 15%, never more. Tipping on alcohol? Someone walks over to you table witha $6 beer and you give them 75 cents? That is plain stupid.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
      • Jen

        because you're probably really fat

        May 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • JoeMa

      So you base an entire country off of the one time you dined with them. Perhaps you need to find new friends. They do not speak for all American diners.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • jamesnyc

      what if the refill is just your water glass? Cocktails or beverages sure but water? please. Glad you are making so much though...

      May 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • richardbrunt123

      Please do not judge Canadians for the absurd comments from this person.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • WowReally!

      You are a "professional server" in Canada? Is there such a thing in the US? Typically serving is a job you get in the States while you are in school, or if you do not have a degree. Also, this restaurant was not "fine dining". It was a seafood restaurant/bar.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  40. Joe Plumber

    This is absurd. I managed a restaurant for years. Yes – we always put the tip onto large parties because people notoriously under-tip on large bills. I have seen parties try to leave a $20 tip on a $400 bill. However, it is completely illegal to force someone to pay a tip, especially when the customers have complained of bad service. But more importantly it is illegal to lock people inside a restaurant for ANY reason. This is called false imprisonment. Restaurants do not have the right to restrain or lock people inside – even if they try to not pay the original bill. . Their only recourse is to call the police. I hope the people paid with a credit card so they can dispute the charges and the restaurant should be fined.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Ron

      You are right on all counts. The thing is you have to remember this happened in texas.
      ..
      ~

      May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  41. northernstar

    I am a generous tipper as I appreciate good service and understand how important the tips are to the wait staff. Having said that; if the service is poor, I will speak up during the service. If the service does not improve (so that we can enjoy our meal); then the tip will reflect the poor service. You don't automatically deserve a 20% tip if you don't provide the service. If the service was poor that night; then they should not automatically pay the 17% tip. If the doors were locked – locking them in, THEY should have called the police and charged the restaurant with 'false imprisonment', etc. Locking patrons in is indicative of the poor service they received.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  42. Jenn

    I must say I was in a similar situation. Attending a birthday dinner with friends, our party of eight received bad service from beginning to end. Our waitress was nonexistent after delivering drinks and appetizers, and our food took over an hour to come out. Mind you, she never came back to tell us what was taking so long. Then after dinner, she disappears AGAIN; we had to wait forever for the check!! Only to see 17% gratuity added.

    Uhh...I don't think so! She didn't earn it so we called the manager over and explained our grievances. He offered us free dessert but we didn't want that. We kindly explained that we would still tip, but not the 17% she was expecting because she literally was gone almost the entire 3hrs we were there. He agreed.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Pay_Up

      Jenn, you took up the table for 3 hours and didn't want to tip? Must be nice to have that stick so far up you @$$ that you can't think anymore

      May 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
      • Andy Raxis

        It would appear to me that the reason they were there for 3 hours was because the wait staff denied them prompt service. If prompt service had been rendered, perhaps they would have been there for an hour or so, and a tip would have been given gladly I would think. So, pull YOUR head out of YOUR @SS and think before you mash your face on the keyboard again.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
        • Pay_Up

          I doubt the server held them up for 2 extra hours. R U for real with that?

          May 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • Andy Raxis

        I occurs to me that if wait staff waste my time by not waiting on me in a timely manner I should be able to charge them for my time over the reasonable amount at my hourly rate. I figure I'm just nice enough to take it out of the tip first. Perhaps I'll start leaving a bill (don't worry, I won't add a automatic gratuity to it)

        May 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
        • Allen

          And for being such a well reasoning cheap skate why don't you stay home and cook it yourself. Save your time and the servers. This why they also have fast food joints because if you wanted fast promt service in a sit down environment you should be dissapointed with the speediness of the service. Now if you go to mcdonalds and it takes two hours to get your food and pay the bill then mcdonals should pay you for your time or at least as many reasoning businesses do if things are not in you or the servers control allow you to walk away with no hard feeling before the food is served but if you sit there the whole time and not walk out or ask to see a manager for what you think eggrgious treatment then you should pay the bill and the gratuity and quit being a whinny jerk. Talk about feeling entitled.

          May 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
      • Pay_Up 2

        Clearly your reading comprehension skills need work, Jenn said she would tip but not the auto-grat on bad service. I agree completely with her stance and I use to be a server and bartender for many years. My first manager always said, be attentive to the customer and you'll walk out with $$ at the end of night. Too bad it isn't followed

        May 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
        • Andy Raxis

          You fail math?

          1. Took "over an hour" to get appetizers out. (I estimate this at 1:15)
          2. Took "forever" to get the check. (I estimate this to be :45)

          = 2 hours waiting for the staff. It's not 1+1, but it's still second grade time math.

          I did not miss that they would have left a tip. Didn't matter to the context of the narrative.

          May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • jamesnyc

        Pay_Up I have worked as a busboy in a restaurant so I know how much servers are paid or when they are being shafted by the client; however, if the service is bad, anything over 15% is too much. A person still has to do their job.
        Should servers and staff be paid more? Absolutely – but don't abuse your clients either or they won't come back. Have you worked in a restaurant on days when no one comes in? Even that $3,10 an hour I was making looked good. That is before people start getting laid off for there being no business.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
        • Bill

          Sorry to disagree with you, but if service is bad, anything over 5% is too much. No one forced them to take the job, just as no one forced them to be bad at it. And no one will force me to give someone a pat on the back for crappy job done.

          May 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  43. Pay_Up

    I am not reading many posts about the fact that servers get paid less than $3 an hour in most places. They then have to pay out a % to servers and bussers. When you cheap @$$ don't tip right, they might even lose money for waiting on that big party. Its not fair to punish servers for a broken system. You should be complaining about the unfair wages servers get paid, not the tip you have to give them. This is just another example of corporate greed

    May 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • northernstar

      I think everyone understands that wait staff rely on the tips as they are paid nothing. However, the wait staff did not deliver good service that night and did nothing to earn the 17% automatic tip. I think the fact that the restaurant locked the doors indicates the kind of management the restaurant has. If someone locked me in...I would have called the police to charge them with unlawful detention.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • AngryA

      You're kidding right?

      May 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • JT

      I have been a waiter and I sympathize with the pay conditions, but I have also been on the receiving end of bad service where I've had to wait for my food. Everyone has already eaten their food, and I am still waiting for my food to appear. The party took up 3 hours because of bad service not the other way around. If it takes an 1 – 1.5 hours to receive the food you have no choice but to wait.

      May 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  44. Robert

    Listen restaurant owners: PAY YOUR STAFF! Stop relying on your customers to pay 15-17% tip. It is MY choice to tip anybody I wish, for whatever amount I wish, for whatever reason I wish. on top of that: If i Tip a person... I am tipping THAT person not the manager, not the entire wait staff.

    If your employees are underpaid raise the prices for your food and pay them properly, don't ask me to do it using some mandatory volunteerism tactic.

    I understand parties of 10 are hard for the kitchen to serve all at the same time. Stop crying about it is YOUR JOB!

    May 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • perionan

      Well, it's easy for you to say that the restaurant just needs to pay their employees, however the government makes it legal to underpay employees. If you've never served, I can tell you that serving is one of the most difficult, and under-appreciated jobs out there. Not only are servers underpaid, but when a server is stiffed on a bill or their tip is less than 15% they lose money... for instance:
      Generally, a server is supposed to receive 15% of their total sales in tip.
      At the end of the night, the server generally pays 2% to bussers and 2% to any expeditors off their total sales.
      At the end of the pay period, the government takes up to 10% in taxes off the server's sales.. sometimes 8% depending on the state.
      If the server made the standard tip, then they go home with 1% of their tip.
      If the server only made, say, a 10% tip then they are essentially paying the taxes on their customer's meal. If the server only made 10% off the entire night, then this happens. Server makes $1400 in sales. If server only makes $140 (10%) then $56 (4%) go to the help, $112 (8%) goes to the government at the end of the week, and the server is left with -$28 for that night. In Colorado, where servers are paid only $4.35, they can sometimes end up owing the restaurant at the end of a pay period because they didn't make enough money hourly to afford the taxes they have to pay on their sales.

      So, even if the server wasn't the best, seriously consider it before you leave less than the 15%. Think about your party, did you have any children who weren't behaving? Did you take longer than normal to order? Was the restaurant busy, or was the server busy? Did you get a refill just to finish it off in 2 seconds and immediately complain that your drink is empty?? (that happens a lot, servers may be good, but they do not have super speed) After all these considerations (seriously look at yourself before you complain about a server) you decide that your service was still unacceptable then complain to the manager about the server so their actions can be corrected... but don't make them pay your taxes.

      ... Server for the 2nd busiest restaurant in the states for 6 years (Downtown disney Rainforest Cafe, CA)... Thank god I got out of that industry!!!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
      • Robert

        I am a libritarian. If you dont like what they pay. dont work there.
        I am also am Farm Manamger. I have to pay at leat 13 bucks an hour to get compitant labor.
        do you want to dig in the dirt 16 hours a day for $13 an hour? I'll hire you I need more workers.

        The power is in your hands. dont work for people who dont pay you money. everthing else will even itself out.

        May 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  45. ROFLCOPTER

    Forced Tip? ROFL Thats the funnies shit i've read all day. If i went to a restaurant and i was expected to pay extra at the end of a meal i would never ever go back there again and on top of that i would ensure all my friends and relatives never go there. I've been to restaurants where tipping wasnt required and i tipped. But to be forced...hah! You wont even get a penny. If restaurants want their employees to make more then they need to pay them more. Simple as that. No where else would something as ridiculous as this be tolerated. WAITERS NEED TO GET REAL JOBS!

    May 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Yes – that's the solution. "Waiters need to get REAL JOBS!" Most restaurant servers are paying their way through school, first and foremost, so they CAN get "real jobs" and don't have to put up with filth like you day in and day out for less than minimum wage. But besides THAT, please take a moment to imagine a world where every person ONLY had a "real job."

      There would be no servers to serve you at restaurants – go get your own GD side salad.
      There would be nobody to pick up your garbage – take it to the dump yourself, a-hole.
      There would be nobody to sell you soda, cigarettes, or candy at the gas station – pump your gas and leave, and I hope you don't have to pee!
      There would be nobody to sign you in at your doctor's office – so while you're in the middle of your prostate exam, I guess patients can just pop into your exam room right quick to let the doc know they're there!
      There would be nobody to clean your child's school – so your snotty, sniveling little brat can get a staph infection from the dirty bathroom sink.
      There would be nobody to mow the grass anywhere, ever – do it yourself, you lazy twit!
      There would be nobody to answer the phone and handle your customer service complaints – which I'm sure are many.
      There would be nobody to mix your paint or help you choose the appropriate potting soil at Lowe's – hope you don't plan to decorate or renovate your home!
      There would be nobody to sell you clothes, anywhere, ever – hope you know how to sew!
      There would be nobody to service the towers that keep your cellphone working – not that anyone wants to hear your mouth anyway.
      There would be nobody to defend your freedom – because if it doesn't require a college degree, it isn't a "real job," right?

      You really ought to think about the stupid things you say...you're such a Republican.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  46. chef E

    #1 auto grat is BS. its not a gratuity if its forced. Thats a fee. 2nd. The large table excuse is also BS. A table of 12 orders the same amount of food as 3 4tops or 6 2tops yadayada. Industry BS very common with corporate chain crap they call food.If the sheeple would grow a backbone and stop allowing places to treat them like this then it would stop. BTW 46 years in food and i own 2 places. no tip sharing or forced tips ever.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • GMC

      auto grats are posted on the wall, a party over 8 requires 2 severs 4 busers and a bartender. and if you are to stupid to read a sing then get your food to go!!!

      May 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  47. Experienced Server

    Are you kidding me? I can understand both sides of this issue, but if you haven't been a server you have no idea what you are talking about. I also find ignorant people who say "get skills" or "get a better education" as an excuse to just be cheap people who want something for nothing...I'm sorry but a large portion of the servers in this country ARE students...students working their way through school. You can say this or that but it doesnt change the fact that it is the established norm in this country. They even distribute information to people coming to the US, on vacation, on the tipping guidelines. (Anyone who tries to say it is optional, is just cheap)

    You all seem to think that all people come in and base their tip on the service...they don't. There are many many cheap people who could care less how great the service is, they are going to leave you $2. The above poster who listed out low tippers...that is pretty accurate. Kids/Teenagers, and seniors are among the biggest offenders and while most do not like to talk about it...there is a proven track history of race to how much they tip. (its horrible, but it's true)

    I tip 25%-30%, but I do expect good service...but I also know the difference between what is in the servers control and what is out of their control and do not hold them accountable for things, they have no control over.

    It is the accepted social norm in this country...if you do not want to pay for the service, then order to go... or go to a drive through.. or go to a buffet, just do not go to a place where you know going in, that you are expected to TIP APPROPRIATELY !

    May 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Disagree.

      A tip is a gift. This is an ent.itlement issue that is prevalent in servers. A tip is now expected. There are a lot of customer service jobs that don't get tips.

      Now should people generally tip? Probably. It's social etiquette. However I take incredible exception to the comment that people who do not want to tip shouldn't come eat at a restaurant. How would the manager feel about that statement? How about the owner of the restaurant?

      Look at it this way. At least servers are getting paid *something* for their time and service (regardless of what they tell you, no server is working absolutely for free). If no one comes in to eat at all, then you get paid *nothing* because you have no customers on which to serve and therefore, there is no job.

      So appreciate that your customers are even coming in to have a meal. The job market is still pretty rough out there and there are a lot of unemployed people making less than some servers. If you don't like your compensation or the way you are treated, quit and find something different. Guaranteed, there is someone right behind you wanting to fill your position.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mary

      Hmmmm so I am wrong for tipping at a buffet?? The server brings and refills my drinks, takes dirty dishes away and helps if I have a question. It doesn't seem right to not tip this person.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • JPC

      "I tip 25%-30%, but I do expect good service...but I also know the difference between what is in the servers control and what is out of their control and do not hold them accountable for things, they have no control over."

      And what, pray tell, do you tip if you do not experience good service and, in your judgment, the reason for that poor service was within the server's control? Do you still pay the same 25-30% regardless? Or do you give them less?

      And how would you feel if tried to give them less for that reason, and the restaurant owner locked the door and called the police?

      May 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  48. Tipper Gore

    The auto tip is another way for restaurants to make more money. If they were really serious about being fair, they would make sure that these large parties would have enough servers, then there would be no issue with the extra tip. Like everyone else stated, 20% is the norm for good service. When you automatically charge a 17% tip, you are jipping your staff out of 3%, or you already know that you don't caare about the service because it is already "paid" for. Tipping is for great service, period! Not automatic, Not part of their salary. It's funny, because if you talk to someone in a service industry they all expect to be tipped. Even at starbucks when they already charge you $5 for a coffee. You go to a bar and walk up to the bartender and order a beer and he wants a tip. If I go to a bar, I want you to serve me not open my beer. By that, I mean check with me to see if I want another beer and deliver it to me, don't make me wait in line.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • JPX

      This is just so obnoxious. How about paying the employees more and doing away with tipping altogether? I hate tipping.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • jsanmarc

      Okay you all! Here's the deal from a pro...Yes its common for a restaurant to post a grat for large parties. All good because the server get it, has to do all the work, etc. BUT, in this case the professional response is that the party complains to the mgr. about lousy service and demands they drop the grat. The mgr. at that point MUST drop the grat. Its about two things in paticular: Pleasing your guests and making sure they come back, and making sure that your servers give the best service they can. Any compaints? well you just drop the grat...then offer them a complimentary shot of tequila!

      May 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  49. Stuck in the Middle

    I faiil to see how the restaurant has any legal right to demand a "tip". It's not part of the service the customer bought and should not be manditory. I'd have had them call the police and filed wrongful imprisonment charges.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  50. Worldwalker

    "This tip, which is generally clearly stated on a menu, or when making a reservation for a larger group, ensures that a server will be compensated for their time and not miss out on earning money for that shift."

    There's a simple solution: THE RESTAURANTS SHOULD PAY THE SERVERS A FAIR SALARY. None of this "we'll charge you to begin with, and then you customers get to pay our staff for us" crap. Simple: PAY THE STAFF. Clerks in stores get paid by their employers, not their customers. Grocery store cashiers get paid by their employers, not their customers. In fact, just about everyone else one deals with on a regular basis gets paid by their employers ... except restaurant servers. Why do restaurants do this? Because they can. Enough is enough.

    And what's with 18% or 20%, anyway? A tip used to be 10%. Then it crept up to 15%. Now 20%? No matter what it is, though, when it's added on to your bill and you have no say in the matter, it's NOT a tip. It's a mandatory service charge. And I will not eat in a place that charges it.

    May 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • chef E

      consumers pay for everything. employers pay for nothing. If my food cost...or labor cost...taxes... or toilet paper cost goes up so do the prices. Biz 101

      May 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
      • Allen

        Amen!!

        May 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • EconMajor

      If you eliminate the voluntary tip and instead the restaurant pays its servers salary, then the price of youre meal will increase by 20% and the quality of youre service will suffer because the server is getting paid no matter how well they perform. The autograt is added for many reasons, the biggest being that when checks are split, people feel more anonymous when they dont tip correctly. Though it should always be negotiable.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
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