Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Automatic Tipping

In the news this week, it was interesting to see that some of the chain restaurants in New York City such as Red Lobster, Applebee's and Olive Garden were involved in a lawsuit over tipping. State law in New York allows for automatic gratuities on parties of 8 or more, but what several consumers had discovered was that even for parties of less than 8, automatic gratuity had been placed on their bills.
Many consumers are upset by this which has led to the lawsuit. The chain restaurants argue that even though the gratuity is on the bill, that it is still optional. However, like most people, when presented with a bill that says you owe xxxx amount, you more than likely pay it, assuming unusual circumstances. This lawsuit claims the addition of these automatic gratuities to parties of less than 8 are unlawful, and they attempt to claim more than $5.5 million in charged gratuities. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Tipping is, was, and always will be, the one service available in which the consumer is allowed to decide its worth. In our opinion, tipping should never be guaranteed. We only allow for it on parties in our banquet facility because much of the service - which goes unseen - is provided prior to, behind closed doors, and after the actual party itself.  On the floor, parties of 8 or more may occasionally see an automatic gratuity on their check, but only after the server has been given approval by their manager on duty. The automatic gratuity is something they must earn by providing quality mistake free service, as guidelined by our dining standards.
What else does a service member have to work for if they already know their money has been made before the service even begins? Certainly doesn't sound like a place I would want to dine at. 

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