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. Ted

    One thing a lot of people dont understand is that regardless of whether you believe in tipping or not the IRS does!! Servers are taxed on a percentage of their sales whether they make the tips or not,so if you stiff a server on a 100 dollar check the IRS says the server had to have made anywhere from 10-20 dollars on that table so tax them on 10-20 dollars of income. Most servers are single mothers/fathers or college students,90 percent of the time if your experience was bad it was'nt the servers fault,it was the Manager/Owners's fault. You should ALWAYS tip unless the server was rude,and you should ALWAYS vent to the Manager,not the employee.

    May 14, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Assuming your claim is true, the IRS only assumes a 10% overall tip rate. If you get one bad table, that still leaves plenty of room to make up the difference over the next several.

      Assuming, of course, that you actually make enough money to pay taxes in the first place.

      In any case, it's not my problem. I'll give you a good tip if you give me good service. Good service, by the way, involves a lot more than simply not being rude – if you're rude, you'll get absolutely nothing, and I'll be having a long, angry chat with your manager long before the meal is over – or may end it prematurely and simply pay nothing at all. If you don't like it, find another career.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:57 am |
      • Robert L Grant

        I pay for service!! Maybe the problem with this whole industry, with the IRS as part of the game, is the waiters aren't paid a decent wage in the first place! Like I said at first "I will pay for service". Bad service little or no tip!! See you boss.

        May 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • DT

      That is absolutely incorrect. At the end of each shift a waitress/waiter is supposed to "claim" their tips with the office. Most end up only claiming their credit card tips therefore owing less to uncle sam.

      May 14, 2012 at 4:23 am |
      • Big Tipper

        More power to them for not claiming tips on cash.

        May 14, 2012 at 7:01 am |
      • LuckyGirl

        DT, you are harboring an outdated misconception about servers and taxes. II have been a server for over thirty years and know that in the 1980's maybe not all servers claimed all their tips. But in 2012 most every person pays with a debit card, which is recorded and used to determine tips received. On most shifts, I end up having to claim more than I actually make because I have to tip bartenders and food runners out of my earnings.

        May 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
        • LAB

          I always pay in cash and directly hand the tip in cash to the server. It's up to the server to handle that in whatever way he/she deems appropriate. I don't believe that a server should have to share tips with other servers because you get what table you get. People are all different and have different sentiments about gratuities. If these people were unionized, then I can see pooling of tips, but many are non-union. What they earn is what they should keep. A bar tender should be paid a salary and a cut of the bar sales BY THE RESTAURANT OWNER and should not have to be dependent upon tips. Buspersons should be paid a salary and should not have to be cut in on the tips. If waiting tables paid a better wage, tips wouldn't be necessary, but since it is what it is, I will make sure to tip very well. I just want that money to go directly to the person who took care of me.

          May 15, 2012 at 9:08 am |
      • twoell76

        That is why I usually tip in cash and draw a line through the "tip" portion on the credit card slip.

        May 17, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • asdf

      waiters and waitresses that complain about tips or "non tips" are just like the idiots in the education field. the so-called teachers knew what kinda job and career they were getting into. they knew the type of salary you would be making. yet these bloodsuckers think theyre underpaid and deserve more.

      TRY STRIPPING THEN! i heard employees get paid well in that industry.

      dont try to punish others for the mistakes you made with your career choices.

      May 14, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • badfreakinmedicine

        Are you kidding me? Seriously? THESE PEOPLE SERVE YOU. WITHOUT THEM, RESTAURANTS, BARS, ETC WOULD NOT EXIST. How about showing a little respect, imbecile?

        May 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Bill


      Thanks for validating my point of view that restaurants should just charge the customer a little more and then pay the employees a fair wage. Then the employees could just have taxes deducted for the wages they are actually receiving.

      May 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  2. wallynm

    I would prefer them to increase the price by 15% and have a hard and enforced rule of "NO TIPPING"

    May 14, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  3. Steve

    As long as it is clearly written in the menu or stated at the beginning of the meal by the server, then nobody can complain. You forfeit your right when you agree to eat at the restaurant given their policy. Plain and simple.

    If you don't like it, then don't go to that restaurant. If every restaurant does it, then don't eat out. Why do we make things much more complicated than they need to be?

    May 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • John

      Why make it complicated? Because it is .. no one should have to pay a 18% mandatory tip for crappy service. That's rewarding a server for poor service and there's no incentive for them to give good service since they know they are getting above the customary amount of 15%. Servers should get tipped for how good they are period

      May 14, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Al

      Steve, why are you taking the position that the menu is a legal contract? Except for reading a description of an item on the menu and ordering that item, how did THE ENTIRE menu rise to legal contract status in your mind?

      What if the patrons ordered specials posted on a blackboard and didn't read the menu at all? (Let's say the blackboard doesn't mention gratuities). Why should someone who doesn't read the menu be obligated by the menu?

      May 14, 2012 at 1:44 am |
      • brutalmaster

        I would have sued the owner for holding the party hostage. they could have had felony kidnapping ( SEE OJ SIMPSON IN HIS LAST CASE) i would have filed charges and STILL NEVER PAID. A TIP IS NOT A REQUIREMENT OF DINING. IT IS TO COMPENSATE THE STAFF FOR GOOD SERVICE, and by not tipping you are sending a message to the employee about the bad service to. here is a tip, be glad it wasnt me in that restaurant.

        May 14, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Ron

      The whole point of a Tip is to reward good service. When I recive good service I tip very well but if the sevice is crappy then the tip, or lack there of, will reflect that as well. To have a mandatory tip removes any motivation for the server to do their best becase they are going to get their pay reguardless.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Well, no. In fact, this has been litigated several times in the past, and courts have always found that gratuities are voluntary, period. You are well within your legal rights to refuse such auto-gratuities.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:59 am |
    • Michael

      @Steve This is complete BS as it isn't a law that you have to leave a tip. It is very misleading by the restaurant and they should just add it onto the prices as what they are doing is false advertising of prices.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • Bill


      I'm older and my eyes don't work like they used to. Can we get that menu statement in the largest font used elsewhere on the menu, at the start, or better yet, a nice big sign on the front door. Thanks!

      May 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • badfreakinmedicine

      And if it's "clearly stated" in fine print that I agree to give up my firstborn son as a precondition of eating at this restaurant (well you know, it's really hard to get a table here!), then clearly in this case I should also have no reason to complain. Right?

      May 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  4. mhenry

    The story doesn't dwell on the facts behind the reason of being locked in. Who knows? There have been several times that I have had to tell people that they simply could not be pleased and requested they no longer patronize my establishment. That is probably one of the worst things you could do...but, hell, it's not like these people couldn't claim they had terrible service when that is anything but the truth (in reality they just don't like to tip or love to complain in order to get a bill slashed).

    I actually laughed when I read this article because my thoughts were that this restaurant staff felt it necessary to call the police on these people. That means these people are probably the worst of customers. Not that I agree with locking them in...I would also say they should have had their autograt taken off. Regardless, everyone seems to miss that this is not a "go to" course of action for someone not tipping. As a matter of fact, I have never heard of any drastic steps unless the customers were just ridiculous. My experience with servers is they tend to reflect how you treat them. That's not to say there aren't bad apples. However, there are plenty more rude customers than bad waitstaff.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  5. GrouchyKat

    I tip based on service. There's a place near me that knows me by name and most of the older servers know that I'll tip very well ~20-25% since I take up a table by myself. The summer employees have started and I ran out of tea, not once, but three times; my order was wrong with the excuse the kitchen is busy (I've been in when it's busier and no one had ever forgotten the sides before); and it took 15 minutes for my card to be swipped to pay the check. The server got exactly 5%, not a penny more. I'm paying for service, and if you can't do a good job, don't pretend that you can, or be mad when you don't get what you expect.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Bartender

      Are you kidding? 20-25% is not an extremely good tip...it is decent but not "extremely good." You take up an entire table, have a $10 check and leave $2-$2.50...oh thank you for the awesome display of generosity!

      May 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
      • Are YOU kidding?

        In what world is 20-25% just an ok tip? What are you expecting? 50%? 100%?

        May 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
      • LAB

        You have your nerve. 15%-20% is a proper tip. You will only get a 100% tip if you serve me a meal that is so large that I disclose to you up front I will be spliting with somone, understand that it is an accommodation that you legally must make for me under ADA, and treat me appropriately. My meal will be paid for IN CASH. You will get a 100% tip in CASH because I did not buy another meal. I will then hand this cash directly to you and you then deal with it in the manner you deem appropriate. Because I hand this cash to you personally, I have reason to believe that it is solely your money.

        May 15, 2012 at 9:17 am |
      • Bill


        When a family comes in, only spends an hour, has a $200 bill, and "only" tips $25 (which is much more than my hourly wage for skilled labor), then there's whining about the fact that it's only a 12.5% tip. You can't have it both ways – get a life!

        May 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  6. JQA

    Here's good information about tax due on tips.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  7. Michael Wong

    I worked as a server in Fine Dining in San Francisco in College. We get may foreign guests and tipping in America is "customary." Many guests will refuse the applied 15% and we do not fuss and take it off no questions asked. I was disappointed when this happens but seldom does this happen. If the party was a banquet and they did not tip, my boss would compensate us. Again tipping is "customary" and not mandatory. If a guest does not tip that's not a big deal if one takes pride in giving top notch service no matter what.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Bill


      Comparing your attitude to some others on this page is like comparing right and wrong. You seem to understand the attitude that once made America great. If more folks in this country had a work ethic like yours, we might not be reading the article above, because the gratuity probably wouldn't have been contested.

      May 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  8. Jim

    I have no problem with the mandatory gratuity, but the wait staff still must be held accountable to earn it. The manager should have been involved, and removed the gratuity – possibly taking it out of the salaries of the rude staff.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  9. AJD13

    If tips are "mandatory" what motivation does the wait staff have to do a good job if they're going to get that 17% or whatever either way?

    May 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Bartender

      17% is a joke for a skilled employee...the incentive is to make money. I clear $400 a night on the weekends and would make half of that if I settled for 17%!

      May 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
      • "skilled"

        you're making the same, if not better, rates as a prostitute or stripper. i would actually count their jobs as requiring more "skill" than yours. your job takes a minimal amount of skill, yet you are making more in one night than most Americans make in a week. I take home just a little bit more than your nightly earnings in a week and i work in cancer research. your earnings do not reflect your skill, they reflect warped American consumerist tendencies. i guarantee there is no other nation on this planet that would reward your "skill set" a tenth of what your are currently making.

        May 15, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  10. interesting article

    this article tells it all, it really is a Thank less job. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990_3,00.html

    May 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Solo

      Bringing someone food and drinks isn't a "thankless" job. It's a way to earn a paycheck, and it's not all that difficult from what I can see. Nurses, EMT's, police and firefighters have the distinction of the often "thankless" job because THEY PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE SO THAT OTHERS CAN LIVE. Refilling water glasses just does not compare.

      May 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
      • x

        and I'm sure you are the type that doesn't tip. I agree that the service men and women do have a "thankless" job. However, how many times have you been to a restaurant and one of the service staff has made you smile for you ordering them around for an hour?

        May 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  11. AJD13

    I am not someone that's hard to please or one of those difficult customers that all servers hate. I understand when a restaurant is busy and the serving staff doesn't have time to just cater to me. I almost always leave a good tip. However, if I have received terrible service (and it has to be terrible for me to consider it terrible) I won't leave a good tip or any at all. That's how the system is supposed to work. You get tipped for doing a good job. If you don't do a good job, you shouldn't be compensated for it. It really is as simple as that. As for flagging down waitstaff and telling them the service is bad during the meal and all that, I've done that, but really don't feel that it should be necessary. The wait staff knows what their job is and if they're not doing it, it's because they're choosing not to. The few times I have neglected to leave a tip because of bad service, it's been when I've been in a restaurant where it wasn't busy, there was hardly anyone in that server's area but us, and I witnessed the server standing around talking to colleagues or something of that nature or just disappearing altogether. If I get decent service I will tip accordingly, if I dont, I won't.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • x

      I understand tipping low... but no tip at all? Have you ever stopped to think maybe something recently happened to them? Their boss won't allow them to go home due to heavy business or they will get fired. With the economy the way it is its even hard to find a good restaurant to work for these days. So most of the time your stuck with a crap boss who wont let you leave when you sister just passed away or your car broke down and its going to cost $xxx to pay for it and your not helping by leaving nothing. This isn't just towards you, but anyone who leave nothing for poor service, ever stop to wonder why the service is poor? Ever tried to get a sense of the type of work environment the management sets? Ever thought that maybe they are having the worst day of their life? I've learned people aren't rude, distant, or forgetful just because they can, it usually has an underlining problem. Just a thought.

      May 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • AJD13

        The VERY few times I have not left any tip has been when the service has been HORRENDOUS such as the time a dinner took two hours and a half hour just to get menus and water and then when we finally got our drinks they never came back to refill them, we were supposed to get bread before the meal and never received it although most other tables around us got theirs, we were talking to a couple of people at other tables who were having the same complaints, and then would see the servers standing around the hostess area laughing and talking with each other. That's not having a bad day because your sister died or whatever, that's just shoddy service. Then there was the place we went to where after sitting for a half hour waiting for our order the server comes out and says she forgot to put the order in but would do it "right away." It took her a half hour to realize she hadn't put our order in?? I've had to go to work and do my job when I'm having a bad day too and I'm expected to do my job. It's not the customer's fault that something bad has happened to you and you're having a bad day.

        May 14, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • Noneofyourbuizness

        What happens to a server outside of the restaurant is not my problem. I am tipping based on my experience inside the restaurant period.

        May 14, 2012 at 10:09 am |
        • Bartender

          Maybe service well was slammed and that's why your server couldn't get your drinks to you as fast as you thought they should. Maybe the kitchen screwed up your order...it's not always the servers fault that your service was not timely.

          May 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
        • AJD13

          Bartender....waiting a half hour for drinks is not because they were "slammed", especially when I saw our server standing around talking with other servers while my husband and I and the people at the three other tables in her area (the rest sitting empty) looked at each other and started talking to each other about how bad the service was and how they were having the same issues we were. Believe me, I take into account how busy a place is and a lot of other factors. I RARELY leave a low tip or no tip, so for me not to leave a tip.....trust me, it was BAD and there was no excuse. And as I said before, everyone has bad days but I'm expected to do my job when I'm having a bad day and it shouldn't be taken out on the customers.

          May 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
      • Bill


        Lemme answer in Espanol. IS NO MY FAULT AND IS NO MY JOB. And you might do better as a fiction writer!

        May 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Solo

      "Colleagues"? That's a pretty interesting term to use for a server.

      May 13, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
      • Bundy

        Solo: "Colleagues"? That's a pretty interesting term to use for a server.

        What are you trying to say? Do you think a server is some inferior person or something? That "colleagues" is too high and mighty of a word to use for a mere server? Your statement says volumes about you as a person, none of it good. Hope you don't get a nose bleed with your elitist attitude. I'll bet you don't even say "thank you" when your "server" brings you something, because it's their place in life to wait on you. It's not like they are real people, huh?

        May 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
        • Bill

          Dey used to be call waitress an waiter but dat is politically incorreck now.

          May 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  12. SixDegrees

    One thing deserves mention here that isn't addressed in the article. When I get service poor enough to consider reducing a tip in a restaurant, I let the restaurant know there's a problem long before the end of the meal. I'll start flagging down other passing waitstaff, waving the manager or hostess over, or anyone else who works there, and tell them straight up that our table still doesn't have water, or we've been waiting too long for service, or whatever. I never silently suffer through poor service and only then leave a crummy tip. I want to be very clear exactly why I'm being stingy. Also – if it's early enough in the service that the meal hasn't been irretrievably ruined – it gives them a chance to fix things and start doing their jobs.

    May 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • blindbear

      One of my pet peeves is sitting with an empty tea or water glass. I've been known to wait until a manager is watching and then getting up and bringing the tea pitcher over to the table and refilling the tea for the parties at my table. No need to say anything. The point is made very effectively.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  13. kristospherein

    In most states, servers make $2 and change plus any tips they make make for that night. If they happen to not make enough to match minimum wage for the evening, the restaurant will supplement their tips/$2 and change to match minimum wage. I had several nights at a nice restaurant end up this way. At the end of the year, I discovered I was only averaging around $9 an hour and without any benefits whatsoever. There are multiple reasons the food and/or service you receive may be poor. It may be the fault of the kitchen, server, foodrunner, hostess, etc. There are several elements at play in the functioning of a restaurant. Everyone else gets a per hour wage higher than minimum wage (except perhaps dishwashers and busboys). Servers are the ones who pay for you tipping poorly. 15% should be the minimum, 18% is generally expected (at least in most restaurants in major cities), and 20% is considered what is given when you enjoyed the service and/or appreciated what the server did for you. At the end of the day, the server has to share some of the tip (not always) with hostesses/busboys/foodrunners/and possibly others. The tip does not always only hurt the server. Also, cash tips are preferable to credit card tips as we only have to declare to the Feds 10% of the cash tips while we have to declare ALL of the credit card tips. It's amazing how little most patrons of restaurants know about tipping. Honestly, I think we should move to the system that Europe employs with added gratuity. It would prevent patrons from taking out their frustrations for the taste of an establishment's food, the length of time it took to get a seat, and other things out of the server's control on the server.

    May 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Solo

      Find another profession if you don't like the "system." Every job or occupation has something that could be improved, especially anything in the service sector. I won't be told what to tip, and many feel the same. The restaurant business is hurting right now (see all of the dine out 2-For-$20 offers?) and this policy would kill them.

      May 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
      • LBee

        Some establishments have mandatory grats, and that is part of "the system", as you put it. So perhaps you should stop whining so much.

        May 14, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Excuse me, but why should anyone help you break the law and cheat on your taxes?

      As for your percentages: I am a generous tipper, and normally leave 20%, rounded up to the nearest buck – or nearest five bucks for an expensive meal. But I will NOT be bludgeoned into leaving anything at all in exchange for lousy service. I'm well aware of waitstaff pay structure – but the point is, SO IS THE WAITSTAFF. If you want a good tip, give me good service. If you give me lousy service, I'm not going to pay you for it. End of story.

      May 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  14. Thinking things through

    Points I want to think about, despite any comments earlier below (and yes, I still hold to those points).

    In the USA,food servers are treated whether true or not as if their wages are based on what they serve atm.

    Other than a brief stint as a "candystriper" in a hospital during my high school years, I have personally never gained wages based on the food serving industtry. And actually that was counted as volunteer work. Even so, it was pretty nasty. Water under the bridge.

    May 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      The thing I want to point out is that this is how a LOT of people currently make their livings. If they do the accepted or beyond the accepted job here, I want to support that. I will, I do.

      May 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
      • Solo

        Leave what you want for a tip, that's your choice. It"s also the point of the entire article. When tipping becomes mandatory, everything changes.

        May 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  15. Solo

    I just had dinner with mom at Outback and it was awful. Lukewarm food, which can be typical, but the service was terrible. We waited fifteen minutes before our server could get to our table (and she walked really slowly) just to get us silverware. She didn't even realize that we didn't have utensils. We had to ask and remind her twice for very basic things. She walked around like she was in a cloud. I left a tip, but it certainly wasn't 20% of our bill.

    May 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      It's a fast food chain with foodoid substances I can't describe without using a few forbidden words. What did you Expect? If you have to save money, EAT at a real, honest to goodness, DINER, okay?

      May 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
      • Solo

        First of all, I did not choose the restaurant and second, for what I paid for the meal this should not be an issue. Diners have their problems, too. I believe in supporting small businesses, but some are not as accountable for food or service as are the chain locations. I agree that the food is usually better, however. But, if we're discussing service... that should be universal as to why is good and what is not.

        May 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
        • Thinking things through

          Yes, diners do often have their own problems, and I'm sorry about that Outback meal. No you shouldn't have to give a generous tip (but keep in mind that Mother's Day is a waitstaff's nightmare to begin with - and they will often because of that be understaffed to begin with...) Frankly, if my own mother hadn't passed away a decade ago, I'd be treating her to a good real and HOMECOOKED meal done by yours truly.

          May 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Outback. Is that food? No, not the waitperson's fault but yours for chosing such a place.

      May 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  16. Larry Spangler

    I see so many people stating that if the service is bad, DON'T tip. WRONG !! Leaving no tip gets you labeled as cheap. I leave $0.50 when the service is bad. This way they know you were thinking of them and the service they provided.

    May 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • springs1

      "I leave $0.50 when the service is bad. This way they know you were thinking of them and the service they provided."

      NO, leaving nothing and ******REPORTING********* THEM TO A MANAGER IS WHAT MAKES CHANGES. Giving them 50 cents just makes you look REALLLY CHEAP!! Sorry, but that's totally stupid. Leaving nothing SPEAKS SOOO MUCH LOUDER, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU REPORT IT!!

      May 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
      • Larry Spangler

        Sorry, I like my way best and will continue with this method. Those who deserve a good tip, will get a good tip. the rest....$0.50.

        May 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
        • springs1

          "Sorry, I like my way best and will continue with this method. Those who deserve a good tip, will get a good tip. the rest....$0.50"

          But if you don't REPORT IT ALSO, the server may be too STUPID to know what they did wrong, understand?

          May 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
      • Bill


        Larry is a paying customer, not a restaurant employee. Bad service or not, he shouldn't have to confront the manager about employee problems. Guest checks used to have a place for one to make relevant comments, but such things have gone the way customer service has. But let reiterate, he's not getting paid, he's the one paying!

        May 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
        • springs1

          "Bad service or not, he shouldn't have to confront the manager about employee problems. "

          I didn't say he should "HAVE" to, I said if he wants service to improve, he should.

          May 15, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  17. Pete W.

    Tipping is ridiculous. Never understood how this became the norm in society. There are 2 arguments for tipping: 1) the low base salary of the wait staff. I don't discount that. I'm sure it's true. However, that is an issue between employee & employer, NOT customer. What they make is none of my business. 2) The customer is rewarding the wait staff for quality service. I do this by coming back and/or recommending them to others.

    May 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Tipping IS ridiculous. But it is the way things are set up, and So I DO It, based on quality. One has to, to insure a livable wage for the waitstaff.

      15-18 percent for regular service, 20+ for exceptional or places I dine often. 20-25%+ for diners where I spend $8 or so dollars on a meal and these people work every bit as hard as at the classy joints. With a crowd I'll do the gratuity they attach. But I do think 18% is the maximal gratuity they should write in in those cases as expected.

      Seriously, I've left 50% tips at diners where I only dropped $8. My choice, though. (And For Those WaitStaff who immediately know (they think) who the cheap tippers will be - we middle aged women are supposedly cheap. Well, if I'm treated like you already know I will be that way... guess what. Your tip will meet your expectation.)

      May 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • LuckyGirl

      As a server, I make $2.13 an hour, which is what my employer is required by law to pay me. The rest I make in tips. I have read a great deal of posts complaining about having to tip at all. So then perhaps a law change is in order.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  18. As I See It

    I just got back from Costa Rica and I liked their tipping custom. The 10% tip is already included in the bill but if you want to give more you can but you are not obligated to do so. This way the waiter always gets their tip. I think we need to change our tipping customs in the USA and the owners of resturants need to pay a decent living wage to their waiters. Many resturant owners are extremely rich in my area and the tipping custom is just a poor excuse for them to not to pay their waiters a decent wage. In Palm Beach Florida some of the chefs make over $100K a year. Also the resturant business is mostly a cash business and a lot of the earnings go unreported.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Bill

      As I See It,

      Why list it as a tip at all? If that's the case, why not break the whole bill down. Materials (food), chef, line cook, dishwasher, electric bill. The whole idea of the restaurant selling you product, but the servers are like private contractors working for you is absurd. Should you have to file 1099's for the "tips"? A tip should truly be a tip – NOT a mandatory tip to pay the servers wages.

      May 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  19. roelmoncivais

    An automatic gratuity is NOT a gratuity since it's not given voluntarily. It's a fee - plain and simple. If a restaurant is going to charge me for their food AND an extra fee for someone to bring me that food, I won't patronize that restaurant. It is ridiculous for any server to feel entitled to (what amounts) to a bonus since the server will get paid their full (minimum wage) salary - regardless of whether they get tipped or not. It's called "Un-earned Wages" by the IRS. Seriously, look it up. If a server does not earn enough tips to cover their below minimum wage earnings for the pay period, then the employer is OBLIGATED by law to cover the difference. Again, don't trust me - look it up. If a server is NOT paid a minimum wage at the end of each pay period, then they can sue their employer for back-wages. In short, YES - most servers work at below minimum-wage rates, however they are all guaranteed minimum wage by law regardless of whether they earned tips or not.

    May 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • twoell76

      I am generally a good, if not above average, tipper. (I used to be a bartender) Good waitstaff doesn't need to have the employer make up the difference between tips and minimum wage. Okay, everybody has a bad week once in a while in any performance based job, ie, sales or waiting tables. But, If I were a waitstaff employer and one of my employees required me to make up that difference often, he/she would no longer be in my employ. Tips received are a good indication to the employer of the quality of service said employee was giving. Lousy tips would tell me this employee was giving lousy service and thus hurting my business.

      May 17, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  20. yahmez

    It's not a gratuity if it is mandatory. This gives people little recourse if the service is poor. Rude servers have no business being in the business, mandatory tipping encourages poor service.

    May 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  21. Rob

    Mandatory tipping is a disgrace, I would NEVER agree to it.

    May 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Lucy

      If you think mandatory tipping is a "disgrace", I hope you never leave your doublewide as its mandatory in Europe and Asia.

      May 14, 2012 at 4:21 am |
      • Anon

        And that is why service is so bad in Europe. It's impossible to spend less than 2 hours at a cafe for lunch just to get a cold sandwich.

        May 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  22. Jeff R

    Mandatory tipping on a table of 5 is ridiculous. That's a family. Mandatory tipping on groups of 7+ makes more sense.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  23. Tipping Point

    Mandatory tippling for large groups only serves to inflame people and leaves them no solution when service is marginal or poor. Given that restaurant tipping is in the eye of the beholder (patron) and depends on so many variables: service, quality of food, experience, etc. then a sliding scale with guidelines might be more appropriate – something that restaurateurs and patrons could understand and agree to. An example might be Poor=10% or less, Satisfactory=12%, Standard/Expected=15%, Exemplary=15% or more. Classifications of these levels could be set by local/state restaurant associations as a self-governing way to manage a broken system. Those agencies charged in regulating restaurants should look to other industries such as the financial services, healthcare, transportation and others to see how they manage additional service fees and charges.

    The alternative is simply forget tipping altogether and restaurants can simple set their prices accordingly taking out the subjective component of tipping. Patrons will either buy from these restaurants for their quality or not.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  24. Dennis Chiapello

    It happened to me once that the waiter gave my table distinctly poor service, and seemed to be relying on the automatic tip. You can bet I was annoyed. Being with a group, we paid up, but I complained to the waiter – and, more importantly, to the manager. I complained not about the tipping policy, but about the waiter's service.

    I think auto-grats are appropriate. No doubt, under-tipping by customers – especially large parties – is far more common than the sort of service that merits a less-than-standard tip.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  25. rick

    I have been a waiter and manager in the food industry for over 25 years.Its been my expierience that generally people are pretty good about tipping,HOWEVER,there are also many,many people who come in,are rude,demanding,chronic complainers,find ANYTHING they can dig up to justify a discount or a freebie,then they stiff the staff, or leave 5%.I am an excellent waiter, have allways loved what i do, but those customers are the ones you read above who make any excuse NOT to tip fairly. I would LOVE to find out where they work and give them a taste of their own medicine. I think many foget that any of us also have families to support, only make minimum wage are taxed on the tips we make, and we are tipped actually based on food sales. SOOO if my only table was a part of thirty and based on their food bill i should have been tipped 150.00, and they act like the negaive cheapskates in some of the comments and they leave 50.00, well then i pay taxes on 150.00 regardless. so i paid for your meal in a way. Those are the nights when i think some people want everything...for nothing!

    May 13, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • R.S.

      The poster below is right, why would you expect to get tipped $150 for a large table? How long did you wait at the large table? I'll be more generous and give you $50 per hour. Now, you will not, with a straight face, tell me you worked for three hours straight to ferry them food. Were they even in the restaurant for three hours straight?

      And feel free to come to my work. I get tipped zero, nada, and I prefer it that way. My doing a good job is not contingent on ransom and blackmail.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Glance

      Thanks for addressing the tax situation, Rick. Most people don't realize that servers, bartenders, casino dealers, etc. are taxed based on an IRS formula AS IF they received tips... and many, many times they're just paying income tax on tips they've never received.

      May 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • springs1

      "also many,many people who come in,are demanding"

      There's NO SUCH THING AS "DEMANDING", because your job is to get us what *WE* want. If you feel people are demanding, you are LAZY, plain and simple. NO ONE IS DEMANDING, NO ONE!!

      "chronic complainers"

      I wouldn't complain if the service would be good.

      "find ANYTHING they can dig up to justify a discount or a freebie,then they stiff the staff, or leave 5%."

      Most people don't do that. There are some people that do. My husband and I are *NOT* one of those people. If we stiff, it's because the service was *HORRIBLE*.

      "I am an excellent waiter,"

      May I ask, do you do the following:

      1. Try your best to deliver food correctly as far as anything that you don't have to touch to notice any mistakes *BEFORE* bringing out the food.

      2. Do you compare the check prices to the menu prices to make sure you aren't overcharging the customers? We have had MANY WRONG PRICES due to the LAZY SERVERS THAT DID NOT *CARE* about OUR MONEY, just THEIRS!!

      3. Are you *CONSIDERATE* such as bringing out non-bar drinks out *BEFORE* any bar drinks in one party for example to think of the people's thirst?

      4. Do you write down *ALL* REQUESTS that are asked for? So far, I haven't seen ONE server do that, NOT ONE!!

      So if you don't do all of those things, you truly aren't a good waiter. Good servers TRY THEIR BEST!!

      "but those customers are the ones you read above who make any excuse NOT to tip fairly."

      NO, most customers actually have REAL VALID REASONS WHY they don't tip. The ones that are cheap are just cheap. I am not talking about the cheap ones. I am talking about the ones that aren't cheap.

      "I would LOVE to find out where they work and give them a taste of their own medicine"

      I NEVER would think if I would make a mistake I'd still deserve 20% if I were a server. So you are WRONG about that!!

      May 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Fed Up

      Sorry, rick... most of the waiters that think they do a good job are delusional. I am tired as a customer of seeing flocks of servers standing around complaining about their shifts, their miserable customers and everything else while tables of customers like myself go without service. Most kids today think that just showing up for their shift means "doing a good job" and I won't tip the standard 20% for someone who has better things to do than their job while I am their customer. Managers aren't much better. Most have a two-year junior college education (if that) and six months in the restaurant industry – and I am speaking mostly of the national chains. I have had so many visits for a meal ruined by these kids.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Asav

      Maybe you should learn how to do your taxes. The IRS only taxes on tips actually earned, not the ones you did not get. See: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1244.pdf

      If your employer is reporting that you earned tips that you did not earn, then either fill out your form correctly or report your employer to the IRS. You can do so anonymously, they don't need to know that you reported them.

      May 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  26. Ken

    Just for fun, keep track of how much time the server spends on you (and deduct the time that s/he wastes your time by smalltalk or trying to sell you overpriced crappy wine). Since I've been doing that, the maxium time has been 10 minutes, and here I'm accounting all the walking time from the kitchen and back. Now, for an essentially unqualified labourer, $30 an hour (majority of it tax free) is plenty. Teachers and firefighters make that if they are lucky, and they pay taxes from that. So simple math tells me that the most exceptional waiter I've been served deserves $30 per hr / 10min = $5 for his services. Note that I'm not even deducting their regular wage, let that take care of the idle time chitchatting with their fellow waiters making fun of customers. So, to keep it short, I switched to maxing out my tipping $5. I'm certainly not going to tip someone $20 after a $100 meal, what does it matter how much my meal costs? A plate of top sirloin is no heavier than a plate of tomato soup – in fact, it's easier to carry.

    May 13, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Dan I

      Ever been a waiter? That "upselling" is part of your job requirement. If you're found not trying to push the special or the wine etc you quickly find your hours cut, serving a section of the restaurant that gets sat last etc.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Suzi

      Do you really think that tips aren't taxed?

      May 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

      You are an idiot.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Al


      You aren't accounting for all the time and your concept about how business works isn't right. Please enroll in several business classes at your local college and learn.

      I'd love to be able to explain your errors to you in "100 words or less" but I don't know how to teach semesters worth of material in that concise a manner. (Do you?)

      Please get some education and then you'll see the error of your ways.


      May 14, 2012 at 2:14 am |
      • Bill


        I have da edjamacation you is lookin fer, as well as entry level restaurant experience before that, and although Ken may not be seeing everything, I'm taking his side.

        May 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  27. Megan

    I don't tip at all. When you tip, you are encouraging establishments to not pay their servers enough, and if with cash, you are helping scam the government out of taxes.

    May 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Thinking things through

      Megan, they're still not going to pay their servers enough. I hope you don't eat out often, or at least not often at the same place. You'll get a rep at the places you frequent.

      May 13, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Bayousara

      I don't like tipping. If we all stopped tipping then restaurants would be forced to pay their staff better wages or lose staff entirely. Or just charge more for meals and pay their own employees.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  28. rika33

    Its an excuse for restaurants and servers to provide poor service to groups and rip them off for a bigger "tip" on a larger bill.

    May 13, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  29. Thinking things through

    Tipping: I will go ahead and pay the requested 17% or 18% gratuity when in a large party, if they are up front about it. When 20% is requested I begin to dig in my heels, STRONGLY. Never mind that I may well have paid 20%, rounded up, if left to my own devices, at any of these establishments.

    I do believe that tipping should be a tip, a reflection on good service (or the real attempt at good service when the wait staff is understaffed - which is pretty obvious to diners when it happens). That being said, there are cheapskates who try to tip, say, 10 or 13% or less with a set of excuses. If this happens at a large party table, that particular waiter has troubles income-wise that night.

    Actually, I can only think of one establishment ever where I tipped less than 15%. The waitress just had our table, she obviously acted put-out when we requested anything, because it took her away from her extended gossipy convos with one of the other staff, or from the checking of her lipstick. Though rarely used, I LIKE having this option to vote No when I have to.

    May 13, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Bayousara

      I am shocked at how the percentage for tipping keeps going up and up. I refuse to pay this. I seldom eat at a fancy place and when I do tip, I don't leave it on the table for another staff member to pick up or a customer (some do). I hand it to the waiter. Whatever they do with it is up to them.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Bill


      I'm 52 years old and a few decades ago a 15% tip was considered generous. Now folks act like it's stingy. Put a frog in a pot of warm water and he'll think he's taking a warm bath. Slowly turn the temperature up and soon he'll be boiled.

      May 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  30. The Help

    Sadly, I don't even believe that the customer received subpar service or would have left any "appropriate" tip in lieu of the mandatory gratuity. You might say, "how can this guy know the customer is full of crap?" Well, I knew she was black before I got past the story's headline.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • Beeker

      Sad but true. As a server I know we all can smell cheap from a mile away. Most everyone I work with has a degree (and those who don't I envy) which pushes 'Get a real job' off the table when you're dealing with $400 a month in student loans and your phd in American Lit is null and void. Which do you want 'get off the dole' or 'get a real job' I think serving is a fine solution. Unfortunately, $2 and change an hour is not going to cut it. To Insure Proper Service is subjective and without major restaurant reform servers are screwed. Appreciate that your food came timely and hot and imagine the screamfest going on in the kitchen when you ask your server to relay the message 'Do you have gluten free pasta?'

      May 13, 2012 at 4:32 am |
      • Lisa

        In this economy what did you think you were going to do with a phd in America lit?

        May 13, 2012 at 6:41 am |
        • twoell76

          Lmao! My sentiments exactly. A PHD in American Lit.? Sounds like a career in food service to me.

          May 17, 2012 at 2:56 am |
      • Thinking things through

        The server should already KNOW if you have gluten free pasta available. It's a valid request in these days of gluten sensitivity. Just politely answer yes or no.

        May 13, 2012 at 7:44 am |
      • rika33

        Wow – what a sense of entitlement.

        May 13, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  31. Jesse

    I see tipping as a reward for good service. Depending on how well the service was I'll determine if I give a tip or not. There are times that the service is so bad I will not give any tip as I would think that the price I'm already paying was more than enough.

    What's ridiculous is making tips mandatory. If it is mandatory they should just add the tip amount to their menu prices instead of making a mandatory tip. Tip is a tip, not a fee.

    May 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Kay

      I agree completely!

      Indeed, it seems to me that mandatory tips make it *easier* for wait staff to provide lousy service because they are guaranteed money regardless.

      May 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
      • sue

        i do not like automatic tipping. The tip needs to be earned. We were in the Bahamas last year (2011), and at the 4 star hotel they added on a high automatic tip that you paid (get ready) BEFORE you even ate. You paid for your buffet in full, with the tip. Then you were seated to eat. Trust me, there were several times that my drinks did not come, nor did my request for extra water or peanut butter. i was not impressed – but they kept my tip......

        May 13, 2012 at 2:35 am |
        • R

          Extra peanut butter???

          May 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • rika33

        Absolututely correct

        May 13, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  32. doug

    I have less of an issue with auto tipping as I do not bringing it to the attention of the customer and trying to get a double tip. True, you should verify everything, but the standard is not to auto tip. When the check or tab is brought to the table, the server should say, the tip has been included.

    May 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  33. BIGGUY11

    I personally would've POOPED and PEE-ED ALL over the bathroom floors, and smear the poop all over the mirrors, handles, just everywhere. Then I would've asked for a additional copy of the reciept, then I would've paid it, then I would've complained on "GOOGLE" and I would have made like 30+ fake emails complaining about this restaurant over the next month, once per day, and then I would've complained on most restaurant review websites. And told all my friends/family the place is crap. Then you win!

    May 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Bossman1

      That sounds illegal, it clearly stats in the article, that the restaurant had locked its doors, claiming its illegal. I'm assuming the family paid with a credit card, so they basically have there names, and DNA samples of your urine and fecal matter. However, the comment you made about complaining on "GOOGLE", is a good idea, that is where your allowed to use the internet to your advantage.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • TexasPete58926

      Ok, I understand you'd be upset, but going to great length for revenge, including using your own turds, sounds a bit ridiculous, just go online and complain, don't lie, be honest, and people will take notice, chances are if you do it, more others will do it. Pooping and pissing only leads to legal trouble.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • NyteShayde

      I see you have the intellect of a chimpanzee.

      May 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  34. Bossman1

    I think more and more people should pay only cash. And if a restaurant forces you to pay a 20% gratuity no matter what, then please stop eating there. If people get irritated by it, owners will lose money, servers/cooks/bussers will lose hours and look for a different restaurant to work at, and obviously the owners don't want that, and if they get enough complaints about the automatic gratuity then they will stop it. I think the restaurant should pay there servers not have the customers tip them, the servers could be doing a awesome job, but some cheapskate customer will tip nothing and thats legal....and if the server does a bad job and gets a few legitimate complaints then fire them!

    May 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  35. Texas Eater

    I go to BBQ joints where customers aren't expect to tip.

    May 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  36. Carl

    I'm sick of tipping for poor service from rude people. The % always goes up. Why? Are the prices of meals going down to justify it? I don't even eat out because I hate tipping.

    May 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • e

      all the waiters of the world thank you for staying home because you sounds like a pain in the a$$

      May 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
      • Noneofyourbuizness

        so if my waiter is a pain in the ass, why don't you stay home instead? Then we don't have to get bad service and all is right in the world and their would be no argument about bad service.

        May 14, 2012 at 10:35 am |
      • Bill

        Maybe if everyone stays home, you won't have any problems and you can retire. Waiters expect tips for nothing like Clinton expected Lewinsky to...

        May 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  37. Fooz

    Lol, they lock me in the restaurant, I call the cops and tell them I am being held against my will. What the restaurant did can be prosecuted as a FELONY(kidnapping for ransom), gratuities are /not/ guaranteed, they are just that a gratuity.

    May 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • NyteShayde

      That isn't kidnapping for ransom. Kidnapping is removing you from the premises and relocating you to another location. Ransom is if they happened to call your family for monetary compensation for your safe return. What you meant to say was unlawful imprisonment and probably a host of fines in violation of fire laws. However, in this instance the restaurant can keep you for leaving if you refuse to pay, same as if you shoplifted from a store. They knew the establishments tipping policy on large groups and refused to pay. What they should have done was to pay the bill and then complain to their bank and have them refund the credit bill. This then turns into a civil matter. There is no criminal charge here unless they had walked out without paying, the police would be in their rights to enforce the "dine and dash" which is criminal fraud in some states.

      May 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
      • Kraven

        actually locking them in a building and refusing to allow them to leave without arresting them is a form of kidnapping. However getting it prosecuted is extremely difficult. The Cop could not arrest them for not tipping. And just because you write that a tip of a certain percentage or amount will be added to a bill on the menu or whatever does not require someone to pay that amount of gratuity if any at all legally speaking of course.

        May 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Dan I

      Actually if it's part of your bill and the charge is legal then YOU are the one likely committing a felony. Failure to pay a food establishment is, in many states, felony theft.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
      • Bill

        Many people on this thread, myself included, question whether or not a court would find the charge legal.

        May 15, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  38. lrt24

    A gratuity is just that. It's been taken to court before, and it's been determined you can tip whatever you want or none at all. The police officer should have gone after the restaurant staff for kidnapping instead.

    May 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • rika33

      The cop was probably getting "comp" food from the restaurant so they'll screw over citizens in favor of a feree doughnut. The restaurant staff should have been charged with a felony if they forcibly detained people to shake them down for money. Disgusting

      May 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  39. Ricky

    I have lived in Japan for 27 years, where the restaurant is responsible for paying their own staff. The problem is Americans have allowed restaurateurs to force them to overpay for tremendous meals that they have to drag home in a shipping bag, and plus have to pay the staff for "service."

    May 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  40. guesswho22

    My typical practice is to pay in cash, then an automatic tip cannot be added to the credit card. I pay for the food and tip how I feel the cost of service was worth. If they don't like it, tough. They cannot make you pay a tip, that's illegal actually. Gratuities are not enforcable because the ownership does not pay taxes on that income, the server does. Therefor its between you and the server(s) if paying in cash. Good way to repay bad service, no tip at all

    May 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  41. Katie

    If restaurants want to grift their customers because they don't feel responsible for paying their employees a decent wage, then it's up to the customer as to whether or not they want to spend their money there. Parties of five aren't necessarily large parties. Large parties might need their own waitress or two – people who have no other tables. Then I can see a mandatory gratuity.

    However, the whole subject of tipping should be up for discussion. I've had some really surly waitresses who could care less about their services, and who expect a nice fat tip. Sorry, I don't tip people for the doing the job they were hired to do, and I certainly don't reward anyone for poor service. I do tip the standard 15% for someone who is cheerful but doesn't work too hard, and I tip more for waitresses/waiters who are friendly, observant, sincere, and I tip even more for someone who goes out her/his way to do something extra, like the waiter who actually ran down the street to get a packet of barbecue sauce for my young son when the restaurant we were in didn't have any. He didn't have to do that, we didn't ask him to do that, and our son would have eaten his meal without it. It was a big surprise when he dropped the packet on the table and winked at us – that guy DESERVED a big tip. I've heard a few women carry on about the cheapskates who ONLY tip 15% and my reply to them is always "You don't like what you get paid, get a different job. Stop expecting your customers to subsidize your life." Because that's what tips are – welfare. Nobody tips me when I wait on people in my job.

    May 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • guesswho22

      The standard tip is now 18%, sweetheart. Yes, and many are implying it should be a nice and round number of 20%. This is outrageous since service has not improved, but prices on the menu have. The standard 15% is well about what these uneducated servers deserve, imho. Two people at a typical steak house can easily spend $100 for a modest meal. Is it worth $20 for a serve to bring it to your table and refill your drink after the glass has been empty for 15 minutes and you're choking on your food?

      May 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
      • lrt24

        No. The standard is still 15%.

        May 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
        • springs1

          "No. The standard is still 15%."

          NO, standard is 18%-20%. Think about what percent most menus have that have automatic gratuity for large parties. NO MORE 15%. Those days were like 2004 or so. I know, I kept an old Joe's Crabshack to-go menu of 2004, stating 15% added.

          NOW it states 18%. The current menu is their website if you want PROOF. It can't be 15% your entire lifetime. That's not how INFLATION works.

          May 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
        • Bill

          Springs, if you believe you can raise the "standard" for anything, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like you to troll underneath; leave us alone here.

          May 13, 2012 at 12:57 am |
        • Bill

          Oh, and if you can tell us what restaurant you represent or work at, I'd appreciate it so I can avoid it.

          May 13, 2012 at 1:01 am |
        • Vale

          No, the 'standard' is to find a job where you can support yourself without what amounts to extortion. If you don't give good service, you don't get a 'gratuity'.

          A gratuity, by definition, is a voluntary action. A gratuity cannot be 'mandatory' and voluntary at the same time. A 'mandatory gratuity' is an oxymoron at best, and generally amounts to illegal extortion and abuse of the customer.

          If you can't make a living on a sub-minimum wage job because you have to live on 'tips', get a real job. With the prices restaurants charge these days, if they can't afford to pay more than slave wages, they shouldn't be in business to begin with.


          May 13, 2012 at 2:57 am |
        • Thinking things through

          The standard tip varies depending on what part of the country you are in. Here in Connecticut it appears to be 17-18 percent. In the midwest (outside of Chicago) it is probably still 15%.

          May 13, 2012 at 8:22 am |
        • Sweetenedtea

          That's not actually how inflation works. If inflation is "working" at all, percentages can remain constant. Absolute values may change, but if the size of the bill increases, the return on a given percentage also increases. So - and this is simple, simple math - if something cost $100 one year, 15% yields $15. If it costs $200 ten years later, 15% yields $30. Percentages keep up with inflation even when they remain constant.

          May 14, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Elizabeth

      A server makes about $3-4/hr as a wage. Without tips, they would make NOTHING and then there would be no one to work in restaurants. Sure, you can argue that a restaurant should pay their server minimum wage, but since that is not the case, tips are the sole income and the server shouldn't be penalized.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
      • sue

        Wow – Elizabeth, bottom line is it is a TIP. Not mandatory. IF they don't like it, get work else where. I"m an RN – give me a tip too next time you are in the hospital, i provide a service too.

        May 13, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Elizabeth

      "Because that's what tips are – welfare. Nobody tips me when I wait on people in my job."

      I am also sure that you are paid minimum wage or greater.

      May 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
      • LuckyGirl

        OMG! Tips are welfare....I don't even know what to say to that except McDonald's is your kinda place.

        May 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • justinramsay

      wow you apparently dont know that restuarant staff dont get paid more then 4$ an hour from any place that employs waiters and waitress'... i think its common sense that if someone is a lousy server they dont deserve much of a tip, but your statement implies that servers are lucky to get any tip at all basically. if you can afford to spend 300$ on a nice dinner you can afford to spend 60$ for the 2 hours you will sit there and get attended to by a good server. thats the whole reason people work in restuarants. if you think tipping is "welfare , subsidizing" a servers pay, you are 100% wrong. go eat at burger king if you dont want to be expected to tip

      May 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
      • Ken

        300$ is my grocery bill for 3 months, not a meal out.

        May 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
      • Bill

        How do you know what I can afford based upon the price of the food I ordered. Besides, it's none of you business – just get your spoiled little axx back in the kitchen and get me my food, boy!

        May 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Bossman1

      @springs1, the real sin, is going to Joe's Crab Shack, that place i pure garbage. Servers by my house are good but the cooks are terrible.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Annie

      Tips aren't welfare, and I resent you calling them that. Servers work hard for several hours on end making sure their customers have a great experience. If you have had bad service, think back on how many times you have eaten at that restaurant and note when the quality of service went down. If you (or anyone is a terrible tipper), the word spreads and it's difficult to get great service anywhere that knows you are a terrible tipper. At the end of the night, a server has many other duties they have to do to close the restaurant. We don't get to clock in at actual minimum wage to do those things, we still get paid $2.00/hour. The tips are there to make sure we make $7.25/hour. I'm glad you appreciate great service and tip accordingly for that. Please, by all means, come to my restaurant. I just want to let you know that tips are not welfare, but something that is worked for and earned (if your server is worth a crap).

      May 13, 2012 at 8:05 am |
      • Noneofyourbuizness

        In California, ALL workers make minimum wage. so the theory of making up income to equal minimum wage argument is incorrect in California.

        May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  42. SixDegrees

    In general, I simply won't host meals in restaurants that have mandatory gratuities. In my experience, such policies diminish service quality, probably because there's no reason to provide good service when a large gratuity is guaranteed.

    Forced into such a situation and faced with lousy service, I'd complain to the manager. Faced with being locked in and confronted with the police, who were unable to even determine if the situation was legal or not, I'd simply walk without paying after offering to settle for the price of the meal and nothing more.

    On a more practical note, I'll be in Houston shortly, and La Fisherman has definitely been crossed off my list of dining options, even though my parties will be small enough to avoid the mandate. Or maybe I'll just go with one other person, be an obnoxious boor and overstay my welcome, then leave without tipping at all.

    May 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  43. hello

    Pay the fee, as long as it was clearly stated on the menu. At that point it's part of the meal charge. You can't just decide you want to pay $20 for a $24 entree. You can ask for a manager and maybe come to an accommodation. If not, too bad.

    Most of the time, the people who b- most about tipping and service are the jerks that restaurants really don't want to come back anyway.

    May 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Daniel R

      So then why lock them in and keep them from their constitutional right to travel and not be falsely imprisoned? If it were my family being locked in a shty insurgent French resturaunt that smelled of rotten fish like a french who@e I would shoot my way out..... when you take away freedoms my fathers died for I declare immediate totall war.

      May 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • lrt24

      No, if it says gratuity, it means its discretionary. This has been tried in court before.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  44. Kiki

    Servers should be paid an appropriate wage so they don't have to depend on tips at all. The whole system is unfair and demeaning to the waitstaff.

    May 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Daniel Rizzi

      The "gratuity" system is archaic and should be done away with. I'm a nurse, where's my tip? How about we pay waitress/waiters minimum wage and just skip the tip? I don't eat anywhere where I feel badly served twice anyway.

      May 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
      • Ron

        If waiters only made minimum wage, there wouldn't be any. Dealing with the general public in that way is a miserable experience.

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


          Restaurants would pay whatever waiters would work for, and mark up prices accordingy. Hey, what a radical idea!

          May 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Jay Stevens

      You go to Denny's, get a scrambled egg for a buck. It cost them about a dime for the egg. Factor in the operating expenses and they're still making a profit. Now after paying a rather large markup on the egg, I'm also expected to pay additionally for the waitstaff and bussers because Denny's didn't include those wages in their pricing structure? WTH.

      May 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • e

      and then all the prices go up and you still pay more, but have no incentive for waiters to give better service.

      May 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
      • Noneofyourbuizness

        and if waiters etc. were paid a higher wage with no tips and they did not perform then they would get a bad performance review and not get salary increases. Only good servers who received good comments on their comment cards would receive a salary increase like the rest of the people in the world.

        May 14, 2012 at 10:48 am |
      • Bill

        Then, due to lack of service, customers stay home, crappy waiters get fired, remaining waiters do better job, business picks back up, restaurant hires more waiters and tells them to do a good job if they want to remain employed, and we're done with tipping crap, easy!

        May 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  45. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I always tip at least twenty percent, regardless of the quality of the service.

    I increase the tip if I think the service was very good, or for any other reason.

    Whenever I can, I buss my own dishes and completely clean the table before leaving the restaurant.

    I don't do so, however, if that would be inappropriate, such as in a fancy restaurant.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • springs1

      "I always tip at least twenty percent, regardless of the quality of the service."

      Do you realize by doing that for bad service you are only ENCOURAGING to that bad behavior to continue? Positive and negative reinforcement works most of the time. WHY NOT TRY IT? Tip poorly when service is bad, tip well when the service is good.

      Do you also realize by tipping well no matter what, you are actually affecting OTHER PEOPLE making their service be bad?

      May 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Daniel Rizzi

      Well golly, you sure got such good manners.... if you're busing your own table you should keep it. LMAO! In fact stay at home and cook if you like doing all the work.

      May 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • guesswho22

      can you make me a sandwich, biootch?

      May 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Bill

      Be careful with the sarcasm Caleb, some of these idiots might be demanding their customers buss their own tables tomorrow, in addition to leaving 30%.

      May 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  46. Pat

    The issue should be having a mandatory minimum decent base salary and not a mandatory tip. However businesses will do anything NOT to pay their employees and therefore love to pass the cost on to their clients. I am an american who has lived outside the USA for 20 years now and every time I return to the USA on vacation it seems like eveyone has a tip jar next to their register.... maybe we will soon see it at the grocery store and department stores !!..... any employee should receive the vast majoirty of their pay from a decent base salary and servers can have this augmented a little by giving good service. On a related note, I was also amazed last year when I returned to the states that automatically printed on the bill is a suggested tip!!!! even the new york taxi driver had this... and it started at 25%!!! I still cannot believ it... and it even showed how much to pay for even higher percentages!!!! The true enemy is the employer and not the client..... but as long as we continue out tip crazy decent into third worldism in the usa, then we only reinforce the continuation of poor salaries for workers. By the way, never tip at starbucks... their drinks are already expensive... the employees should be forced to revolt against their oppressor employer.... even better.... boycott these companies....

    May 12, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • guesswho22

      Vote republicans out of office. Its their creedo to underpay employees to increase their profits, then socialize any loses to the middle class taxpayers and make all patrons pay their server's wages as well. Its slowly being programmed into the brains of the consumers in America. Profits are paramount, service is normally below average no matter how much you pay... same thing in hospitals... you pay whatever they want you to pay, no a la carte or pricing lists.

      May 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  47. John

    This group was unlawfully imprisoned and the restaurant could be sued and the responsible parties made to pay in fines or jail time. As for the service charge issue, the restaurant is free to pursue its claim against the family. It would need to prove that the 17% charge (presumably described on the menu) created a 'contract', and that the family is in breach of that contract. It would probably be a waste of time to go to small claims court for $20-$50, but those are the options.

    May 12, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Daniel Rizzi

      The cop is a witness to their false imprisonment and should have arrested the staff that locked the doors, or at least tased them to prevent it. Isn't he supposed to protect those citizens from false imprisonment and torture (having to talk to a manager is a form of torture). This must be an INSURGENT resturaunt.

      May 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
      • Daniel R

        Yep, It's Insurgent, it's FRENCH, La Fish. We should just burn it cause' it's f'n French. That's enough for me.

        May 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  48. Sweetenedtea

    Y'know, I've seen Springs1 before, on some other story about tipping. The rage, the obsessiveness, the prolixity beyond all rationality? Unmistakeable. Now, I agree there can be legitimate service issues - though I've found that behaving like a civilized human being smooths over most any problem - but you get the sense that Springs1 keeps a stack of ratty diaries detailing every little offense or perceived offense she has suffered in her life, right down to the last minutiae and shekel and spends her evenings and nights muttering to herself as she goes over them one by one in her head, wondering at how so the universe could be so cruel as to allow someone to be in the parking spot she wanted or to deliver her a Caesar salad with slightly less dressing than she had dreamed of in her darkest fantasies.

    May 12, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • springs1

      "as to allow someone to be in the parking spot she wanted"

      NO, I don't wait for parking spots unless the person is BACKING OUT OR I DO NOT have ANYONE behind me. It's the opposite complaint I have about this issue that people that want a spot will block you when the person isn't even IN THEIR CAR YET and they have someone behind you, so NOW YOU ARE TRAPPED, which all you want to do is LEAVE OR YOU WERE TRYING TO FIND A SPOT YOURSELF. I have NEVER and WILL NEVER BLOCK people as they have to me if the person isn't even in their car yet. That's just stupid and VERY SELFISH!!

      "or to deliver her a Caesar salad with slightly less dressing than she had dreamed of in her darkest fantasies."

      I don't order Caesar salads. If you are talking about ranch, if I asked for "SIDES" of ranch, I don't expect half a side. I ORDERED a SIDE that means the CONTAINER WORTH, PERIOD!! It's common sense if I am ordering let's say 2, WHY would I want a little bit, DUHHH?

      May 12, 2012 at 10:06 am |
      • Sweetenedtea

        Um, yeah, you kind of missed the point a little. Jeeeest a wee bit. But I am amused that you took me so literally in order to continue your ragefit. It's fun.

        May 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
        • gag on sweetenedtea

          Smug twit.

          May 12, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
        • Sweetenedtea

          Indeed. Indeed. But I'm still right, nevertheless. Cheers.

          May 14, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  49. Monger(as in fish)

    If restaurants paid a decent wage, tipping would not be necessary. As to tipping (or not) based on your perception of the service–what measure do you use in determining if one server is better (or worse) than another?

    Although I hate the practice of tipping, I always do, generally 15% (more if the server was outstanding). By outstanding, I mean that the server monitors my coffee cup, asks after bringing each course if there is anything else I would like, brings requested extras within a reasonable time, is pleasant, and notes when I put all my utensils on the main dish plate (my signal that I am done).

    May 12, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Angela

      Would you like them to change and burp you, too?

      May 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
      • Bill

        No sweethart, you can jus do me a Lewinsky thanx

        May 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Katie

      That's how I feel too. If they (waiters/waitresses) think they deserve a tip just because they exist, they should look for another kind of job. It's not my fault they don't get paid enough, why should I subsidize them because they chose a job that pays so low? I'll tip if they do more than just take my order and bring it to the table, and I'll tip a lot for great service. I don't blame a waitress for bad food, but I might for cold food, and I do blame the waitress if something is forgotten or if they don't come back to the table after the food is served except to bring the check.

      May 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  50. LiqMat

    La Fisherman needs some protests in front of their restaurant apparently.

    May 12, 2012 at 9:03 am |
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