Tip or get thrown in jail

Joined Feb 1, 2007
I reckon everybody needs their 15 minutes.

Picture this. You pay the bill. The guy says if you don't pay the tip I'm calling the cops. And then you wait around for the cops to show up. Gimme a break! I'd have been long out the door.

What I really loved is the manager claiming that they'd offered to comp the food. Uh, huh! Let's see; we'll forgive call it fifty bucks in food, but then have you arrested over $16. I don't think so.

French Fries: More than an aberation, there's a possibility that they're illegal. Most of the time the "notice" is buried somewhere on the menu where you're not likely to see it. And it's not something you agreed to in the first place. So all you have to do is claim you never saw it, and, most likely, won't be liable in the first place.

Many a parking lot has learned that lesson, for instance, when they found the judge ruling against them for car damage, despite the disclaimer printed on the back of the ticket stub.

That aside, I've always despised the concept because it's one of the things that have encouraged the high levels of bad service we've all been subjected to. After all, if I'm going to get the same time whether I provide good service or mediocre, what's the point of working hard?

When I was serving (we called it waiting tables, in those days) I used to love large groups. Going that extra step with them usually resulted in a tip that was larger by far than you'd have gotten with the same number of people spread out over two or four tops. I didn't need an extra help from a required gratuity.
Joined Aug 15, 2004
I got a 20% off coupon from a restaurant 3 blocks from my house and about 2 miles from where I work. I've been eating there since they opened in 1978.

So the bill comes, and for the first time in all those years there was an 18% mandatory gratuity on the bill. There goes the 20% coupon come-on.

But my two friends from work wanted separate bills, which, the server said was no problem.

We each paid and left. When I got back to work I looked at my tally, and the 20% discount had disappeared, but the 18% gratuity was still there.

I went to my friends and they looked and the same thing happened to them.

Haven't gone back since. A 22-year devoted customer is lost due to cheap tricks at a high end restaurant.

And to think I know the owner/head chef very well.



Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Jury nullification is a wonderful concept. If I sat on a jury for a case like that I'd be voting them not guilty in heartbeat.
Joined Aug 18, 2007
Blooming ridiculous. Cant believe at the end of the interveiw, she said in future they will just pay up.

I hope theres a reaction to this. Greedy sods who cant run a business without screwing the punters deserve the backlash this article will hopefully bring.


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
Sounds like a publicity stunt to me. Lately I have been tipping 15% not the usual 20% all the servers expect now. If they want 20% it better outstanding service not just adequate.

I wonder how many people will never eat at this restaurant after reading the story.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Notice nowadays they expect the tip based on the total with tax. You should tip based on the pre tax total.


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
I do and actually recently just started tipping on the pre-tax total. They do get bothered by it sometimes that is for sure.
Joined Apr 14, 2005
I would agree but juries seem to not be filled with logical people a lot of the time. Read a story last week about the jury finding for a family of a baseball pitcher killed by a line drive who sued the bat manufactuer because it was an aluminum bat the ball hit the pitcher 22 milliseconds sooner than if it was wood. The result was the manufactuer paying $800,000 for a non issue, nobody's reaction time+movement speed would change anything in
.022 seconds. A tragic accident yes but just a sports accident holding the bat manufactuer liable is wrong in my opinion.

Sorry got off topic from the OP-

In my experience with largish groups, 10-15 usually, where the 'mandatory gratuity' was in place. If the service was good accept the 18-20% on the bill. If the service was excellent we usually drop another 10% in cash for the server(s). If the service is poor, or like in that story non-existant, talk to management explain that the service was bad, explain why and ask that the tip be removed. only happened twice but never had a manager refuse to remove the tip and usually comp some/all the food or drink. If management refused to remove the tip then we would pay it (we all know that it's 'mandatory') and just not go there again.
Joined Aug 4, 2008
As a former waiter who has been stiffed many times by parties with 'the jerk' who underpays knowing that peoples tip will cover his meal cost, and the like, I fully understand the auto-gratuity.

On the flip side if the service sucked, I'd be the first to tell the manager that the service was awful, and the tip is out of line. If they would insist I pay it, I would pay it, never be back, and be sure the owners were aware of the situation.

I'd have not have bother with the whole cops route, the level of principle here does not make the hassle worthy, though if you have nothing better to do its a **** of a way to get your point across.

But then also, these people might be dillweeds looking for free food, they didn't get it and now being dillweeds they are trying to extort what they can from it.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
If the service was excellent we usually drop another 10% in cash for the server(s).

But that can backfire too.

Friend of mine took exceptionally good care of a large group----something like 18 people. They apparently appreciated it, and left a large tip on top of the built-in gratuity, like $200+. Basically, the same 10% extra that you do.

Two days they complained to the management that they weren't aware of the built-in tip, and that what they left my friend was supposed to be the whole tip. And insisted on having it back.

Now for the killer: The owner told my friend that he was responsible for returning the tip. Picture this: What seemed, at first, to be a generous tip turned out to be miserly in the first place. And in the second place, after already sharing with the bussers and other support staff, he was supposed to come up with 200 bucks out of his own pocket.
Joined Sep 16, 2009
If the story is to be believed, then these "dillweeds" were going to pay for the grub, just not the 'alleged mandatory' tip, so kinda unwarranted to blame the customers for the establishment's despicable behavior.
Somebody who knows the pub posted that they're "famous" for rude behavior and non-existent service, and if true, does demonstrate a certain "pattern of behavior" and would follow that they would be more likely to be the 'perps' in this scenario. I think the only thing we can blame these customers for is for the idiocy of going there in the first place.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
You know what irks me? When people say "I always leave at least 20% tip" and wear that attitude like a badge of honor, as if that makes them better or more generous people. I think servers depend on this line of thinking and often take their tips for granted. Not all, not most, but sometimes for sure. In this economy I cannot afford to be throwing around tips for poor service. I have to hussle extra hard in my job to make money and I am a bit more scrutical with my cash nowadays. I hope it won't always be like that but for now it's the best I can do.

Yes everyone has had a stint or 2 as a server and knows what it feels like to get left with nothing from time to time, myself included. But overtipping just because you were a server at one point isn't the best idea if the service was poor.

Note: I don't think "scrutical" is a word but boy it sure feels good to say it. I made it up by combining the words critical and scrutinize.


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
The problem Doc with the auto gratuity is that it is not clear at all what the policies are when you are dissatisfied with the service. I mean honestly I don't think many people know what to do when they are in a large party and service is spotty. That being said I think in addition to stating on the menu that "18% gratuity is charged for parties of 6 or more..." it should also state "If you are dissatisfied with your service in any way please ask for the manager".

A lot of time the auto gratuity comes off as a mandatory policy that you can't back out of. This also works against the restaurant in my opinion for the following reason. If the service is bad and the customers don't feel they have an "out" then they are simply not going to come back to the restaurant. I think with the auto gratuity you really run the risk (unless your service is excellent) that you will lose head count.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
In a bout of pernicious curiousity I got to wondering: does anyone know if there's ever been a study comparing the level of group tipping at places without mandatory gratuities vs. those that have such policies? Or is it just an assumption that large groups don't tip appropriately?

It's like when Bourdain says that at 8 top demands more service and tips worse than two 4-tops. Is that based on real evidence, or just a gut feeling?
Joined Mar 12, 2005
I'm surprised the cops didn't warn the couple and give them a chance to pay the $16 or what ever it was. It seems even if you were wrong, a normal person would just pay that rather than go to jail. And if they wanted to, they could always take the restaurant to small claims court (I know court costs would be far more than the tip, but if they wanted to prove a point, that would be the way to do it without getting arrested).
Joined Sep 29, 2009
I've never worked anywhere that gratuity was automatic, regardless of party size. I have, however, tossed I 50 from my pocket to a server who I knew(I was plating at the window) was breaking her neck and got stiffed.

Had she not been absolutely killing herself for this table, it would have been a different story but, when the bill is over a thousand dollars and the service is superb, you need to at least leave something.

That said; bad service=no tip. Really bad service=$.01 so they know I didn't forget. If they tell me it's mandatory, I'd tell everyone I know, including my mother who knows everybody, about it and their cover count would fall sharply to almost nothing. Locally, people don't stand for that sort of thing.
Top Bottom