Disputing a mandatory gratuity

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shoptalk01
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Disputing a mandatory gratuity

Postby shoptalk01 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:56 pm

Has anyone ever disputed a mandatory gratuity at a restaurant? I wasn't sure about this because I don't have a problem paying for the meal, it's just that the service was lousy. I know, the sign said mandatory gratuity for parties of 8 or more and we had 18 in the group. Well first off, everyone wanted several smaller tables instead of a bunch of tables pushed together to make a big long table, for some reason the staff seemed to take offence to this. Then it seemed like they left us sit there forever, several of the staff were in the back talking and nobody was out there taking our order. Once they took our order, I think it took almost 20 minutes to get salads and maybe another 45 minutes for the food to come out. Others came in after us, were getting served and got out and we were still waiting.

We all had it worked out that I was going to use my credit card to cover the entire bill before we ever went there. I suggested this place because I always had good service before and they have good food, but this time really seemed to be the exception like they were clueless what to do when a large party came in. I have nothing against leaving a tip for wait staff that provides exceptional service, but I really don't call having to send someone from the group to get pitchers of tea and water filled while the staff is joking and laughing in the back is service. The group was even a bit upset with me for suggesting the place.

I asked to speak with the manager and requested to have the mandatory gratuity removed saying that if the service improved we would tip accordingly but was told this charge was mandatory for the group, it was part of the bill could not be removed and would need to be paid. Then he had the gall to say that we were welcome to leave additional tips and they would be much appreciated.

As the conversation ended, I informed the manager that I was intending to pay the entire bill with my credit card and would be disputing the gratuity charge with my credit card company. It was then kind of like here's the bill, pay it and get out. A couple in the group were talking about desert but nobody came back around to ask if anyone wanted desert, at this point it just felt like they let us sitting there with the bill hoping we would pay it and leave soon.

Today I sent the manager an email stating our dissatisfaction with the service and I was send an email back stating that their policy was to charge a mandatory gratuity on parties of 8 or more even if they sat at different tables. I never said we shouldn't be considered a party of 8 or more because we sat at several tables, I just didn't like the attitude we got when we asked if we could have several tables in the same area instead of a long table so I don't get that one because nobody went in there trying to get out of leaving a tip, some even thought we should leave additional tips for the lousy service because it was the right thing to do. What I said was people were welcome to leave cash on the table if that's what they thought they should do, but I wasn't going to pay additional tips on the credit card. Of course the manager went on to explain that it was necessary for a restaurant to charge a mandatory gratuity on large parties to ensure adequate tips are being left for the number of people. I guess I could kind of see where a party of 4 might leave a $.25 tip thinking they are big tippers.......

Since this is only my second bill with this card and I'm trying to rebuild credit, is it a good idea to dispute these extra charges? I know the discussion later was nobody in the group would be going back there anytime soon.


DavidNY
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Postby DavidNY » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:32 pm

It's your credit card, you could contest it. The worst that could happen is you'll have to pay it.

Since you took the time to write this, post it on Yelp too.

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Postby bisbicos » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:05 pm

I second the yelp post too.
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shoptalk01
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Postby shoptalk01 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:11 pm

What is yelp?

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Postby jeffysdad » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:50 pm

Yelp! is a restaurant review website, and I, too, think the OP should use it for this.

As someone who tips 20% on the bill's bottom line and rounds up to the nearest dollar -- except in cases of extremely poor service -- I am offended when a restaurant imposes a mandatory tip, no matter how many are in the party. However, I do understand that many people (not the OP) don't understand how to tip.

At the heart of this, it sounds like a service quality problem. Leave the mandatory tip aside for a minute. If you feel like talking to the manager/owner again, tell him the service was bad and the staff was rude. That's basically what it was. Tell him you've been a regular and highly satisfied customer in the past and that you want to come back. And you can only do that if the owner/manager makes it right for the previous very bad service. If he/she still doesn't get it, tell them you want them to comp you a meal.

If the restaurant management doesn't understand the problem or is not willing to fix it, then you should let them have it on Yelp! and similar websites.
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Postby Rory » Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:16 am

now to give a little background i have worked in restaurants for about 4 years off and on. Both bartending and serving. First and foremost their level of service did seem despicable given your description. Even at the simplest of places, guests should never have to leave their seat to ask for assistance and should be the number one responsibility of the server(s). Having worked in the industry I feel the need to apologize for their ****ty service, it sadly occurs all to often. Either way you get what you pay for in a sense, if you had brought your party to Capital Grille instead of wherever you went, i can guarantee that the service would have been much better.

Concerning the issue of having one big table or a few small tables, it all comes down to the layout of the restaurant and the configuration of tables. Splitting the group up could have meant that you had to take over an entire servers section, which meant that for the entire time you were there, the only tips they would be collecting would be yours. In addition if the managers had assigned multiple servers from other sections to help, that one server would have to split the tip with others who were making tips on top of your big party. Its not the best system but it usually works out in the end and is the most efficient in the restaurant world. This server clearly didnt think he would be making all that much even given the mandatory gratuity and chose to treat you accordingly.

In regard to the times for food and such. How fast can you make a salad? I know people would could probably churn them out in 30 seconds so that they dont look like ****, so 18 x 30 seconds + 2-3 minutes for table preparations (extra or special oils/dressings) + 3 minutes for delivery = around 15 minutes. Given people arent always efficient and precise as machines, 20 mins isnt all that bad for that many salads. Unless of course they were already prepared, in which case those servers just didnt like you one bit ;) LOL

There is a lot that goes into big parties like yours that you dont see and they are annoying in a lot of ways to those serving them. I would never tell you not to tip, but addressing your issues with the servers directly may have been more appropriate. Many managers just dont give a rats ass and are content just yessing guests and moving them out of the restaurant to be replaced as quickly as possible. its all about turnover times to them so your little issues was just that, a little issue. This is all in their view.

I hope this helped a bit, i dont want to try and justify their horrible service or anything just bring a few underlying rationalities of the business to light.
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Postby hematino » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:20 am

Rory wrote:now to give a little background i have worked in restaurants for about 4 years off and on. Both bartending and serving. First and foremost their level of service did seem despicable given your description. Even at the simplest of places, guests should never have to leave their seat to ask for assistance and should be the number one responsibility of the server(s). Having worked in the industry I feel the need to apologize for their ****ty service, it sadly occurs all to often. Either way you get what you pay for in a sense, if you had brought your party to Capital Grille instead of wherever you went, i can guarantee that the service would have been much better.

Concerning the issue of having one big table or a few small tables, it all comes down to the layout of the restaurant and the configuration of tables. Splitting the group up could have meant that you had to take over an entire servers section, which meant that for the entire time you were there, the only tips they would be collecting would be yours. In addition if the managers had assigned multiple servers from other sections to help, that one server would have to split the tip with others who were making tips on top of your big party. Its not the best system but it usually works out in the end and is the most efficient in the restaurant world. This server clearly didnt think he would be making all that much even given the mandatory gratuity and chose to treat you accordingly.

In regard to the times for food and such. How fast can you make a salad? I know people would could probably churn them out in 30 seconds so that they dont look like ****, so 18 x 30 seconds + 2-3 minutes for table preparations (extra or special oils/dressings) + 3 minutes for delivery = around 15 minutes. Given people arent always efficient and precise as machines, 20 mins isnt all that bad for that many salads. Unless of course they were already prepared, in which case those servers just didnt like you one bit ;) LOL

There is a lot that goes into big parties like yours that you dont see and they are annoying in a lot of ways to those serving them. I would never tell you not to tip, but addressing your issues with the servers directly may have been more appropriate. Many managers just dont give a rats ass and are content just yessing guests and moving them out of the restaurant to be replaced as quickly as possible. its all about turnover times to them so your little issues was just that, a little issue. This is all in their view.

I hope this helped a bit, i dont want to try and justify their horrible service or anything just bring a few underlying rationalities of the business to light.


+1

Customers shouldn't have to leave the table and hunt down pitchers of drinks, thats not cool.

That being said, 20 minutes for 18 salads, and 45 minutes for 18 entrees really isn't an unreasonable amount of time, given the large volume of orders meant to be brought out at roughly the same time.

Being someone who has been bartending on the side as a source of supplementary income for 6 years, I usually tend to overtip at places when I go out to eat. I don't like mandatory gratuities tacked onto my bill either, but when you come in a group with that many, it takes a lot of attention and effort to keep that group satisfied. Keep in mind that without the mandatory gratuity for something like this, the servers made about $2-3 an hour. It's kind of hard to argue leaving a mandatory gratuity when they tell you it's going to be added right on the menu before you order. Well hopefully the servers there will step up their game and pay attention a little more to large groups coming in, learning from their mistakes and rudeness with your group, or else find another line of work.
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Postby jeffysdad » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:43 am

One more comment from me about the mandatory gratuity. When there is one, I usually throw in a little extra but not always. Overall, when I've encountered a mandatory gratuity it's caused the servers to come out with less of a tip than if the establishment would have just let me tip like I normally would.
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Postby trumpet-205 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:11 am

This is the first time I heard of mandatory gratuity (tipping). Certainly isn't something I appreciate it. From what I understand in here tips are used to make up minimum wages? Does that even sound right?

I always do take out, so I never paid for any tipping. In Asia, many restaurants consider tipping to be offensive, so rarely does someone do so (if you must, you have to put cash in an envelope).
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Postby Rory » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:36 pm

trumpet-205 wrote:This is the first time I heard of mandatory gratuity (tipping). Certainly isn't something I appreciate it. From what I understand in here tips are used to make up minimum wages? Does that even sound right?

I always do take out, so I never paid for any tipping. In Asia, many restaurants consider tipping to be offensive, so rarely does someone do so (if you must, you have to put cash in an envelope).


in many states employees at restaurants will only be paid 2-3$ an hour because the place the work for assumes that they will make up the difference in a tipped wage. Its total bull****. Some days i have walked out with over 30$ an hour and others less than 5$. It may average out okay, but it makes planning a budget considerably more difficult. Tipping in america has almost become so normal that if you don't, even for bad service, you are seen as a bad person. Its become such a commonplace that if you dont tip practically everyone who helps you, you can almost guarantee that they will talk **** behind you back. I work my ass off for drunken idiots just for them to pay me 1$ or less, whenever somebody drops me more than 5$ i make sure to remember their face/name if possible and treat them preferentially whenever possible later.
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