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This Is Just The Tip Of The Waitstaff Iceberg

, , , | Right | CREDIT: A**hole_Catharsis | October 18, 2021

Automatic gratuity is there to protect the staff (and the business). Because large parties are an extra burden to bear. Because if one person’s section is bogarted by a large party, their night is sink-or-swim based on your “charity”. Because the number one reason service staff will have a breakdown or spontaneously quit their job is getting screwed on a large bill.

Cue this one high-maintenance sort and his family of twelve. Despite their best efforts to run me ragged, everything went super smooth and genial. Then came the bill.

Customer #1: “Uhh, excuse me, but why is there 18% gratuity? I’d like to write in my own tip.”

Me: “And you can! There’s a line below where can add whatever you’d like on top of the gratuity, and it’s much appreciated.”

Customer #1: “No, no, no. I’m talking about the principle! I always tip above 20%, but having it forced on the customer feels unfair.”

Me: *Playing coy* “Well, if you wanted to tip above 20%, you can just add the 2% or whatever on the tip line underneath.”

Customer #1: “It’s the principle!”

I just thanked him and walked away. He sat there stewing for fifteen minutes while his family was polishing off desserts and gathering their things to leave. It was a situation best ignored until they leave.

And sure enough, he had signed the bill with no extra tip — totally shocking — but managed to write out an entire novel on the front and back of his bill, addressed to the owner, detailing why automatic gratuities are the worst thing ever and how much more he would have tipped if it wasn’t an imposition.

One of my first service jobs was at a corporate place where the gratuity was conditional on large parties, and at best you could only ASK the party for permission to apply it. Most said it was fine, but of course, that wasn’t always the case.

One night, my entire section was cordoned off for a large party of twenty, mostly teenagers, and they did obnoxious things like ordering steaks well done, eating half of them, and then complaining they wanted new ones, or asking for extra drinks when I was explicit about no free refills but still complaining when the bill came, etc. I was gutted because I knew what was coming with the $400 bill.

Me: “Hey, you guys cool if we add a gratuity?”

Customer #2: “What’s that?”

Me: “It’s an 18% tip added to the bill to ensure staff—”

Customer #2: “Nah, it’s cool, we got you.”

I let out a long sigh and put my head down in shame. They left me $15. My tip-out on the party was $20, and I would never screw the rest of staff, so I took a net loss of $5 for the night. I was shaking and ready to quit. Managers basically said, “Bummer, but it’s life. See you tomorrow.”

I didn’t work there for much longer.