Pub's Bad Service Leads to Arrest—of Irate Patrons
No skipping gratuity, restaurant says
By Harry Kimball, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2009 11:14 AM CST
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(Newser) – Turns out that mandatory 18% gratuity for large parties at restaurants is mandatory enough that skipping it can get you arrested. A Philadelphia-area couple who found service at a pub was so scarce they essentially waited on themselves and their six friends ended up in cuffs when they refused to tip their server. “I understand that, you know, we didn’t pay the gratuity,” one of the patrons tells NBC Philadelphia, “but it was a gratuity, it wasn’t something that was required.”

After waiting nearly an hour for their order and fetching their own napkins, silverware, and drink refills—because the waitress never came back, says the customer—they made their intentions known to the bar manager, who promptly called the cops. Police charged them with theft because the tip actually was required. The bar says it offered to comp the food; the diners say they don’t recall that.

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Nov 22, 2009 8:03 AM CST
I usually agree with your posts... nearly 100%. Yet waiters get paid less up front because their employers expect them to be tipped. Not tipping them at all, even if they provide exceptional service... is wrong.
Nov 22, 2009 7:56 AM CST
The tipping-for-service requirement is part of a tradition, not unlike parking meter fees, sales tax and bridge tolls, in which there is an attempt to hide the real cost of doing business. Parking meter fees, sales taxes and bridge tolls are essentially more taxes which are supplementary to our income taxes. If all our taxes were paid in a lump sum once per year, we would see that we really pay upwards of 50-60% in taxes on our earnings, not just 1/3 and clearly, the gov would rather we not recognize this fact. We already pay income taxes, but the gov still wants more tax money without raising the apparent income tax percentages. It's a hustle to confuse us about how much we are really being taxed. Same is true of the restaurant 'gratuity'. In the attempt to make prices appear more manageable, restaurants have cultivated the procedure of making entrees as modestly priced as possible, but usually compensate for this by overpricing beverages and sides, and by obliging their staff to perform for beneath a living wage. The customer's obligation to tipping comes from the fact that we know that wait staff are essentially unpaid except for our tips. This is sleazy operation on the part of restaurants, but as it has become the standard against which all newcomers must compete, I'm not saying restaurant owners of today are sleazes out of hand, but the tradition they carry on is a sleazy one. Also, we are all too self-conscious as customers to initiate a revolt against this practice, for staff and friends will think us cheap, rather than that we are operating from high moral principle. Restaurants should be legally obliged to pay wait staff a competitive living wage for the region in which they operate, and tipping--optional, and only to indicate a 'thank you' for exceptional service--should then fall in the 5%-10% range. With that plan, menus that show what food service really costs, plus the taxes on it, people could look at the menu outside a restaurant and know if they can or can't really afford to eat there. Of course restaurants, as with the government and their taxation methods described above, don't really want to make this calculation easy for us, for if it were shown what things really cost (with tax and 20% tip included), a lot more of us would sharpen our skills with a frying pan at home.
Nov 22, 2009 4:08 AM CST
A tip (also called a gratuity) is a voluntary extra payment made to certain service sector workers in addition to the advertised price of the transaction. How the heck can you make that a law?