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Somebody Help This Poor Boy: Over-tipping Etiquette

This seasoned reader is having a what’s-it-all-about-Alfie moment. He took a large party to a restaurant and left a ginormous tip. He feels the server took more than he needed to give. Sing along.

 Nancy, I took a group of 18 out for a celebration. We hired drivers so we could party. I’d prearranged some of the appetizers with the restaurant, but I let everybody order away. I paid the bill. A couple of days later, I looked at the statement and I realized I’d tipped 25 percent and the restaurant had already added an 18 percent service charge. Should the server had told me gratuity was already included when he picked up the signed check or am I just an idiot?

22 comments on “Somebody Help This Poor Boy: Over-tipping Etiquette

  1. I woud contact the manager. They should gladly give you a refund. Things like this happen.

    Most restaurants no longer have a mandatory tip due to an IRS crackdown on restaurant wages.

  2. Was the 18% not on your total ticket before you paid? I was a server for many years and plenty of people tipped over the large top gratuity and it was never an issue…I would assume you read the bill before you paid and/or tipped.

  3. I have had this same thing happen and I think the waiter should point out that a gratuity has already been added. Then, if you want to add a little more that is fine. To @KellyK, no, you don’t always examine the bill. They were having a good time, enjoying, partying and not up to examining the check.

  4. This happened to me once, though on a much smaller check. The waitress pointed it out to me, but I decided to leave it simply because she pointed it out. The waiter knew the tip was doubled… Shame on him & I would request a refund as well.

  5. Self awareness is a wonderfully powerful thing, and I’d like to help you gain that. You are not an idiot. You are simply a cheap ass.

  6. You should of been told that you gave double gratuity. Call the restaurant and ask for a refund for the 25%. The server shouldn’t be given the extra 7%. They were dishonest. Most restaurants have a policy that the service staff needs to let the guests know that they are leaving a double tip. Some guests leave extra on top of the added 18% but usually we are talking about $50 or so dollars depending on how big the bill is. In most cases a server would be in a lot of trouble if the management knew they were double tipped and didn’t say anything. They should of informed you when the initial bill was given and you should also ask or look at the menu to see if gratuity is added to large parties. Nonetheless, you probably aren’t the only one this particular server was double tipped by. So he/she should be reprimanded. Not cool. Makes the rest of us look bad who are honest.

  7. We are all assuming the second tip got added to the credit card charge, oui? First call would be to call and make sure – sometimes good servers will not.

  8. The OP should have read the bill when it was presented and should have been aware that most restaurants include gratuity for large parties – many times it is printed at the bottom of your menu. It is not uncommon for a host to tip on top of the included gratuity when there is an especially large party. The mistake is the the OP’s fault for not reading the bill. Servers are not required to question customer tips and ensure that people really do mean it. Calling the manager to take the money back is poor form. Sure, you can be tacky and call for a refund, but better to chalk it up to lessons learned and remember to pay attention to the total at the bottom of the bill next time. Truet me, it’s a mistake you only make once (I’ve done it myself and wouldn’t have dreamed of adjusting the bill after the fact given that it was my own fault$.

  9. Call the manager. As a former server, I know the only ethical thing to do is clearly show your customer it was added.

    And to be honest, a server has no confidence in their service if they are auto-gratting. (of course some restaurants don’t give the employees a choice)

  10. You are not an idiot and yes, you should have been informed. Even though most restaurants automatically add gratuity for parties of 8 or more and as one comment stated you should look at the bill … so should the wait staff. And, if the staff were not hoping to get a little extra I don’t think they would leave the gratuity line blank so you could add more. I put this kind of tactic right up there when you pay in cash and give someone $50 for a $30 tab and they ask you if you want change back. So whos fault is this … talk to the restaurant management for not properly training their staff and allowing this kind of thing to happen. And why management, because when a customer gets taken like you got taken … they are very likely to never go back.

  11. You are not an idiot and yes, you should have been informed. Even though most restaurants automatically add gratuity for parties of 8 or more and as one comment stated you should look at the bill … so should the wait staff. And, if the staff were not hoping to get a little extra I don’t think they would leave the gratuity line blank so you could add more. I put this kind of tactic right up there when you pay in cash and give someone $50 for a $30 tab and they ask you if you want change back. So whos fault is this … talk to the restaurant management for not properly training their staff and allowing this kind of thing to happen. And why management, because when a customer gets taken like you got taken … they are very likely to never go back.

  12. Instead of learning tip etiquette in school, perhaps you SHOULD HAVE learned that SHOULD OF is not correct. I normally would not have pointed this out, but when I got to your second SHOULD OF, I just couldn’t help myself.

  13. Really? Well Bobtex you SHOULD OF commented on tipping etiquette not how I use should of……just saying. should of should of should of. =)

  14. At the restaurant I used to work, we originally had to add the gratuity in by hand (old school) but when we upgraded to new POS systems it would automatically add it when a party of a certain size was entered on a table tab. The gratuity charge was clearly marked on the menus, our website, and on the itemized receipt. The credit card scanner was separate from the POS, so the gratuity charge was not listed on the credit card receipt. Our policy required that servers ALWAYS return the itemized copy, so the customer could clearly see before and after paying that gratuity was included . There were several occasions that people left a double tip. Unless your receipt did not have any indication of an added gratuity (which you said it did), then I say suck it up because you’ll definitely check from now on.

  15. Your momma would be so proud of you; your high school English teacher–not so much.

  16. I was at a restaurant recently where the gratuity was clearly on the credit card check. The bill had one line for the total, another for the 18% and a third line marked “additional”. This was easy to read and gave you the option to add more if you desired.

  17. Yes, you should always expect auto-grat with a party of 6 or more (usually it’s 8 but think 6 to be safe). Yes, the server should have told you; it’s likely supposed to be part of his job, and his employers would not endorse any kind of swindling if they knew about it. Yes, it helps to take a good look at the bill. And yes, you’re well within your rights to (calmly and politely, since you’ll end up talking to a hostess or someone else uninvolved) call the restaurant, and explain to them that you were unaware of the automatic gratuity. At the very least you could suggest that they have their staff notify patrons in the future. They will probably offer to refund it.

  18. You should have noticed on the bill that gratuity was added. I always look if there are more than 6 people. I would think you are SOL!

  19. You’re an idiot. (Your words) Just about EVERY restaurant charges an automatic 18% gratuity for parties of 6 or more… this seems to be the standard…. Better luck next time.