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Restaurant sparks debate after adding 20% service charge to bill that doesn’t count as tip

Kit Roberts

Published 
| Last updated 

Restaurant sparks debate after adding 20% service charge to bill that doesn’t count as tip

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/@jacktylercolby / Grace Cary/Getty

Eating out should be a pleasant and relaxing experience, but one part of dining out frequently causes frustration and consternation.

This is, of course, the perennially frustrating debate over how much to tip.

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A video on TikTok has opened up a whole new area of debate when it comes to tipping.

It shows a sit down restaurant which added a 20% service charge on top of the bill.

The caption says: "When the pretentious brunch menu reads: 'A 20% service charge will be added to your bill. This is NOT a tip. And 100% is used to pay the works', you immediately look for another place that actually pays their staff."

While frustration with tipping is understandable, with the way things are right now in the restaurant industry in the US, it's not optional.

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This is especially true in states which adopt the federal law that you can pay tipped employees less as long as they make minimum wage after tips.

So, please, tip your server.

The menu explained the service charge. Credit: TikTok/@jacktylercolby
The menu explained the service charge. Credit: TikTok/@jacktylercolby

In this case, however, people were left at a loss as to what the protocol would be, as the 'service charge' ostensibly goes to the staff, but it's not clear if a tip is expected on top of that.

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And people had a lot of thoughts on the service charge, many of them being that this just overcomplicates things.

One person asked: "It says it is not a tip, and that it is used to pay the staff. so would you still be expected to tip on top of that too?"

Another replied: "This is fine if and only if you aren’t expected to tip on top of this — I’d tip 0 if I knew I had auto-gratuity on."

A third said: "Y'all this is a no tip situation. In a place like that you don't have to tip bc the hourly wages are way better."

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The practice of tipping in the US remains highly controversial, with critics highlighting that it is subject to the racist and/or sexist prejudices of guests, and creates a gap between front of house and back of house staff.

Critics also highlight that it doesn't actually result in 'better service'.

People were confused by the service charge. Credit: TikTok/@jacktylercolby
People were confused by the service charge. Credit: TikTok/@jacktylercolby

This attitude is reflected in a growing number of 'no tipping' restaurants in the US, such as The Cormorant in Massachusetts.

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A statement on the restaurant's website explains the decision, saying: “We want to take the unknown out of hospitality work, so no tipping is expected at The Cormorant.

"All staff are compensated with livable wages, reliable scheduling, and paid time off.

“We believe these financial incentives, along with progressive training, help to create a more resilient and sustainable food service experience that benefits everyone."

You could also take a leaf out of Japan's book, where things are the complete opposite and tipping is viewed as impolite.

Topics: News, US News, Food and Drink

Kit Roberts
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