We've all seen restaurants include gratuity on very large bills and when serving large parties. Most add anywhere between 12 and 18 percent on the bill for parties of four or more.
In turn, most patrons don't complain when having to shell out a prescribed amount in certain cases, and some even add an additional tip for outstanding service.
"You get both types of people," said Jeff Plume, a server in the downtown area. "Some people see the 'gratuity included' and feel somewhat slighted, say if they prefer to tip 15 percent and the automatic tip is 18. Others, especially those who (experience) outstanding service, add more tip to the bill. Neither really complain much."
Some restaurants and bars stretch the concept and add an automatic gratuity on a single drink. Most who have patronized Miami bars have mistakenly tipped in addition to the automatic tip included at some places.
One example, News Cafe in South Beach, charges patrons a tip on a single drink, even during happy hour. The tip included is clearly marked on the receipt, but many pay before looking at the bill.
"The craziest thing is that most people have no idea," said one bartender. "They pay with the tip included and then leave a tip in addition."
A 20 percent tip is usually the satisfactory standard for most servers and bartenders. When a person tips in addition to the automatic gratuity, the server or bartender walks away with a hefty 30 percent or more. Many bars and restaurants, especially in the trendiest districts, have adopted the automatic tip policy on single drinks.
"I haven't worked in a place without automatic tip since the late '90s," said an employee of the recently-opened Amnesia, which also charges an automatic tip on single drinks.
"A lot of places include the gratuity on the bill out of convenience to the customer," says Mike Carreras, who promotes for several places that include gratuity on their bill. "Their intention is to avoid customers having to decide on and calculate the tip themselves."
Florida Statute 509.214 clearly indicates that "Every public food service establishment which includes an automatic gratuity or service charge in the price of the meal shall include on the food menu and on the face of the bill provided to the customer notice that an automatic gratuity is included."
Adds employment attorney Michael N. Hanna of Hudson and Calleja in Coral Gables: "If your business includes tips, It must post notice of your tipping policy and a required statement. The notice must be in English, Spanish and Creole."
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Discrimination in tipping carries a fine of $1,000 for each violation. Failing to post the required notices carries a fine of $500 for each violation.
For more information, call Hanna at 305-444-6628.
Have you been burned by an automatic tip and realized it later? Voice your ire below under the comments section.