Legal for automatic gratuity?

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  • #1850

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    Is it legal for restaurants to add automatic gratuity to customer bills?The other night, we ate at a restaurant and had really poor service, so much so that we were all (party of 10) having to get up and get our own refills from the waitress station and none of the employees said a word about it. The menu did state that 15% gratuity would be added for groups of 8 or more.We argued the gratuity when we got our bill and told them manager, our service was lousy, it took forever to get our food, get waited on, etc. We were told it would not be removed from the bill because it was stated on the menu that it would be charged for 8 or more people.Is this legal? I was always under the impression that gratuity was a “tip” and that tips were at the customers discretion.

  • #2034

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    Heh, was it Bennigans? They’re famous for having the mandatory gratuity because they can’t keep waiters otherwise. But a particular Bennigans’ policy was that the gratuity applied to all bills starting at 6:00 p.m. regardless of how many customers were seated.Anyway, yes it is legal. The menu is nothing more than a contract between the customer and the establishment. If you know going in that there is a set “gratuity” (obnoxious, overpriced, additional charge), then it is legal.The final insult is when you are told that you “are free to add an additional gratuity if you feel the service is extra good”. Brother.The particular Bennigans that started doing the mandatory evening tipping went out of business about 4 months after starting this policy. Customers had their revenge. And, yes, waiters don’t seem to care that much when they know they will get the same tip regardless.

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