So who is in the right...the restaurant or the customer?

In this video report a woman has been told by a restaurant that she frequents that she must pay an automatic 18% gratuity on her bill or she will not be served. They do not enforce this rule on other patrons, just her and anybody else in her party. She has started a petition encouraging other patrons in the area to boycott the restaurant. The restaurant manager says the practice was initiated against her specifically because she is a notoriously bad tipper, and the wait staff do not want to wait on her.

So who is in the right in this case?

They could refuse to serve her, period, and would still be in the right.

Didn’t watch the video, but if your description is accuracte, then the restaurant wins. They’re not discriminating based on appearance or status, they’re discriminating on bad behavior. That’s both legal and ethical.

Wanna eat in my restaurant? Behave the way I want you to. Otherwise, sayonara. It’s no different than asking that a patron wear a jacket or dress.

Just from your post without watching the video I’d quit going to that restaurant if I were her. If I were the manager I’d have a meeting with the employees about their work ethic. I’ve been a waitress so I know what a shit job it is but still, tipping is voluntary. In fact, I think maybe they instituted the policy to make her go away.

Sounds like they both want a good sound kick in the bottom. The woman should start tipping, but this is certainly not going to win the restaurant any fans.

Tipping is voluntary, but so is good behavior. Yet a business is quite legally and ethically justified in refusing you further service if you are an asshole, whether to them, or to others, or for any reason they want except a discriminatory reason.

In my opinion, the fact that they allowed her to return to their premises at all, is a compromise position. However, from a PR perspective, they would probably be better off banning her, since people get all weird and crazy about tipping.

I’m confused. Not giving money away is bad behavior?

I’m not sure the restaurant is on solid legal ground, unless they impose the same penalty on everyone who tips badly. Why not just add 18% to everyone’s bill? Or raise prices? Or pay the employees a living wage?

I said neither. I have no problem with the restaurant refusing service to someone, but establishing random fees and charges for certain people sounds like a bad policy to support in any business I’d patronize.

She clearly cannot be in the right if she is consistently badly tipping at a restaurant she frequents. If the service is bad, why is she returning? If the service is good, why is she stiffing the waitstaff repeatedly, knowing that tipping is reflected in the price she pays?

Neither is right, but I think she has the basis of a lawsuit against the restaurant. If they just ban her, then they are ok. But bumping her bill without her consent probably violates a few laws. But if I was her, I’d find a good lawyer and test the legal waters.

I’m sure this will turn into another tipping disaster thread, but: one restaurant doesn’t set what is customary. If they price their menu at 18% higher, they will be less competitive because – even if they say not to tip – tipping is customary in certain types of eating establishments.

Like the model or don’t like the model, it’s not the restaurant’s fault. Push for waitstaff to receive the same minimum wage as everyone else if you don’t like tipping; don’t stiff people you know who are expecting, and depending on, tips unless the service is bad.

I knew, KNEW, she’d be black.

If tipping is compulsory, just put in on the menu for everyone. If it’s not compulsory for everyone else, then it should be illegal to make it compulsory for her.

But (IMHO) it’s all about tax evasion. Restaurants don’t pay sales tax or social security tax on tips; waiters pay less income tax on tips than they ought to.

What is customary is that tipping is voluntary. Otherwise it would be a fee, not a tip. If the restaurant’s position is that custom should hold, then they have no business making it compulsory, unless they make it compulsory for everyone.

ETA: What **Giles **said.

I voted neither. The restaurant should just refuse her business.

They could have simply banned her from the restaurant. But they gave her a choice of giving a reasonable tip or not being served. To my thinking, giving her the choice is better than just banning her outright.

Yeah, tipping is “voluntary”. Unfortunately, the law assumes that the wait staff is getting one and makes rules regarding their pay (low) and taxes based on that assumption.

The restaurant should have just banned her altogether. Assessing additional fees to a customer on a whim is probably just going to get them in trouble. If she is valued as a customer (i.e. she spends enough money there to finance your retirement) then the manager needs to tell the staff to suck it up or he should wait on her him/herself. If this person isn’t worth the hassle, like you can do without the revenue she generates then ban her outright.

I side with the restaurant . . . but emotionally I agree with Giles. If you won’t serve people who don’t tip, then tipping needs to be compulsory (ie, built into the bill up front in some way, either by raising the prices of food or stating a mandatory minimum % that will be applied to the bill).

Pretending a tip is voluntary and then refusing service to those who don’t tip leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Here in America, at a regular, sit-down restaurant, tipping (when the service is at least adequate) is a social obligation, if not a legal one. Not all rules are written. The waitstaff don’t have a legal obligation to be pleasant and courteous and prompt and helpful, but they shoudl anyway, and the customer should tip them for it.

IMHO the restaurant should have just given this notoriously bad tipper the bare minimum of service: get around to waiting on her after all the other tables have been seen to, don’t come around to refill her drink, don’t offer a “to go” box, etc.

Aside from the tangential discussions on the pro/cons of tipping, I said that both parties were in the right.

  • The customer has every right to not tip, if she does not want to.
  • The restaurant has every right to refuse her service and even stipulate an additional charge for her. There are no laws that every customer has to be given the same price or treated the same way, as long as they are not discriminating on an illegal basis…being a bad tipper is not a protected class. They next time she arrived at the restaurant, they advised her that her bill would include the 18% gratuity. She had the choice to accept it or leave.
  • The customer also has the right to petition other customers to boycott the restaurant because of their treatment of her.

The actions of each party, may or may not have consequences.

  • the customer’s actions to publicly petition a boycott, may alert other restaurants about what a bad tipper she is, and result in them surcharging her as well.
  • the boycott may become effective and the restaurant may lose too much business and go under.
  • the actions of the restaurant may encourage other customers to tip more.

Either way, isn’t the free market great!

Unless the law has changed since I was a bartender, and it may well have, the restaurant has to make up the difference between what a server is paid and minimum wage if the server reports less than that difference in tips. The effect of this is that servers report only that difference, and skate on the rest, which can be substantial. As **Giles **noted, it’s a way for the restaurant and the server to avoid taxes.

There are big tippers and bad tippers. Servers have to take the rough with the smooth. Ultimately, it is a net gain for them, or they would not seek out waiting jobs.