According to a recent report from California, some members of the San Francisco restaurant industry don’t think that the average 15 percent gratuity is enough of a tip for servers.
There is a movement to make 25 percent the mandatory tipping amount in San Francisco restaurants, reports the Contra Costa Times. According to the same report, the motion is being spearheaded not only by restaurant workers but also by some high-end restaurants in the area.
“They have to be kidding. The whole purpose of a tip is to reward service. If the price is dictated it’s not a tip. If they’re serious they’ll meet a lot of resistance. It seems like everyone is trying to squeeze another buck out of us,” Mike Alexander of Antioch said to the Contra Costa Times.
Although the Contra article does not list which restaurants are on board with the proposal, and it does not clearly state how they intend to impose it, Newser points out that they will most likely adopt the method employed by some New York city restaurants: just automatically add the gratuity to the bill.
Currently, in most restaurants, when a gratuity is automatically included on a bill, it is for parties of a certain size (and it is usually “conspicuously” posted on the menu or elsewhere in the restaurant). However, as it is practiced by some New York dining establishment, San Francisco may just try to add the gratuity regardless of the number of patrons per table.
“I’ve never heard of auto gratuity at a bar when you’re a party of two,” said Sarah Riley, a 29-year-old web designer who was shocked when a restaurant in New York automatically included the gratuity on her bill.
“It was only when I went up to close my tab that the bartender said gratuity was included. I won’t be coming back to pay $18 for a $15 glass of wine where I have no discretion on how much to tip,” she said in a Wall Street Journal report.
Auto-tips are “kind of seeping through the industry,” one New York bar owner explained to the Journal. “It started with restaurants for groups of six or more. And now it kind of goes on at all the big clubs.”
The article adds that some bars in New York have already abandoned the practice after the obvious customer reaction
But will San Francisco abandon the practice if customers react as they did in New York?
“If they try it, people will vote with their feet,” said Candel Garcia in the Contra Costa article. “Tips should be earned, not expected. I usually tip 10 percent or 15 percent, which I think is fair. If they really want a bigger tip they might try to increase their service to justify it.”
Martha Haider is another dissenter. “I don’t mind tipping for good service, but 25 percent is going too far,” she said. “There might be some well-heeled people who will do it, but not me,” she told the Contra Costa Times.
To clarify, restaurants in San Francisco and New York are legally allowed to include gratuity on the bill so long as they “conspicuously post” any mandatory policy prior to the consumer ordering, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Consumer Affairs told the Journal.
It just may not be the best business model to follow.