|By Annalisa Rodriguez, The Indianapolis Star|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
If restaurants tack on the charge to his bill, the
"I don't think you can, can you?" Howard said. "You've got to go by whatever their policy is."
He's confused — and a little put off — by the whole "automatic gratuity" practice, and he's not alone.
Even with automatic tipping, customers have always faced a decision over how much to leave a server. Now, thanks to an
Understandably, many servers aren't happy about the tax policy, but neither are restaurant owners. The
"Some may be equipped to deal with that additional accounting," said
"It's a big deal because it impacts in one way or another 10 percent of the work force in the state of
Restaurant hiring also could take a hit as a result of the
"It could affect hiring if restaurants continue to be faced with additional costs and burdens to comply with government mandates and regulations," he said. "That cost has to be paid for in some fashion and it may be paid for by not hiring as many people as they would like."
Some dropping practice
Several restaurants are wondering whether the right course of action might be to eliminate automatic gratuities altogether.
The Melting Pot on
"It's going to hurt us as employers, because now I'd be paying taxes on that as a wage which in the past I haven't," Ackerman said. "Between that and the health-care reform, it's adding one more burden to employers."
Still, it's a change he is not completely opposed to.
"I think some servers tend to get a little lazy when they know they already have that automatic gratuity," Ackerman said.
After The Melting Pot stopped automatic gratuities, server
"I feel like larger parties don't tip as well as they should for the amount that they spend at the restaurant," said Turney, who has been a server at The Melting Pot for two and a half years. "When they spend
The change also has made many servers reluctant to take on large parties of customers, Turney said.
"They don't feel like the time that they dedicate to a large party, which does take up a lot of time, is actually rewarded," he said. "They could make more money off smaller parties."
Darden — which operates
The restaurant group is experimenting with the tip suggestions in 100 restaurants in four markets across the country — none in
"What we have seen so far is that guests appreciate the convenience factor," said Darden spokesman
The most challenging aspect, says chief operating officer
"That's the tricky part," he said. "Logistically, it becomes a challenge for us."
O'Donnell said he will talk with other restaurant owners and see how they plan to handle the ruling.
"There's no real clear-cut direction on which way to go," he said. "Either way, there's some rewards and some risks."
Industry experts say the ruling was updated because of a concern that automatic gratuities have become charges that feel compulsory to customers, when they are supposed to be voluntary.
"I know I've encountered servers before that haven't been pleasant or attentive," she said. "But off of my party, they might get
Worries about coercion
Industry experts say the ruling may also be a way for the
"I don't think we can always assume it's a perfect system and every dollar that is being tipped is being reported," said
Servers, who make
But, on the flip side, it could also mean fewer headaches and less anxiety when it comes time to file taxes. Some servers also prefer receiving tips on their paychecks because it makes budgeting — and saving — easier.
For some servers, automatic gratuities provided a layer of protection against customers who might not have been so generous with their wallets without the practice.
As workers in the restaurant service industry try to make sense of the effects of the ruling, Dyson, the attorney for restaurant chains, said the
"How far can a restaurant go to suggest an appropriate tip amount, before it is converted to a service charge?" she said. "What does a check need to say? How do you have the discussion with the guests? That's where I think the next frontier is with the
What was your best tip ever?
We asked several servers for their best tipping tales.
— Tattoo artist
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