23 March 2010

Automatic Gratuity

Saturday night we had a part of 70+ in the restaurant.  I wasn't there; I was skiing and being utterly fabulous.  Yes, I was skiing on a sprained ankle, but that's way off subject.  But for the record I would call that extreme dedication.  Anyway, like I said, there was a part of 70+ at the restaurant and I wasn't there.  Usually, I wouldn't hear about a large party if I hadn't been there to witness it myself.  Large parties are common at our Hooters so it's hardly news when yet another one comes in.  Seventy is a rather high number, but still nothing worth getting worked up about.  However, auto-grat certainly is.

What is auto-grat?  The long way to say it is automatic gratuity and basically what that means is that on large parties tip is automatically added.  This isn't simply a Hooters thing, pretty much any restaurant will add automatic gratuity for big parties.  Usually this is encountered with parties of eight or more and generally results in 15-20% of the total bill.  Our auto-grat is generally added to parties of ten or more and is 18%.

So as you can imagine, 18% on a bill for seventy people who are all drinking is a pretty damn amazing tip.  There were two girls working the party (a big no no by the way, it should be one girl to every ten to fifteen people but apparently this wasn't followed) so they were in line to receive a nice payday.  Naturally they added the auto-grat.  The guests expected the auto-grat as they had been told about it beforehand.  It was hardly a surprise. 

What was a surprise happened next.  Evidently, the owner of our restaurant was in the building that night drinking at the bar.  This is hardly out of the ordinary.  It seems he saw the auto-grat being added by the manager on duty and thought this was unacceptable.  He made him remove the gratuity, which is always up to the manager's discretion.  So the tip was removed, the bill was delivered and the bill was promptly paid.  With a 10% tip.  For two girls.  To split.  Not ok.

At any rate there was generally outrage amongst many of the girls after this took place.  I was one of them.  The whole reason auto-grat is added is because big parties hardly ever tip enough on their own.  Especially not enough when you consider the work involved in serving and entertaining such a large group.  Auto-grat is unfortunately necessary.  If they tipped enough to begin with it wouldn't even exist.

So my question to you is, is automatic gratuity acceptable?  As a customer what are your feelings?


  1. If I'm at a big party I'd probably not remember to tip the waiter/waitress so I think it's a good thing. I find it plain weird that the owner ordered it to be removed.

  2. Welcome to my world. The Hooters I work at recently removed auto gratuity FROM EVERY PARTY. No longer are we allowed any kind of auto gratuity for any kind of party, regardless of the size (we used to have 18% for parties of 8+). Too many girls had sections with party tables and gave bad service, thus resulting in numerous complaints. So instead of punishing the few with problems, all of us are being punished. It makes for a pretty hostile place at times, with girls fighting over NOT getting the party sections for fear of receiving a low tip.

  3. bad fucking idea- the owner sounds like an idiot....what about after the large tip out?? did the girls make ANYTHING???

  4. With any parties of 8 or more I absolutely expect and auto tip. If the service doesn't rate the AT rate, I talk with the manager and have it reduced.

    Sounds like the on-duty manager at the time needs to have a talk with the owner and let him know the discontent his actions caused. Without happy Hooters Girls, business (and his income) will go down.

  5. As a customer, I'd have to say that I think it's unfair to be automatically hit with paying a large tip just because I'm a part of a big group. Sure, you would have to look after a large no. of people, and that would be difficult, but what if you had 12 customers to look after that weren't all together? A 15% tip at their discretion sounds reasonable enough, no? When you consider that a group of 12 people sitting together would amount to the same amount of work as 12 people sitting separately, it doesn't sound fair that they are stuck with an automatic, set tip to pay :/

  6. Are you freaking kidding me Mr anonymous!!! Obviously you've never worked in the restaurant business. It is not the same as having 12 separate people because you have to take into account that your large party is probably not our only table and unlike having 12 separate tables coming in at different times I'd have to get all 12 of your drink and food orders at the same time. Not to mention carry all the drinks which takes a lot of balance and strength and let's not even begin with the many modifications people have in their orders. The list goes on and on and on of crap that we have to deal with. You don't have a clue what our job entails and how difficult it truly is. Educate yourself before you go and make an ignorant comment like that. And what about the many cheapskates that don't tip well or tip at all after you worked your butt off for them. Your 15% tip at your discretion theory doesn't apply to them and we are the ones who get screwed. Is that fair? And by the way its unreasonable and impossible to expect any server to take 12 tables at a time and give amazing service most restaurant won't even allow more than a 8 table station but we are expected to be able to handle it if all those tables get sat and each with at least 6 people. Do the math, how does that make any sense? We desearve to be tipped generously.

    1. I am experienced in restaurant work, and a 2 top can stiff you just as well as a larger group/party. Remember 2 things; you took a job based on tips, and, you are discriminating against certain groups of people. I do have more than a clue what your job entails. A 2 top can have more modifications than a group. And a group of 12 or more people generally don't expect all the drinks delivered at once.



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