Friday, March 26, 2010

Olive Garden Mandatory Optional Gratuity

I at one time enjoyed going to the Olive Garden Unlimited for their Soup, Salad, and Bread Sticks.  The price was about a buck above being a great value, but I enjoyed it and would go about weekly for lunch.  One night my wife and I went out about a year and a half ago or so to Olive Garden.  When we got the bill it was a couple of dollars more than I anticipated.  I asked the waitress and she indicated that the price did indeed go up a dollar.  It was border line worth it at the price it was.  At a dollar more it was not worth it.

That was the last time I had been to Olive Garden until today.  Remember that I previously went to Olive Garden almost once a week before that price increase.

Today was a coworkers last day and we went out to eat to celebrate.  Someone chose Olive Garden and I figured to pay respects to my friend I would cave and pay the extra dollar.  I was browsing the menu just out of curiosity since I knew I was getting my usual Soup, Salad, and Bread Sticks.  I noticed at the bottom of the menu it said that for large groups there was an optional 18% gratuity.  18% is ridiculous, but I was pleased to see that it was optional and not mandatory as I have seen at other places.  When I got the bill I noticed that there was a line for gratuity and there had included a value there as a part of my total.

What was I to do if I didn't want to pay that much gratuity, tell the waitress and tell her I did not want to give her that much and make her change it?

What I didn't think of at the time was that since there was a line for additional gratuity and a line for total I could've entered a negative number for the amount of the tip and a new total.  I also could've scratched out the gratuity and wrote a new total.

I will not be back to Olive Garden if I have a choice in the matter.

Update 4 Oct 2012
Since there has been good discussion on this post about gratuities, I thought I would put something that came to my mind today.  I am diverging from Olive Garden, but I the spirit of the post was to discuss how a culture of mandatory gratuities is keeping me from spending any of my money at places that have wait staff that expect a gratuity as part of their normal pay.

I was thinking about maybe going out to eat for lunch today.  Some of the guys have talked every now and again about Red Robin and their unlimited steak fries.  It was a bit more than I want to pay for lunch and I don't like steak fries as much as other fires, but I kind of a craving for a lot of fries.  So I was figuring up the cost in my head and trying to convince myself to spend the extra.  I was all set to do it and then I remembered that Red Robin has waitresses and that will cost a buck or two more.

As I thought about that I thought more about how I was paying too much for Red Robin any how and I could get a boat load of fries that I like better for the extra $3 for the burger and fries and the extra $2 for delivery.  For the total cost, I could get two burgers and two orders of fries at a fast food place.  I also wouldn't have to sit around and wait for it to be delivered to my table.

Update 1 Feb 2013
I've heard the last couple of days about a pastor that wrote comments on the Applebee's receipt for his party of 19.  I think that his comments were out of line.

Nonetheless, I entirely agree with his protest of having an 18% gratuity added to the bill automatically.  I heard someone on the radio taking the position that the tip is not optional, but part of the waiter staff's wage. I entirely disagree.  A gratuity is given for service above their wage.

Yes the "pastor" was a jerk about it, but perpetuating the idea that someone deserves 18% just for showing up to my table is wrong.


Brook said...

Someone just posted a comment on this post. Their comment attacked me personally rather than sticking strictly to the topic and having an intelligent dialog about it, so I have rejected their comment. I do, however, want to address some of the points that they attempted to make.

-They state that one can not scratch out the optional gratuity and expect not to pay it. This just reiterates my point that calling the 18% gratuity for large groups optional is false advertising and illegal.

-"...servers get paid $2.13 an hour and the rest of their pay comes from guest tips." The server chose to take a job that pays them a low wage. Apparently they are willing to gamble they can get more.

A tip is what is called a gratuity. defines gratuity as follows:
“a gift of money, over and above payment due for service”
“something given without claim or demand.”

It is a gift. It is over and above what I owe for service. A gift indicates it is my choice whether to give it or not.

If a restaurant can not afford to pay their employees based on the prices they are charging, then they should raise the prices and don’t shift the responsibility to their customers to pay their employees. It is simply a marketing trick to make you perceive that you are paying less than what you in reality are.

A common problem with people that manage people is that they don’t want to manage, so policies are made that effect everyone to keep problematic employees in line. It is bad enough when those policies impact good employees and take away privileges from them. It is worse to penalize your customers by making them do some of the management for you by rewarding or penalizing your employees for their performance.

The way that Olive Garden did it in this instance, which seems to have been confirmed by the rejected commenter, was to require me to give my server a gift, even if the service was poor. Even if the service wasn’t poor, what if the service hadn’t been worth 18%. It didn’t matter, Olive Garden chose to put on my bill that I was going to pay 18% anyway.

Prices for meals continue to climb, but so do the “customary”, or in this case required, gratuity percents.

Gratuities have become much like a tax, especially when they are mandatory. Would someone not be outraged at an 18% tax on their meal?

Brook said...

Apparently people are as upset about how little restaurants pay their employees and how they require the customer to subsidize their wage via gratuities as I am. I have received only two comments on this post and both expressed how little Olive Garden employees make per hour. Unfortunately both of these commenters chose to personally attach me with profanity and consequently their exact comments will not be posted. I will, however try to summarize this last commenters thoughts.

After expressing how little the wait staff at Olive Garden make the latest commenter then suggested that I get a better job in order to be able to afford to eat at Olive Garden. They also suggested that someone should physically attach and injure me because of my thought on prices and gratuities. I thought we lived in the age where it was unacceptable for someone to physically attach another person because they are different that we are.

On the subject of getting a better job to afford to eat at Olive Garden. People often can not simple get a better job. If that were the case Olive Garden would never get away with paying such low wages and require their employees to beg for gratuities in order to receive the wage they deserve.

Also, people don't always need a better job. Often they just need to spend less of their money on things that are not important. I am choosing to not spend more of my money at Olive Garden since they raised their prices and force me to pay what they choose for a gratuity. More of my money can now go to a meal elsewhere and have money left for a movie or I could just put it in savings and not spend it at all.

One thing that has been puzzling me as I have had time to ponder on gratuities. I understand there is inflation and the price of things go up, but how does that cause a percentage to continue to rise. Years ago the standard gratuity for good service was 10% now we are almost to 20%. Doesn’t the person making 10% off the price of a meal automatically get more money when the price of the meal increases?

OGServer said...

I am a server at olive garden and would like to correct some of the things said in this blog. First off the gratuity is optional. Whoever said if you had wrote a negative or crossed it out it would've still been entered is wrong. By law no restaurant can force you to pay any gratuity. We on occassion do have tables request to have the tip removed and we do it because by law we have to. That being said if you wrote a negative or refused gratuity and I was your server I would feel that you were either A. Dissatisfied with your service or B. You were uneducated on how to tip. You mention rasing menu prices but you also feel soup and salad is over priced. Imagine what it would cost if we got paid a proper wage. Most olive gardens have about 20 servers on the floor during busy times if we were all making hourly wages food prices would increase greatly. The other downfall of paying us hourly wages is you would find it a lot harder to motivate your staff. Some servers would (and should) still provide good service, but I'm sure you would find that others might lose the motivation to go above and beyond and the restaurants would be left firing a lot of employees. Another negative of paying us hourly is you lose your right to decide what our service was worth to you. If you had a horrible experience that server would still be making money off you and in that situation you may find yourself wishing you still had the ability to decide what they should receive. In present times you should be tipping %10 for bad service less or nothing if it was horrible. %15 for adequate service %20 for good service and %25 or more for extraoridnary service. Most tables who received good service will leave extra on top of the %18 gratuity. Another thing you should be aware of is that olive garden applies that gratuity to large parties because they require 2 servers to share parties of 8 or more so each server is only receiving half of what you left. You will also more then likely take up that table longer than the average table. You may feel that it's our problem for taking the job but the honest truth is somebody has to do it and we are people too. We have bills to pay and children to feed and when people don't tip we are the ones who suffer. Minimum wages are on a constant increase and server wages are not. When you go out to eat your bill only covers your food and the wages of the people who prepared it. Your tip is essentially your bill for service and if you are unable or unwilling to pay that bill, when it is deserved, I would respectfully recomend buffets and take out since you're only expected to tip them %10, or fast food which you're not expected to tip on. I would also encourage you to not write off olive garden because of a gratuity as you will find almost all well known chains follow the same practice. I will agree that soup and salad is overpriced and I would suggest trying something off the regular menu since it all comes with unlimited soup or salad you'll probably find it is a much better deal.

Brook said...

In my next comment I hope to respond to OGServer's comments above. Before I do that, I would like to thank them for presenting their opinions respectfully.

Whether I agree with someone or not I appreciate a respectful tone and not reflexive and profane anger.

If I do end up being wrong about an issue I am more likely to be convinced so by rationally expressed information than by anger. Certainly more likely convinced than with personal attacks.

Again, thank you OGServer.

Brook said...

The reason I mentioned raising menu prices was only to give me an accurate idea of what the meal costs. Yes, one can do math and come up with the final value, but in reality it is a psychological thing, making the customer feel like they are paying less when they are considering coming to Olive Garden or any other restaurant than what they actually are. When I have gone out with friends to a place whose average meal price is say $7. They say, "I could throw down $7". They don't say I could throw down $8 1/2, which in reality is what they are going to pay because the expectation is that they give an extra 20% or they feel rude, even if the service was less than acceptable.

As OGServer stated, a gratuity is optional, but the pressure one feels to not be hated by the wait staff is not. This was illustrated by the first two comments this post received filled with hatred and with OGServer's later statement in their comment that gratuities are expected.

OGServer mentions that with 20 servers on the floor, it would greatly increase food prices. I would be curious how many items a server serves in an hour and the dollar amount of those items. The extra wage per hour would be divided among those items.

This topic of not being able to motivate staff to do their jobs if they don't receive tips keeps coming up. I work a job where no one drops me a tip after I have performed pieces of my job. If I do a poor job my manager has the option to discuss it with me and try to help me do better. If I am not motivated or capable of doing the job, I can be fired. My motivation is to provide for myself and my family. Part of providing for my family is wage. Part is flexibility. Part is time. If the job provides those things then I make myself more motivated and try to expand my capabilities in order to keep that job.

I disagree that I lose the right to decide what the service is worth to me if someone's income is more drive by wage than by gratuities collected.

If service is of value to a person and a certain place has a reputation for excellent service, they would likely pay more to eat there.

Also, just because the establishment does not expect that their customers give a gratuity, it does not mean one can not be given. I use to bag groceries and my job was to help customers out to their vehicles with the groceries. I was paid my hourly wage and was expected to do my job well for that wage. Occasionally a customer would be especially grateful for the help and would give me a small sum of money in addition to their verbal thanks to impress upon me their gratitude. The money was not expected, but was appreciated when it came. I also did not feel ill toward those who did not tip, because I was being paid to serve them by my employer. No matter how much or how little I was paid to do so, I was paid to serve the customer and serve them well.

I was a little set back to read OGServer's guide to how much of a tip to leave. 10% for bad service? 15% for adequate service? It is a gratuity. I give it to you because I am grateful for the service one performs. If I receive bad service or the server just barely did what they had to to keep me from complaining why would I be grateful for that? Especially not to the tune of an additional 10-15%.

I again wonder why, if meal prices have gone up, why is it necessary to double the amount of gratuity expected? A 10% gratuity on a meal that costs twice as much is twice as of a tip. 15 years ago the expected tip was 10%. Meal prices have double since then and so has the percentage I am expected to pay. That means the amount of extra money I am pressured to pay for my meal has gone up 400%.

A good point that OGServer made was that larger groups do have the potential for staying longer. I think it is a little less likely over lunch on a weekday, but it is a good point to consider.
(Con't in next comment)

Brook said...

(Con't from prev comment)
In the same section OGServer talks of two servers having to cover a table of more than eight. I'm not sure that constitutes more work. You would have to run between as many as 4 tables if the party of eight were broken into parties of two. Also, why would Olive Garden want to penalize someone for bringing more people into their restaurant? If it is a social atmosphere or a company outing they might spend more than they otherwise would if it was just two or three people grabbing lunch before heading back to work.

Many times large groups are paid by one person, which means the individuals are more likely to order something more expensive than if they were paying for themselves. Thus Olive Garden gets more money and so do the servers.

OGServer talks of having bills to pay and children to feed, which again is more of the pressure we are suppose to feel to leave a gratuity, no matter what, because if we don't it is harming someone and we are rude. It is a gratuity. People should leave it when they feel grateful, not when they feel guilt.

Additionally it was stated that, "Your tip is essentially your bill for service". Again, the problem I have is being billed an extra line item and being billed for my gratitude.

Sometimes it feels like the food service industry is saying to the customers, "It'd be a shame if anything bad were to happen to the meal you paid for on the way to it coming to your table. If you pay us a small tip of 15% we can make sure nothing bad happens to it." Again, that small percentage keeps going up.

OGServer recommends that I try buffets where they say, and I quote, "you're only EXPECTED to tip them %10" (emphasis added).

A gratuity should never be expected.

If I go to a buffet, I am clearly expecting that I will be serving myself. It seems unnecessary to me to have servers. Not that servers are bad people and don't need work like the rest of us, but it is not a service I need at a buffet. I don't need someone to pump my gas either. I'm sure gas pumpers were good people and had families, but I shouldn't have to pay for a service I don't need, just because I want people to have jobs.

OGServer's recommendation of trying something from the regular menu that comes with the unlimited soup, salad, and bread sticks doesn't solve my issue. The regular menu item cost more than just the soup, salad, and bread sticks alone. I don't want to pay more and I don't want another item. All I want is the soup and salad. The soup is very good on its own, I just like more than one bowl of it. As for the salad, for a place that is called the Olive Garden they skimp on the number of olives in the bowl. They also skimp on the other items other than lettuce and the lettuce is mostly white and flavorless.

Olive Garden had a few things that drove me away. I was a regular at Olive Garden because they had a good deal at one point. After that they became just like any other restaurant, pricey + 20%. I only list Olive Garden, because I went there. But as OGServer stated many of the complaints I have with them are possibly problems with other places I do not go to often (Red Robin, Denny's, Ruby River, Texas Road House, Outback, or Whereever).

I am just more familiar with Olive Garden, because, as I said, I was a regular there.

JULIO said...


Gardener said...

I have to agree with OGServer as I am also a server at a local Olive Garden.

I'm not sure how Olive Garden prices vary from store to store, but I know that our Soup, Salad and Breadsticks special runs at only 6.95.

The average guest will eat between 2-3 bowls of soup and around 2 bowls of salad. Personally, I think this is a fantastic price for the lunch crowd. If you dine in again, please feel free to ask for extra toppings on the salad. The standard is one tomato slice, olive, pepper and then a few onions per guest. This is not to cheat you out of your toppings. Instead, it is meant to prevent the large amounts of waste we see each day and to respect those who provide us with these vegetables. We have no problem putting extras on there (I have many regulars who love their salad done a certain way), we just want to make sure we're not throwing it away at the end.

OGServer is correct in the fact that the gratuity can be removed. You are not able to scratch it out and write something new. You do need to let your server know and they can remove it from your individual bill. Although I would like to mention (to any soup and salad fan, not targeting anyone in particular) that this combo is usually one of the hardest parts of the job. It may not seem like much, but when there are multiple people at tables having the soup and salad, it is hard to pay equal attention to other guests because the combo requires much more "running" back and forth.

The thing with tipping is that while it should not be "expected", by society's is. Many authors have printed literature on the correct way to tip accordingly and many agree the percentage for "good" (everything was correct, an enjoyable experience, etc.) is 15%. I understand that the cost of food goes up and while I agree that the guest should not be punished for this, should the server be? We see an increase in food when the price of oil goes up and therefore it is more costly to have ingredients delivered. Many restaurants are able to keep food prices down by not paying their servers an hourly wage.

Also, for repeat guests, a percentage tip will usually determine the service you receive upon your return. A server will usually not complain about a tip ranging from 15-20%. Even on the soup and salad (I believe 15% on this is just barely over a dollar?). However, anything lower than that normally stays in the back of a servers head and you may find that during your next visit your refills come out slower or your server rarely visits your table in order to better serve others who may potentially be more generous.

I am curious to know what you think of as a generous gratuity?
I appreciate your views although I mostly disagree with them and do have to admit I go to work each day hoping for guests who do not feel the same way that you do.

Anonymous said...


fansamman said...

I was curious if this had happened to other people and stumbled on your post. I must say I have worked were I receive tips for 10 years for my service. I am not offended if some doesn't tip me or only leaves me a dollar instead of 20 dollars. I treat them the same and give them my best service everytime. Thats what customer service is. I understand some people really can't afford it. That was my case a few nights ago. I have 5 kids and it has been a tradition for them to choose where they want to eat on there birthdays. My daughter choose Olive Garden. We really didn't have the money this year but i couldn't tell her no. There was 7 of us that went and a infant. All kids but 2. The gratuity was added on our bill that i didn't even notice untill I already signed it and received the secound receipt. I had actually put what I was gonna tip on the table in cash. Of course after relizing that I had already paid and extra 25 dollars and took it back. On our way home we called Olive Garden back and asked them how many had to be in a party before they added gratuity. They said 8. Meaning they counted a 4 month old. I was highly upset to say the least. I will never go back there again and I tell all my customers what they did so they won't go back. Its one thing to put it on your bill if there is a large group that are adults with jobs, but when you are a parent with kids I think it is absolutely ridiculous.

fansamman said...

I was curious if this had happened to other people and stumbled on your post. I must say I have worked were I receive tips for 10 years for my service. I am not offended if some doesn't tip me or only leaves me a dollar instead of 20 dollars. I treat them the same and give them my best service everytime. Thats what customer service is. I understand some people really can't afford it. That was my case a few nights ago. I have 5 kids and it has been a tradition for them to choose where they want to eat on there birthdays. My daughter choose Olive Garden. We really didn't have the money this year but i couldn't tell her no. There was 7 of us that went and a infant. All kids but 2. The gratuity was added on our bill that i didn't even notice untill I already signed it and received the secound receipt. I had actually put what I was gonna tip on the table in cash. Of course after relizing that I had already paid and extra 25 dollars and took it back. On our way home we called Olive Garden back and asked them how many had to be in a party before they added gratuity. They said 8. Meaning they counted a 4 month old. I was highly upset to say the least. I will never go back there again and I tell all my customers what they did so they won't go back. Its one thing to put it on your bill if there is a large group that are adults with jobs, but when you are a parent with kids I think it is absolutely ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

My two cents....

We visited OG today as we typically do on Sundays after church. This visit was with seven of our friends. Upon receiving our bill, I failed to notice the gratutity automatically added to the bill and also failed to noice the words "Additional tips". I added my usual 15% gratuity to the total. After arriving home and upon entering my information into my financial program, it was then that I notice that I have given our servers a 35% gratutiy.

Lesson learned? Look closer at the bill and always be aware that the optional gratuity is lurking somewhere on a tiket for a party of 8 or more.

halnic said...

Really? Did the kids eat? If you're really a server them you know kids are the worst, they make huge messes, act out, disturb your other customers and parents expect servers to not count them, maybe because they share plates instead of ordering of the child menu. Technically, that's sharing and is against Og policyif you share the soup or salad. But I saw it all the time. Its taking advantage of your server, and I honestly believe people know that. Its terrible when two adults bring in all the kids and you're serving five or more kids that are outta control because they outnumber the adults yet we are expected to pretend they are not there? Its such a shame how people expect great service the become hypocrites when we expect good tips, saying we shouldn't expect it. I've had great tables that didn't leave much and its ok, but rarely have tables that are jerks leave a good tip that makes up for the treatment. Its a messed up system, sorry you feel tipping is such a burden, we have take out, you can pick it up andserve yourself. We even cater. I personally do that myself when I can't afford a good to but have a craving for restaurant food.

Brook said...

It was just my wife and me at the time that I referred to where I was with my wife. The time with the coworkers there were also no kids at the table.

All you can eat soup, salad, and bread sticks is difficult to pull off with take out.

halnic said...

Servers have the right to refuse service with good reason, so serving is a gift, and also a service to society. I'm sorry tips are something we should not expect, maybe everyone should "expect" less. Good service is expected, and given with the intention of getting a good tip in north America. Everyone knows this. As a server who knows good service and rewards it with good tips, if I don't have that extra money just in case, I order it to go. Former Og server myself, they cater, you can order anything from the menu to go and serve yourself at home. You are paying for the server as well, its not included in the price of food, Idk why anyone acts like its rape when they have to leave a decent tip. Personally, I have had great tables that left very little, 10% or less and it doesn't upset me. But when a large party or a nasty rude table does it,, its very annoying, and I personally won't serve you again if I see you. Og expects us to make a certain% of our sales with tips, its more than you seem to think. We tip out 6% to other employees, that you never see, and that's a newer trend, and why gratuity is now at 15%+ it sucks to see the bussers w walking out with more than you on a Saturday night, but thanks to cheap people, it happens. You ain't gotta go fast food, but take it home so I can get a table that can tip.thank you for listening (reading)... Also, no longer a server because even tho I was good at it and loved it and my regulars, it just didn't pay the bills since the economy dropped.

Brook said...

I have covered in other posts that companies need to pay their employees properly and also discipline their employees (write them up and fire them) for poor service. They should not make their customers manage their employees through gratuities. It is a gratuity, not a wage. They are customers not restaurant managers.

Brook said...

I think perhaps some of the reason the customary gratuity percentage is growing out of control is because employers have begun giving gratuities to the bussers. I assume the employers have also begun abusing bussers by paying them a severely low wage, like they have been doing to wait staff for years, and making the wait staff guilt people into voluntarily pay more for their meal to give the wait and bus staff a higher wage.

Jennifer said...

I don't know what the server minimum wage is where you are from, but in Alabama it is $2.13/hour. The state of Alabama goes by the Federal mandate since they do not have their own policies about minimum wage. Adding a gratuity of 18% to a check for parties of 8 or more is a common practices in most restaurants. Server minimum wage has not increased since the 80s. Large chain restaurant owners lobby year after year to keep minimum wage low and then someone decides that the amount that is an "acceptable" tip should be increased. But keep in mind that if server minimum wage does increase, the price of food will increase far more than it costs you to leave an 18% tip. At the end of the day, it is your choice to tip or not. While gratuities are included on checks for large parties, you can always request to have it taken off. If you have the courage to post on your blog about it, I think you should have the courage to tell your server that he/she didn't deserve the tip.

Brook said...


The solution to restaurants paying poor wages is not to make the customer manage and pay the employees. The solution is for employees to not work for that wage.

If indeed the wage hasn't gone up, the price of the meal has, which means that servers earn more now than they did a few years ago without raising the percent of the meal the tip is.

A meal that cost $20 a few years ago would yield a $2 tip at 10%. Now that that meal costs $30 the servers automatically get a raise, just by the restaurant raising prices. 20 X .1 = 2 30 X .1 = 3. If a server waits on ten table over the course of a 6 hour shift, they made $30. That is an additional $5 per hour, which brings the pay to $7.13 per hour. We both know one waits on a lot more than 10 tables in 6 hours.

Are you really proposing that servers dread serving a big group? Yes, it is more work, but the pay off is often big as well, even at 10%. The group potentially takes up space longer talking, but they also potentially buy more, which increase the dollar amount the tip is based off of.

As far as your proposal that I man up and tell the server I do not want to pay such a high tip...
Confronting the server directly implies that they did a bad job, because one is making a point to address the issue with them. The restaurant should not put their customer and their employee in a position like that.

Just because I feel 18% is way too much, does not mean I feel the server did a bad job. I do not want to pay 18%, but I do want to express they did a good job. The going practice of paying 10% for terrible service, 18% when they did well, and somewhere in between for baseline service is ridiculous. If you stunk you get nothing. If you just did enough to get by you get nothing. If you went above and beyond to give good service you get a thanks or a gratuity. A gratuity does not equate to a wage. A gratuity is a small expression of thanks, not a wage.

Tarr0530 said...

When I went to visit Australia, I was told not tip the wait staff. I was very uneasy with the idea since I know how hard of work it is to wait tables. I then learned that the wait staff starts out around $20 an hour compared to waitresses average of $2.33 per hour here in the USA. In turn all items where over double the cost of what I am use to paying. So I would think that would be what you are asking for, correct?

I honestly feel if you can't afford to tip your waitress 20% for their service, then you can not afford to go out to eat.

At Olive Garden they have a three table rule (some waitresses do take on more but rarely). At any one time the waitress has three tables. That is called their section. If you sit at a table for an hour after your done eating you just took an hour away from that waitress to make money. In large groups they tend to do that so when I have already flipped a table three times the large party is still sitting there talking. You are having a great fun time but what you don't realize is that even though you think you should only tip 15% you stole the chance for that waitress to wait on more customers. If I sit at a table for more than 30-45 minutes after I am done eating, I tip more to make up for what the waitress lost.

Brook said...

Tipping more when you stay longer is showing gratitude. That is what a gratuity is. You were gratefully and chose to pay extra. It should not be forced upon you.
As far as making the meal more expensive by paying the staff legal wages, the meal is already more expensive with the excessive, expected tips. Charge what the meal costs, including labor. Don't make me manage your employees.

Celeste Lawler said...

It's been many years since I have been a waitress. Yes, we were waitresses & waiters before everyone became servers. I couldn't agree with you more.While I never worked at Olive Garden I have worked places where I've had to share my tips with the hostess, busboys & bartenders. In NYS where I live, back when I did wait tables we were required by law to declare our tips & pay taxes on them. There was also a certain % of your hourly wage based on the # of hours you worked that you HAD to claim whether you actually earned that dollar amount in tips or not. As you stated, what the diner (restaurant patron) is paying for in their guest check (bill) is the food & beverages they've ordered & consumed; not the service the waitstaff had provided for them. I would venture to say the majority of servers are college &/or high school students who are working their way through school & really depend on their tips in order to get by.

ashfenixx said...

I am also not happy with this "Suggested TIPPING" trick on the receipt, but only shows the TOTAL with it included. I don't even know how much my actual bill was without manually computing for it.

Our actual food cost was $45 and with tax and the "optional" tip added totaled $57, which the receipt implies us to pay. We only had $55 cash and the waitress seem to be scorning us and saying "You're short, your bill is $57." We explained and she said, "You mean you don't want to tip". We were like, no, we are just not tipping the full amount (since it was only a suggestion!).

This is a trick for people who don't pay attention as much and only look at the bolded total.

It's the first time I've seen this in any restaurant and I will never come back to Olive Garden again, just by principle.

djcollins84 said...

First and formost it is standard to tip 15 to 20 percent in a restaurant also the average hourly wage is 2.50 per hour for a waiter. They depend on your tips and also have to tip out the support staff and bartenders. If your service was adequate than you should tip properly instead being just plain cheap. If you can't act and tip appropriately than stay home. No one needs you there waisting their time they could be spending with people who will accurately pay for their services.

Brook said...


As I have said, employers need to manage and pay their employees. It is not the customers job. The customer came to relax, not manage employees.

If employers are paying employees so poorly, then people need to stop taking server jobs. The fact is, I constantly hear people who are servers telling their friends to get a serving job because they can make a ton of money in a short period of time on tips.

I wonder if Olive Garden and other restaurants know that their wait staff is asking people to not come buy the meal if they can't afford to pay the tip the wait staff wants.

"Sir you spent $50 at our restaurant, but only left a 10% gratuity. Please don't come back."

I personally think you are right. People should stop eating at places that have and an "optional" gratuity.

Brook said...

I saw this comment from PYT's Facebook page.

"Why not protect your employee from that kind of arbitrary discretion based variability by paying the a wage that's sufficient in and of itself. Nobody stiffs your servers more than you and your two buck an hour minimum wage."

PYT is a burger place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and apparently LeSean McCoy, a football player, left a 20 cent tip. The owner of the company tried to shame him by calling him out online.

Brook said...

I saw this comment online from Robert Morlan
"I've heard it said by those still in the restaurant business, "if you can't afford to tip, don't eat out!" which is all fine except for the obvious retort, "if you can't afford to get stiffed, don't wait tables!" According to this logic..."If you can't afford to pay your employee's a reasonable wage, don't open a restaurant" Why is it acceptable to displace the costs of the employer, to the customer? Why not just mark up the food 18% and no tips, see how that works? Tipping shouldn't be a standard, it should be a reward for excellent service, if warranted by the customer. Not expected charity!"

Brook said...

I saw this comment online from John Thornton
"If you live in the United States and have a problem with tipping servers, etc. you really just need to stay home."

If people stay home, how does that help wait staff make money. Isn't the point some are trying to make is that the servers need more money? If people do not go out to eat, then the servers get nothing, which is even less than a bad tip.

Brook said...

I saw this comment online from Sam Duckett
"I spent 8 years of my life waiting tables and bar-tending (not tending Bar as one of my lawyer friends regularly points out) and I cannot fathom why any waiter or waitress expects a tip. Tips are earned at the discretion of the customer. It seems to be that this tipping culture came from the USA, and should remain there. It creates a false expectation with the server and ultimately bad service to the customer. If you are well mannered as a waiter then you MIGHT get a tip, but should NOT expect it."

Brook said...

I saw this comment online from Charles M Cawley
"Its the attitude. There is no such thing as a bad tip. Expecting a tip is a bad attitude. Getting one is a gift even if it is one cent."

Brook said...

I saw this comment online from Adrian Christian
"Why should the customer bear the cost of an under-paid employee? If the employee is paid properly then he or she shouldn't live or die on a god tip, bad tip, or no tip."

Brook said...

Jimmy Bøgh Christensen said,
"The industry could easily fix this by simply paying their employees a living wage so they'd not have to beg customers for money. The idea of tips is distasteful at best."

Brook said...

Jerome Levy said,
"Personally, I don't understand tipping. Wait staff should be paid a decent wage like everyone else. If the service is unusually good -- or bad -- then the manager should be notified, but the idea of "serve me and then I'll decide whether or not to leave you a few dollars" should have gone out years ago."

Brook said...

Bryan Acton said,
"Is there some sort of rule that says because you make more money than me that you should leave ridiculously large tips everywhere you go.. just because you have more money than I do. Ludacris."

Brook said...

Deborah Childs said about LeSean McCoy's 20 cent tip,
"I think that is just terrible! He should have definitely left more of a tip than that. I think people sometimes forget how hard these individuals work in restaurants this is clearly not the image you should want to portray especially being a professional athlete."

Mckenzie Shetrone said...

olive garden no longer adds gratuity on large parties and it is horrible.
People come in with their huge families and pig out on endless refills and run the server like crazy. which means no time to focus on my other tables, and you think a couple bucks is enough?

2 nights ago I had a party of 10, everyone had at least 2 soups more bread then I could count, they shared the salad ( even though most of them got soup and were not supposed to get the salad). The party drank and had desserts and lots of extras.. bill was 355 bucks. They left me $15 on the table. which is less then 5%... I LOST money on that table. I had to tip busser and bar 2.5% each. this is how I put myself through college but to you I don't deserve the 15% minimal tip because you say you don't like that you the customer absorbs the cost? If OG raises costs to pay us decent money people like you that are to cheap to tip in the first place really would never come back.
Its standard practice to tip for good service which I always provide. if you don't like it then OG has a person called the ToGo Specialist and they will pack your food up to go!