Don't tip for terrible service
03/04/2011 | Gratuities are automatically added to the bill in most local restaurants.
We are all familiar with this practice and generally do not have a problem with it, especially if the service exceeds our expectations. After all, this is what a gratuity is, a gift for exceptional service.
But should we be required to pay the gratuity if the service is bad? Of course not.
A gratuity is a reward and something that should be given voluntarily.
It cannot be demanded and, with respect to restaurants and waiting staff, this gift should always be earned. We are supplementing waiting staff’s wages with our tips. So are we wrong to expect great service?
Should not the choice be ours as to if and how much we tip?
Although tipping is expected in bars and restaurants, there is no law in Bermuda that makes it mandatory.
If a restaurant menu or service card states that a 15 or 17 per cent gratuity is being added to your bill, then they are implying that service will be provided in an efficient and friendly manner.
If the service is poor and the restaurant’s implied conditions of service are not met then there is a breach of contract.
I am fortunate in that the restaurants I frequent provide excellent service, which is why I continue to dine there.
But I have been to restaurants and small eateries where the service was ridiculously dreadful and the staff and management just as ridiculously unapologetic.
I did not leave a tip and will not return.
If a restaurant gives you poor service, you have every right to refuse to pay the gratuities.
I suggest you exercise that right — not to financially punish the waiting staff, but to encourage them to provide better service and therefore earn their gratuity.
How do you exercise your right not to tip?
I do not suggest that you discuss your dissatisfaction with the server.
Instead, politely ask to speak to the manager and explain to him or her exactly why you do not wish to pay the gratuity.
In most cases your complaint will be appreciated and your concerns addressed.
On an island as small as Bermuda, I doubt that any restaurant manager would want customers making negative comments, especially given the tough economic climate.
Another thing to remember is that if you are paying with a credit card, there is often a section on the receipt that allows you to leave an additional gratuity.
Read the bill carefully to make sure that you are not paying the gratuity twice.
While consumers can choose to add an additional tip if they wish to, it is an offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1999 for businesses to engage in the practice of double tipping.
Establishments found guilty of this offence are subject on summary conviction of a fine of up to $10,000 or six months imprisonment.