Over the past couple of months, we've noticed an uptick in diner complaints about auto gratuities to the Eater tipline. One recently complained of a 20 percent auto grat at Manzo for a party of three (and suspects it was because his table was speaking Spanish). Another's party of five had the tip added on at Balaboosta, when the menu states a tip is added for six or more.
A reader today has a complaint not about an auto gratuity, but a none too subtle suggestion from the waitstaff at Williamsburg restaurant Dressler when he was dining there for a Blackboard Eats deal. Perhaps with the rise of deal sites like Gilt City, Blackboard, and others, waiters will become more aggressive to ensure they get the pre-discount tips they deserve. To his story:
Last week, Blackboard Eats released one of its daily coupons for the Dressler. Being a fan of the restaurant, I gladly forked over a buck for the pleasure of getting 30% off of my entire dinner bill. Now, when you actually order the discount coupon, you receive an email that says "Tips must be based on the pre-discount total", which you can understand, because the server shouldn't really lose out on 30% of their expected gratuity just because the owner decided to partner with Blackboard just to drum up some business. But this isn't some Parisian cafe that includes a service charge in the bill. This is New York City, where tips are earned, and not simply a given.· Dressler Coverage [~ENY~]
So after having a great meal with very good service, I was really offended to be handed a card telling me what I should be leaving as a tip. If I am savvy enough to find good deals on a little known website that only operates in major cities that the owners are counting on to create some business, I would like to be given a the benefit of the doubt that I will be able to figure out that the tip should be based off the total bill before the discount. But no. Instead the waiter has to sheepishly slip this stupid card in with the check to make sure they got the $51, which is about $4 more than 20% of the discounted total and $9 less than 20% of the pre-discount amount. But since I am too dumb to figure this out on my own, $51 is what they got. I almost walked through the kitchen door instead after my meal was over, but luckily the staff was there to send me out the front door.
· Eater Complaint Department [~ENY~]