I don’t usually eat out (since I have no friends to eat with — haha), but when I do eat out, I generally try to be a fair tipper. Although there were plenty of times where I’ll ponder about how 15% became the standard gratuity amount, I usually just leave the 15% unless there was terrible service (and of course, more than 15% if the service was excellent).

The fact of the matter is, in the United States, many wait staffs rely on tips as their main income source — despite the fact that many people feels that a “minimum” tip standard has shifted the responsibility of paying wages from restaurant employers to customers. Depending on your region, culture, and background, you may find tipping to be a ridiculous notion or a fair custom.

Most restaurants will have a mandatory “gratuity” charge for a large party (6 or more etc.), and certain restaurants will have straight-up forced gratuity (eesh). On one hand, I can understand that dealing with a large party can certainly be bitch work; after all, you’re tending to more demands and needs — but on the other hand, its hardly considered gratuity when its mandatory (maybe all restaurants should just label them clearly as a large-party service charge instead of a gratuity charge).

To add more spices to the mix, a couple in Bethlema, PA, was recently arrested by the police because they refused to pay the mandatory tip for their party of six. Now before you think the two are complete cheapskate, apparently the party had to wait an hour for their table, and received next-to-nothing services during dinner. Some people might think its a bit trivial for the couple to get all huffed-up about a 18% gratuity that totaled $16, but I’m on the camp that thinks the restaurant owner is being silly to call the police over a $16 tip.

What do you think? Much ado about nothing? Are mandatory gratuity an abomination? Or are they a necessary component to ensure waiting staffs gets their due pay for their services?

photo credit: Vidiot.