LETTER: Restaurants make diners tip twice

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The Independent Online
From Mr Stanley I. Grossman

Sir: Your article "Restaurants should abolish tipping" (22 November) and subsequent letter (24 November) gloss over the most important point: many restaurateurs deliberately set out to cheat that majority of their customers who pay by credit card. The practice is as follows: add a service charge to the bill, run a credit-card slip, and then leave a blank space just before the unfilled-in total. The blank space may be labelled "tip", "gratuity" or "misc". The careless or unsuspecting diner will then add in an additional tip and fill in the total. In other words, the diner tips twice. Even if the customer notices that a service charge has been added, he or she is made to seem parsimonious after not adding something extra for service.

In London, this practice is widespread. In France, by contrast, it is illegal to leave blank spaces reserved for gratuities on credit card receipts. Service is always included in the final total. For exceptional service, the diner has the option of leaving cash on the table; but he or she cannot add an extra tip to the credit slip.

Waiting on tables is very hard work and waiters deserve to be remunerated adequately. But it is not unreasonable to demand that the remuneration be honestly obtained.

Yours faithfully,

Stanley I. Grossman

London, NW3

25 November