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A Borough Park lawmaker wants to strike a blow against gratuitous gratuities.

Councilman David Greenfield has introduced a bill to the Council aimed at clarifying the bills handed out at restaurants that automatically add a gratuity to the check — because unless the additional charge is clearly marked, diners can easily double tip.

And it happens more often than people think, according to Greenfield.

“Just about anyone who eats out on a regular basis has left a gratuity without realizing that the tip had already been included in the check,” said Greenfield.

His Gratuity Bill would give the city’s consumer affairs commissioner, currently Jonathan Mintz, the authority to standardize how restaurants and bars must label their gratuity charges on receipts. Restaurants would have to display gratuity charges on bills and credit card receipts in a “size and style,” determined by the commissioner — or face a fine of up to $250.

“This is a matter of fairness for everyone who dines at the many great restaurants in New York City,” said Greenfield.

The bill comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed by attorney Evan Spencer on behalf of professional tennis player Ted Dimond earlier this year, which accused several restaurants, including Olive Garden and Red Lobster, of flouting consumer protection laws that allow restaurants to automatically charge gratuities, but only for parties of eight or more diners.

The suit alleges that those restaurants charged gratuities for all meals as a matter of course and, because the charges were hidden in the bill, duped thousands of New Yorkers and tourists into forking over an additional tip as well.

Greenfield’s new bill may have an affect on smaller mom and pop restaurants, Spencer said, but he doubts large national restaurant chains will find much to fear in the paltry $250 fine.

“Your local business, they might change,” said Spencer. “But Darden, which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, lists their market cap as more than $7 billion. They really have no respect for these low-level administrative rules.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
When a tip is added by the establishment, it is TAXED.

Thus tipping the city and state, who have done nothing to enhance your dining pleasure.

READ the bill, and then tell them to take the tip off, and give it yourself at the same rate.
Nov. 13, 2013, 8:26 am
Brenda from New Jersey resident, employed in NYC says:
I understand your argument @Yellow Hook but being a server myself I see that a lot of the times the guests who do request gratuity to be taken off their check do it just to leave a measly amount. Many servers go through hell and back to make their guests' experience one of a kind. If the service is that bad, then I agree the gratuity should be adjusted to the parties discretion. I just don't think it is fair to encourage consumers to request the gratuity be removed every time they dine-in. You would be surprised how much the additional tip can really help our and of the day earnings. After receiving constant 5%-8% tips on high checks, it is nice to get that little boost from an "over-tip".
Nov. 13, 2013, 10:10 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
Hubby and I were surprised that the tip was added in for lunch in an Olive Garden upstate, just for the two of us. It was clearly marked on the bill. He is in the habit of checking it (which I am not.)

But we tip 20% of the full amount (including tax) as a practice for good service. In our case, by adding the tip automatically, the server received less that what we'd normally pay.

So, like for everything else "BUYER BEWARE" and check the bill when eating out.
Nov. 13, 2013, 11:48 am
Lynn from Prospect Heights says:
Pam from Brooklyn is a nasty piece of work.
Nov. 13, 2013, 2:08 pm
Bad Wolf from Everwhere says:
John Wasserman for ever!
Nov. 13, 2013, 2:21 pm
Barbara Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Oh, wouldn't he like to hear that...the foolish idiot on his mid-life-crisis "steel horse"...tell him I hope he drives his scooter into a pile of dung. ;) Barbara Milkens Wasserman
Nov. 13, 2013, 3:02 pm

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