Is Over-Tipping a Problem in New York?

nyc tipping gratuity restaurant
NYTix

Sometimes people go out to eat, and the tip is included, but the diners don’t realize, so they tip even more, says a Brooklyn councilmember who has introduced legislation to help ensure that this grave injustice never happens again, the Brooklyn Paper reports. Because imagine realizing later than one of those one-percenter food-service employees got an extra couple of bucks from you that you hadn’t determined them to deserve! The proposed bill would standardize how gratuities are added to receipts so that people who can’t decipher their checks wouldn’t be hoodwinked into generously compensating people who stand on their feet all day serving others.

In general, I find it distasteful when people use tipping as a way to comment on the way they deserve to be treated. It’s like, whenever I read a one-star Yelp review, I can’t help but assume that the person leaving it is a total asshole (I mean, they did go on Yelp afterward to express themselves!) who deserved the shabby treatment he or she allegedly received. It’s part of a larger attitude about self-importance, the emphasis on the individual. So what if someone didn’t do everything you wanted them to do? Get over it. Worry about someone else. Exercise your empathy, love your enemy, turn the other cheek. Imagine, what would Jesus do? Refuse to tip? Or tip more?

The legislation arrives months after a lawsuit from a tennis pro, who divides his time between the city and the Hamptons (and teaches tennis to the city’s elite); he sued several major Midtown restaurant chains for adding gratuities to parties of fewer than eight diners, even though that’s not allowed by city law, and for not making it clear that they did so. So, take that Applebee’s! Take that, Olive Garden!

Except, of course, it’s not the chains who would be affected, but their unlucky employees, who bring out plates of lousy food to many entitled cheapskates, some of whom double as tourists, surely unacquainted with the city’s tipping customs. (I stayed Upstate overnight last week and forgot to leave a tip for the caretaker of the place we stayed, and so ran back in and shoved some cash in his hand, and he seemed genuinely taken aback. “You didn’t have to do that,” he said. Of course I did! Do people usually not tip this guy? The horror!)

“The trashy people that go eat at these restaurants would never tip properly and the people who work there will get shafted,” one Gothamist commenter wrote. “I think all NYC restaurants should have automatic gratuity of some sort. Then you tip above and beyond. Either that, or make a higher minimum pay requirement. Can’t have it both ways. It’s not like the fucking Olive Garden will close, your just screwing people that work there.” Would that the councilmember—and the tennis pro—were more concerned with the conditions of the city’s workers. Either that, or that they knew how to read a check.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart