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Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

UK
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493 posts
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Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

Hi

Just wanted to pass on a word of caution. We are Brits and we understood that the custom in USA (and we assumed therefore in USVI) is to tip about 15% on meals if you're happy with the service - more than that if you're really delighted and less (or nothing?) if you're not happy.

We nearly got caught out in Christiansted - don't know if this is typical.

Hubby and I had our first proper meal out at Rumrunners. No starters, two main courses, two drinks (one non-alcoholic), two coffees and one dessert. It was fine, nothing to write home about and we were a bit taken aback when the bill came to 82$! That's quite an expensive meal back home.

We were just working out the tip when I noticed 14 dollars had been added to the bill as "SC". When we questioned this it turned out they had added over 20% Service charge (the original bill was 68 dollars and they had added 14). If I had been more prepared I would have complained but we let it go at that. To think we nearly added another 15% on top!

We ate twice at Angry Nates and the second time the same thing happened - they added over 20% to the bill. Now after Rumrunners I had been prepared and had checked their menu in advance, which said they would add 18% to any party of 6 or more. There were two of us, and the service had been really slow! When I questioned it she said "Oh, I thought you were Danish" - as though this was justification.

So please be wary when you get your bill - it may have increassed by over 20% without your knowing it.

We felt a bit abused and wouldn't recommend either of the above establishments for this reason. The same didn't happen at either the Buccanneer or Elizabeth's at H20, where we were left free to reward good service at our own discretion (and did so).

R

St Thomas
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for St. Thomas
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1. Re: Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

This is a very sad state of affairs and unfortunately has also become more prevalent on St Thomas, noted by both visitors and those of us who live here. I own a restaurant (would NEVER do it at my place) and went out for dinner one night with a friend. I wasn't the one picking up the bill that night and just paid my half of the tab when it arrived - and left a hefty tip - but it was nagging at me afterwards that the bill was so high when we had eaten only lightly. It was a couple of days later when I realized what had happened and I was pretty darned mad - I will NOT go back to that place.

Even though it's not a practice I follow, I do understand that some places DO add on a gratuity for parties of six or more but any add-ons should be BOLDLY stated on the menu and not in some tiny little letters which you can't read without a magnifying glass.

Yes, there are some European visitors who aren't used to and don't understand American tipping practices but that comment made to you was inexcusable and reeks of bad business practice. In the case of those few visitors who don't tip, it all comes out in the wash!

Thanks for posting such cautionary advice for other visitors, I hope that any restaurant owners reading this will pay attention. Oh and thanks for letting me rant early in the morning! Cheers!

UK
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493 posts
84 reviews
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2. Re: Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

So it's not just because we're foreigners that this happened!

Even in the UK there is often an automatic service charge for large parties - but I don't expect it to applied when there is just two of us - plus at over 20% it was even more than the advertised group service charge rate!!

We were really quite stunned - as you say, I hope some restaurant owners do read this and understand the impression it left us with - not a good one.

R

Lancaster, PA
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3. Re: Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

I think it could be a foreigner thing, especially because you were not in a large party. I dined at all the establishments you mentioned, I dont think they charged me a service charge. I did catch a 15% service charge at a sushi bar in San Juan, and I was very surprised to see it, but did not question it because I normally tip 20%, so if they want to do this I'll give them the 15%.I looked at my receipts, and all I have are the Credit Card bills, no actual itemized bills, but I do think I would have caught it.

I understand the charge for large parties, and if the service people are frequently stiffed by forigners, I don't blame them for adding it. But I do feel in that case it is dishonest, to take an additonal tip from an unknowing tourist.

I had never been charged for the tip before until San Juan, (and it caught my eye right away),and as far as I know I've never seen the practice of charging a party of 2 before anywhere in the US/USVI

(Last week I saw a lot of European tourists, some in very large groups)

St Thomas
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4. Re: Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

"and if the service people are frequently stiffed by forigners (sic), I don't blame them for adding it. But I do feel in that case it is dishonest, to take an additonal tip from an unknowing tourist."

My apologies for ranting early evening as well as early morning but your premise seems to indicate that discrimination is quite OK if "foreigners" are customers. And do you really think that either servers or management personnel are going to come back to the table before the customers leave and say, "Oh gee, we forgot to tell you that we already added a service charge/gratuity/pourboire to the bill but it's in REALLY small print and we guess you didn't see it, so here's your nice tip back?"

The OP's point was well made and on point. It's just something that was never done here for so many years and now seems to becoming a bit of a trend where some establishments are concerned so caveat emptor. Cheers!

5. Re: Restaurants and tipping - look carefully!

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