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Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

San Francisco...
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Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

We went to a Timeshare presentation and "earned" a gift card to a restaurant on Pier 39. So my wife and I went down for dinner on Saturday. View was nice, service was fine, food was ok.

When the check came, it had a $2 "SF Charge." And an 18% gratuity was already added in as a service charge. And, the sf charge and gratuity was TAXED too! So all told (if my math is correct), we ended up paying for our food + 32%! (food = $61, SF Charge = $2, Service Charge = $11.48, Tax = $6.40)

The SF Charge as explained by our server was to offset the cost of the minimum wage increase... I'm not so opposed to that, but I probably wouldn't have noticed as much if they just added 50 cents to each dish.

The manditory tipping is a bit annoying, though I do usually tip around 17% (doubling tax)... but I also would like to reserve the right to not tip as much if we have poor service (we did have adequate service btw).

And Tax you can't avoid. But adding the tip and a surcharge and then taxing that as well? I was not aware that you can tax for service?

I know rent on the Pier is expensive. I was a waiter before and know that some people can be cheap tippers... but wow, 32% of your bill in fees and taxes is really getting out of hand. I guess it's never been that blatant before.

I really wouldn't mind going to FW or Pier 39 more often, but I think I'll stick to my neighborhood joints and avoid the extra fees of eating with our unsuspecting visitors and guests.

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Los Altos...
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1. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

Ugh. That's nasty. Establishments can, indeed, charge tax on service, though I have usually seen the practice done at hotels for the food and beverage service of convention groups, not individual guests.

As for the "SF" fee that's just stupid. You could simply add a little to the menu items and it would take care of that. Wonder if they think they make people mad enough they'll demand a change in the law? Ha.

Now, the automativ gratuity. I think that's fight-able. I'm wondering if you had protested the automatic service charge whether they would have removed it? I was thinking that some tourist places probably see so many foreign tourists who are not accustomed to our tipping practice that they put it on automatically to keep the waitstaff happy. I'd bet that you could have made an argument for removing it, unless it was printed somewhere on the menu that a service charge or gratuity was automatically added to the bill.

Perth, Australia
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2. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

Wow, MisterChinn, that's outrageous.

Thanks for the warning. Is 17% the "norm" for tipping in restaurants over there?

And is it acceptable to tip less if you receive bad service?

Los Altos...
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3. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

You can refer to the tipping guide in the "Inside

San Francisco " link that is found on the lefthand navigation bar (after clicking on "San Francisco Overview). You may get better advice by doing a search on this forum and the LA, too, since I know it gets discussed everywhere.

Tipping usually runs from 15 to 20 percent of the bill (before the tax is added, though it really is only a few cents' difference). But it's really up to the guest. I usually leave a minimum of 15 percent , even when service is basic. I leave 10 percent when I'm unhappy. I leave a penny when I'm really, really steamed and I want to make a strong point. I usually am not going to return to this establishment if I'm that ticked off, however.

The sales tax is 8.5 percent in SF, which is why many people such as Mister Chinn simply double the tax amount. It's easier to calculate (especially if one has had a drink or two) than 15 percent of the bill. I used to wait tables, so erring on the side of more is always nice to do if the service has been good.

Santa Barbara...
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4. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

It turns out that tips in a restaurant are considered voluntary or mandatory. Mandatory tips are taxable. When you're dining in a large party, and the restaurant is charging an automatic tip, and they tell you about it - that is a mandatory tip. Check out publication 115 at http://www.boe.ca.gov/sutax/staxpubsn.htm I am not saying it's fun to pay these fees, just trying to help understand them. If anyone figures out taxes on takeout food, let me know.

Timeshare sales pitches are probably not the best places to get gifts.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

I don't remember reporting this here:

Year 'fore last, I think, when we had dinner at Furnace Creek, our server pointed out that the sum was service compris explaining that it was necessary because so many European tourists didn't realize they were stiffing the staff.

On the way back about a week later, we had dinner at the same place. Our second server did NOT point out that the total was service compris, a fact that I rather testily pointed out to our server. Our third meal there, this year, the server acted as the second. I examined the bill to see that it was, again, service compris even though there was a clearly labeled "Tip" line under which was a "Total" line. It's at least dishonest, certainly a con, at most a fraud. On the "Total" line I wrote "NET".

San Francisco
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6. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

I think that is terrible! I would be stayed away as well. I think that is quite dishonest. I'd love to know what restaurant this was so that I'd know to avoid it myself and know not to send others there.

laguna beach, ca
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7. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

Was told years ago by an old restaurateur the term, "tip," came from the acronym, "TIPS" (To Insure Prompt Service). Sadly, I'm afraid the definition may be somewhat lost today. . . .

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

bosco7 allged that «"TIPS" (To Insure Prompt Service).»

I believe the correct phrase is "To Insure Promptness" although it should be To Ensure Promptness.

San Francisco...
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9. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

Having been exposed to some of the feelings from restaurantuers when the San Francisco Living Wage was on the ballot, there were reasons mentioned as to why some have gone with a seperate line item "fee" or charge on the bill.

1. To point out why the charge is there. Many restauntuers already paid a wage greater than the City establsihed amount to their personnel, other than the servers. Thus, the new Living Wage basically meant a raise for the servers and cut-backs in the back of the house for the others to cover the increased costs. Some restaurantuers wanted to communicate why dining is more expensive in this case.

2. If we tip based on a percent of the check total, an increase in the menu prices result in higher check totals, which means another "wage" increase to the servers. If the method to increase revenues is NOT built into the menu prices, then the servers will not get "double" benefit from the new law.

As someone mentioned, if the charge, fee, tip, gratuity or whatever you call it is NOT 100% voluntary on the part of the buyer, it must be taxed. If you don't like that, take it up with the Franchise Tax Board.

I don't want to start a big debate, but in my opinion, the SF Living Wage has laudable reasons and goals. However, the tipped servers in this City were very well paid before the Living Wage and I don't think it was necessary to benefit them under the wage ordinance. Let's benefit the folks that are not making $300/nt for a 5 hour shift.

Again, I don't want to debate the issue, but I wanted to share some of the other side.

San Francisco...
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10. Re: Sticking it to the Tourists... with fees and charges...

Wes_Tyler_GM said «I don't want to debate the issue, but I wanted to share some of the other side.»

Appreciated. Thank you.