Entertaining & Etiquette

Service Charges and Tipping?


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Entertaining & Etiquette

Service Charges and Tipping?

matteo1973 | | Nov 25, 2010 04:45 PM

Ok, I feel as though I should know the answer to this but I do not. Had dinner at a restaurant housed within an upscale hotel/inn.

The dinner was a buffet, so we served ourselves, though there was a waiter who brought our soup, wine, water and coffee to the table, and who also took away the dirty dishes.

When we got the bill, there was an 18% "service charge" added on to the cost of the meal. I assumed that this was in lieu of the tip. I gave the waiter my credit card and when he came back with the slip for me to sign, I noticed that there was also a line for "Tip" and "Total." Being unsure of how to handle this, and not wanting to short the waiter any money, I gave him a 20% tip on top of the 18% service charge.

It wasn't a big deal, but between the tip and service charge, we paid almost 40% of the value of the meal itself. That struck me as being a bit excessive, but I could be wrong.

So here's the question... when charged a service fee/service charge, should you also tip the wait staff? Or is that what the service charge is intended for? And if you are supposed to tip on top of the service charge, should your tip be a percentage of the food and drinks, or should it be a percentage of the total (food, drinks, service charge)?

Thank you!