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Automatic gratuity - what % is normal?

chuang | Dec 18, 201406:13 PM     40

I'll admit that we don't get out much because we have young kids, and not in big groups, so I rarely deal with automatic gratuity...
But, I was at a work party at O&B at bayview village and because there were 16 of us, the 18% was added on. We were warned of that when we made the reservation, so it wasn't a surprise, but I was definitely surprised by the inadequate service. We went at 4-4:15 ish in the afternoon, so it was not busy, but we waited almost 10 minutes before drink orders were taken, another 8-10 before meal orders, then a good 20+ minute wait until the meals came. Our server made herself scarce and we couldn't get anyone else's attention to ask and when we did, she told us that making meals for 16 people is difficult and takes time. Ummmm, isn't that what restaurants do? Of the 16 meals, 5 were hamburgers and 6 were pasta. Those don't take 20+ minutes to organize.
When one of my colleagues asked for his bill as he had to leave as she was handing out the dessert menus, he was told that she could not print out his bill (even though we had separate billing) because she had to enter the desserts first. With all the technology we have today, is it possible that an operation as large as O & B has a program that would not allow you to print one bill in a party? I find that hard to believe.
(I had the parsnip ravioli with wilted spinach, walnuts and goat cheese. It was fine, but not spectacular.)
So, what is the norm for automatic gratuities? And do you find that service lacks when they know they will receive 18% anyway?

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