"So, after desserts and coffees were all served, I combined the two tabs into one, added the gratuity, and they dropped the check. And, of course, there we had a problem. The gratuity, which was discussed on the phone and printed on the bottom of every page of the menu, was a surprise.
"'I had assumed that you were only putting a surcharge on if we had exclusivity of the waitresses.' There was that word again. She wasn't even using it right.
"'No, it's just for any large party. Any party more than six people.'
"'I don't think it's fair to charge that without exclusivity.' OK, third time with that word. I was done with normal customer service.
"Their bill was around $700, and I think the gratuity added $120 to that, and split between two waitresses, $60 apiece, minus 10% tip-out for the bussers, all of $54 for a table that was there for three hours. Yeah, I don't think she was getting her exclusivity on for that. And the whole party of people was watching this conversation.
'"OK, no problem, I can take the gratuity off.'
"'You just have to promise me you're going to tip more than 18%.'
"'Because if I take it off and you tip less, it's like I took money out of the waitresses' pockets, and they are fierce and dangerous waitresses and will hurt me.' I should point out that I was bigger than both of them put together.
"'But what if I don't want to tip 18%?'
"'How much did you want to tip?' I'm very aware of how inappropriate this is, the whole exchange, but I should also point out that the restaurant had recently been sold and at the end of the year it was being completely rebranded and I was out of a job, so what could really happen?
"'No, that's too low. How about 25%? It's almost Christmas, and everyone likes presents!'
"'I thought 15% was standard?'
"'Standard-ish, for poor to average service, but you had two waitresses and everyone liked them, right? Good service? How about we meet in the middle at 20%? That's only like 20 bucks extra.'
"'You know what? You're right! Just leave the gratuity on, that's fine!'
"She paid cheerfully, possibly thinking that she got one over on me by just paying the automatic gratuity. And as the party shuffled off, one of the guys in the party gave an extra 10 bucks to each waitress, telling them that they deserved the 20%." -- Jon August