Big Chain Restaurants in NYC Duping Diners?
Going to your favorite restaurant may be more costly than it used to be, but not because of rising food costs. Some restaurants in New York City are facing a class action lawsuit for including an “automatic gratuity” line on customer receipts, in addition to another blank line for an optional tip. New York City law states that an automatic gratuity cannot be included unless a dining group consists of 8 or more people. However, some of the restaurants that have included the automatic gratuity on customer receipts say that the practice is not illegal and that they are merely doing so as a convenience to their customers who can opt out by crossing off the line.
The Big Chains Aren’t the Only Ones Trying to Get Diners’ Dollars
The big restaurant chains aren’t the only ones guilty of adding an automatic gratuity. Smaller restaurants like Per Se, Lavo and Morton’s in NYC also do so, and the class action lawsuit could affect up to 2,000 restaurants in the city. Ted Dimond, a tennis professional who brought the lawsuit, says that NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs doesn’t have the staff to enforce the rule of an automatic gratuity for only those parties 8 or larger. He says that’s why he decided to take up the cause, and stated that he wants to see every consumer who ate at the named restaurants to receive $50 plus $1,000.
Experts like CBS travel editor, Peter Greenburg, argue that the definition of a tip is about a “reward” for good service and a choice to determine what that reward should be. Although the chain restaurants in NYC are the first to add the automatic gratuity, hotels have been doing this across the country for years. For those like Dimond who filed the $5.5 million suit, the automatic gratuity is just another method of restaurants attempting to sock it to consumers and squeeze them of their hard earned dollars, often without their realization.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.