(Closed) 20% service charge…but not gratuity?!

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
Member
462 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

Mine has that too. I think it’s ridiculous.

Post # 4
Member
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

I’d want more clarification…

I know some Caterers add on a Service Charge… that is the Grat that they give out to their Service Staff at your Event (makes it convenient for you)

(Ie Caterer pays them their Hourly Wage PLUS the Guaranteed Tip from You = Grat)

While others expect you to tip the Servers yourself at the time of the Event.

Our Caterer had the Price of Food on our Invoice, Plus the Grat Fee (which they told me about ahead of time and identified on the bill… it could be anywhere from 15% to 20% based on the phone calls I did during the Research Phase)

Mr TTR and I had a small Back Home Reception, just Hors d’ouevres… so we had also a small serving staff present

At the end of the night, we gave each of them a few extra dollars (tip) in person as we thanked them… and said, “I know you guys are paid via the Caterer, but we wanted to thank you for the excellent service and the extras you did for us all the same”

Everyone was very grateful… and one older lady even said, “You don’t have to do this you know… it is on your Invoice”… to which I said “Yes I realize that, but you guys were so great”

Hope this helps,

 

Post # 5
Member
11752 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

yeah it’s common practice and usually translates into labor costs.

Post # 6
Member
624 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

My venue is doing that also. They explained that the service charge is basically for everything in the venue… Whatever that means. That it goes basically towards everything else involved with the wedding. I was told this was not a gratuity and that if we wanted to tip, that was at our discretion. Not sure what to do about tipping, as I know there will be a ton of people invovled. If someone figures it out, I’d be glad to hear it!!

Post # 7
Member
1609 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

The time to sort these things is before you sign the contract.  In New York State, anything labeled service MUST be given to employees.

Post # 9
Member
410 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Yes, it’s usually referred to as an “administrative fee” in my neck of the woods.

Post # 10
Member
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

TO @nixietink: Re – Tipping

Thanks for the UPDATE (Reply # 7) if you are 100% sure that the “cost to run the business” doesn’t include his responsibility to tip his staff from your Invoice…

Then from an Etiquette POV… YES the Serving Staff should be tipped (15% minimum)*

I’d take the total cost of the Bill do the calculation and then divide that number by the total number of Wait Staff at your Event, so that each person gets an equal amount.

Hope this helps,

*Something you should be aware of… IF your Caterer screws up in anyway, you should not be penalizing the Wait Staff… in this instance.  Your Caterer should be making HIS final bill right for you (ie compensating for any screw ups).  So you have to remember that the Caterer and the Wait Staff are like 2 seperate entities… You base the tip for the Wait Staff based on what you expect the final Caterer Bill to be (Quoted Price) and not any Adjusted Pricing due to Caterer crap.

Example.  Caterer Quotes you $ 100 per person for a 5 Course Meal, with Linens and 10 Wait Staff.  For 100 People this works out to $ 10,000 + the 20% + Taxes

Say your final Bill all in is $ 15,000.  You now are looking at $ 15,000 at 15% (mininmum) as your tip rate for the Serving Staff (or $ 2250) divided by 10 Individuals = $ 225. each

IF your Caterer was to screw up the meal… and only give you Chicken instead of the Salmon he promised, and he adjusts his Invoice… you still have to tip out the Servers as per the Quoted Pricing (it ain’t there fault he f-d up)

NOTE – Tipping Rates in different countries, and how they are calculated as per local customs my differ.  For example, in the US people tend to Tip on the After Tax amount (and most people tip higher than just the 15% recommended).  In Canada we tip on the Before Tax Amount, and usually just on Food Items (so on the $ 10,000 vs $ 15,000) and altho some tip more than 15%… 15% is certainly the norm here (less so than 20% which is quite common in the USA)

As you can see, Tipping can be a HUGE Amount to ADD ON to your Catering Situation, this is WHY it is essential to know what is included in their Invoice.  And as Tips are paid the Day Of… it wouldn’t be beyond me to even Question a few of the Wait Staff as to what their arrangements are with their Employer in regards to payment / tips.  (Just to make sure you aren’t actually paying twice)

 

Post # 11
Bee
341 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@This Time Round:  I hate to tag onto this question, but would this imply that you should be tipping another 15% on top of the 20% service charge?

Post # 12
Member
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

TO @Miss Panda:  YES and NO

As I said it is ALL DEPENDENT on what that 20% Surcharge is for

The Wait Staff needs to be tipped too… whether that be via the Caterer or You

Which is WHY I stressed so much in this topic that you need to find out what the deal is with the Caterer and that “mystery line” on their Invoice.

Example…

Say you had a Caterer who only provided food.  Then you contracted seperately with a Temp Agency for Servers… you’d have to still tip the Servers even tho you paid them a salary (just like a Restaurant pays Servers, but the Customer is the one to tip).

The exception to this situaton would be IF… you are paying the temp agency a premium amount per person (the Waiter actually makes more than Minimum) in lieu of tips.

THIS IS WHY it is imperative that you find out what the 20% covers, and how your Wait Staff are being compensated at your event.

Same thing with your Bartenders.  They should be getting tipped as well.  We contracted for our Bartenders thru the Hall Rental (anotherwords they came with the space)… BUT we still ensured that they were tipped based on what our Bar Tab for the evening was.

Hope this helps,

Post # 13
Member
2497 posts
Buzzing bee

I think it’s awfully misleading to include a “service charge” that basically includes your overhead costs. Nobody goes into a restaurant and pays for a “service charge” on top of the food price.

Based on the description of the service charge, it sounds like you do need to pay for gratuity on the total amount of the catering service (whatever it is that you’re quoted plus the 20% service charge).

Post # 14
Member
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I thought my “service charge” was gratuitiy as well but it isn’t.  I asked the coordinator if it was and she said so and it’s an additional 15% gratuity. My only issue is whether this 15% is before of after taxes becaues it’s a good $1000 difference.  Trying to budget out my finaces for my wedding gets messed up because I can’t figure it out.

A bunch of people told me that it’s before taxes but we will see.

Anyways, yeah I have 15% service charge and 15% gratuity separately.  At least that how I noticed most places are doing it here in Vancouver BC.  Some places even ask for 17-18% gruatuity and they tell you!  My venue didn’t tell me at first about the gratuity and luckily I asked!

Post # 15
Member
920 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@This Time Round:  I know this is an old thread, but it brought up something I was wondering about too. Why do I need to tip on the entire catering bill? Why can’t I just tip the servers based on the food portion of the bill? 

The way I look at it, I wouldn’t add an additional tip at a restaurant based on operational expenses, right? 

I don’t know, its confusing 

Post # 16
Member
1609 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I am sorry, the time to ask this is before you sign the contract.  Where I live, all caterers include tips in contract.

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