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Controversy Over Built-In Tips

Built-In Tips: Fair or Not?

Of all cities in America, New York is certainly one that's suffered severe economic blows — yet it has the highest cost of living in the country. To protect its diners from sky-high gratuities, the city's Department of Consumer Affairs has instituted a policy preventing parties under eight from being charged automatically for tip.

Big Apple blog Newyorkology set the record straight: New York restaurants may impose gratuities only for parties of eight or more. Even in those cases, the fee must be 15 percent or less, and diners must be forewarned with a listing on the establishment's menu in font that is 10 point or larger. Despite these strict guidelines, the New York Post uncovered a dozen restaurants that were breaking the local law; those violators are hit with fines ranging from $50 to $500.

In a city where a good percentage of the denizens make a living waiting tables, I can understand the pressure for higher gratuity. But I also feel that diners need to be protected against rising costs — if not, there won't be anyone dining out at all. What do you think about the predicament? When dining out with friends, do you mind getting a built-in service charge?


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