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Compulsory $3.29 “gratuity” for Honors breakfast

Compulsory $3.29 “gratuity” for Honors breakfast

Old May 27, 18, 5:32 am
  #1  
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Compulsory $3.29 “gratuity” for Honors breakfast

Greetings from a storm in NYC.

i was chased out of the breakfast room of the HGI Times Square as I neglected to request the check for my complimentary breakfast; which would have a “15% gratuity” of $3.29 on it. The receipt suggested I may wish to add a further 15%, 18% or 20% to it.

Call me ungrateful; and yes I’m British, and my standard is to leave 15-20% for lunch/dinner and a dollar (or two for exceptional service) at a buffet, but isn’t this taking things too far?

The service was minimal. Seat yourself, serve yourself, top up your own juice (they did bring me one, though) and they never cleared up. It was empty (7am Sunday morning).

Is this what I should accept in the US? Have I been screwing servers at breakfast for years by only giving the odd dollar, rather than a notional 15%?
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Old May 27, 18, 5:40 am
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No, you should not expect that in the US. I can't recall ever experiencing anything like it, and I have lived in the US for over 60 years. I have tipped at various Diamond breakfast situations when there is at least some service, usually 2 or 3 dollars.

i have seen strong suggestions, but never "required" tipping. I think I would be writing to the GM.
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Old May 27, 18, 6:55 am
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Don't Be Intimidated...

I agree with BlueZebra. I have lived my entire life in the United States and am somewhat aghast at how the tipping environment has gotten out of hand here. For a full service restaurant with satisfactory service, 15% is still appropriate in my book. 20% or so if the service is exceptional. For buffets and other self-serve situations (such as counter service/fast food) maybe a dollar or two or three if I am made to feel so inclined by the service.

In contrast, suggested tips pre-printed on the receipt of 18%-20%-22% are merely a grab for money. Restaurant employers condone this because it lowers the restaurant's requirement to pay wages directly to the employee. This is why we are seeing tip jars in such unlikely places as Dry Cleaners.

For the breakfast that you described, the $3 and change on your bill was plenty. Please don't allow yourself to be intimidated into giving more for mediocre service.
-Goat
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Old May 27, 18, 7:09 am
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Had a similar situation a year ago at the HGI Long Island City. My husband met with the general manager and he paled when he heard about the waiter chasing us out of the restaurant. Because of that and some room maintenance issues, we received a free night in compensation. I haven't booked at a HGI since.
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Old May 27, 18, 7:18 am
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Originally Posted by andset1191 View Post
Greetings from a storm in NYC.

i was chased out of the breakfast room of the HGI Times Square as I neglected to request the check for my complimentary breakfast; which would have a “15% gratuity” of $3.29 on it. The receipt suggested I may wish to add a further 15%, 18% or 20% to it.

Call me ungrateful; and yes I’m British, and my standard is to leave 15-20% for lunch/dinner and a dollar (or two for exceptional service) at a buffet, but isn’t this taking things too far?

The service was minimal. Seat yourself, serve yourself, top up your own juice (they did bring me one, though) and they never cleared up. It was empty (7am Sunday morning).

Is this what I should accept in the US? Have I been screwing servers at breakfast for years by only giving the odd dollar, rather than a notional 15%?
Was the $3.29 added to your room bill at checkout? If not, then it wasn't "compulsory", it was suggested. The "receipt for a complimentary breakfast" concept - from my experience - appears to be unique to the Hilton Garden Inn brand. I've experienced it in an HGI in Tampa; I found it odd but didn't get too worked up about it (hint, hint.)

This situation is analogous to the people who use their Priority Pass memberships at select airports where PP has partnerships with restaurants to provide PP members up to $28 per person per visit of free food/drink. Yes, the meal is "free"......but from the serving staff's perspective, they still have a living to make and tips - like it or not - are a significant component of their wage structure. So does one tip the "normal" rate based upon on the imputed cost of the meal (which is presented on the receipt) or does one not leave a tip because 15-20% of free is zero?

As to your question "is this what I should accept in the US".......yes, a single experience at a single establishment that is part of a large corporation is representative of the entire country.
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Old May 27, 18, 7:37 am
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I tend to tip at one Hilton location because they do bring us beverages (except for juices) and also bring up to go cups so we can have a refill to drink while out on the road. But yeah some of the tipping has gotten out of hand. It seems too much of a norm to place a tip spot on the check even in places where there is zero table service. I think they hope to guilt you into giving them more money. Sit down restaurants and bars are a different story.
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Old May 27, 18, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
Was the $3.29 added to your room bill at checkout? If not, then it wasn't "compulsory", it was suggested. The "receipt for a complimentary breakfast" concept - from my experience - appears to be unique to the Hilton Garden Inn brand. I've experienced it in an HGI in Tampa; I found it odd but didn't get too worked up about it (hint, hint.)
Thank you everyone for your reply.

I was chased with a receipt that had no charges on it at all (even a zero charge) other than “Gratuity $3.29”.

I would not at all be surprised to be asked for a zero bill and be given the OPTION to add a gratuity; this is normal and I am happy with that.

Regarding your statement about Priority Pass lounges, I was not aware it was custom to leave gratuity after serving yourself at a buffet?
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Old May 27, 18, 7:59 am
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Originally Posted by andset1191 View Post


Thank you everyone for your reply.

I was chased with a receipt that had no charges on it at all (even a zero charge) other than “Gratuity $3.29”.

I would not at all be surprised to be asked for a zero bill and be given the OPTION to add a gratuity; this is normal and I am happy with that.

Regarding your statement about Priority Pass lounges, I was not aware it was custom to leave gratuity after serving yourself at a buffet?
Were you advised at booking or at check-in that the gratuity was required? If not, then it shouldn't be compulsory and you can ask that it be removed from the bill (if you're still there).
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Old May 27, 18, 8:07 am
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I heard that there was one rude employee at one shop in Glasgow. Is that the custom in Scotland?

Of course, the tip is not required. Required means that it shows up on your statement. The fact that the employee "chased" you down suggests that he wanted a signature to authorize the room charge.

It is common practice by most people to leave a few dollars at a buffet and a full standard tip of 15-20% at a full service meal. This is the case whether the meal is paid for you by in cash or is included in your room rate in one way or another. The reason is quite simply that the staff don't really care how you come about to get fed, they still work for the same wages.

Making comparisons between countries and their customs is a fool's errand. Part of travel is adapting.

As with man
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Old May 27, 18, 8:19 am
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Originally Posted by andset1191 View Post
Greetings from a storm in NYC.


The service was minimal. Seat yourself, serve yourself, top up your own juice (they did bring me one, though) and they never cleared up. It was empty (7am Sunday morning).

Is this what I should accept in the US? Have I been screwing servers at breakfast for years by only giving the odd dollar, rather than a notional 15%?
Self service is standard at HGIs, ESs and Hamptons and sometimes you carry your own plate if you have eggs cooked to order, sometimes they bring it to you.

In small towns, I usually leave a tip of a dollar or two per person.... a bit more in big cities.

Bob H

Last edited by BobH; May 28, 18 at 7:35 am
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Old May 27, 18, 8:45 am
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This is a service fail and a design flaw.

These hgi buffets are usually pretty good. I especially like the pancakes. But there is no consistency with service style or quality. Sometimes you seat your self and they take your order like a restaurant. Sometimes you put your order in and take a number and the food is delivered. Sometimes it’s self serve. So as a customer you never know what to expect. If they are friendly and bring coffe and food, they get a tip. If they pull back and let you do everything then no tip or miminal.

The scenario described by OP is not acceptable. I would have gotten the manager. I’ve had a few bad experiences at high. One time they refused to cook an order of pancakes and pointed to French toast on the buffet. I said this was not acceptable. Then she said the cook was not ready. I explained again that I was there during business hours and wanted pancakes. Got them eventually.
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Old May 27, 18, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
[...] The "receipt for a complimentary breakfast" concept - from my experience - appears to be unique to the Hilton Garden Inn brand. [...]
I've had this happen at Hilton hotels in Toronto and Gaithersburg.
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Old May 27, 18, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by steve4031 View Post
One time they refused to cook an order of pancakes and pointed to French toast on the buffet. I said this was not acceptable. Then she said the cook was not ready. I explained again that I was there during business hours and wanted pancakes. Got them eventually.
One hates to think what they did to your pancakes while you were not looking!
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Old May 27, 18, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
The "receipt for a complimentary breakfast" concept - from my experience - appears to be unique to the Hilton Garden Inn brand.
This happened to me at a full service Hilton (Hilton Times Square). The waiter chased after me to sign the bill and leave a tip.

Last edited by Andriyko; May 27, 18 at 10:48 am
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Old May 27, 18, 10:21 am
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A favorite restaurant in NY will occasionally have a 50% off their tasting menu promo. When the bill comes they include a short, polite note asking to you consider tipping on the undiscounted balance. I don't see this as unreasonable,.
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