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10% 'service charge' on group restaurant booking?

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#1 Mpjp is feral

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:28 PM

We booked a lunch  for my mums bday at a nearby restaurant for 40 people last week and I was just reading the t&c's.  They state that there is a compulsory 10% 'service charge' on all group bookings. I've never heard of this before....in australia......has anyone else?

We are paying $135 a head so the lunch spend is $5400.....so I have to add $540 on top?!

Am I expected to tip as well?


#2 katpaws

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:30 PM

I think it is in case you don't turn up. Some restaurants in Melbourne charge like $100 no turn up fee with bookings.

And no way would i tip with that sort of extra cost.

Edited by katpaws, 11 August 2013 - 05:31 PM.

#3 Mpjp is feral

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:33 PM

But if we don't turn up they don't get their service charge anyway....it's not part of the deposit but is charged at the end of the day....

#4 JRA

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:33 PM

I have heard of it before. I would not tip as well, that is the tip in my eyes

#5 Mpjp is feral

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:35 PM

Thx..... Why don't they just include it in the per head... Ie $147.50 per head?

#6 AllyK81

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:35 PM

Never come across it & wouldn't be happy paying it. I'd call them to negotiate this. I'm sure they'd rather waive it than lose the booking.

#7 CallMeFeral

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:35 PM

I would not tip if paying that.
I'd baulk at going there at all, tbh.

#8 katpaws

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:35 PM

The other day i read that restaurants are suffering because more people are eating in making their own food (damn you Master Chef!!!). Restauranteurs are saying it is too expensive to run restaurants atm ie staff costs etc - so maybe that is why the extra cost???

#9 brain

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:38 PM

I wouldn't be thrilled with that.  A 10% deposit at booking (which is taken off the account at the end) is one thing, or on public holidays I expect an additional charge, but not just for a large booking.

#10 Mpjp is feral

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:39 PM

Just goes to show I obviously don get out enough!!!!

I was already over my $5k budget....this wasn't something I had accounted for...they never spoke to me abut it!

I might talk to them and see what I can negotiate given the spend overall.

Lucky my mum is worth it!!!!

#11 JRA

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:39 PM

If they hadn't mentioned it up front I would definitely talk to them.

#12 Bess Marvin

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:45 PM

The only time I have had a group service charge was when a large group was ordering a la carte. If you are on a fixed menu, then I would question it, see if you can negotiate down a little. While the wait staff will be busy managing your party's drinks, the kitchen staff will be able to pre-prep, so I wouldn't imagine it's AS big a deal for them as it could be.

I wouldn't tip as well. Unless they do a stellar job :)

#13 Mpjp is feral

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:55 PM

It's a 'share menu' that we've already 'designed' with the chef, so from a service perspective much easier than al la carte!!!

#14 Coffeegirl

Posted 11 August 2013 - 05:57 PM

It seems to be the standard with most restaurant bookings I've made over 10 people.

Fair enough too.  With a normal evening the kitchen and front of service staff can scatter bookings so they don't get 10 tables all ordering at the same time.

For large bookings, the kitchen normally has to have extra staff on hand to cover cooking all the meals and serving them all piping hot at the same time.  Think of 40 steaks all having to be served at the same time, rather than cooking 40 steaks over the course of 2-3 hours.  

I wouldn't tip afterwards though unless you have outstanding food and service.  The 10% is the gratuity.

#15 Funwith3

Posted 11 August 2013 - 06:44 PM

I've never heard of it. If they definitely didn't tell you about it when you booked, you should bring it up. $540 extra is just stupid - they should be offering you a BETTER price than normal because of all the money you're spending.... Not charging you extra.

#16 BornToLove

Posted 11 August 2013 - 06:59 PM

Common in Melbourne. I have booked several group (10+ ppl) bookings over the last year. All have charged a surcharge of 10% on the final bill. Two also required a minimum spend for the booking.

This is also very common in North America. Group bookings often get a surcharge of 15-25%. I have seen as high as 35%. This is in lieu of a proper tip.

Edited by BornToLove, 11 August 2013 - 07:02 PM.

#17 Mumsyto2

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:06 PM

Standard but I just look at it as an inbuilt tip. I usually tip 10% and its always 'the done thing' when with a group anyway unless something goes hideously astray so I just I would not have spent it anyway just the name is different - tip, service charge.

#18 Lim Lam

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:06 PM

 Funwith3, on 11 August 2013 - 06:44 PM, said:

I've never heard of it. If they definitely didn't tell you about it when you booked, you should bring it up. $540 extra is just stupid - they should be offering you a BETTER price than normal because of all the money you're spending.... Not charging you extra.


#19 Fright bat

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:17 PM

Do they just mean GST?

#20 c.sanders

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:18 PM

that's ridiculously expensive. are they serving everyone lobsters? lol. :) i would try to negotiate or go elsewhere.

#21 Therese

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:22 PM

When booking a group of ten or more people it does seem quite common. I don't think you are expected to tip then though. ( thankfully)

#22 Shellby

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:31 PM

Where I live we don't have it, but once a year I have dinner out with a group in Sydney and found it was very common - normally we will search around until we find somewhere that doesn't have the charge.

I was told one reason for the charge was large groups tend to stay longer or take the table for the whole night, whereas a group of 2-4 would only stay long enough for a whole meal and leave whereas a group over 10 tend to stay past that all chatting and getting around to each other meaning they lose money on those tables not being free for new diners - so it kinda means sense when you look at it that way.

#23 seayork2002

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:43 PM

I have heard about that for years but never understood it if you have, for example, 5 tables with 2 people on each how is that different to a table of 10?

#24 HubbaBubbaMumma

Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:51 PM

Sorry but it's a blatant rip off.

Your 'service charge' at a restaurant is what you pay for your meal - it's all costed to factor in wages, food costs, linen, power etc.

I'd personally finding a restaurant that doesn't charge it.

#25 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 11 August 2013 - 08:07 PM

Ive seen it a lot in Sydney.  From the restaurants POV the reasons are:

Big groups take ages to get organised and order, as some people are always late and then there is a lot of dithering.  Then they stay late chatting.  So the restaurant may lose a second sitting.  

Often big groups don't actually tip, as there are usually some people who don't put in enough and what other people put in for a tip gets used up just paying the bill.  

Even if the whole restaurant is not booked out, other diners might not come in when its clear there is a big group booking, as they feel overwhelmed as a couple or small group, so they lose tables.  

It's a pain getting all the courses ready on time, and they might call in extra staff.  

But you aren't expected to tip on top.  

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