What\'s in a Menu?

Apparently a new york man was arrested for leaving too small of a tip.

From Ananova:

Humberto Taveras, 41, from Long Island, faces a misdemeanour charge of theft of services.

He had refused to leave a mandatory 18% service charge added on for parties of six or more at Soprano's Restaurant in Lake George.

Restaurant owner Joe Soprano said the menu stated that an 18% charge is added for parties of six or more.

He said the waitress told Taveras' party of 12 that the tip was automatically included. Soprano said the party should have left $93 (£52) in total, but left just $80 (£44).

Taveras claimed his party didn't see the notice on the menu and was not told about it. He said they weren't satisfied with the food, and intended to leave a 10% tip.

"They chased us down like a bunch of criminals," Taveras was quoted as telling the Glens Falls Post-Star.

Soprano insisted that didn't happen. He said he just asked police who were outside to come in and straighten things out.

Which brings me to my next question. Does a menu constitute a contract?

Menus typically list the goods available at a given establishment and what prices those goods are being offered at.

Personally I find mandatory tipping to be incredibly annoying. Even if you come in with a large group, paying the server's salary should be their employer's job not yours. Plus I would think that restaurants would want to encourage individuals to come to their restaurant in larger groups rather than penalizing them with a mandatory fee that they do not require of smaller groups.

Nevertheless I suspect that if the dispute were over the price of the food then the menu would be treated as an effective contract. In other words if you sit down and order this item from the menu then you agree to pay the price listed therein, but one does not exactly order "service" from the menu.

Rather the amount of service included is implicit in the nature of the restaurant and the customs that it has established. You wouldn't expect an employee to refill your drink for you at Mcdonald's but you also wouldn't expect to be charged extra if a server refilled your drink at the Olive Garden.

Custom and expectations are a huge part of contracts, especially verbal contracts, but they are certainly not enough in and of themselves to be considered contracts.

Regardless of whether or not the menu is a contract itself, it does list the terms of whatever contract will exist between the customers and the owners of the restaurant. Thus, not seeing a service charge on the menu would not be sufficient reason to legally not pay it.

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Tipping and the Bill of

Tipping and the Bill of Rights
The far more important issue is why a sheriff is arresting people when he himself is unsure whether a law has been broken!

This is ludicrous. In the UK

This is ludicrous. In the UK you have a right to refuse to pay a tip if you think the service is not up to snuff. I was at a restaurant with a crowd of 20 people and the service was abysmal. It was automatically placed on the bill and it was 18% I think. A mate of mine picked it up crossed out the tip and recalculated it for all. We didn't get much argument because the staff of restaurant was stunned that anyone had the cojones to do it. Oh yes, the food wasn't anything special either.

Which brings me to my next

Which brings me to my next question. Does a menu constitute a contract?

Yes, it's a private contract.

Menus typically list the goods available at a given establishment and what prices those goods are being offered at.

If there honestly was no meeting of the minds then the restaurant should absorb the loss.

Personally I find mandatory tipping to be incredibly annoying. Even if you come in with a large group, paying the serverâ??s salary should be their employerâ??s job not yours. Plus I would think that restaurants would want to encourage individuals to come to their restaurant in larger groups rather than penalizing them with a mandatory fee that they do not require of smaller groups.

Your personal thinking should determine what establishments you patronize, not what terms they can offer.

To clarify: the restaurant

To clarify: the restaurant should absorb the loss as a good business practice, but I agree they are entitled to payment.

My brother is usually pretty

My brother is usually pretty good at negotiating stuff like this, and I've been copying him. We make it clear in advance that we will not stiff them, we will tip based on service quality, but are quite willing to eat elsewhere if they insist on adding a mandatory tip. This has worked every time.

Should I forget to do this, I would consider myself obligated to pay the mandatory gratuity when the bill came, unless at that point they were willing to negotiate--in which case I would negotiate with the manager.

The price of the food is also negotiable, separately from the tip. Once you've eaten the food uncomplainingly, you really don't have much grounds for requesting a break. If you think the food is bad, don't be shy about it. You know when the server comes by and asks if everything is okay? There's your opening. I rarely complain about the food myself, but when I have or when I've been with someone else who has, the complainer's meal has been either free or 50% off.

The charges have now been

Kennedy, Not if there is a

Kennedy,

Not if there is a failure of performance. If the thing you buy doesn't work, etc., then a defense against a claim of non-payment, etc., is failure of performance. In other words, merely because you've entered a contract does not give the other part carte blanche to breach or otherwise fail to perform its portion of the contract. The question is, did the restaurant fail to perform its portion of the contract? How do we determine the answer to this question: by industry standards? by the subjective standards of the individual customer? etc.?

:beatnik:

The moral of the story is

The moral of the story is obvious:

Don't fuck with the Sopranos.

If the gratuity was

If the gratuity was "mandatory," it would have been included in the bill. How can one be expected to pay a charge that wasn't assessed?

It should be noted that: a.

It should be noted that:

a. The charges were dropped.
b. The restaurant said they made an issue of this because the guy was "also a jerk."

I suspect that 90% of restaurants who list this requirement on their menu would be open to polite negotiation at point of sale. I'd also like a legal definition of the word "tip" versus the phrase "service charge."

A "charge" is generally understood to be mandatory. A tip is generally understood to be voluntary. So, an 18% service charge could be considered mandatory, but an 18% gratuity or "tip" would not.

Gratuity is generally defined as "A favor or gift, usually in the form of money, given in return for service." So, a required gratuity isn't really a gratuity anymore.