A popular restaurant is leaving customers with a surprise on their bill.
The general manager said a 20% service charge already tacked on, for any size party, is about taking care of his staff, but some customers said they had no idea they were tipping the wait staff twice.
It’s similar to the 12-to-15% tip already included on restaurant bills in Europe.
“I think people should know up front that they’re going to be charged that extra service charge,” Teresa Ferguson said.
“I don’t mind,” customer Yvonne Cummings said about getting the built-in charge.
“As long as they let us know ahead of time,” her husband David added.
The general manager of the tourist hot spot said a notice was just added to the bottom of the menus in the past few weeks. It’s in small print.
“She read it in the menu. She’s good at reading that stuff,” David added.
The New Mexico Restaurant Association said this could be a real turnoff for customers to notice after the fact.
“I think it should be big on your menu somewhere that says you will be charged a 20-percent fee on top of the menu prices,” NMRA CEO Carol Wight said.
The Backstreet Grill GM said the extra charge is to make sure his hard-working staff is properly tipped.
This recent change to the menus follows dozens of online complaints, some as recent as April, from customers saying they want to choose how much to tip, or they didn’t notice the service charge on the bill and tipped twice.
The NMRA said restaurants aren’t required to notify customers about the service charge before they order, but that they should.
“That’s just good business practice,” Wight added.
The GM said customers can ask him about the fee if they have questions, and that he’ll take it off their bill if they’re not happy with the service.
Some restaurants, like Backstreet Grill, also charge a small fee for splitting checks to cover the cost of running multiple credit cards.