I was in New York last week and had a waiter shouting me at as I left a hotel restaurant because I had refused to tip.
The bill arrived with a 15% ‘service charge’ included and a space for a tip on the credit card slip plus a hand written note saying that “cash tips are appreciated” Clearly I was expected to provide three tips. I paid the bill with the service charge but refused to pay anymore. The waiter followed me out of the restaurant telling me that I was expected to pay. He got both verbal barrels.
When I was checking out the following day I noticed they had included a “restaurant staff gratuity” on my bill. I queried this and was told,
“In this country tipping is expected, our staff have bills to pay”
I refused and asked to see the manager, massive backpedaling ensued and a new invoice was quickly produced.
A follow up email to the manager received an almost immediate reply, apologising profusely and saying the staff had been disciplined. He also made clear that their policy on tipping was,
“An appreciation of good service by our staff and entirely optional”
Friends of mine who live in New York say the US culture is changing and automatic 20% tipping is no longer as prevalent as it once was with more and more people taking a stand when service is poor.