If the wait staff at some Burlington, Vt., restaurants can tell you’re an out-of-towner, expect to see an extra charge at the bottom of your bill. It’s the mandatory gratuity, usually adding on an extra 18 percent or more.
As tourists flock to Vermont, they bring with them different tipping customs — or worse, a stingy pocketbook, reports ABC News. To counteract $150 restaurant bills with only $1 left for tip, restaurants around town have started tacking on gratuity, customarily only added for large parties, to groups of any size.
(LIST: 8 Xtreme Meals)
And in some restaurants, it’s up to the server to determine if you’re a generous local, a stingy foreigner or — even worse — a downright cheap Canadian. With Burlington within easy driving distance from Montreal, speaking French is a (near) sure tip-off to the server to be proactive if they want to see any tip come their way. Anne-Marie Humbert, originally from France but now living in the town next to Burlington, has been hit with mandatory gratuity charges at a local bistro and an Asian restaurant, just because she was speaking French, she told Vermont’s Seven Days. Waiters assume she’s from Quebec and pop the charge below the bill’s subtotal.
One Burlington restaurant owner told ABC that all foreigners have proven pretty cheap with tips when compared with Americans. But it’s likely just based on tradition. It isn’t uncommon in Europe for gratuity to be part of the final bill, leading some visitors to not even plan on adding a tip at the end.
But tip-aware Americans, like Humbert, who contest the add-on are typically able to get out of the addition, ABC reports, assuming they aren’t part of groups of five or more. While the visitors from the Great White North might argue they’re being discriminated against, restaurant servers claim that the bills have a printed suggestion of an 18 percent tip. Some servers, though, have turned that suggestion into a demand.