So, went to Ray's Hell Burger in NoVa. Very nice. Had the Hanger Steak. Fantastic.
Got home, and noticed that the bill notes "20% gratuity added" into the bill already. This was not mentioned on the menu (at least not in an obvious way), and it was never actually mentioned. The bill was LONG, because we ordered a lot of stuff. (There were also a lot of us).
The bill was also folded up, and tucked behind the "sign here" bill, which listed three lines:
Grand Total: ________
I did not unfold the long bill, just saw this bill, and added a tip of $55. That's about 19.2%.
The point being that I paid $342.55 for a meal that cost $240. The service was fine. But the server intentionally folded up the main bill to disguise the fact that a gratuity was already added, and the bill to be signed just had a total, and a line for "tip," not "additonal tip."
Now, I understand that restaurants do this, and they are welcome to.
But I am welcome to do this: be careful if you go to Ray's Hell Burger III, 1650 Wilson Ave, in Arlington, VA. They are a bunch of sneaky, dishonest thieves. I certainly won't be going back to that ripoff joint.
Raising the point, for this blog: What is the burden of restaurants to explain charges? Am I right to feel ripped off? Is the restaurant obliged to provide an itemized bill that is understandable, or is the two page one enough? And should the waiter say, "Since your party is large, a 20% gratuity will be added," to make sure you know. She obviously did not WANT me to know, and did everything she could to hide it.
On the other hand, it is common for groups of six or greater (we were definitely greater) to have such practices. Is the italicized segment above just out of line?
Finally, I did NOT call and try to get the charge removed. I did not give the restaurant a chance to respond, or to make it right. I went straight to the internet. Isn't it more accurate to say that *I* am being the jerk here, giving normal restaurant practice?