Tip: Charge the Charge to Tip the Tip Separately From Charging the Tip as a Charge

Imagine how FlyerTalk member RichardInSF must have felt when he was informed while dining at a steakhouse in San Francisco that “The 17% is a service charge, sir, it is not a tip.”

Apparently, for those of us who thought that a service charge imposed on dining patrons is the equivalent of being forced to leave a gratuity with a mandatory minimum, the experience of RichardInSF dictates that we look again as to what is the difference between a service charge and a tip.

If a service charge is indeed different from a tip, then what is the actual purpose of a service charge? What does a service charge cover? How much of a tip should be left in addition to a service charge?

Does all of this amount to little more than organized begging from the restaurant establishment?

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