Why You Shouldn’t Rely on a Restaurant’s Suggested Tip Amounts

A California lawsuit claims a restaurant dupes customers into paying higher tip amounts because suggested tips don’t change when receipts split meal costs.

The Cheesecake Factory is facing a class action lawsuit over tip amounts. Consumerist reported a lawsuit claims that when a bill is split among several patrons, the suggested tip amounts at the bottom of each receipt don’t change.

In other words, the suggested 15%, 18%, 20% and 22% tip amounts factor in the full bill, not each individual patron’s share of the full bill.

Let’s look at an example of this claim.

According to the lawsuit, if you are part of a group of 8 people, and together you rack up a grand total of $219.44, of which your amount is $24.67, and you request split checks, the bill you receive for that $24.67 is going to show suggested tips between 15% and 22%.

But instead of a range of $3.70 to $5.43, which would be 15%-22% of your portion of the bill, the check will show suggested tips of between $32.92 to $48.28, which would be 15%-22% of the $219.44 total bill.

That means, according to the lawsuit’s claims, you’ll be given the “suggestion” to pay a $32.92 tip for a $24.67 meal.

Wouldn’t that raise a red flag right away? Wouldn’t you immediately know that your tip wouldn’t be more than the cost of your share of the meal?

Granted, when you’re not in a large group, it would probably be difficult to spot the problem. The person who filed the lawsuit said she paid about double the amount she should have — she paid about $15 when she should have paid only $7 — based on the fact that the suggested tip amount showed the range for the pre-split bill total.

When she realized her mistake later and complained about it, the restaurant did nothing to correct it, she says. That’s apparently what prompted the lawsuit: it’s one thing to be unaware of the error, but once it’s brought to your attention, you should address it one way or another.

How do you prevent it from happening to you?

The easiest way is using some simple math!

I hate math. I received the first and only D of my life in Pre-Calculus. My brain just reached the point during my senior year in high school of being “mathed out.” I knew I wanted to go into broadcasting and that, therefore, math was going to be only a limited portion of my life. I learned all I knew I’d need of math, and anything approaching calculus was more than that.

As much as I disliked math, I could do basic math in my head.

Figuring out a tip is pretty basic.

And you can even simplify it to make it extraordinarily simple if you’re willing to leave a slightly higher tip than you might otherwise leave.

Figuring out a tip doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Let’s say you go out to eat and your total bill is $22.15.

Anyone ought to be able to figure up 10% of that amount: you simply move the decimal point over one slot to the left: 10% of $22.15 is $2.215 or, for the sake of argument, $2.22. Let’s say you want to just leave 20%. You take that $2.22, which is 10%, and double it to get 20%: so the tip is $4.44.

When you work it out, you find that you’ve given a tip of 20.05%. But we all know we pay a bit more for convenience.

You can simplfy it even more by dropping the cents: 10% of $22.00 is $2.20. Double that and you have a $4.40 tip. A $4.40 tip represents a 19.8% tip.

If you are determined to leave no more than 15%, pull out your cell phone and use the calculator.

Don’t rely on someone else to do the math for you: figure it out on your own and then you won’t have to worry about being taken!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.