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Automatic Gratuity for large parties despite poor service

darcol

Well-Known Member
We went to California Grill at around 8 o'clock, (so we had no rush, and could view the fireworks) for Thanksgiving this year. We took our extended American family with us, we were a table of six. We were seated promptly, our drinks order taken, and we were given time to peruse the menu. Our drinks arrived, the alcoholic ones came within five minutes, then the cokes for the young ones, and then my glass of water, some five minutes later. Our starter and entree orders were taken, we had asked for a few changes to the starters, nothing major, no sauce, things like that, and asked for three all white meat entrees and one with no gravy or cranberry, all minor changes. We chatted for approx fifteen minutes, until our server decided to produce the bread service, swiftly followed by three other waiting staff putting our starters in front of us. In fact our OG server was barged out of the way to allow them to put the food on the table. We also at that time asked for two coke refills and another water. Three of the starters were wrong, two that were requested with sauce on the side, came drenched in sauce, and one dish completely wrong. When the table was cleared, we still had not had refills or water, we asked again. We did not receive our refills until just before entrees arrived, and three of entrees came out wrong. We were asked once if we would like more drinks, only after two of the three alcoholic beverages had been drunk, we never got asked again. The desserts did come in a timely manner and correct, as did the tea and coffee, but only after commenting on the tardy nature of the service.
Now my reason for this detailed explanation. Sat two tables from us, was a table of four, the neighbours of our extended family, and they had the same server. We asked them how their service was. Their bread service came just before the drinks, their refills were replaced without request, the food was all correct, they to asked for changes to starters and entrees.
This is not the first time this has happened either, and mostly at a signature. We were a table of six at Mama Melrose one year and had fantastic service. I personally find the service i have received, for the most part, better in non signature restaurants.
It seemed to us, that because we had and automatic gratuity added to our $620 bill, they weren't that bothered to give the same level of service, compared to a table that can pick and choose there tip amount.
I really love California Grill, but the service this time round has left a bitter taste in my mouth, even more so than the Beverly, which is delicious by the way.
 

Chi84

Premium Member
We went to California Grill at around 8 o'clock, (so we had no rush, and could view the fireworks) for Thanksgiving this year. We took our extended American family with us, we were a table of six. We were seated promptly, our drinks order taken, and we were given time to peruse the menu. Our drinks arrived, the alcoholic ones came within five minutes, then the cokes for the young ones, and then my glass of water, some five minutes later. Our starter and entree orders were taken, we had asked for a few changes to the starters, nothing major, no sauce, things like that, and asked for three all white meat entrees and one with no gravy or cranberry, all minor changes. We chatted for approx fifteen minutes, until our server decided to produce the bread service, swiftly followed by three other waiting staff putting our starters in front of us. In fact our OG server was barged out of the way to allow them to put the food on the table. We also at that time asked for two coke refills and another water. Three of the starters were wrong, two that were requested with sauce on the side, came drenched in sauce, and one dish completely wrong. When the table was cleared, we still had not had refills or water, we asked again. We did not receive our refills until just before entrees arrived, and three of entrees came out wrong. We were asked once if we would like more drinks, only after two of the three alcoholic beverages had been drunk, we never got asked again. The desserts did come in a timely manner and correct, as did the tea and coffee, but only after commenting on the tardy nature of the service.
Now my reason for this detailed explanation. Sat two tables from us, was a table of four, the neighbours of our extended family, and they had the same server. We asked them how their service was. Their bread service came just before the drinks, their refills were replaced without request, the food was all correct, they to asked for changes to starters and entrees.
This is not the first time this has happened either, and mostly at a signature. We were a table of six at Mama Melrose one year and had fantastic service. I personally find the service i have received, for the most part, better in non signature restaurants.
It seemed to us, that because we had and automatic gratuity added to our $620 bill, they weren't that bothered to give the same level of service, compared to a table that can pick and choose there tip amount.
I really love California Grill, but the service this time round has left a bitter taste in my mouth, even more so than the Beverly, which is delicious by the way.
There are usually either six of us, or two - on a rare occasion 4. We have had good service and not so good (rare) at both signatures and non signatures. If you received fantastic service at Mama Melrose with six, why would you assume the service at Cali Grill was affected by the automatic gratuity? Servers work in sections, and large tables reduce the number of tables they serve. If your server wasn't with your party, he or she may have had a table of four and a table of two and could well have received the same tip or better at Cali Grill, where people can order some excellent bottles of wine. This is not directed at you, but some people seem to be dazzled by the fact that a tip can be $100. As I said earlier in this thread, I've been visiting WDW for many years and have experienced all levels of restaurants there, and I've never seen a correlation between level of service and an automatic gratuity. One thing I have noticed is that ordering a great bottle of wine seems to improve service (but again, not always).
 

larryz

post hoc ergo propter hoc
Premium Member
I know you imagine that you’ve come up with a workable system, but outside of a super casual eatery in the most informal of locations, I don’t see this as a viable practice. We have been visiting WDW for over 30 years and have eaten in darn near every restaurant on property and it’s not done there. You’ll never see a server at California Grill or Yachtsman showing up at a large party with 12 plates of food and calling out across the table, “Larry? I’ve got a medium ribeye for Larry - raise your hand please. Next up is Diane. Wait wait that’s Diane S not Diane B.”

Restaurants have a system for delivering food to large parties without the overly familiar practice of asking for people’s first names. If you switch seats, just tell your server. Much easier than expecting the server to hold a food auction. You should nominate one of your local places for a Gordon Ramsay makeover. I would love to hear what he has say about this system. I imagine it would involve a lot of bleeped out words.
I haven't imagined anything. I don't work in food service. I've never worked in food service. I'm only relating what I've experienced when dining with large groups from the office and other places I've worked. Disney doesn't use it -- that's clear, or I wouldn't have brought it up. But based on the next post, perhaps they SHOULD start writing things down...
We went to California Grill at around 8 o'clock, (so we had no rush, and could view the fireworks) for Thanksgiving this year. We took our extended American family with us, we were a table of six. We were seated promptly, our drinks order taken, and we were given time to peruse the menu. Our drinks arrived, the alcoholic ones came within five minutes, then the cokes for the young ones, and then my glass of water, some five minutes later. Our starter and entree orders were taken, we had asked for a few changes to the starters, nothing major, no sauce, things like that, and asked for three all white meat entrees and one with no gravy or cranberry, all minor changes. We chatted for approx fifteen minutes, until our server decided to produce the bread service, swiftly followed by three other waiting staff putting our starters in front of us. In fact our OG server was barged out of the way to allow them to put the food on the table. We also at that time asked for two coke refills and another water. Three of the starters were wrong, two that were requested with sauce on the side, came drenched in sauce, and one dish completely wrong. When the table was cleared, we still had not had refills or water, we asked again. We did not receive our refills until just before entrees arrived, and three of entrees came out wrong. We were asked once if we would like more drinks, only after two of the three alcoholic beverages had been drunk, we never got asked again. The desserts did come in a timely manner and correct, as did the tea and coffee, but only after commenting on the tardy nature of the service.
Sounds like they have a great "system." /sarc

Maybe the lead server didn't write anything down.

Maybe they should start.
 
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Chi84

Premium Member
I haven't imagined anything. I don't work in food service. I've never worked in food service. I'm only relating what I've experienced when dining with large groups from the office and other places I've worked. Disney doesn't use it -- that's clear, or I wouldn't have brought it up. But based on the next post, perhaps they SHOULD start writing things down...

Sounds like they have a great "system." /sarc

Maybe the lead server didn't write anything down.

Maybe they should start.
Yes - sounds like he forgot to write down the order. The orders came out without sauce on the side, etc. - nothing was said about the food being delivered to the wrong people. Still has nothing to do with the notion of writing down names. No one ever suggested that servers do not ever need to write anything down. That's why they carry those little writing pad things.
 
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Hockey89

Well-Known Member
I haven't imagined anything. I don't work in food service. I've never worked in food service. I'm only relating what I've experienced when dining with large groups from the office and other places I've worked. Disney doesn't use it -- that's clear, or I wouldn't have brought it up. But based on the next post, perhaps they SHOULD start writing things down...

Sounds like they have a great "system." /sarc

Maybe the lead server didn't write anything down.

Maybe they should start.
My job leads to dinners all over the country at some of the nicest places in the USA... This has never happened at any place I've ever been to... Not a single time in my 10000000 meals out for biz do they ask for names.... Its the dumbest thing I've heard outside of Dave thinking he can jump in at any Disney Pool...
 

Chi84

Premium Member
My job leads to dinners all over the country at some of the nicest places in the USA... This has never happened at any place I've ever been to... Not a single time in my 10000000 meals out for biz do they ask for names.... Its the dumbest thing I've heard outside of Dave thinking he can jump in at any Disney Pool...
Yes but maybe that kind of thing wouldn’t happen if the lifeguard wrote down the first names of everyone entering the pool area.

Makes as much sense as suggesting that untimely bread service and inadequate drink refills can be cured by asking people their names.
 
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larryz

post hoc ergo propter hoc
Premium Member
Yes but maybe that kind of thing wouldn’t happen if the lifeguard wrote down the first names of everyone entering the pool area.
Maybe if the lifeguard had to deliver a meal to every one of them, he would.
 

Jon81uk

Well-Known Member
We went to California Grill at around 8 o'clock, (so we had no rush, and could view the fireworks) for Thanksgiving this year. We took our extended American family with us, we were a table of six. We were seated promptly, our drinks order taken, and we were given time to peruse the menu. Our drinks arrived, the alcoholic ones came within five minutes, then the cokes for the young ones, and then my glass of water, some five minutes later. Our starter and entree orders were taken, we had asked for a few changes to the starters, nothing major, no sauce, things like that, and asked for three all white meat entrees and one with no gravy or cranberry, all minor changes. We chatted for approx fifteen minutes, until our server decided to produce the bread service, swiftly followed by three other waiting staff putting our starters in front of us. In fact our OG server was barged out of the way to allow them to put the food on the table. We also at that time asked for two coke refills and another water. Three of the starters were wrong, two that were requested with sauce on the side, came drenched in sauce, and one dish completely wrong. When the table was cleared, we still had not had refills or water, we asked again. We did not receive our refills until just before entrees arrived, and three of entrees came out wrong. We were asked once if we would like more drinks, only after two of the three alcoholic beverages had been drunk, we never got asked again. The desserts did come in a timely manner and correct, as did the tea and coffee, but only after commenting on the tardy nature of the service.
Now my reason for this detailed explanation. Sat two tables from us, was a table of four, the neighbours of our extended family, and they had the same server. We asked them how their service was. Their bread service came just before the drinks, their refills were replaced without request, the food was all correct, they to asked for changes to starters and entrees.
This is not the first time this has happened either, and mostly at a signature. We were a table of six at Mama Melrose one year and had fantastic service. I personally find the service i have received, for the most part, better in non signature restaurants.
It seemed to us, that because we had and automatic gratuity added to our $620 bill, they weren't that bothered to give the same level of service, compared to a table that can pick and choose there tip amount.
I really love California Grill, but the service this time round has left a bitter taste in my mouth, even more so than the Beverly, which is delicious by the way.

Did you ask to speak to a manager?
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
That's interesting. I've been dining in restaurants for more years than I care to admit, and no server has ever asked for my name. It's certainly not the practice at Disney. Imagine that - all those people with all of that education in hospitality and experience with service and no one has come up with that simple idea to improve service. One has to wonder why.

I would go so far as to say asking for someones name goes against the idea of unobtrusive service. The point of wait staff is to be there, but unobtrusive. That is why a good waiter is never seen, but as soon as you need something, they are at your side. It is your body language that they are watching. Knowing who ordered what food, and where they are sitting is part of the experience. Asking somebody's name just in case they move seats is just poor. Might as well as ask them to pay ahead of time in case they want to dine and dash.

-dave
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
Are you saying that servers make that much an hour?
If that were the case everyone would want to be a server!


As a former restaurant and banquet server, for large tables and even small ones I would make notes next to the menu selection of normally male/female and shirt color or other noticeable mark that would help in remembering what item when with who.
Asking for 1st names to me sounds a little informal. But if it works for some, do it!
If I were asked for my name I would give Mr. _______ , I do not know the server and they are probably younger than me so there for I am Mr. ________!!!! Me being old school and how I was raised.


That is how an unobtrusive server should work. Make a note of what the person is wearing - a great idea.
 

REG Glenn

Member
Original Poster
Okay, this thread is all over the place. Let’s use common sense here. First of all, I would never ever stiff or reduce a tip below %15. So to those who say this is a D____ move, I’m not shafting the waiter. Won’t do it, never have.

Second, my dining experiences are my own, this is what I have myself has noticed. Others may think differently. When dining with four or less, the service is usually excellent. With big parties, not so much. I understand the logistics. The waiters work very hard. I get this. I also can add 18% on $600 ticket, $108 dollars. Not bad for the table. Yes, other people to tip out. I’ve been a waiter at three different restaurants. I know this. So I don’t want to here they are making $2.35 per hour. Still a very good 1.5 to 2 hours after tip.

0n my last visit we had nine people at Skipper Canteen. Very poor service with curt attitude. After appetizers, drinks, entrees and several desserts to share, the bill was over $700 with automatic gratuity of $126. Would I have tipped this extra 3% percent, absolutely NOT. Does adding the extra gratuity make the experience a little less special, YES. Is the server delivering less than his best? Don’t know, but the level of service is separated from the tip because of tipping policy. Does he have to consider what the payer may add just below the bill total? No.

I understand the policy of automatic gratuities. Just saying it’s common sense for best than less service when the patron not adding to the bottom line. Zero incentive, just saying.

By the way, Love Disney Dining and the servers who make it what it is.
 

Chi84

Premium Member
Okay, this thread is all over the place. Let’s use common sense here. First of all, I would never ever stiff or reduce a tip below %15. So to those who say this is a D____ move, I’m not shafting the waiter. Won’t do it, never have.

Second, my dining experiences are my own, this is what I have myself has noticed. Others may think differently. When dining with four or less, the service is usually excellent. With big parties, not so much. I understand the logistics. The waiters work very hard. I get this. I also can add 18% on $600 ticket, $108 dollars. Not bad for the table. Yes, other people to tip out. I’ve been a waiter at three different restaurants. I know this. So I don’t want to here they are making $2.35 per hour. Still a very good 1.5 to 2 hours after tip.

0n my last visit we had nine people at Skipper Canteen. Very poor service with curt attitude. After appetizers, drinks, entrees and several desserts to share, the bill was over $700 with automatic gratuity of $126. Would I have tipped this extra 3% percent, absolutely NOT. Does adding the extra gratuity make the experience a little less special, YES. Is the server delivering less than his best? Don’t know, but the level of service is separated from the tip because of tipping policy. Does he have to consider what the payer may add just below the bill total? No.

I understand the policy of automatic gratuities. Just saying it’s common sense for best than less service when the patron not adding to the bottom line. Zero incentive, just saying.

By the way, Love Disney Dining and the servers who make it what it is.
I agree with most of this but I think it’s been a long time since 15% was considered a standard tip. It’s pretty much 20% for standard service. The 18% auto gratuity is already less than that. Maybe it’s just the area I live in though.
 

Chi84

Premium Member
Actually, after re-reading the original post, here are my thoughts. I disagree with the premise of the original post - that servers avoid asking for help (leading to poor service) because they want to hoard the entire gratuity and are less attentive because the tip is guaranteed.

I would not reduce the 18% automatic gratuity unless the service was exceptionally bad - and certainly not where there are just reasonable delays in taking orders, bringing out bread or refilling drinks. I think 18% is a fair amount and the guarantee is needed because large tables present both servers and the kitchen with logistical difficulties that may slow down service, and also because some people have a hard time wrapping their heads around large numbers where tips are concerned. These folks are just looking for an excuse.

I believe restaurants do not particularly like large parties, especially Disney restaurants which will be filled to capacity in any event. Being in the hospitality business, they accept them because they want to accommodate their guests. The restaurant does have a choice in the matter, though. If it accepts reservations for large parties, it should expect to work a little harder to ensure a good dining experience. Correspondingly, diners who choose to book a reservation for 15 people should expect service to be less efficient than if they booked a party of four. That's the common sense that is being called for. If the service is so bad that the dining experience is being ruined, then ask for a manager so the matter can be addressed, possibly by assigning another server. If not, tip the 18%. It's not all that great a tip by today's standards, and it's possible the server could make that amount or even more if he or she were serving several smaller parties. You’re not doing anyone any favors by showing up with a party of 15.
 
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