Restaurant's 18 Percent 'Teen Tax' Sparks Controversy

| by Masako Fukuchi
Restaurant billRestaurant bill

A New Jersey diner is tacking on an 18 percent gratuity for large groups of teenagers, sparking outrage and concern from parents, who are now calling it a "teen tax" and "kid gratuity."

Wayne mother Melissa Desch was surprised when her 11-year-old daughter sent her a picture showing a 90-cent tip that was added to her milkshake order. Bella Venezian, Melissa's daughter, told CBS2, "I got charged gratuity and my mother was there the same day and she didn't." Her friends were charged $1.31 and $1.58 extra. Melissa believed she was being targeted.

As it turns out, the diner only recently began charging gratuity; the owner explained groups of 20 to 30 kids would come in at a time, stay for a few hours, pay the bill, and then forget or disregard the tip. The manager said that he believes it's not fair to the servers, who subsist primarily on tips, and that the gratuity is necessary "because my employees need to get paid. They don't work for free," according to the New York Post.

Desch, on the other hand, felt thwarted by the diner's pre-emptive gratuity. "Even adults don't always tip and it's not anything against the servers, but you can't assume these kids don't know what they're doing."

The manager explained that most kids who dine at the popular after-school hangout, near Schuyler-Colfax Middle School, leave as little as 10 cents to Wayne Hills Diner servers or no tip at all.

The family-owned business has enlisted a lawyer since the gratuity change went viral.

The bottom of the diner's receipts asks customers to kindly leave a gratuity; the fine print at the bottom of menus says: "Management reserves the right to add 18 percent gratuity to check."

Needless to say, Desch claims she will no longer patronize the popular Wayne diner anymore. "There are enough parents that are willing to not let their kids go back there," she told the Post.

The whole situation left both parties bitter and it's not the food.

As etiquette experts suggest, a tip of at least 15 percent to 20 percent at a sit-down restaurant is the norm.

Sources: CBS2, New York Post / Featured Image: Benreis/Wikimedia Commons

Tags: Teen Tax, Wayne Diner, Gratuity