Manhattan Restaurants' Built-In Tips Fleece Patrons, Lawsuit Says
MANHATTAN — Is a tip really a tip when it's added without the customer's knowledge?
No way, says one frustrated diner, who's petitioning the Manhattan Supreme Court to file a class-action lawsuit against a bunch of Times Square restaurant chains he believes are breaking the law.
Ted Dimon, a professional tennis player, wants to file a suit on behalf of the five boroughs against restaurants across Midtown — including Ruby Tuesday, the Olive Garden, the Marriott Marquis Hotel, Applebee's and Red Lobster — for sneakily adding automatic gratuities of 15 percent or more to guests bills, without disclosing the fact to customers, according to various reports.
The 47-year-old tennis instructor and court manager says they're in violation of city laws, which prohibit establishments from adding surcharges to posted prices, unless the parties dining are a group of eight or more, the New York Post reports.
"The tennis player wants wronged customers to be recouped $50 plus $1,000 for 'willful violations,' where restaurants trick diners into adding a second tip when one is already included," according to the paper.
Dimon's attorney Evan Spencer called it a "consumer rights and antitrust case," in a statement.
“These restaurants have jointly conspired to raise prices in a deceptive manner ... and the named defendants are only the tip of the iceberg," he said, the NY Daily News wrote.
Several diners at the accused restaurants were surprised to note that there was a built-in tip, the News reported, though some said they had been notified by waitstaff while others tried to challenge it outright.
One diner, Craig Allen 49, of Detroit, noticed it on his lunch bill and questioned the waiter after eating lunch with his children.
He said the waiter told him, "In this part of town, this is what we do."
But, complained Allen, "They didn’t even get my son’s order right."