A wave of controversy has hit the restaurant scene in Burlington, VT, as several restarauteurs were found adding an automatic gratuity for foreign customers.
According to anecdotes from some wait staffs at Burlington restaurants, foreign customers, including visitors from Quebec, often don’t leave enough for a tip or even enough to cover their full bill.
The prevalence of the tipping issue spurred some wait staffs to action. Some admitted that if they detected a foreign accent from a patron, they would add an automatic gratuity to their bill to avoid being stiffed. Other restaurant owners have tackled the issue by adding gentle reminders to tip at the bottom of all their bills.
The practice has stirred up quite the controversy in Burlington and across the border. Some decry the automatic gratuity as being discriminatory. But the real issue to understand is that waiters in Vermont make significantly less than their counterparts across the border — just $4.10 an hour compared to Quebec’s minimum of $8.35. They expect to make the rest up in tips. So it’s understandable that they’d go to extreme measures to ensure they aren’t stiffed.