• Bill Petrie

Added For Your Convenience

Is a company policy for the client's benefit, or yours?

Recently, my wife and I took advantage of our empty nest to enjoy a concert in downtown Nashville. As part of the pre-show festivities, I asked her to pick any restaurant where she wished to dine. Being the sushi lover she is, she chose a place – let’s call it “Bob’s Sushi” – and over 90 minutes, we enjoyed sake, edamame, miso soup, seaweed salad, and a few delicious rolls. Most importantly, neither one of us looked at our phones which allowed us to enjoy the experience after so many months cooped up during the pandemic.

My smile retreated slightly after I received the check. As I pulled out my credit card, I noticed a line item that stated “18% gratuity.” Even more interesting, there was a blank line below for an “additional tip.”

Knowing that automatic gratuity is usually added for larger groups to help ensure that the server is appropriately compensated, I looked at the bottom of the check and read the following:

“For your convenience, 18% gratuity has been added to your check.”

As I read this, two thoughts immediately flooded my head:

  1. I’m quite capable of calculating my own tip based on the service provided

  2. Automatically adding the gratuity for “my convenience” was a lie. It was solely for the benefit of the restaurant and server.

How often do we make decisions or implement policies proclaiming that they are done for the benefit of the customer when the reality is they are self-serving? For example, many distributors will quote a fully landed price on a product under the guise of simplicity so the inflated shipping cost can be hidden and potentially increase profit. It’s a policy that may make sense, but it’s also a policy that only serves the distributor.

In business, one of the keys to fostering long-lasting relationships is transparency. People may not like specific policies or decisions, but they will accept them when they are carried out openly and honestly.

I really don’t mind that the 18% gratuity was added to my bill; I just didn’t care for the lie of “my convenience” that came along with it. Typically, I tip 25% of the bill, but the fact that my intelligence was insulted ended up costing the waitress the additional 7%. That probably wasn’t fair to the server, but I reacted emotionally to the explanation of the policy, and I doubt I’m the only one.

As stated above, my sense is that the restaurant implemented the policy because too many patrons didn’t tip appropriately – and I understand that. Assuming that was the case, the restaurant shouldn’t soft shoe it; simply explain the policy and move on. However, telling the customer that the policy was for their convenience is wholly disingenuous and unnecessary.

Shout it from the highest rooftop when a company policy is genuinely for the client’s welfare. If, however, a necessary policy is implemented solely for the organization’s benefit, institute it but don’t mask it as client-friendly.

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