Good Question: What are the rules for automatic tips?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— We’ve all been there at some point. You go out to eat with a bunch of friends or family then when the bill comes there’s an automatic tip for a large group.

Roneika asked News10NBC’s Brennan Somers about that: Is it legal for restaurants to charge 18% gratuity ahead of time, no matter the amount of people, and can they add it to my bill without authorization? The reason I’m asking, some restaurants in Rochester are doing this and I believe it violates my rights.

Yes, it is legal. It happens at a lot of places.

What are the rules—to protect you the customer? Somers started looking for any laws or regulations here in New York. He spoke to the agency with a main goal of protecting you from a lot of things like scams or being ripped off by a business.

That’s the NYS Department of State Division of Consumer Protection.

Here’s what staff there told Somers:

There is no law in New York State that specifically prohibits automatic gratuities. However, it is incumbent upon any restaurant including an automatic gratuity charge to provide—in advance—clear and conspicuous notice that an automatic gratuity charge will be levied and all terms associated with the automatic charge. If consumers are not provided advanced notice the consumers may have a claim under the NYS Deceptive Acts & Practices law. Consumers who believe they have not been provided advance notice can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Consumer Protection by visiting our website at the following link:


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