The worst part of dining out with a large group of friends often comes at the very end – when it’s time to split the check. No one wants to deal with the hassle of crunching a ton of numbers after eating a full plate of food — or downing a few drinks — which is why many restaurants offer a “suggested gratuity” text at the bottom of their receipts.
But now, a class-action lawsuit first reported by Buzzfeed News accuses The Cheesecake Factory of using the tip suggestion to try to trick their customers into paying a higher tip.
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In a complaint provided to Delish by HammondLaw, plaintiff Marcel Goldman said the company should be held accountable for the “practices which resulted in the misrepresentations to and fraud against its customers.”
In the receipt provided in the claim, Goldman’s portion of the bill amounted to $38.50. She then left a $15.40 tip, which was the 20% tip suggested on the receipt. Other suggested gratuity listed said $16.94 for 22%, $13.86 for 18% and $11.55 for 15%. Her individual total came out to $53.90 with the mistaken tip.
So, basically, the suit claims that the restaurant was suggesting that each diner in the party pay a percentage of the total bill — not a percentage of their individual share of the check.
“The TOTAL was based on the mathematical error perpetrated by Defendant [The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated],” the complaint states.
The lawsuit goes on to accuse the popular franchise of carrying on this deception for years.
“The practice has been going on for at least the last four years and at over 200 restaurant locations operated under The Cheesecake Factory mark and at 13 locations operated under the Grand Lux Café mark, and customers have complained of the practice on the internet,” it states.
In 2015, Twitter user @hbrofman, warned of the restaurant’s receipts.
“Watch those #deceptive @Cheesecake factory receipts, their suggested gratuity is based on post tax amount. #Fail,” Brofman wrote on Twitter.
Another customer who uses the Twitter handle @fullglitz said in September of 2016, “@Cheesecake the suggested #gratuity on the bill is incorrect. It should be based on the pre-tax subtotal.”
Alethea Rowe, a spokesperson for The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated, defended the company’s tipping policies in an email to Delish on Friday.
“All gratuity amounts listed on our guest checks are suggestions only. Guests are free to tip as they please,” Rowe said. “We believe our guests appreciate service provided by our hardworking staff and tip accordingly.”