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Dining fee charge on bill and not a #37655
02/01/2015 05:07 PM
02/01/2015 05:07 PM
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N CENT COMMONWEALTH OF MA
SXMSAMMY Offline OP
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Has anyone run into this lately, as I was reading a post about a Philipship eatery or maybe more, that were charging a dining room fee, and it was not a gratuity fee either. Just wondering if any one heard this or had it happen to them.



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Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37656
02/01/2015 05:31 PM
02/01/2015 05:31 PM
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Haven't heard of it. Who supposedly is charging it and how much is it?


Carol Hill
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37657
02/01/2015 06:10 PM
02/01/2015 06:10 PM
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islandgem Offline
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A dining room fee? Would that be a fee to eat-in as opposed to take-out? That fee really seems foolish and not at all creative! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Grin.gif" alt="" />Please give us more details if you have any.


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Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: Carol_Hill] #37658
02/02/2015 11:24 AM
02/02/2015 11:24 AM
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SXMSAMMY Offline OP
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It was posted on Tripadvisor that Kangaroo Court was charging a dining room fee, no matter what time you are there.....it was reported as late as Sept 2014....



Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37659
02/02/2015 11:27 AM
02/02/2015 11:27 AM
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Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
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What exactly is a dining room fee?? Do they charge a percentage of the check, or is it a flat fee? Per person? Per table?

All I can say is, "You have got to be kidding!"

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: GaKaye] #37660
02/02/2015 11:46 AM
02/02/2015 11:46 AM
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SXMSAMMY Offline OP
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"When the bill came we saw the "dining charge" that we though was unreasonable and when we went up to pay by credit card there was a signing on the cash register Sorry Credit Card Machine Broke." "We have been planning our upcoming trip to St. Maartin and was looking forward to revisiting Kangaroo Court as it had been very enjoyable in the past. We came here to see how it had been rated lately and was shocked to see they are now adding a "dining fee". Needless to say, we have taken Kangaroo Court off our list of places we will visit. If the owners feel they aren't making enough money, they should just raise the prices. To do it this way is deceitful and underhanded. They have lost our business. " "When leaving, we noticed a six dollar diming fee added to our check. We assumed it was gratuity as it was about 15% of our bill. When I questioned the waitress about it, she said it was not gratuity and she received no part of it. She said it all went to the owner of the business. She told me that we would have to add the gratuity in addition to the six dollar charge. I informed her that no other restaurant that I have visited in St. Maarten has pulled this stunt. I can easily afford that extra six dollars, but it's just this unscrupulous tactic to increase their profits that irritated me. I told them I would be leaving a review on Trip Advisor about this invented fee of theirs."



Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37661
02/02/2015 11:49 AM
02/02/2015 11:49 AM
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Sounds like another version of the "service charge that is not the gratuity" BS, as the person said it was around 15%. I would not patronize such an establishment.


Carol Hill
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37662
02/02/2015 11:49 AM
02/02/2015 11:49 AM
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OK, so it's the tip, and as usual, when asked, the waitstaff give the typical answer.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: GaKaye] #37663
02/02/2015 12:39 PM
02/02/2015 12:39 PM
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Sounds like a "cover charge". Those have been around forever at Bars (not ones in SXM).



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Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: GaKaye] #37664
02/02/2015 12:55 PM
02/02/2015 12:55 PM
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Massachusetts
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Quote
GaKaye said:
OK, so it's the tip, and as usual, when asked, the waitstaff give the typical answer.


I agree...that would be the tip and nothing else should be added. The Caribbean restaurant next to Lee's lists a "tax" of 15%...that was my tip

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: boucharda] #37665
02/02/2015 02:35 PM
02/02/2015 02:35 PM
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norwalk, ct
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To me it sounds as if we need more info. I am VERY concerned that this doesn't go to the waitstaff and if that's the case they are suffering for (being nice here) unscrupulous owners. If that is the case I would refuse to pay the charge and give my tip in cash directly to the waitstaff.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: Dansc] #37666
02/02/2015 02:39 PM
02/02/2015 02:39 PM
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As has been stated multiple times, SXM is not the US. Waitstaff are paid a living wage on the island, and do not rely on tips for their livelihood. If the owners of the restaurant are adding a service charge to their customers' checks, they are using that money to offset the cost of operating the restaurant, which includes paying their staff. If you want to reward your server for extraordinary service, then an additional tip in cash is certainly appropriate.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: GaKaye] #37667
02/02/2015 02:45 PM
02/02/2015 02:45 PM
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Exactly...and I would add it if it wasn't already added by the establishment. If it is already added (called it whatever you want) then that is that

Last edited by boucharda; 02/02/2015 02:46 PM.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: GaKaye] #37668
02/02/2015 02:48 PM
02/02/2015 02:48 PM
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Yes, but it also makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes. If an owner is trying to make up charges to the customers I would wonder what is being scrimped on in the kitchen. As something like this usually follows a pattern.

SXM??? Wendell

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: GaKaye] #37669
02/02/2015 02:54 PM
02/02/2015 02:54 PM
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islandgem Offline
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That is only true on the French side, Georgia. The Dutch side waiters are definitely not paid the same as on the French side. Kangaroo Court is on the Dutch side and they do count on tips to augment their salary.It would be good to know exactly what this dining charge is and if other places are charging it as well. If it is truly "the tip" in disguise, then no extra amount is required.


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Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37670
02/02/2015 03:41 PM
02/02/2015 03:41 PM
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Quote
SXMSAMMY said:
It was posted on Tripadvisor that Kangaroo Court was charging a dining room fee, no matter what time you are there.....it was reported as late as Sept 2014....


I have no idea if this is fact or fiction but considering the source (TripAdvisor), I would look further for clarification. I find a lot of questionable things posted there and think a lot of the "ratings", especially of restaurants are very misleading.

Perhaps someone on the island can check this out and give an accurate account and explanation. I will personally check it out in a few weeks if nobody else responds.

Any "fee" they might be charging would negate an additional tip in many cases.

I also wonder if this might not be an attempt to cover the Turnover Tax (TOT) that gets discussed on occasion.


J.D.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: ruralcarrier] #37671
02/02/2015 04:27 PM
02/02/2015 04:27 PM
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If an approximate amount of 15% is added to the bill-THAT IS THE TIP. It's too bad that the servers are hurt by that if they don't get it but I certainly am not paying 15% AND another 15% as a tip making an additional 30% to the menu prices. If this is the case, there servers need to work somewhere else. Feel bad for them-yes of course. But the alternative to not to eat out as many of us are doing these days.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: islandgem] #37672
02/02/2015 04:29 PM
02/02/2015 04:29 PM
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Sint Maarten
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Quote
islandgem said:
That is only true on the French side, Georgia. The Dutch side waiters are definitely not paid the same as on the French side. Kangaroo Court is on the Dutch side and they do count on tips to augment their salary.It would be good to know exactly what this dining charge is and if other places are charging it as well. If it is truly "the tip" in disguise, then no extra amount is required.


Absolutely true! The Dutch side staff minimum wage is barely survivable, or in reality is not. French side minimum wage and three times the Dutch side. In reality and in general, Dutch side add a tip like in the US (unless you see a service charge on the bill which they are not supposed to do) and on the French side tip according to extraordinary service only. 15 years experience and that is my take on it.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: islandgem] #37673
02/02/2015 04:37 PM
02/02/2015 04:37 PM
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Hunterdon County, NJ
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I agree, when we visited So French restaurant in December, there was a line on the electronic bill on a smart phone that added 15% and it was labeled "tax", we paid the amount of the bill but did not leave any additional because we thought this deceitful and we know there is no "tax" on the Dutch side

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: davidandsusannj] #37674
02/02/2015 04:42 PM
02/02/2015 04:42 PM
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Kangaroo Court- Sounds more like a Circus. I don't care to visit a Circus when I want to dine. Thanks for the Heads-Up on this place.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: o2bnsxm] #37675
02/02/2015 04:45 PM
02/02/2015 04:45 PM
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The place has been there for some time now and I believe was at one time owned and operated by a well-known local family. Not sure about now.


J.D.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37676
02/02/2015 05:08 PM
02/02/2015 05:08 PM
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SXMSAMMY Offline OP
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Well, a little twist maybe to whats going on.....It either was for sale or is for sale...... http://www.remaxislandproperties.com/kangaroo-court-restaurant-philipsburg-st-maarten



Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37677
02/02/2015 05:19 PM
02/02/2015 05:19 PM
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Carol_Hill Offline
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...along with probably 50% of the restaurants in SXM. Honestly, MANY MANY places are for sale, whether it is advertised publicly or not..


Carol Hill
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37678
02/02/2015 05:55 PM
02/02/2015 05:55 PM
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Quote
SXMSAMMY said:
Well, a little twist maybe to whats going on.....It either was for sale or is for sale...... http://www.remaxislandproperties.com/kangaroo-court-restaurant-philipsburg-st-maarten


What would that have to do with what you started the discussion about? Like Carol said, MANY restaurants are for sale. Make a reasonable offer and you can probably own a place.


J.D.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: ruralcarrier] #37679
02/02/2015 06:04 PM
02/02/2015 06:04 PM
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Maybe it is under new management and they decided to add the dining fee.....did u ever think of that, or maybe the current owner is trying to boost the books or make some additional $$$ before the new owner takes over......there might be a correlation and then maybe not....



Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: ruralcarrier] #37680
02/02/2015 06:06 PM
02/02/2015 06:06 PM
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This service charge is a thorn in my side and the best way to deal with it is to eat elsewhere. Specifically tell the owner or manager you will not visit until the service charge is removed. Entering the charge on the tax line is just plain sleazy. In Venice you had to ask about service charges which in some instances were $10-$20 pp.Many restaurants had signs in front "no service charge here"

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37681
02/02/2015 06:28 PM
02/02/2015 06:28 PM
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Ok, I went on TripAdvisor and read through the "reviews". There is mention of the added charge going back at least as far as Dec. 2012 so it is nothing new.

Most of the comments indicate it approximates to 15% of the bill and when asked, the servers seem to know little about it. Which is how almost all act when asked about a "SERVICE CHARGE" or any related tax or additional charge. It was referred to as a "dining fee", "dining charge" and another mention of an added charge on a credit card.

Bottom line, based on what the servers are telling people and the fact it appears to be 15%, it is just another way of duping people into tipping more. They can call it what they like but that is what they are doing IMHO.

Since this has been going on for 2+ years, it debunks the theory that being for sale has anything to do with the charge.


J.D.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: boucharda] #37682
02/02/2015 06:43 PM
02/02/2015 06:43 PM
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Manhattan
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weeks5051 Online content
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It is my opinion that the fastest way to alienate customers is to charge extra fees that are not only not announced first but fees that have never been heard of. I wouldn't pay a fee to enter a department store and I certainly wouldn't patronize a restaurant that charges a fee just to eat there.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: ruralcarrier] #37683
02/02/2015 07:47 PM
02/02/2015 07:47 PM
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SXMSAMMY Offline OP
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JD, do you have first hand knowledge that this is not related to a sale in any way, as you sure do sound like there is no relationship at all? Where are your facts to debunk this? Maybe the new owners, if there are, are continuing the same practice? I went there back in 2013 and didn't have that charge on my bill.



Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37684
02/02/2015 08:11 PM
02/02/2015 08:11 PM
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ruralcarrier Offline
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I have no more knowledge that it is or is not related than you other than if it was going on back in 2012 it would have nothing to do with a real estate listing today.

In over 20+ years of visiting SXM and 40 trips to the island I have only had ONE (1) server, waiter, waitress, manager or owner that I have personally asked about a tip, gratuity, service charge (call it whatever) be honest with me.

I usually do not ask as I don't want the misleading BS I am almost sure to get. When asked about ANY additional charge it is almost certain the person being asked will mislead a tourist. A dining charge is just another way to hide a service charge and mislead people.


J.D.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: ruralcarrier] #37685
02/02/2015 10:19 PM
02/02/2015 10:19 PM
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Do Europeans typically tip, any amount, at a restaurant?

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: whitesands] #37686
02/02/2015 10:41 PM
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Yes and no. With respect to the French specifically, there is no such thing as a tip. Personally, I think it's semantics but it's called a pourboire and is usually the equivalent to a few coins but not expected.

ps Just for clarification. My comments were based on someone dining on French soil and wasn't meant to infer they wouldn't act accordingly to tipping customs in other countries. Additionally, I'm sure you know the OP was referring to a restaurant on the Dutch side which is an entirely different ballgame as previously stated.

Last edited by SandyandBill; 02/02/2015 11:01 PM.
Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: weeks5051] #37687
02/03/2015 07:38 AM
02/03/2015 07:38 AM
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Quote
weeks5051 said:
It is my opinion that the fastest way to alienate customers is to charge extra fees that are not only not announced first but fees that have never been heard of. I wouldn't pay a fee to enter a department store and I certainly wouldn't patronize a restaurant that charges a fee just to eat there.


As I said previously it doesn't bother me in the least...call it whatever you want but any added fee approximating 15% is the tip and that is that.

It is a deceptive practice geared towards those who MUST leave additional monies regardless of what is written on the bill...add 15% automatically? Thank you and have a nice day...

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMWendell] #37688
02/03/2015 07:56 AM
02/03/2015 07:56 AM
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SXMWendell said:
Yes, but it also makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes. If an owner is trying to make up charges to the customers I would wonder what is being scrimped on in the kitchen. As something like this usually follows a pattern.

This past December, my wife and I dined at a Dutch-side restaurant that we visit on each trip. Upon recognizing us, our waitress whispered that the tip should be given directly to her, adding that the owner doesn't share tips. At this restaurant, the owner personally prepares and collects the checks. First time in 30+ years that I've come across this.

SXM??? Wendell

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: CaribJoe] #37689
02/03/2015 04:07 PM
02/03/2015 04:07 PM
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E Yaphank L.I.
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sunmantwo Offline
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Joe, if there's a 15% charge on your check then the waitress is trying to scam you for a larger tip. If there isn't a 15% charge I would tip her in cash personally.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: sunmantwo] #37690
02/04/2015 07:37 AM
02/04/2015 07:37 AM
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Long Island, New York
CaribJoe Offline
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In this instance there was not a 15% service charge added to the bill.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: weeks5051] #37691
02/04/2015 08:01 AM
02/04/2015 08:01 AM
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DC Area and sliding southward
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Quote
weeks5051 said:
It is my opinion that the fastest way to alienate customers is to charge extra fees that are not only not announced first but fees that have never been heard of. I wouldn't pay a fee to enter a department store and I certainly wouldn't patronize a restaurant that charges a fee just to eat there.


I can't say this sort of fee is completely unheard of. I have been to a number of restaurants in Europe that charge a nominal ($5 or so) fee for "table charge", "tablecloth," "bread charge," etc.

That said, I have not specifically heard of such a charge on St. Maarten, with the exception of a restaurant or two that place cushions/tablecloths on their daytime patio furniture and jack prices up in the evening <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Wink.gif" alt="" />

Anyway, I have no personal issue with the practice as long as there is clear signage near the entry and/or on the menu. I then have the choice to eat (or not eat) there before the awkward situation comes up when an additional charge appears on the bill.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: dane] #37692
02/04/2015 11:16 AM
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Computerwise Offline
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It's insane the number of ways restaurants will slip in extra charges. My wife and I took our 2 teenage sons to Europe to experience life and culture in other countries. Dining was always an adventure, extra meals added to the bill, extra drinks, table charges, unitemized bill that was 30 pct more. Some are more subtle but legal. Meals listed on chalkboard say at 20E, not bad, but a coke was 10E. Also beware of the 5% tax tax some restaurants add in St.Maarten and asked to have it removed, as there is no 5% tax. Also condo renters, the tax is 5% not 9 or 10 or 11% that some companies charge.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: Computerwise] #37693
02/04/2015 11:32 AM
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 556
Sounds like the same sort of "unbundling" fee schedule which has been plaguing the airline industry for a while now, and not really a surprise. As long as consumers myopically focus on one set of numbers rather than over-all value businesses will have to come up with "creative" ways to make up costs.

Re: Dining fee charge on bill and not a [Re: SXMSAMMY] #37694
02/04/2015 11:52 AM
02/04/2015 11:52 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 65
I
ilovesxm23 Offline
Traveler
ilovesxm23  Offline
Traveler
I
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 65
I ran into a similar situation a couple of years ago at the now defunct Satara across from Pineapple Pete's. When the bill came, 15% had been added on a line that said "tax" - the bill was $70 and $10.50 had been added for a total of $80.50. I tipped the waitress an appropriate amount in cash and then gave her $70 for the bill. I told her that I had lived/traveled to SXM for more than 20 years and that she should explain to the manager that I was paying only the bill and not the tax as that was not legal in SXM. I offered to speak with the manager and told her to explain that if the manager wished to call the police for me, I would be sitting at my table finishing my wine. The young lady came back saying the manager would accept the $70 because she didn't want me to leave "unhappy." Later, several friends told me about charges there for "tax" or "breakage fees" or overcharges for food/drinks. Satara didn't last long.

I don't know what the story at Kangaroo Court was (I have had so many horrible experiences there, they've been off my list for years), but the lesson is to watch your bill and don't be afraid to question. Scams like these are run as an odds based game. If you try to screw someone 100 times, and 90 times you get away with it, it's profitable. Only by being vigilant will you be part of the 10 and not part of the 90 and only by spreading the word will the 10 increase to 90 and the nonsense will stop.

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