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Food and Cakes

Catering Tips vs. mystery "service charge"

I am in the process of getting quotes from caterers. I have noticed down at the bottom of the estimates a couple of the caterers have listed the 18% gratuity and included it in the estimate. The past three caterers to send me quotes have a "service charge" listed at the bottom. this "service charge" happens to be between 18% and 20% of the estimate. I have asked those caterers if that is the gratuity and all three have said, "no" they do not add gratuity to their estimates.
  Aside from telling me it is not gratuity, they will not give me a direct answer as to what this service charge is for. I am all for tipping above and beyond for good service, but I feel like they are trying to double dip for tips and i feel a bit put off by it. Does anyone have any experience with this or advise? For what is it worth all of the caterers I am talking with are well reviewed here and other wedding sites.

Re: Catering Tips vs. mystery "service charge"

  • kking1982 said:
    I am in the process of getting quotes from caterers. I have noticed down at the bottom of the estimates a couple of the caterers have listed the 18% gratuity and included it in the estimate. The past three caterers to send me quotes have a "service charge" listed at the bottom. this "service charge" happens to be between 18% and 20% of the estimate. I have asked those caterers if that is the gratuity and all three have said, "no" they do not add gratuity to their estimates.
      Aside from telling me it is not gratuity, they will not give me a direct answer as to what this service charge is for. I am all for tipping above and beyond for good service, but I feel like they are trying to double dip for tips and i feel a bit put off by it. Does anyone have any experience with this or advise? For what is it worth all of the caterers I am talking with are well reviewed here and other wedding sites.
    No way, no how, would I do business with a company that would not explain to me what I was getting charged for.  Ask them for a direct answer, if they cannot give it to you move on to the next.
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    grumbledore
  • Service charges are usually for the setup fees, setup time at the catering location before coming to your venue etc. It doesn't go to the servers/bartenders that work the event. Usually caterers leave gratuity off so you can decide what to tip. But I agree with the above statement that if they can't give you a direct answer then I wouldn't do business with them. 
  • Yeah, I dealt with the same thing.  I was told what the PP said though, set up fees, etc.  I honestly just think it's a way for them to get extra money, but I just worked it into the price per person.
  • The setup fees and whatnot should all be part of your 'whole bill'.  It should be included in the price you pay for your food, etc. I work at a venue that does weddings and I have never heard of a 'service charge'.  There's a gratuity (totally optional) but WTF is this charge?  They're right, if they can't answer it, I would move on and find someone who isn't trying to potentially screw you out of your hard-earned dough.
  • Thank you all for the responses. I agree that all "operating fees" should be calculated into the price per person. I am going to try to steer clear of the companies charging a "service fee".
  • We are paying an 18% service fee and 9% tax..... its common in my area.
    kmmssg
  • We also had an 18% service fee added to the contract... it covered delivery, set up, etc. and was not a gratuity. 
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    @adh0906 and @coleengilhooly both posted what was in our contract
  • I agree it should be included in the price per person rather than tacked on at the end.  I don't mind automatically added gratuity - it's no different than what would be added for a large party at a restaurant.  The caterer I am looking at adds a 15% gratuity and of course taxes at 7%.  But no "service charge."

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