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Thread: Pelican Nest - BEWARE of Deceptive Service Charge Practices

  1. #1
    Senior Member mmattalo's Avatar
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    Angry Pelican Nest - BEWARE of Deceptive Service Charge Practices

    I have always enjoyed a casual lunch at Pelicans Nest on those beach days when we just want to hang out in our swim suits - today was no exception. My wife and I brought 3 friends who are visiting with us to enjoy the breeze, a grilled mahi-mahi sandwich, and a cold Amstel Bright.

    When our bill arrived, I took notice of the big black stamp indicating "TIP NOT INCLUDED" . . . but upon further examination, noticed there was actually a 15% service charge already added to the bill. Thinking it was an error, I asked Ricardo, the manager, to explain it to me, and he could not quite differentiate to my satisfaction between a TIP and a SERVICE CHARGE. As hard as he tried to say they are different, he could not. He then resorted to saying "all restaurants do . . . but he should know better as we are very frequent visitors to the island (6-7 visits and 12-14 weeks per year pretty much making us locals ) . . . and no other restaurant we visit does this - it is deceptive and wrong!

    For us, personally, we are done with Pelican's Nest since I cannot support an establishment that lies to its customers and engages in deceptive practices. I would encourages others to consider the same.

    For readers of this forum, beware and read your bill carefully. I am a big fan of tipping . . . and we are very generous for exceptional service. I just don't see how a business can think they can get away with this without risking serious risk to their reputation.

    Michael

    P.S. also, keep in mind that I am pretty sure the grilled mahi-mahi was indeed not mahi-mahi, but grouper . . . we like both, but would suggest that this restaurant may want to inform customers if there is anything different being served than what is written on the menu . . .

  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    here is a thread from 2+ yrs ago. click below.

    15% service charge or not

    .........and, they served mahi instead of grouper?!?! not even close.
    maybe that was just a mistake.

    there are other restaurants that have a service charge and insist it is not a tip in any way, shape or form.
    Quote Originally Posted by mmattalo View Post
    I have always enjoyed a casual lunch at Pelicans Nest on those beach days when we just want to hang out in our swim suits - today was no exception. My wife and I brought 3 friends who are visiting with us to enjoy the breeze, a grilled mahi-mahi sandwich, and a cold Amstel Bright.

    When our bill arrived, I took notice of the big black stamp indicating "TIP NOT INCLUDED" . . . but upon further examination, noticed there was actually a 15% service charge already added to the bill. Thinking it was an error, I asked Ricardo, the manager, to explain it to me, and he could not quite differentiate to my satisfaction between a TIP and a SERVICE CHARGE. As hard as he tried to say they are different, he could not. He then resorted to saying "all restaurants do . . . but he should know better as we are very frequent visitors to the island (6-7 visits and 12-14 weeks per year pretty much making us locals ) . . . and no other restaurant we visit does this - it is deceptive and wrong!

    For us, personally, we are done with Pelican's Nest since I cannot support an establishment that lies to its customers and engages in deceptive practices. I would encourages others to consider the same.

    For readers of this forum, beware and read your bill carefully. I am a big fan of tipping . . . and we are very generous for exceptional service. I just don't see how a business can think they can get away with this without risking serious risk to their reputation.

    Michael

    P.S. also, keep in mind that I am pretty sure the grilled mahi-mahi was indeed not mahi-mahi, but grouper . . . we like both, but would suggest that this restaurant may want to inform customers if there is anything different being served than what is written on the menu . . .

  3. #3
    Senior Member ~Amy~'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    .........and, they served mahi instead of grouper?!?! not even close.
    maybe that was just a mistake.
    I believe it was the other way around since grouper is the less expensive fish of the two. Definitely a huge difference between the two - for me, yes to mahi-mahi (more flavorful and meaty) but if they tried to substitute it with grouper, I would be hopping mad. (And I would not have paid a dime over the 15% service charge if they added "Tip not included" on the bill.)
    ~Amy~ - 35th trip to Aruba: New Years Eve 2017/2018 -- Zihuatanejo, MX: March 2018 -- Ireland: June/July 2018 -- 36th trip to Aruba: Sept. 2018




  4. #4
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    Aruba is a wonderful place, but we never said there weren't any irritants. The whole tipping/service charge thing is probably the biggest irritant of all for Canadians and Americans.

    Like others, I wouldn't have given a tip if the bill had a service charge on it, no matter how big the "Tip Not Included" stamp was. It sounds like a restaurant owner is trying to nickel and dime his customers; a sure-fire way to oblivion in an already over-heated and over-supplied dining scene.

    Hopefully what mmatllo experienced was an isolated incident. If, in fact, it is being practiced at other restaurants then Aruba has a potential problem on its hands.

    A word to Aruba restaurant owners; you have a generally loyal customer base in your North American visitors. Many of us have been coming to Aruba for years. The dining scene is what makes an Aruba vacation so great. So much variety in terms of type, quality and price. Please don't turn us off by trying to nickel and dime us.

    Deception only works in the short term and in the end it is really only your employees who who suffer when it runs it's full course. People stop coming to your restaurant, then who cares about a service charge?

    Second note to Aruba restaurant owners, and what precipitated this thread in the first place; if there is a difference between the service charge and a tip, please tell us what it is.


    Glenn

  5. #5
    Senior Member corona's Avatar
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    From the thread Andrea linked, it appears that the 15% service charge may or may not be being shared with the waitstaff depending on the restaurant. Being that Aruba depends on tourism and people from some countries may not understand the tip system, I can understand adding a base tip to insure the waitstaff gets paid.

    Personally, I wouldn't be troubled by the 15% service charge as long as it was stated upfront on the menu, unless: 1. the service was terrible or 2. as in the original post, my bill was stamped Tip Not Included. In the case of having tip not included and a 15% service charge, I'd probably leave the extra 5% I would have anyway, but mark that restaurant off my list. If the service was terrible, I wouldn't leave anything in addition to my bill and also not return.

    Also, as Glenn mentioned, I'd be interested in reading from restaurant owners who add the SC with the Tip Not Included stamp why they add a SC rather than increase the prices on their menu 15%. It seems a deceptive practice to me and a way to appear price competitive when in reality their prices are 15% higher.
    No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem
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  6. #6
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    a service charge is just that, a charge for service. there is no difference between a service charge and a tip. the key word in that is "service". the only "service" you receive in a restaurant is your waitstaff person. Just like corona said, I usually leave 20% so regardless of whether "tip not included" is written on the check but "service charge" is, they would get an additional 5% if I liked the service. if not, then I guess they get "nothing" or whatever the added "service charge" is.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shelly's Avatar
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    We had our very last meal at Pelicans Nest in October. Our waitress hand wrote on the bottom "tip not included". The menu did say Service Charge included. When I asked her the difference, she said the owner splits the sc between himself, the cooks, and bartenders. Good thing there are so many other wonderful restaraunts in Aruba, because I wont give my business to one who does this

  8. #8
    Senior Member jeffnev's Avatar
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    I actually think there is a real difference in many cases between a service charge and a tip. We spent 2 weeks in Italy this fall where it is customary for the restaurant to add a "cuperto" or cover/service charge to the bill. We read about this before we went, but were confused as to where the money went. We questioned a few waiters and waitresses when we saw it on the bill and they told us the "cuperto" went directly to the restaurant owner and specifically was not given to the waitstaff. Although I'm not sure if this is true in Aruba, I would ask the manager or waiter when you see a service charge on the bill what it is for. I wouldn't be surprised if none of it was ever seen by the waiter. Also, it should be clearly stated on the menu that they are adding a service charge or I would demand that it be removed from my bill. I know we have rarely seen a service charge added to our bill in Aruba and it has always been clearly stated in advance when we have seen it.

  9. #9
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    well all i can say is if it says service charge, i consider that a tip and like i said, i always give 20% so if the service charge is 15%, then i leave an additional 5%. maybe the waiters need a union, lol. but basically that means you add 30 to 35% to the bill. that's ridiculous. like someone said, i'd be happier if they just raised their price the 15% and don't insult me. i'm not tipping the owner.

    i never saw that in Italy. They do add a service charge if you want to sit outside and pretty much people watch because they figure you'll pay it. you can choose to sit inside and you don't pay that charge. sometimes we paid it and sat outside, other times we sat inside and were not charged that "service charge".

  10. #10
    Senior Member SanNic44's Avatar
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    The old service charge issue rears its ugly head one more time.

    Well, when I go to the Hollywood or JoAnn Snack or Casa Vieja or many of the other downscale places I enjoy, there's no such thing as a service charge and tips are not really expected either. I do tip in these places because they generally perform at or above expectations without the "TIP NOT INCLUDED" glaring at me as some sort of guilt trip or ploy to game another 15% percent out of me.

    Truth be told, during my last stay in Aruba, there were several disappointing experiences at restaurants that were very reliable in the past. So, I'm lifting my ban on bad/mediocre reviews. The cookie will crumble where it does, good, bad, or otherwise. Prices at the upscale places now are at or above New York City and in that city I've NEVER been told there is a service charge (unless a table of 6 or more) and "TIP NOT INCLUDED."

    So, step up to the plate Aruba restauranteurs. You want to charge like NYC, then I hope you're that good or better. And if you are, I'll say so. If not, I'll say that, too. After all, you earned it!

    Bon dia!
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