Cheesecake Factory Lawsuit Will Make You Question Suggested Tip Amounts

When restaurants print the suggested gratuity at the bottom of a receipt, it can be helpful for everyone.

It saves diners from calculating complicated percentages on a full stomach, and it makes sure the service staff is adequately tipped for their work. Everyone leaves happy.

That is, until restaurants start gaming the system and leaving their customers feeling cheated.

That’s how a Cheesecake Factory customer felt after she realized incorrect percentages were being printed on receipts, BuzzFeed News reported.

Now the restaurant chain is facing a class-action lawsuit.

This Lawsuit Says the Chain’s Suggested Tip Is Wildly Inflated

The lawsuit was filed after Marcel Goldman, a Cheesecake Factory customer, says she split the bill with a friend. Goldman’s share of the bill was $38.50, and the receipt broke down the suggested gratuity like this:

  • 15% — $11.55
  • 18% — $13.86
  • 20% — $15.40
  • 22% — $16.94

Goldman tipped the amount listed for 20%, which is what we suggest you tip servers at sit-down restaurants in our Ultimate Guide to Tipping.

The problem is that $15.40 was not actually 20% of her half of the check; it was 20% of the total check. That meant Goldman, trusting what was printed on her receipt, ended up tipping twice as much as she meant to tip.

The practice of printing suggested gratuity amounts for the full check on split checks happens at 200 Cheesecake Factory locations and the chain’s 13 Grand Lux Cafe locations nationwide, according to the lawsuit.

While Goldman says she’s not asking for hardworking service industry professionals to be paid less, she and her attorney want restaurants to be honest with customers who dine with them.

“Consumers should be aware,” Goldman’s attorney, Julian Hammond, told BuzzFeed News. “Why are we left to our own devices to do arithmetic acrobatics when the suggested gratuity represented is not true? The mathematic calculation is misleading. It must end; it needs to change.”

Cheesecake Factory’s Tip Math Has Been Questioned Before

Cheesecake Factory has been called out for its creative tip calculation in the past, BuzzFeed News reports.

Customers have called the company out on Twitter for printing tip calculations based on check totals after tax rather than the pretax subtotal. Customers thought this practice was also misleading.

Here’s what Cheesecake Factory spokesperson Alethea Rowe had to say about the math on their receipts.

“​All gratuity amounts listed on our guest checks are suggestions only,” Rowe said. “Guests are free to tip as they please. We believe our guests appreciate service provided by our hardworking staff and tip accordingly.​”​

The lesson here: Tip your wait staff well, but do your own math.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.