San Jose Vietnamese restaurant’s ‘automatic 18% service charge’ for solo diner goes viral

Alex Harsha
Alex HarshaSep 23, 2023, 5:21 AM
San Jose Vietnamese restaurant's 'automatic 18% service charge’ for solo diner goes viral


A Reddit user was recently shocked after seeing that the Vietnamese restaurant they dined at automatically billed them for a service charge on their receipt.

Key details: Reddit user u/TRTL2k shared a picture of their receipt from Vietnamese restaurant Pho Ha Noi in Cuptertino, California, on the subreddit r/mildlyinfuriating on Sept. 13. The post has received over 24,000 upvotes and more than 4,900 comments since it was first shared.

What happened: The picture shows that the Reddit user was automatically billed an 18% service charge, which is presumably the establishment’s policy, as can be read on the bottom of the receipt: “18% Service Charge Included. For parties of one or larger, a(sic) 18% gratuity is applied automatically. If you have any questions, please speak with a manager.”

How much they paid: The total amount u/TRTL2k paid for their meal was only $49.50, but because of the sales tax, which is listed at 9.125% ($4.52) and the 18% service charge ($8.91), the Reddit user had to cough up a total of $62.93, which was $13.43 more than their meal.

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Surprised by the receipt: In the post, u/TRTL2k noted that they have “seen restaurants include gratuity when it’s a large party but never for parties of one.”

How people reacted: Many Reddit users criticized the establishment for its automatic billing of a service fee, with the top comment, which has received over 9,500 upvotes, reading, “For parties of 1 or larger? What a convoluted way of saying everybody is charged 18%.”

Just leave them a 1 star review on google,” another Reddit user advised, “I did that after getting a huge gratuity added to my bill without my knowledge.”

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It was on the menu: One picture shared by a Yelp user shows that the 18% service charge was printed on the restaurant’s menu. The picture was uploaded on Jan. 7.

The text explaining the policy read in part: “18% service charge will be automatically added. The service charge is not gratuity, but is used in part to increase our employee’s wages, and to cover other employee-related costs and health insurance.”

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    Alex Harsha
    Alex Harsha

    Alex Harsha is a full-time writer.Before becoming a full-time writer, Alex was a public school teacher. He teaches writing workshops to children and adults. Lives in Connecticut & Works on next novel.

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