Are Disney Waiters using dirty trick to encourage large tips?

Let me say up front that Walt Disney World’s dining situation has some serious problems. Among them are: ridiculously reduced menu options, extra-ordinarily high prices (pay $8 for a child’s meal recently?), a reservation system that requires you to plan 6 months ahead, confusing dining plan options, and weird rules that can leave the server staff holding the short end of the stick when it comes to tips. So when I read this blog post over on AllEarsNet today I cannot say I was shocked.

Disney blogger Jack writes about using his Disney Dining Experience card. A card that gives the holder and up to 5 guests a 20% discount off the food and drink costs at most sit-down restaurants on WDW property. Beginning this year an 18% gratuity is being automatically added to the check when the DDE card is used.

I wanted to give all of you who use this card a friendly “heads up.” I have used my DDE card four times since the beginning of the year. On every occasion, the server has NOT informed me that the gratuity has been added. Instead, I’m presented with three pieces of paper. The original, itemized bill. A second, itemized receipt that also displays the discount and the tip. And a final draft that ONLY has the total and a place to add a tip and sign my name.

When the itemized bill that displays the tip is hidden the extra blank spot for a tip could cause the diner to inadvertently leave a second tip on the bill. Jack’s experience was seconded by Allearnet Deb Wills.

Part of me is sympathetic to the server who is currently getting screwed by the sad situation with the Disney Dining Plan where the gratuity is no longer included in the package. This has led to server after server getting a small tip or no tip at all when the irate diner is presented with a check for what he thought was a pre-paid meal.

This situation was created by Disney’s dining management team and needs to be resolved immediately. It’s not fair to put the server, and the guest, in the middle of this situation. Either include the gratuity in the dining meal plan and raise the price or get rid of the program. I’d prefer they just get rid of the program since it has led to restaurants dumbing down their menus, inflating prices, and to poor service as servers can no longer count on a tip for their service.

As for the bit of trickery used to encourage double-tipping by guests. This is not a practice isolated to Disney by any means. Disney could take care of the situation immediately by making sure that the final bill for signature shows the included 18% gratuity instead of a blank spot.