Service charge

“Do I have to tip extra if establishments are already adding a service charge to the bill?”

photo of erin

“Dear Popville,

I wanted to get hold of the hive mind. Last week I was at Dacha with friends and I was paying my bill. The server came over and informed me that there was an additional 20% service charge taken from the bill so the restaurant could pay the staff $15 an hour. Although he didn’t let us know before paying my bill, in theory I have no problem with it. I was a server before and I think tipped employees deserve way more than they get. He returned the Clover and presented me with a screen which then gave me the option to tip. I asked him if the 20% service charge was in lieu of a tip and he told me it was not. He explained that the service charge is split between the staff and the tip would go directly to him.

I ended up tipping him before we left, but was told by members of my group that I shouldn’t have because the service charge was, in essence, a tip for the restaurant. I noticed a lot of places are adding tip screens where none existed before (and some pre-set tip percentages as high as 35%) so I wasn’t sure if that was what was going on here.

Should I tip extra if places already add a service charge to the bill? Wouldn’t it be easier to raise the prices and explain why they are a bit higher? I would completely cut out tipping if I had my druthers. But because I don’t have a druther, I’m looking for a verdict. Does anyone know how to analyze this post-covid “tip but not really” world of dining out?