When did gratuity become a requirement? I'm not suggesting you quit tipping your waiters and waitresses but isn't a tip something that is earned? Shouldn't it be based on the service received and not something tacked onto your bill because you decided to dine with a friend or your family and your party went from 4 to 8?
I recently had dinner at Olive Garden. There were 5 adults and 3 children at our table. Our waitress was absent. We had to flag her over after about 15 minutes sitting at our table. We had an empty chair and she thought someone would be joining us so she was waiting for them to arrive. We were not. Drinks? Refills? A wrong order? It wasn't even worth complaining over. Although, I do have a problem with waitresses not writing down large orders and then getting them wrong. If you can do it, more power to you! But I have a hard time being understanding of a simple mistake if you didn't take the time to write it down in the first place! But the biggy came at the end of the meal, after barely making so much as an appearance at our table, she gives herself a 20% tip for her service.
I found out afterward that you can actually decline the gratuity added on to your bill if you so choose to. I found this out because I called the restaurant and told them about my dining experience. And, although, it wasn't completely horrible, it wasn't completely wonderful either. And, had I not been so offended by the tip she offered herself, I most likely wouldn't have said anything at all.
Does a large party give a waitress an excuse to do a poor job and should she still be rewarded with a large tip, despite the service she provides? I just don't think so. And, the manger at the Olive Garden didn't either. She offered my family a free meal the next time we come in - for all 8 of us!
The food was good, as always but service says a lot about a restaurant and this manager got a big thumbs up in my book!