Know your consumer rights in Mexico: Is it legal for restaurants to include the tip?

When asking a waiter for your bill, you may find a service fee has been included in your total amount due. This is the equivalent of a tip, which is usually given to waiters for the good service they offer.

However, many times it is included in the final total of a bill, is this legal?

The Federal Consumer Attorney’s Office (Profeco) is an agency in charge of defending consumer rights, and as such, highlights that restaurants, bars, canteens, or any other establishment, are not authorized to include a tip because it is voluntary. “This is a voluntary gratuity and cannot be included in a bill without the consumer’s consent,” explains the agency. Due to this, if any establishment adds a tip to your bill, it would be violating the rights of the consumer, and it can be reported to the authority.

Another important piece of information to know is that there is no minimum tip amount because although it is customary to leave 10% of the total bill in Mexico, Profeco adds that “you decide if you want to tip and you set the amount, the business cannot tell you what your tip needs to be”.

The only obligation that the consumer has is to pay for the items consumed, and if YOU consider that the consumption warrants it, you can leave the amount you choose as a tip. A restaurant may include a ‘recommended tip’ amount on the bill, but that should not be included in the total amount due.

The issue of tips is part of complex social problems because, on the one hand, they are part of the income of people who provide services in various establishments, not only food, they are also of great importance for those who work as baggers in shopping centers, supermarkets, hotels, gas stations, parking lots, car washes, etc.

However, as a bad practice, there are places that have normalized it as part of the salary of the people who work there and not as an extra. They have also resorted to demanding a percentage of tips from their employees.

What to do if an establishment wants to force me to pay a tip?

You must be very clear that there is no legal remedy to force you to pay a specific amount as a tip, even if it is justified with arguments such as “it is house policy”, so if this happens, ask the waiter to remove the charge, or ask to speak to the manager or the person in charge of the place to notify them of the abuse and that it is an illegal charge.

Article 10 of the Federal Consumer Law supports you since it establishes that: “It is forbidden for any supplier of goods or services to carry out actions that threaten the freedom or personal safety or integrity of consumers under the pretext of searching or investigating [ …] Suppliers may not apply coercive and unfair commercial methods or practices, nor abusive or imposed clauses or conditions in the supply of products or services. Likewise, they may not provide additional services to those originally contracted that have not been expressly requested or accepted, in writing or electronically, by the consumer.”

Profeco points out that the mandatory tip must be reported and there are several ways to do so: you can send a private message through its official Twitter or Facebook, or email [email protected], or by calling 55556887222. The complaint must mention the following data of the establishment: Business name and full address (number, street, neighborhood, municipality, state, and zip code).

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