A potential guest was browsing the website of a popular Sydney restaurant before making a reservation, but something in the fine print put him off.

Below the section promising the diner “sweet tea on arrival” was a note advising that a 10 per cent gratuity would be added to their bill at NOLA Restaurant in Barangaroo.

The Reddit user shared online screenshots from the NOLA restaurant's website and a customer review, with one saying the tipping fee was optional and the other marking it as mandatory.

The prospective guest shared a screenshot of the website calling the tipping fee “discretionary,” alongside a customer review in which the owner of the NOLA restaurant called it “mandatory.” Source: Reddit/intrasonic

The disgruntled guest took to social media and expressed his frustration, noting that the fee labeled “discretionary” on the website had been exposed as mandatory, according to the restaurant’s response to an online review.

Another part of the response said that the additional fee is a way to “compensate” staff and will be used to “ensure that all staff are fairly compensated for their work”.

“I was considering eating here until I saw this nonsense,” they wrote.

The NOLA restaurant answers

After Yahoo News Australia reached out to the Louisiana-inspired restaurant for comment, NOLA general manager Clement Martin said the word “mandatory” was misused in the customer review and that it was optional.

“This fee has always been discretionary, as you will see from all copies of our website and all customer communications at the restaurant,” said Clement Martin, general manager of NOLA, sharing changes being made to the online review.

“Because this is discretionary, guests can always request that this be removed from their bill.”

Mr. Martin went on to share this opt-out tipping system put in place during the pandemic to reward workers during “tough economic times” but noted that not all of the money accumulated went to their employees, with 1 .5 percent was used for credit card fees.

NOLA’s online menus state that a 10% optional tip applies to all table service, but the bar menu’s drink menus stated that “a 10% service charge applies to all transactions.” This was changed on Wednesday, with all menus now reading service charges and tips at their discretion.

Tipping is common in U.S. restaurants, where employees derive most of their income from tips from customers. However, Australian hospitality workers earn a living wage and do not have to rely heavily on people’s generosity, although wages vary from venue to venue.

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