This lawsuit claims that Cheesecake Factory is duping people into tipping too much

Cheesecake Factory - Oklahoma City
Flickr | Wesley Fryer

You already know The Cheesecake Factory as a place to go for humongous portions. But, now, a lawsuit alleges the restaurant chain has also been dishing out some oversized “suggested tip amounts.”

Over the past several years, many restaurants have been lending a hand with the math, printing the suggested tip amount at the bottom of receipts.

We’ve all seen them—they’re usually listed above or below the total. Typically these suggested gratuities include several tipping points in the range of 15 to 22 percent.

But now that practice is at the center of the lawsuit that’s been filed against the Cheesecake Factory by a customer who says he was duped by the restaurant chain into tipping an exorbitant amount, according to Buzzfeed News.

Flickr | m01229

The plaintiff is Marcel Goldman, who mistakenly double tipped on a meal at the Cheesecake Factory, when she split the bill with another diner.

While Goldman’s portion of the bill totaled $38.50, she left a $15.40 tip as it was suggested by the receipt that this would translate to 20 percent, bringing the bill total to $53.90. But, then she realized, she actually tipped 40 percent.

Here’s what the receipt suggested for her $38.50 tab.

  • 15 percent, $11.55
  • 18 percent, $13.86
  • 20 percent, $15.40
  • 22 percent, $16.94

It turns out the suggested gratuity factored in the whole bill, not just Goldman’s individual share of the bill.

This is a cautionary tale for consumers, says Goldman’s attorney Julian Hammond, as more restaurants are printing suggested gratuities on receipts.

“Why are we left to our own devices to do arithmetic acrobatics when the suggested gratuity represented is not true?” Hammond told Buzzfeed News.

Cheesecake Factory Says Tips Are Suggested

Of course, as with any lawsuit, there are always two (or more) sides to every story.

In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for The Cheesecake Factory sent an e-mailed statement to Delish saying all gratuity amounts listed on guest checks are suggestions only.

“Guests are free to tip as they please,” the statement says. “We believe our guests appreciate service provided by our hardworking staff and tip accordingly.”

But, the lawsuit alleges that The Cheesecake Factory has been deceiving customers at its 200-plus locations, as well as the 13 locations that operate as the Grand Lux Cafe. The claim also states that other customers have complained online about errors in the “suggested gratuity” calculations.

As an example, Twitter user Harvey Brofman tweeted two years ago that the company was calculating its suggested tip amounts on post-tax amounts, which he claims is not standard.


Not to sound too much like your middle-school math teacher, but the lesson here? Always double check the math!

About the Author

Brittany Anas

Brittany has contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. More.

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