Authorities are urging residents and visitors in Cancun to report restaurants that automatically include a tip in the bill – an increasingly common practice that is illegal under Mexican law. While eating out in Cancun is generally affordable, some restaurants have been reported to add a hidden service charge of up to 15% to customers’ bills.
One of the top reasons to visit Cancun is to get a taste of its vibrant food scene. The city is home to a surprising number of restaurants, both Mexican and international. Lately, some establishments have been making headlines over an illegal practice: automatically charging customers for tips.
Restaurant associations have recently pointed out that tipping is not obligatory in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean. Although tipping is expected in certain countries such as the United States, doing so in Cancun is voluntary. Instead, clients should provide a gratuity for good service and food.
The National Chamber for Restaurants, Canirac, recently published a statement in which it warned diners over restaurants that automatically include a tip in the bill. Sometimes, restaurants may try to hide the fee in the bill, and other times they may request it verbally from diners. However, clients have no legal obligation to tip restaurants.
“It is totally illegal, Canirac is firmly against it, and tips should be earned through good service, good quality, and stylish restaurants,” according to the association’s spokesperson. It was also pointed out that in some cases, restaurants have been proven to charge clients illegally and have had to pay a fine over it.
The public has been urged to keep an eye on restaurants the next time they go out to eat and to report any suspicious activity to the consumer protection office. Clients can submit a report online through the agency’s website.
Earlier this September, diners at a Mahahual restaurant confronted their waiter after being asked to pay a 15% service charge. After a heated argument with restaurant employees, the customers decided to pay the entire bill and took to social media to expose the restaurant. In the end, the customers got their money back – and taught the restaurant a valuable lesson.
The restaurant association is also taking steps to combat the illegal practice and has stepped up efforts to reach all of its members, advising them about the legal implications. However, as they lack the means to enforce the law, the association can only issue recommendations to vigilant customers. By improving awareness, the association hopes it can put an end to hidden gratuity fees and help protect clients.
Customers also play an important role in reporting breaches of sanitary regulations. Earlier this September, a Cancun Starbucks was shut down after clients had reported cockroaches in the cafe’s barista station. Restaurants in Cancun need to pay close attention to their establishment’s sanitation, with authorities pointing out the more than 176 health and safety requirements that local restaurants need to meet in order to operate.
Inflation Increasingly Adding Pressure On Cancun Restaurants
Rising prices may be partly to blame for the precarious situation faced by local restaurants. Many businesses in Cancun are struggling with inflation, an issue that also affects travelers, with average hotel prices on the rise across the Mexican Caribbean. Restaurants, too, are confronting a new economic reality, and nearly half of all restaurants in Cancun have had to raise prices by nearly 10% in recent months.
Some restaurants are choosing to opt for locally and regionally produced goods, cutting down on expensive transportation fees. Restaurants that don’t want to raise prices have limited options, according to local businesses, and may be forced to fire employees.
Authorities have said that inflation will continue to remain high for the remainder of the year and is expected to gradually decrease next year.
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