Yes, you have probably gone out as part of a large group and seen a gratuity automatically applied (usually 18%, sometimes as much as 22%) to your check. But thanks to some tax law changes that went into effect in January, that's less and less common. According to the IRS, tips are strictly voluntary, and automatically-applied service charges are therefore a WAGE, not a TIP. This causes there to be additional fees and administrative dealings on a server's employer's end when there is an "autograt." Some employers still allow the autograt and absorb that cost in the name of employee goodwill and retention, because it's a fact of life in the restaurant industry that large parties don't tip (they either assume there's a gratuity included because that used to be standard practice across the board, all assume someone else took care of it, think $20 is sufficient even if their bill was into three or four digits, or just don't give a crap). Eclecstasy, being a corporate-owned, multinational chain, apparently crunched the numbers on what it would do to The Bottom Line to eat the cost of allowing the autograt across all locations and said "y'all are on your own, suck it up," doing away with the "autograt" as of January 2014. Employees have raised a fuss on the company's website and been told, essentially, "nothing personal, just business."
This is a huuuuuuge hot-button issue among employees, some of whom have seen their income diminish by half or, in the case of "destination stores" in tourist towns who see lots of large parties of guests from other countries where gratuities aren't even A Thing, stopped breaking the federal minimum wage by working at Eclecstasy, meaning that by law the company bumps them up to that and that is all they make. This means that since Eclecstasy servers tip out to the bar, runners, and bussers based on SALES not TIPS, some servers lose money by working at all, and are quitting in droves. In the case of locations where that is the norm, I don't blame them. In the case of the MFAville Eclecstasy, we aren't really a "destination" store, it's only maybe one night in maybe twenty that I walk out of the place with less money than I had when I walked in, and the rest of the time working there is lucrative enough that it still averages out to Very Good Money, so while I think it's shitty of Corporate to take the stance on the autograt issue that they have, and bitterly resent that one night in twenty because it's really disheartening, on the whole I'm not as fussed as servers who have been with the company long enough to remember what the money was like BEFORE this went into effect and don't think it's worth quitting over, to ME, in THIS location.
Which isn't to say that I haven't scheduled an interview with Eclecstasy's biggest competitor for Friday. The lack of "autograt" IS the difference between my making enough at Eclecstasy to not need a second job and my needing to find something else now that I've settled in there in order to build up a cushion for when the MFA Minivan goes to The Big Junkyard In The Sky/I need surgery/Hotter's donor organs fail or whatever the next big giant crisis over here is. If the competitor hires me and I like it there AND they still apply the "autograt" that may become my new main gig. Nothing personal, Eclecstasy, just business.