I had planned to spend the end-of-year vacations with my friends in Miami, and for a few days we chose Miami Beach. Miami is not Miami Beach, and the scam I’m about to tell you about may well surprise you!

Beware! Miami isn’t just Miami Beach, and the shopkeepers and restaurateurs in this very touristy area take advantage of the opportunity to pull a very simple trick: they automatically add a tip and ask you for an “additional tip” at the end of the bill, or EVEN MORE TIP! So be careful! If you’re not careful, you could end up paying your tip twice!

miami beach travel scam

Tipping in ou country : A Necessary Reminder

In the US, tipping is an integral part of the culture, especially in jobs where employees receive a minimum wage from their employer, and a large part of their income comes from tips. This includes waiters, cab drivers and other service professions.

My Black Coffee to Go: A Sweet Morning Surprise?

At 7:30 on a Thursday morning, everything seemed to be closed except a small bakery in Miami Beach. I ordered a coffee to go, and what a surprise! The price had almost doubled. An early-morning rip-off that left a bitter taste.

In fact, in addition to taxes (VAT), they systematically add a service fee (tip) of 20% on ALL TAKE-AWAY SALES, the joke! And this has only been observed in Miami Beach, not in Miami, but that’s not the best, so we’ll continue…

Restaurants: Beware of Additional Charges!

In the evening, at a Japanese restaurant in a chic hotel, dinner goes perfectly. Impeccable service, delicious food, everything seems perfect. However, when it’s time to pay the bill, there’s a big surprise. A bill of almost $200 for me alone – well, I’d had champagne, but oh well!

Just as I was about to add a 20% tip, I noticed a line at the bottom of the bill: “service charge with 20% automatically added to the bill”. Normally, in the United States, the tip is only added automatically for groups of six or more. This annoying practice prompted me to ask the manager for an explanation… and now we’re going to start laughing!

The Manager: Between Smiles and Elusive Explanations

The manager arrives with a smile, but his explanation raises more questions. “Service charge, that’s the tip,” he says. An evasive answer that doesn’t satisfy. I insist that the decision to tip should rest with the customer, but the manager sticks to his guns.

To denounce this practice, I threatened to divulge the information to all customers by getting up from my chair and shouting: Dear customers, be careful, the tip is automatically included, and on top of that, they’re going to give you a bill to sign where you have to put a tip that’s already been billed! All in all, I almost ended up with a 40% tip for my dinner – what a joke!

The manager apologized and tried to convince me with a free offer (to buy me drinks at the bar), which I refused. The bill was paid, but I left the tip line at zero, since they’d already charged me 20% without telling me!

The Renewed Experience: A Recurring Practice in Miami Beach

Worst of all, this experience was repeated. The practice of automatically adding a tip is apparently commonplace in Miami Beach. Shopkeepers take advantage of this, knowing that tourists generally don’t complain and end up paying.

Conclusion: Be vigilant!

In conclusion, check your bills carefully, especially in Miami Beach. Tipping is not compulsory, and there is no rule justifying its automatic addition, except for large groups. Be informed, be vigilant, and don’t hesitate to dispute if something seems wrong. Don’t let a scam ruin your Miami Beach vacation.

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