Companies Using “Service Charges” To Scam Employees Out Of Tips [Roundup]

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Customers assume ‘service charges’ are for service and go to employees. But they’re a scam and they mean less in tips for workers, both because customers reasonably think they’re already tipping (in this case 23%) and because the total amount someone is willing to pay for an experience is being redirected to the company and away from the employee.

    The service charge scam replaces tipping, which is itself a bad practice. The price should be the price, and worker wages should come directly from their employers.

  • Two pounds of horse semen in the cargo hold.

  • What your airplane seat choice says about you

  • Qantas IT blunder leaves corpses in coffins on the tarmac

  • He wrote the book Up In The Air and doesn’t realize that maintenance issues can be discovered during preflight checklist items prior to pushback?

  • Escanaba, Michigan airport tells DOT that airlines aren’t bullying them? Who am I to criticize typos.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Horse semen: stud fees are a thing. It can be quite valuable. Not sure what’s so interesting unless it’s adolescent humor.

    Service charges: equivalent of resort fees. Ways to increase the price without being obvious.

  2. What the background on the horse seen mistake for those of us who don’t want the stink of Twitter touching us?
    Also, JetsFan, there’s some great videos on YouTube that show the “horse stroking” process. Good times!

  3. No jet fan, you poor soul, I can’t imagine a sadder waste of time, emotional energy and life than centering your identity around being a jets fan…but in any case, it’s way different than resort fees, because as Gary says, any reasonable person would assume that is in lieu of a tip. Many establishments that cater to foreign tourists unfamiliar with the ridiculous American tipping culture have service fees or mandatory gratuity because too many just don’t tip. I would have assumed this is the case at this place, except that never would happen since I vowed to never set foot in the cesspool of humanity that is Vegas ever again, so enjoy your service fees, degenerates!

  4. The horse semen should have been in carry on luggage. Never put valuables in checked they are subject to pilfering.

  5. @swag, it may be able to be frozen. Cryogenically frozen semen is common. I would suspect horse semen at room temperature would not last long and would lose potency rapidly.

  6. You are definitely in no position to criticize typos, spelling, or grammar.

    Especially when there are readily available tools that will check those for you.

  7. I assume the horse semen thing was included because it is a little funny, especially to people who don’t know how often horse semen (refrigerated or frozen) is transported…whether it’s frozen or not depends on the length of the trip. Domestically in the U.S. it’s typically just chilled and you put it in the, uh, living receptacle as soon as you get it.

    It was probably not attached to a passenger, but was shipped along with other packages in the hold. There are semen brokers that have deals with the airlines to transport it…with semen of this value I’d imagine it went through a broker rather than being shipped UPS.

    But I can see the humor to people who don’t realize horse (and bull and ram) semen is shipped by air every day.

  8. @JNS, for your edification, chilled semen has to be used within 48 hours of collection. But it has a higher success rate than frozen if you can get it done in time.

  9. @Jennifer P, thank you for the information. I have carried prescribed medication in an insulated jar with ice in it before to keep it at the temperature required. TSA didn’t have a problem with it. It was in carry on luggage because I wasn’t sure it would stay cold enough in checked luggage. By the way, I grew up reading American Agriculturist and I still have interest in farm issues.

  10. @jns The semen is shipped in specialist containers and it would not be somebody’s luggage (typically). It’s shipped as cargo.

  11. @jns expensive or not, an item like horse semen would undoubtedly be highly traceable and nearly impossible to find a buyer for within a reasonable time frame without significant prior knowledge and planning. unless they were planning to sell to some kid for a prank, it’s unlikely anyone would risk stealing something so difficult to pawn.

  12. On the Walter Kirn thing, it’s worth noting that the book Up In the Air is quite different from the movie and the book’s main character isn’t the points hound of the movie. Having read the book, I would never presume that Kirn is any more knowledgeable than an occasional business traveler.

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