Tuesday, 20 January 2009

An incredibly annoying restaurant practice

One of the most irritating things about eating out - apart from being endlessly pressed to order mineral water - is the habit of leaving a gap on the bill for a tip when you've already been charged for service. (Usually 12 1/2% these days)

In the case of Sofra restaurants they don't even go through the pretence of saying the service is 'optional', they charge it and then charge service on the service charge.

There was a lot of adverse publicity a while ago about this and restaurants stopped doing it for a while but in these credit-crunched times they're obviously up to their old tricks again.

So look out for it, don't pay it and let's name and shame the restaurants who do it!


notSupermum said...

I only leave a tip if a) it's not included in the bill, and b) the service warrants a tip. I also - to the embarassment of my children - complain if it's not good enough.

recipes2share said...

What I do love about France is that this is included in the food price and only about 5% if you really want to!!

Fiona Beckett said...

Goodness yes, they would. Ours did too. They couldn't bear it if we did anything to draw attention to ourselves. Parents are soooo embarrassing! (But you're right NSM, on all counts)

And yes, recipes2share, things are much better conducted in France. At least you know exactly what you're going to pay even if the pound doesn't stretch nearly as far as it once did.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a server should inform guests if gratuity is included so the guest doesn't accidentally double tip.

I don't know how these things work in Europe, but keep in mind that here in the states servers typically make well below minimum wage. I worked for yeras a waitress at $2.13 an hour, at a time when the minimum wage was $7 an hour. Tips were my only income, as my hourly wage paid only my income tax.

Fiona Beckett said...

Point taken, anonymous. It's not that I resent the amount of money, which can be quite insignificant, it's the way it's handled.

What you find is that 12 1/2% service is added on the bill (check?), totalled up then a space is left blank for service so that if you're not sharp-eyed enough to spot it you can easily end up paying twice. In my view that constitutes sharp practice and ought to be illegal. If you want to leave some coins on the table for particularly good service of course you can. (And it stands more chance of ending up in the pocket of your server)

Signe said...

Agree with all these comments! The idea is you leave a service or a tip if the service has been GOOD. It's infuriating to be mandated to leave 12.5 % if the waiter/waitress is surly and the service is slow. Equally it's outrageous that restaurant staff are paid below the minimum wage and the service charge is used to make up for the shortfall in wages - if the service charge is optional I usually insist on having it deducted from the bill and leaving a tip in cash - that way at least you know it ends up in your (hopefully good) server's pocket...and your friends can laugh at your righteousness,

realfoodlover said...

My eldest daughter worked as a waitress where the restaurant did not pass on service charges to the staff. I am now under strict instruction to always leave a tip in cash on the table, and not pay a service charge included (cheekily, as you say) in the bill.