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Service charge in restaurants - yes or no?

in Going out deals
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Will52Will52 Forumite
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I dislike service charges in restaurants/bars with a passion. Where does everyone else stand on this?

I realise 'fancy' places and most places in London d this, but the practice is pervading many other areas of the UK now. This is not in our culture here in the UK - in London, many restaurants are owned by foreigners, who 'import' the practice from their countries. I have been to multiple other countries which offer great service without this additional tax (let's face it, it's another tax). 

The opposing argument would be that you should 'pay for good service'. Well, the food and drinks are already priced high, that's where staff wages should come from. This is not the US. Waiters are paid a reasonable salary here for an unskilled profession. The whole idea of going to a restaurant is to be served, that shouldn't be an 'extra' as if it was optional. Most places in London even apply a service charge to a coffee now!

Nowadays, unless I'm in a really nice place, I will always deduct the service charge when paying the bill. If it wasn't automatically applied to the bill, I might be more inclined to tip. If it is discretionary, restaurants shouldn't be putting it on the bill, it should only feature as an 'option'. Most people just pay it anyway because they don't want the awkwardness. Restaurants know this. 

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this?

Replies

  • Bigphil1474Bigphil1474 Forumite
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    I prefer a service charge. Good waiting staff aren't unskilled IMO, but mainly because I like to tip, but the people I often eat out with aren't as keen. If there's a service charge it's taken care of. If we have poor service, then I'd happily not pay the SC, but we tend to go to the same few restaurants where we know we get good service. Not all hospitality staff are paid a reasonable salary, even where they should be, so an extra 10-15% on the bill isn't a huge bother to me.
  • Will52Will52 Forumite
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    But why can't service staff do the job they are paid to do without receiving a tip? Regardless of salary, you should put effort into your job and be friendly and thorough. I don't receive a service charge (tip) to do my job, why should anyone else? What if it's just 'ok' service, nothing special, you're still expected to cough up (of course, no one should pay for poor service).
  • NBLondonNBLondon Forumite
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    If it's an honest service charge - clearly stated on the menu - then I'm prepared to pay it.  Last night I ate at a Greek restaurant in Central London which had a 10% service charge which I thought was fair.  I was served by multiple people so I couldn't easily tip an individual for good service.    But if the service isn't up to scratch then I would challenge it - ideally before the bill is added up.

    If it was not stated on the menu - I'd refuse it on principle and possibly tip in cash.  If it was anything more than 15% I'd find somewhere else to eat.

    Will52 said:
    Most places in London even apply a service charge to a coffee now!
    Only a coffee?  I'd leave the price of the coffee in cash and not go back.
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  • Sunny_SaverSunny_Saver Forumite
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    I eat at a place called Kili’s kitchen in Islington. On certain dishes on the menu, it and other restaurants in the area, charge an extra £1 on weekends. Service charge is also charged on that extra £1. So if we go out as a group of five, that’s an extra c£7 - enough for a starter. We stopped going because I doubt if staff get paid more to work weekends. 
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  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    I would far rather that fair wages were included in the price of the food.  I also find it irritates me as it doesn't take more staff effort to bring an expensive bottle of wine or other item than a cheap one, so why should service be a percentage of the spend?
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  • TELLIT01TELLIT01 Forumite
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    I prefer a service charge. Good waiting staff aren't unskilled IMO, but mainly because I like to tip, but the people I often eat out with aren't as keen. If there's a service charge it's taken care of. If we have poor service, then I'd happily not pay the SC, but we tend to go to the same few restaurants where we know we get good service. Not all hospitality staff are paid a reasonable salary, even where they should be, so an extra 10-15% on the bill isn't a huge bother to me.

    There is a legal minimum wage.  If an employer is not paying that they can be reported anonymously by staff.  I'm not willing to make underpayment easier for employer by providing them with an effective subsidy.
  • missilemissile Forumite
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    I dislike service charge. I don't go back to restaurants who do this.

    I wonder how much actually goes to the staff?
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  • MrFrugalFeverMrFrugalFever Forumite
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    Don’t agree with it. Either price your menu accordingly or pay staff competitive (or both) but don’t automatically assume I want to pay up to 15% extra on my bill just because it’s ‘the done thing’. Another awful American-ism that seems to have crept in to this country.
    There’s only 2 certainties in life; taxes and death.

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  • MobileSaverMobileSaver Forumite
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    missile said:
    I dislike service charge. I don't go back to restaurants who do this.
    ^ This.
    I vote with my wallet and simply never go back to any restaurants that automatically add a service charge on to the bill.
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