Money Moral Dilemma: Should I refuse to pay the service charge when eating out?

MSE_Kelvin Posts: 340 MSE Staff
First Anniversary Photogenic First Post Name Dropper
edited 28 November 2023 at 6:14PM in Going out deals
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

I've just moved to London from the south-west of England. Restaurants are expensive and normally charge at least 12.5% for service. I visited a café where I was annoyed to be charged the 'dine in' rate of almost £2 more per item, and then charged extra for service too. I paid it to avoid coming across as rude, but I think people working in London earn enough not to expect additional money for service unless it's out of this world. Am I right?

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  • sammyjammy
    sammyjammy Posts: 7,371 Forumite
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    If you are eating hot food the dine in price will always be higher than the takeaway price, its related to tax so not London centric.  As to service charge, its probably a suggested figure that is automatically added, you are perfectly within your rights to decline to pay it, I guess one would hope it would depend on the service you received, that's not London centric either.
    "You've been reading SOS when it's just your clock reading 5:05 "
  • The answer is no, you should pay the service charge. London restaurants have hideous costs to pay that SW places don't. It's not uncommon for a bar/restaurant to pay £200,000 in rates. Insurance is high and people keep smashing your windows. 

    It's not like anyone is making money off this, it's just a way of attracting people in by having slightly lower menu prices on the web.

    Tbh this is the least of your money worries if you've moved to London hehe 
  • I've never paid a service charge for dining or drinking in. I avoid restaurants that have a mandatory charge and in the case of one hotel based at a major station in London; I had them remove the unadvertised charge because it wasn't advertised and the service was diabolical. Not what you want from a "top tier of the chain" hotel where the rooms cost (at the time) up to £3K a night.
    Don't get me wrong; I'll tip when I think that it's warranted. I'll also tip cash so that it reduces the chances of "Head Office" taking an "admin fee" out of the staff tips.
  • andykn
    andykn Posts: 438 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Whatever the rights and wrongs of service charges the staff certainly will be earning far less in real terms than their equivalents in the south west. They might be earning 50% more but pretty much all their expenses will be two or three times as much.
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