'If service is included why isn’t it in the bill?' blog discussion

edited 8 February 2010 at 10:37AM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
39 replies 4.4K views
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
Please click reply to discuss below.


  • I think that the whole reason is because we are not obliged to pay any service. I would certainly want to see the total service cost so that I have an option to exclude it partly or wholly.
    I have also come across restaurants who include service on the bill and then, on giving you the handheld card-reader, suggest service is paid again!
  • Shouldn't tip anyone in this country.

    Who decides what profession it is "correct" to tip? If anyone deserves tipping surely its nurses etc rather than taxi drivers, hairdressers or waiting staff?
  • I certainly resent being told what to tip. 10 - 20% is suggested. The exceptionally bad service and poor quality food I have been presented with recently made me question whether I should pay the bill, let alone give a tip.
  • jd87jd87 Forumite
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    I don't like it when the service charge is included in the bill (whether added at the bottom or included in the individual items) because I still feel obliged to leave 10% extra on the table anyway. I just feel like a tip should be a separate transaction from paying the bill otherwise it looks like you aren't leaving a tip at all.
  • Paul_HerringPaul_Herring Forumite
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    Martin wrote:
    If service is part of the bill why split it out?
    So you know how much to deduct if the service was crap.

    Deducting a service charge off a bill that already includes it isn't entirely easy (it's 9.09...% for a 10% service charge, or 11.11...% off a 12.5% bill)
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  • I don't want it to be included as per your second option. The restaurant has already priced the meals etc accordingly therefore it is optional. Any tip should be cash and it should go to your server who should give part to the bar serving her for your table and the kitchen.

    Managers in restaurants often keep out of the 'where should the tip go' debate. My husband when he was a restaurant manager if he worked tables on busy nights and received tips he would put them in the kitchen and bar boxes.


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  • I think that including service in the cost of the items ordered is a bad idea - firstly I think it removes the choice of customers to tip, and if so the amount they would like to tip. Tipping should be strictly optional, and I think this would help to take away that choice. Where restaurants automatically add an 'optional' service charge to the bottom of a bill I already find it rather coercive. I would much rather just leave the amount of my choosing, which is dependent upon the service I recieve.

    Secondly, it would make it much easier for the restaurant to keep the tip - if it is left separately on the table the staff have a much greater chance of seeing it. There is also the issue of how the staff would receive these tips - where they are given as cash they are easily divisible between members of the waiting team and do not have to be taxed as they are seen as a gift from the customer. Most customers pay by card these days, so it would be very easy for the company to keep the tip. If they did share the tips amongst staff, they would likely be added to their wages and thus taxed.

    I think a bigger issue is that restaurants often keep the tips rather than sharing them among staff, and yet do not have to print this on the menu. This practice is unfair on both customers and staff, and I think this is the area at which reform should be targeted.
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  • MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
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    I've just added this to the blog

    Update Note: Having read some of the forum discussion - I think there's a wee misunderstanding that I'm suggesting this as a preferred option. I'm not, like most people I would prefer service NOT to be included, and you can tip if you choose to. My thought is if restaurants want to include the servie automatically, which is semi-coercive, then its worth considering making them do it this way
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • minerva_windsongminerva_windsong Forumite
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    gunn67 wrote: »
    I think that the whole reason is because we are not obliged to pay any service. I would certainly want to see the total service cost so that I have an option to exclude it partly or wholly.
    I have also come across restaurants who include service on the bill and then, on giving you the handheld card-reader, suggest service is paid again!

    That's why (as my dad has drilled into me) you should always read your receipt to see what's included and cross check against what you actually ordered.

    I agree that tipping should be optional, because it's an incentive for the staff to do a good job in order to get what is effectively a bonus. Admittedly when I say 'a good job' my requests are fairly simple - I want someone who's polite and smiley, makes sure you're OK but gives you a reasonable amount of time before asking that (the ones who come back five minutes after bringing your food to ask if it's all right drive me mad), and who delivers quick service within reason but apologises and lets you know how long things will be if they're taking some time.

    What I would like to see is tipping to be more streamlined and the money to go straight to the staff who served that table/drink etc rather than any kind of 'kitty' system, again for the reason that staff who do a good job get the extra money and the ones who slack off or are rude don't.
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  • FenrisFenris Forumite
    676 Posts
    I hate tipping. I do it because I feel I have to in certain places; hairdressers, resturants etc. but I hate doing it, even if the service has been astonishingly wonderful! Why? Because I spent a good 10 years working in shops where I was always friendly and helpful and often had people praise my service to my manager, but did anyone say, "Here love, you've done a brillient job, have a couple of quid"? No. And even if they did, would I be allowed to keep it? No. I'd been of service. No doubt I'd run up and down the stairs to the stockroom several times trying to find the perfect "Cherished Teddy" or pewter goblet. Add to that (at the time) I was getting paid less than I would had I been a waitress, why should waiters/waitresses get tipped but I, as a shop assistant, not? I understand good customer service in the retail industry is now pretty much a thing of the past, but you see my point?

    Adding a service charge is taking the Michael and, in my view, is saying, "We don't care if the service was good or !!!!!, you're paying for it anyway". Nevermind the fact that it seems it's the most expensive eateries that do this!
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