Monday, July 16, 2007
Am I tight? Thoughts appreciated...
In the past, if service was average or better, social convention forced me to give a tip to the waiter/waitress, and I fulfilled my obligation, most of the time fairly willingly.
But on Saturday night, for about the third or fourth time this year, my bill arrived with a service charge added to the bottom, and then a revised total presented in bold for me to pay. On closer inspection there is some small-print saying that the 12.5% is "discretionary," but if I wasn't such a hawk with my wallet (it's all in the breeding and the blood!) I wouldn't have even noticed, and the restaurant (not the waiters) would've got an extra 12.5%, not to mention any other tip I'd have accidentally paid without realising I'd already paid for service!
Where do these restaurants get off?! If I want to give a tip, I decide, and I decide how much. Not you. If you want an extra 12.5% then add it to the price of every item on your menu. And I'll go somewhere cheaper. What you're doing now is pretty much stealing an extra 12.5%. You thieves.
If I was in a party of 20, or I'd ordered something bizarre, then fine. As it is, you take an age to take my order, chuck plates at the table like it's a Greek wedding, and forget my drinks. So you don't get a tip.
So I picked the bill up and explained to the waitress that I only wanted to pay for the food and drink, not this added fee. She went away confused, since I was clearly the first person to spot the rip-off. The manager came over and asked whether anything was wrong, and I was actually angry by this stage and telling her that I decide on tips, not her.
And all of this was not exactly enchanting my companion, to whom I had wanted to appear chivalrous and distinguished in picking up the tab. By now I was appearing argumentative and tight.
Was I right? I don't know... But I can't help but think that if restaurants are being deceptive like this, they deserve to be caught out. I think next time it happens I may be purposefully loud in my arguments to alert every other diner in the place to the scam. And I won't go back either.
The level of service in restaurants in the UK is often shocking and I'm getting to the stage where I'll only give a tip if they have served me well. Having the tip included is wrong as it makes it more difficult not to leave one and the assumption that they automatically get a tip discourages good service.