We went out to dinner with friends recently and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I had decided to drive so I was stone-cold sober when it came to paying the bill.
But, as sober as I was I did not see the 10% service charge that had been automatically included. So, of course we gave a tip of around 10%, because that is generally considered to be acceptable.
In round numbers the bill came to just under £200.00 for the four of us, including the service charge, which we were unaware of so we added a tip to the bill and walked out feeling as though we had done right thing.
In the morning I casually ran through the bill and saw that we had ended up tipping twice.
It was bad enough that the 10% has been added to the bill (which you do not legally have to pay), but when the waitress could see that we were wanting to add a tip she should have reminded us that a service charge had already been applied.
But, as with TB and child labour, the service charge (along with its evil cousin, the cover charge) should be consigned to history.
In any other business environment the notion of a service charge would simply not be tolerated and in many cases invoices are discounted for prompt payment. When it comes to resraurants and how they charge, they should have factored in all their costs when pricing their menu, including paying their staff a decent wage that is not dependent on tips.
The service charge did not retrospectively dampen our evening, because it was thoroughly enjoyable, but there will certaibly be no ‘next time’ at this particular venue.