Service Charge

Today’s post takes on a small niche part of restaurants bills, service charge.

I’m not too sure how I feel about service charges. I tend to find restaurants that add them to bills reduce their quality of service as they know they are getting a tip, however, others are so poor at offering good service when they are working for a tip I’m not sure if the service charge is the issue here or just the standard we have come to deliver.

Tipping, in Britain, is no guarantee. I think some restaurants set themselves up to get no tips. I’m sure we can all think of chain restaurants where you order and pay at the bar before getting your food. I’m not going to tip now as service could be dreadful, but am I going to dig into my purse again to give a tip having already paid? Probably not, even if service is great.

Then there are those that give the option to add a tip on card. I remember from an episode of Money Saving Expert that this isn’t always passed on in full to the server so I’m reluctant to give a tip on there in case a percentage is taken by the restaurant. This then relies on me having change in my purse, I usually do, but I fear I’m in the minority in this contactless age.

Then there is the group booking saga. Some places add service charges when the group is over a certain size. This is usually fine when splitting the bill equally, but I frequently go out with people who want to pay for what they’ve eaten. This can then mean service is missed or not added as it should be and it makes things complicated from the start. I understand a big group can require more attention, but I’m not too sure if service needs to be added for big groups and not the regular group.

Finally, a concern comes with splitting a tip. Some restaurants dedicate a server to a table so they work for their tip off you but you know that tip is being split between the other servers, we can only hope that they all work to the same effort. I find it slightly more frustrating when you are served by a variety of waiters but one stands out as a good member of staff but the tip will be shared equally with those that have made less effort.

If I have the freedom to add a tip, the level I should give remains unclear. 10% 12.5% and then do I take this from the total bill or just the food? I tend to take a couple of coins and give these – as long as it is a meaningful amount and close to 10%. It is for this reason adding a service charge might be easier – but all I ask is that the charge is earned. Please don’t tell me it is a discretionary charge, as I’m unlikely to ask for a new bill with it removed.

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