Bullsh*t charges at restaurants

I can understand this impression but I do think it is a biased opinion. I’ve been charged for bread, extra jus, all sorts of stupid stuff at high end places as well.


I find it increasingly common that bread is charged for as a menu item. This local bistro for example - http://www.hispi.net/uploads/5/7/5/3/57531159/dinner_25.07.17.pdf

It’s commonplace in Spain to make a “cover charge” for bread, etc. I’ve noted in the last couple of years or so, an increased number of places have wordings such as the following on their English translation menu (and generally doesnt appear on the Castilian version) - “We traditionally serve bread and make a charge of €2. If you do not want bread, tell your waiter when you are ordering.”

Tea charge and appetisers charge in Hong Kong! Generally, when you enter a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, they will either ask you what tea you want to drink, or instantly put down a glass of tea for each person automatically without asking if you want it or not. it’s about $6 HKD (about $0.8 USD) per person for the tea. The worse case for this trip, is $15 HKD (about $2 USD) because we aren’t members to the restaurant! We discovered it only with the bill. As for the appetisers, like pickles or peanuts, they charge also $15HKD each dish, most of the time you can have 2 tiny plates on your tables…all automatic. Don’t forget that at the end of the meal, there is another 10% service charge automatically added to the bill.

I think it’s a bit abusive for the tea and appetiser charge. I need to pay tea charge even if I want to order beer or wine?! Maybe the very low end place or the airport, they don’t practise this, all the other places, they do it robotically. Usually they are mentioned in specially designed tiny characters somewhere you can’t see on the menu.

In France, all the hors d’œuvres before the meal and the mignardises are offered without additional charges.
@harters Luckily, bread are still free of charge in France. You have also the right to ask for tap water for free (obliged by the law).

Now also in the UK. Any restaurant which serves alcohol must also offer free tap water. Presumably that means that those without an alcohol licence don’t have to and can continue selling bottled, as their only option.

OK. Looked like it was more a myth. (I was told by husband who believed strongly in solidarity)

I looked up the law, l’Arrêté n° 25-268 du 8 juin 1967: « un établissement servant un repas (restaurant, etc.) a l’obligation de servir gratuitement de l’eau ordinaire pour accompagner le repas ». Et c’est cet arrêté qui définit également « le couvert » qui comporte obligatoirement : « le pain, l’eau ordinaire, les épices ou ingrédients, la vaisselle, verrerie, serviettes, …»

“An establishment serving a meal (restaurant, etc.) is obliged to serve free water to accompany the meal.” And it is this decree that also defines “the cover” which must include: “bread, plain water, spices or ingredients, crockery, glassware, towels, …”

Looks like water isn’t free unless you consume a meal.

So question is now about the famous glass of free water in café.

"Le cafetier peut refuser de :

  • vendre des cigarettes ; s’il en vend, il peut majorer le prix réglementé ;
  • donner accès au téléphone et aux toilettes si un client ne consomme pas dans son établissement ; le
    prix des appels téléphoniques passes dans un café est fixé par l’exploitant, à charge pour lui d’afficher
    ce prix ;
  • servir un verre d’eau “gratuit” ; il peut le faire payer s’il en affiche le prix."

"The café may refuse to:

  • selling cigarettes; If it sells, it may increase the regulated price;
  • give access to the telephone and to the toilets if a customer does not consume in his establishment; the
    Prices of telephone calls made in a café is fixed by the operator, to be charged for him to display
    this price ;
  • serve a glass of water “free”; he can charge it if the price is shown. "

OK, that reads to me like the cafe can charge for water if it wishes and declares the price somewhere. Presumably that means if there’s no price shown the water is free. But I agree with you - it seems as though if there’s a meal involved, then free water must be available. That would be the same as most of the UK, although the regional government in Northern Ireland has no such provision.

In some poorer areas the fast food establishments keep all condiments and napkins behind the counter. Guess people pocketed too many. The only thing self serve is soft drinks.

The latest on bullsh*t charges:

A restaurant very close to me, whose food I like, has lost me as a customer. Not only have they insisted that the “Route 9 Community” discount card is good for only a 5% discount, when the R9C site has said 10% for ages (*), but this last time they tried to charge me $10.45 for an item listed as $9.95 on the menu, and when I complained, pointed to a note on the menu: “Prices are subject to change without notice.”

After I persisted that I thought it only reasonable that I should know what something cost before I ordered it (and probably because I was making a scene), they agree to charge the “old” price. But as I told them, they have lost me as a customer.

(Googling, I am reasonably sure that “Prices are subject to change without notice.” is just so much hot air, and they cannot refuse to charge you the price on the menu. Any lawyers here who can confirm or deny?)

(*) I reported them to R9C and the guy there said he was going to speak to them, so somehow I don’t believe it’s just that they cannot get it changed. If they cannot, they should post a sign to the effect that the discount is only 5%.

Not a lawyer. Nor am I American. Or live in America.

But, FWIW, I believe UK law says the price posted is the price to be paid. Applies to everything, not just restaurant menu prices. Basic bit of consumer protection to prevent places scamming customers.

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Not a lawyer either but my understanding is the same - while prices can change, if a price is actually listed that is what it costs

My local Chinese place had a grouchy, old woman that would put two plastic forks and two tiny paper napkins in my to go orders every time I picked up food. Every time I would ask , “May I have chopsticks, please?” And every time she would reach in the bags, take out the forks, then put in two sets of chopsticks.

I thought it was funny, but I figure at her age, she is very much of the “waste not” Chinese generation due to the economic and political turmoil in China when she was young. She warmed up to me after a year or so, even though I still had to give up my plastic forks if I wanted chopsticks. :slight_smile:


When you use chopsticks you don’t need forks, that’s more how Chinese eats than other reasonings, I think.

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