Ripped off and pissed off by restaurants

The article on restaurant rip-off tricks hit a nerve with the people at Customers Suck. Though seemingly the point of the article didn't. So, here's a follow-up.

The reason for restaurant rip-offs

In London, there is a huge number of tourists every day.

There are also a huge number of enterprises that prey on tourists being a one-off opportunity to extract the maximum amount of money.

To that end, they will use any number of deceptive practices. They do so safe in the knowledge that the guests won't come back anyway, and certainly won't take the issue to Trading Standards (same as the Better Business Bureau in the USA). And if you don't play along, a minority of them won't be above bullying or threatening you after your meal!

Rag on the restaurant, not the waitress

So, the restaurant sucks. That doesn't mean it's your waitress' fault, so be nice to her. If she's given you a good service, thank her and give her a good tip. Then ask to see the manager.

The waitress isn't responsible for the restaurant's policies. Or the enforcement of them. That's the manager's responsibility and he will have to deal with irate customers.

Quite a number of commenters at Customers Suck seemed to think I advocated against tipping the waitress. That's not the case. But I'd really rather not 'tip' the restaurant and then the waitress as well. Especially not in those instances when the service was very poor.

And I'm not alone in despising the practice of the restaurant setting the tip amount. I'll decide what the service is worth, thank you.

Hidden prices are deceptive prices

When a restaurant resorts to 'explaining' their prices with an asterisk or a footnote, the menu is deceptive. Would you look over all the fine print when ordering your meal? Really?

Most guests wouldn't, and they deserve being treated fairly.

Deception is bad business

Naturally, the people most upset over at Customers Suck are wait staff or restaurant managers. And I'm sure they're working at nice, respectable restaurants that don't employ any of the tactics in my article. Their places of business will rely on repeat trade from happy customers and go to great lengths to treat guests fairly.



Those restaurants are not the ones I'm outing.

Rip-off places don't count on you ever coming back. They don't care about you. So why would you care about them?

Causing a scene after explaining how you're unhappy with the restaurant's attempt to deceive you and not getting a reasonable response, is the only logical course of action. Calling the police will not only keep you there for much longer, but also ruin your evening out. Shopping them to Trading Standards won't help you get your money back, just try collecting from your home in Copenhagen.

Attempting to deceive your customers is highly unethical, and if you run your business that way, you deserve bankruptcy. Conversely, if you run a nice business, you deserve success.

So if you're being ripped off by a restaurant, make sure you get the result you want. Or you'll just make the problem worse for the next poor sap that comes along.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Related articles:

Five eco-friendly travel habits
Exposing restaurant rip-off tricks
London Tube best in the world?

Comments are closed


Ordered newest to oldest.

Ok, I'll eat some where else - there's lots of cafes, and in a metropolian city, I can find whatever you are serving, somewhere else. Your loss, not mine - literally!

JessN on 01 January, 2012


Car servicing is different; that's the price that's listed. They don't hide a 20% "gratuity" ON TOP of the service charge.

20% service charge is quite a lot; if you're sticking customers with that, I sincerely hope that they know about it beforehand, and that your employees truly make it worth that 20%.

I will willingly tip 20% when it is deserved, but if the service was poor and I want to tip 8%, that is my right as a customer.

Zoe on 09 January, 2009

Service charges

Actually, I do get to decide what the car service is worth. There's a price list, which I'll be charged against the service I choose and the listed price. And that's all up front too.

A 'service charge' in a restaurant, automatically added to the bill, is just a way to inflate the price without it being stated in the price list. It's highly deceptive.

Your attitude regarding your paying customers does leave quite a bit to be desires. As evidenced by you not mentioning the cafe's name in your comment!

And, btw, when the service is worth it, I tip plenty.

Jack on 07 January, 2009

I'll decide what the service is worth, thank you.

Do you get to decide what the service is worth when you have your car serviced? No, you don't. If you want to eat at my cafe, you'll pay the 20% service charge, and if you tip on top of that my servers will remind you that it is not necessary. Or, you can eat somewhere else.

Charles on 07 January, 2009



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