August 8th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
Share this on: editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues.

Which industry has the most egregious surcharges? Airlines have added some surprisingly sneaky fees over the years and were recently in the news again for considering charging extra for overweight people. One airline, Ryanair, seems to take pride in its fees and even contemplated adding a cost to use the bathroom. Not that hotels have been kind; $8 water bottles and $40 parking spots are as common as charging for Wi-Fi. But restaurants and bars, in my estimation, have developed the most crafty ways to squeeze profit out of that which was once - and should still be - gratis.

I made a list of every “extra” charge I’ve ever heard of (16 examples came to mind and I’m sure there are more) and separated them into two categories: those that seem warranted (like charging for shaved truffles on an entrée) and those that seem brazenly unnecessary and unfair (like charging extra for ketchup).

Below is my definitive list of potential offenses with reasoned assessments of the fairness quotient of each, based purely on personal opinion.

Extra Charges I Just Don't Get

Steak sauce/butters
The first time I ate at Dylan Prime Steakhouse in New York I was floored to see that a meal - which could easily cost more than $100 a person - might also include a $3 extra charge for a sauce or special butter. That’s like charging extra for sprinkling Parmesan on your pizza. Or having salt on the table. The eatery has seen troubled times recently so there’s no telling if the menu will retain the practice.

Yes, some fast food joints charge extra for a packet of ketchup. I came face to face with this practice at a McDonald’s in London back in 1988. The cost: 5p (pence) - about a nickel - per packet. The idea has since crossed the pond, where U.S. franchise owners decide how they’ll dole out condiments (in packets, via spigots with paper containers, for a fee or not.). The current cost stateside seems to be 25 cents for a handful of packets. And though it might cut down on waste, it seems random; why aren’t there similar surcharges for mustard and mayo?

Splitting a dish/extra side dish
If an entrée costs $15 and you use your fork to give your spouse several bites, no one charges you extra. Ask if you can officially split the dish and you may get hit with a surcharge of between $2 and $5 or more, a penalty that feels like it’s designed to discourage sharing (which is weird because don’t we go to restaurants to share a meal with others?) That said, if the request requires time and effort from a server to literally divide the dish and garnishes, then a separate fee seems warranted. If just a side plate is requested, it ought to be free (please don’t suggest that the effort of washing the extra plate necessitates the fee).

Splitting the check
I was a waiter once. I know it takes more time to process two, three, even four credit cards. But there’s no good reason to charge extra - or forbid - the practice. Credit-card processing fees should not be the customers’ concern.

Cocktail neat/on the rocks
Some bars tack on an extra buck or two claiming that the pour is different: You get 2 ounces in a neat rocks glass and 1.5 ounces if you order on the rocks. Or vice versa, depending on the place (see this description of a recent bourbon order). Can’t the bartender find some glasses that render these pouring differences less marked or just suck up the difference…or figure it all evens out eventually anyway? Or just charge more in general for the cocktail? Why complicate things?

Food waste/not finishing what's on the plate
Buffets are magnets for gluttons because you can pile on as much food as the plate will hold - and sometimes come back for seconds. But there’s a cost: Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and tons of food typically remains on the plate at the end of the meal. To combat this effect, some restaurants have suggested applying a fee, as reported about the $32 waste fee posted by the management at The Kylin Buffet Chinese restaurant in England. A noble idea, perhaps, but restaurants are not government institutions (“Take all you want but eat all you take” as they say in the army), and honestly, there are a million reasons why someone wouldn’t finish every morsel. Someone wants to monetize this? See also Hachikyo, a seafood restaurant in Japan that requires customers who do not finish their bowl of tsukko meshi (rice topped with salmon roe) to make a donation.

Non-bottled (sometimes filtered) tap water
Millennium restaurant in San Francisco had its heart in the right place: They were dedicated to organic food production, small farms, sustainable agriculture, recycling and composting. In fact, they were so environmentally-friendly that they took the extreme measure of banning bottled water altogether, offering instead a delicious glass from their Natural Tap Water Filtration System. Unfortunately, they also stopped offering tap water. So, water cost $1 for what’s basically filtered tap water. Bobo, in New York, was also taken to task for what is effectively water gouging with a conscience. Even a few McDonald’s (them again?) got in on the action. I say: Allow the public to have a free glass of water, if only so boozers can work in a little hydration without penalty.

Sliced bagels
In New York there’s an 8% tax on “altered” bagels: Sliced, toasted or served with schmear. Why the distinction? The cutting and spreading, though a minimal culinary effort to be sure, technically makes it a prepared meal. Sold unaltered, it is a tax-exempt food item. Seems like there’s a hole in this law to me.

Extra Charges I Understand

Gourmet ingredients
You want freshly shaved black truffles on your butter-poached lobster? That’ll be an additional $12 at Michael’s on the Hill in Vermont (fair price it seems to me). Caviar on the side? Of course you gotta pay extra for that. Nothing fishy there. These are gourmet ingredients, so unless the menu hides the fact that there’s a surcharge, these are warranted. (Years ago, I once ordered a “special” soup at a Chinese restaurant - I don’t recall if it was turtle or sharkfin, neither of which I’d order today - and the server neglected to mention that it cost $40. I’ve been wary of unfamiliar delicacies ever since.)

Bread and butter/chips and salsa
Historically, Americans in the latter part of the 20th century are accustomed to seeing certain side dishes served for free before a meal. Most consumers simply won’t go back to an establishment if they’re charged for something they used to get (or can get elsewhere) for free. But really, why are these dishes free? The ingredients cost money - and they fill you up, so you may order less. And yet it caused quite a stir when the Post reported that Chelsea restaurant Company charged “$3 for bread and another $2 for butter” a few years back. To be contrarian, The New York Times’ Frank Bruni argued for the extra fees. Personally, I wouldn’t choose to go back to a place that charged me for bread, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see the argument for this policy.

You made a reservation, the restaurant is holding your table, and you never show up and don’t even call? Seems fair to charge a penalty so selfish barbarians don’t abuse the privilege, especially in cities like New York where aggressive diners have been known to make reservations at three venues for the same time and day - to hold the spots - and only show up at one at the last minute. (It’s easy for restaurateurs to charge your credit card if you book through online reservation sites). The Wall Street Journal chronicled the practice a year ago; rates range from $50 (OpenTable’s fee) to $225 (the full price of the prix fixe at Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare).

Certain substitutions
I have no idea if the fries really cost more or less than a salad at any given restaurant, but if a dish normally comes with one side dish and you’d like a different one, you should be notified about the price difference and understand that some of the fee goes to the extra effort of making the chef (or server) plate something in an unfamiliar way. Not all menus are designed to mix and match - much to the chagrin of vegetarians, allergy sufferers, the lactose-intolerant and gluten avoiders.

Eating at prime time
Famed New York dining institution Le Cirque once toyed with the idea of “formalizing a prime-time price increase,” according to CBS. The idea is simple: Everyone wants to eat between 6 and 8 p.m. - not at 5:30 or 10:30 p.m. Charging more for access during the dinner rush is not unlike nightclubs that charge more after midnight when the dance floor is packed and they don’t need bodies to fill the space anymore. Frankly, I’m surprised no one charges for premium seating (bigger tables, far from the bathrooms, etc.) in New York restaurants...yet.

Tips for large groups
You just had a steak dinner with six buddies. The bill comes and there’s an extra 20% at the bottom. Does that count as an extra fee? No. Is it fair? Yes - as long as the gratuity does not exceed 20%. Admittedly there are two potential downsides to this practice: First, if the service sucks, you’re forced to pay this healthy tip anyway. Second, and far worse, some bills hide this automatically added fee, which leads the occasional diner to pay an unintended second tip on top.

If you’re bringing your own wine to a restaurant and thus not paying for a bottle from their list (would you ever dare to bring your own food?), then it makes sense that management would charge an extra charge fee (to discourage the practice and to make up some of the lost revenue). It’s the amount that can be galling. $20? Fine. $75 to $100? Too rich for my blood. But if you’re dining at places like Per Se or French Laundry, what do you expect? Call first and ask about the policy to be sure.

Access to the room with live music
If a band is playing, of course, it’s ok to charge extra for those customers who want to be closer to the music. Helsinki Hudson, for example, requires separate reservations depending on whether you’re eating at the restaurant or inside the club - even though both are under the same roof. Sometimes, though, I wish venues would pay me to continue to endure listening.

More from Details:
5 Foods That'll Make You Look Younger
The Best Breakfasts in America
5 Weird Signs That You're Vitamin-Deficient

soundoff (820 Responses)
  1. HW

    I don't eat regularly at restaurants, however, I want to know what I am being charged. The menu should indicated the extra charges in clear concise and readable language. The worst was when I was charged a 20% tip without anywhere on the restaurant or menu indicating that extra charge. By mistake I added another 20% tip; I took them to court and made them pay a fine, court costs and other expenses.

    August 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Your server

      Ok- I would be pissed if I were duped into leaving a 40% tip... but taking the business to court? Wow. Congratulations on a huge waste of paper, a judges time, the lighting in a courtroom, heat, gas getting there. What a moron.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Alan

      wow how cheap and petty are you to do this?! I mean REALLY!!! Were you that clueless to not understand a tip was added? You should have had an idea about what it cost and noticed the additional fees. Then you shouldn't have added an additional tip. I wish you had lost your court case for being a clueless idiot.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Palaniappan Rajaram

      Good for you HW! And, Your Server & Alan should get off of their high horses. If HW had approached the establishment, asked for the additional 20% to be refunded and if they had agreed, everything would have been fine. If the customer made a mistake, then the establishment should allow for that mistake to be corrected. He/she is absolutely in the right in taking them to the court.

      August 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  2. Dennell

    There's a bagel place in my hometown that I won't go to anymore because of a strange pricing scheme. Obviously you expect that there's a price difference between a plain (uncut) bagel vs a bagel toasted with butter vs a bagel toasted with cream cheese. But if you order a toasted bagel with cream cheese AND butter, they charge you an extra $0.50 for the butter! I mean c'mon, I'm already paying you to cut and toast the bagel, along with the charge for cream cheese, but seriously, $0.50 to smear some butter on it before the cream cheese goes on? I was shocked when I went with my family of four and paid an extra $2 just to add butter! So I just don't go there anymore...

    August 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • akak907

      This makes sense to me. Most people don't get both butter and cream cheese so of course the price of the bagel with cream cheese is more than butter (since cream cheese is more expensive than butter) but does not include the butter. So you have to pay more for both. If you were at lunch and could order a chicken sandwich plain, with cheese for an extra charge, or with bacon for an extra charge, wouldn't it make sense that the extra charge would be more if you wanted both cheese and bacon?

      August 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
      • jeff

        No, you idiot. You are suggesting a "extra charge, charge"

        August 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
      • Dennell

        My point is that butter is usually a free condiment, at least in my part of the country – totally different from cheese or bacon. I can understand charging more for the labor of cutting and toasting a bagel, but when you've already paid for that labor as part of the "with cream cheese" option, you don't expect to be charged for that labor a second time. It's just a very unusual practice from what I've seen in my neck of the woods.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  3. MEB

    I happen to own a restaurant. I do not do most of these things, however somethings I do. Most if not all of the things you mention effect the restaurant's bottom line... yes even giving extra ketchup. The bottom line is I don't walk in to your office and say "how dare you charge me X amount of dollars for your service" Either I want it or I don't. My point is you don't know what goes into someone's bottom line. If someone needs to charge a plate charge I'm sure its not because they are trying to rip you off but there is an opportunity cost lost. Each seat to is like real estate and you're not entitled to sit there unless you are spending money. Butter & bread costs money. If it is not something that is offered (and believe me if its offered you're paying for it because it will be worked in to your entree's cost) you should be getting charged for it. If there is a different charge for rocks and neat there is probably difference in the pour size. Liquor is charged by the ounce. Neat at one ounce is a shot, most people find this to be not enough, yet one ounce on the rocks looks very different. One and a half ounces on a neat pour make most customer's satisfied hence the more money. Im sure if you asked for a shot in a neat glass you'll be charged appropriately. This article is insulting and misleading. You are spouting off gripes without having done research and show a blatant disregard for someone elses bottom line.

    August 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • ALJO

      Then these extra charges should be clearly listed, on a board, OUTSIDE the joint so folks can decide if they want to pay it or not. Simple. Folks don't like it, they'll go someplace where they are treated like valued customers and not walking, talking ATM machines.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Chef@Home

      And that is why I do not go to restaurants: it is all about the bottom line. Restaurants are taking advantage of America's lazy ways where it is easier to eat out than to cook at home. Automatically charging a gratuity so you can pay your employees less is a disgrace. I can understand fair and reasonable charges, but the industry is taking it to an extreme.

      Here in New Zealand, the price you see on the menu is what you pay. Tax is included, all workers wages are included and there are no surprises.

      Still, the solution is to cook at home: healthier, cheaper and less stressful than any restaurant.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • b

      I agree ALJO, all items on the menu have a cost. if you are going to charge someone for something, it needs to be specified.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Lisa

      Just put it on the menu then, clearly listing the cost of all those extras. And don't BRING the bread without asking, then charge me when I didn't ask for it. If you are going to bring it to the table then it's free. People don't mind the extra charges as much as they do when they added without being told ...

      August 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Christopher T

      This is overly long MEB – sorry. But MEB, this is about customer service and the impression it leaves. Incorporate the costs into the menu prices so they are less noticeable. Add-ons annoy people and cause them to not want to return (this article is only a reflection of that). And BTW – I know what it takes to put a plate on a table. Too many restaurant owners think they sell food – that their product is food. It actually isn't. You are selling, even at the diner level, an experience. It might be a common experience or an extraordinary one. Each of those have different value – each has it's place. If you think you are selling food, well, you can't compete. I can eat for less at home and in fact likely healthier. Further, I bet a few of my dishes blow away anything your place has (a guess of course – but a safe one for me I think). Yet, I may still go to your restaurant. Why? Because it is not simply about food. It's about an experience. A social experience, maybe (but not necessarily) a great culinary experience, an experience of convenience, (even) an experience of culture (like the M&M Soul Cafe in Vegas as an example), or what have you. If it is a positive experience I will return. If it is not, I will not – and add-ons are a negative experience for me. There is a restaurant across the street I never go to anymore. 4 out of 6 of a breakfast party I was with (not myself) got rather ill on the eggs one day (over easy only common item). That is not why I do not go there. I don't go there because I went back the next day and told them about the issue (politely) and instead of an apology for my bad experience I was informed they are not responsible if folks choose to eat undercooked eggs (which they gladly serve). I wasn't asking for anything. If they had said sorry and promised to look into it I would eat there now. But, I wouldn't eat filet minon there now if it were free. They sold me a bad experience. Add-ons are also a bad experience. You own a restaurant. When you make the customer an enemy or adversary – you may as well hang it up.

      August 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
      • K

        Well said, sir. You are absolutely correct. I have been a bar manager for almost ten years now, and I tell my staff exactly what you posted: we sell an experience! Make it memorable! Or you're all fired! Haha.. Jk on the last part... Maybe! ;o)

        August 9, 2013 at 5:08 am |
    • So.Simple

      MEB, I agree with you. That everything costs and all that cost needs to be captured in sales.
      But restaurants need to clearly state the service and its associated fees. That way custoemrs do not feel like they're being taken for a ride.
      And as a business owner, you clealry described and defined the business aspect of your operation. However, you need to include marketing and building goodwill as part o fyour business strategy. No one will know or care that your entrees are $2-$3 dollars higher but customer will remember that you did not charge extra for bread, or for the second plate, or ....

      August 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  4. supertraci

    A restaurant once charged me $35 for cutting a cake that I brought for my Mothers 60th birthday. It was a small cake and we had spent a great deal of money there that night buying bottles of wine and sampling everything on the menu. They never told us about the fee when we asked them to cut the cake and at the end of the meal we asked them to take off the charge and they were so rude. I wrote a scathing review on yelp and I noticed they went out of business a few months later. I smile every single time I drive by the empty lot.

    August 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Wendy Jane

      I love Yelp – it's helped me find some really great places and avoid some bad ones.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  5. Jay

    My family been in the restaurant industry since the 80's and there was charges that we imposed on customers bill which had decent amount of feedback on it since. I'm currently running an Japanese Steakhouse where the chef comes and cook at the table. We add an 18% service charge which is stated on every single page of the menu and on the receipt for a party of 6 or more. Reason for us to do this is server usually get paid a very low hourly rate $2+ which ours being much higher than industry standard. The server make a living off tips and i would hate to see my hard working server getting cheated of a tip from a big party. It happened many times so we add it as a standard. Also teppanyaki chefs also makes a living off tips and they and the server shares the same tip equally. This practice was frown upon by a local food critic which to me seem ridiculous. Sure, there is special circumstances where the service is tremendously horrible which customer doesn't feel the need to tip. Most the time when this does happen, customer would refuse to pay for the whole entire meal. From personal experience, those customers are the one that always try to cheat restaurant out of a free meal. For me if i go somewhere where service is horrible, i will still tip because they make a living off it but i won't tip as much and won't come back again. We also do a sharing up charge on the grill. We feel that is fair because the chef now have to cook for extra people and they get extra side of soup and salad for just $5 but some customers just feel like they are cheated.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Peter Griffin

      Anyone who leaves anything less that a 15% tip to compensate for bad service is a schmuck. The waiter is gonna hate you regardless if you leave 10% or 0%.

      I'd rather have that 10% in my pocket rather than his pocket in that case.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • b

      you are kinda contradicting yourself Jay. if there is a 18% automatic gratuity, then you don't have a decision on how much to tip, as you say you tip less for bad service...

      August 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Eater-E

      If you hate to see your servers get stiffed, why don't you just pay them more? It shouldn't be our job to pay them.

      Just because it's legal, doesn't make it right. If you really care that much, you'd pay them more yourself.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  6. pizzahut is lame

    pizza hut charges 2 dollars for extra cheese. Even if you have a coupon for a 1 topping pizza, they say they will charge fir the cheese even though it is a topping.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • ed dugan

      Anyone that eats there already punishes themselves by eating their garbage.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Tina

      Um, every single pizza joint charges for extra cheese and they do not consider extra cheese a topping.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • cadet

        Um, then why do most pizza places have cheese listed in the pizza toppings section of menu to choose from, right along with the pepperoni, sausage, peppers, ham, onions and black olives?

        August 11, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  7. furby076

    THe list is wide and absurd (I agree with the author). I've been to places where they tried to pull this on me. When the bill arrives I tell the waiter "no". They can take it off the bill or I will take it off their tip. If I go to a group meal and the waiter is atrocious – time to call the manager. He can either discount the meal or take off the 20%. There are ways to handle things. If the person tells me in ADVANCE then that is a different story – but I do not subscribe to surprise billing. I have been to restaurants where I ordered food, then when I asked for something and they wanted to tack a stupid fee (the ketchup happened once) I told them I could either get the ketchup, or I leave (with the food on the table, and me not paying the bill). The ketchup arrived.
    Well run restaurants can make great profit – you don't have to rip off your customers.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • xjdavid

      You sound like a real jerk.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Maggie

      So you punish the server instead of the company? You're screwing the wrong person.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • mary tercor

      As a server i am 100% behind the 20% automatic tip for a group. Most groups never arrive on time and take longer to serve then say 5 or 6 tables of 4. This means the tables dont turn over and we dont make money. Also we are counting on the table to tip . Sometimes the bill is paid by one person and we can get stiffed very easily. I served a group one night of 16 one night and they asked for the manager , The praised my service and said everything was fantastic. An older woman took the bill for the entire table and left no tip. Not only did they tie up a large portion of my section all night but i still had to tip out to the restaurant $12.00. So i lost money out of my own pocket to serve them. Put the 20% on all bills and if you are truly unhappy see the manager.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • Jenn

        I totally agree with you! Large parties take much longer to serve and from my experience longer to even take their order. I could serve 4 tables of 4 faster than 1 large party of 16. Also, even if they aren't taking up your whole section, you may need to pass some tables off to other servers to properly serve such a large group. Now you have less tables and less tip opportunity. I do believe that the surcharge for large parties should be clearly stated on the menu and customers should definitely be advised of any additional charges for special requests. The only bad experience I've had being charged a fee was at a Denny's. I was in my early 20's-20 yrs ago- at the time. I ordered coffee and while drinking it the cup slipped out of my hand and onto a small bread type plate. The plate broke. Our server came over, saw what happened and took the pieces away. we all made light of my slippery fingers lol and finished our meal. When we got the check there was a $5 charge for the plate. I was shocked. $5 seemed extremely expensive for a plain white 6" restaurant plate. I could have understood it if I had been being rowdy and horsing around and the plate broke but it simply slipped out of my fingers dues to the handle being wet. I refused to pay it and was told I was "banned" from that Denny's.

        August 8, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • BaltoPaul

        Large groups must be terrible to wait on. My softball team frequently goes out after games, and people are always leaving enough to cover the cost of their meal but little or nothing for the tip and disappearing before the bill arrives. We're all professionals and make decent money, so those left always throw in enough for a good tip ... but I could see where large groups that run up a $600 bill are too cheap throw in another $120 for the service after tying up three tables for hours. Without that mandatory 18%, the server would get stiffed more often than not.

        Still, I've seen 20% mandatory gratuities listed for groups as small as six. That is just ridiculous.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:04 am |
        • LR

          In a more perfect world of restaurant dining, all the staff would be paid well, and there would be no tipping whatsoever.

          Same goes for hairdressers, dog groomers, bellhops, taxi drivers, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. Alas, that will never happen.

          August 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Jen

      Yeah, but that's not the RIGHT way of handling things. I hate you type of people who sees one thing wrong with the restaurant, then makes a huge fuss and demand discounts here and there, trying to screw people over. Also, don't take your anger out on the servers about certain things, most of the time they are not the ones who made the decision you're unhappy with.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • b

        its the servers decision where to work. so if they have an issue with the restaurant trying to charge for something that is not listed, its their deal, not the customer's.

        August 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • justathought

          And it’s YOUR decision to eat there. It’s totally unrealistic to think that all employees agree with the rules and procedures set forth by their managers, regardless of where they work. Do you agree with all the rules you were forced to abide by, by your employer? Probably not. But sometimes, whether or not you agree with them, you have to just go with it, or you risk losing your job, which most of us can’t afford to do. But the majority of the time, the servers have NO CONTROL over most of these issues, nor are they even aware that they exist half the time. If you truly have an issue with something, man up, and take it to an owner/manager, instead of taking it out on the server!

          August 9, 2013 at 6:56 am |
        • b

          justathought, facts remain, if I don't like my job, I can get another one as well. just as the waiter or waitress can find a different job if they don't like where they work, not my fault they don't like their job. charging me for something that is not listed as having a price on the menu, or charging extra for something the waiter or waitress did not tell me about is robbery. without something listed on the menu, for all I know, the restaraunt could charge me for ANYTHING they wish. I guess in the same sense though, when they try to do that to me, I could always say I charge "x" amount to dine here, then tell the manager/owner to stick it.

          August 9, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • b

      I agree with furby, list everything on the menu that costs, if it's not there, it shouldn't be charged, and the waiter or waitress can take the issue up with the manager or owner. while the waiter or waitress may feel upset, they can deal with it on their own, not the customer fault the restaurant is trying to slip charges in.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • K

      You are a jackass and are not welcome in any restaurant until you unlearn your sickeningly selfish behaviors. It is not your server's fault. He or she makes 2.13 an hour and doesn't make decisions regarding anything concerning pricing, menu items, etc. cook for yourself, you selfish prick.

      August 9, 2013 at 5:16 am |
  8. Ash

    This is a stupid article. I personally never across any charges listed as the first six points of this article. Stop writing BS articles just for the sake of writing it.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Snappy@Ash

      Isn't it a little early in the day to be that deep in the booze?

      August 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • deesy

      Wow! You must live in a very small town in North Dakota, and have never eaten at a restaurant.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Tina

      This article was written by a hipster that lives in NYC. For some reason they think every single city in the US has restaurants that do things like NYC.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Christopher T

        I have lived in nearly every state in the southwest US and spent extended periods in pretty much every western state. Only 2 of his "don't make sense" things have I not run across.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • BaltoPaul

      These practices probably haven't made it out to Podunk, Arkansas or wherever you live. Give it a few years.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  9. rediane

    Unless you are going to Sicilian sun in hohokus, NJ, there they don't sell any beverages (only wine), as soon as we got there and tried to order beer they said it was byob. So we went across the street to get some beer and have dinner...

    August 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  10. BK

    most of these just seem whiney, and being a chef i'd like to weigh in about the sauce point. Just for shits and giggles let's say the steak house is serving a demi glace. That's a TWO DAY process starting with putting up a nice roasted veal stock overnight, then pulling, reducing, skimming, and fortifying the sauce. So if you want more than what i've costed this plate out for, then hell yes you are going to pay a little extra for it.

    "special" butters as well. dairy is expensive enough and making a nice compound butter to top your steak takes labor.

    Everything in a restaurant costs the restaurant money, if you want more than what has been costed out to be served you should expect to pay more. If I have a consultation with a lawyer for an hour, and want to add extra time, should I expect that to be free?

    August 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Maggie

      People who have never worked in the industry, especially in nicer establishments, have NO idea as to how much labor and cost goes into the simplest of sauces. Not all food comes from Cisco.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
      • dion

        You meant Costco but thats okay. In recent events it seems the Darden chain has been buying lettuce from Walmart as their salads are absolutely bland and looked like they were just unpacked from the plastic pouch. Not going to Red Lobster or Olive Garden no mo....pays to learn to cook and take a stab at it as it saves you money and it is kinda fun to save money!

        August 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
        • Check it out

          Actually, I think Maggie just mis-spelled and meant Sysco.

          August 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
        • xxx

          No, he meant Cisco - a large food service distribution company that is responsible for the food and supply deliveries to ALOT of restaurants nationally. So you're wrong, but that's OK.

          August 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • xxx

          *** Sysco*** I'm a bad speller too - but that's OK.

          August 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
        • Maggie*

          I misspelled Sysco. My place doesn't use that garbage, hence me forgetting how to spell it! Lol.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • MEB

      Agreed. Even splitting the credit card costs money... if you're splitting a check bring cash. This article is lame and has no consideration for what it costs to put a plate of food out to a guest.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
      • BaltoPaul

        Guess what? If my ball team comes in after a game, and 10 couples drop $1200+ at your establishment, it's going on plastic, and you'll be ringing up 10 credit cards. If you don't want to do that, we can head elsewhere after the next game.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • NewEnglandGuy

      But when you buy an entire strip to cut 10 steaks, at a cost of $4-5/lb., and charge $25 for 8oz, it seems like extra sauce would fit into that budget. The margin on most restaurant plates is 60%, which means you should be able to compensate for extra demi glace.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • Mike

        I happen to operate one of the large chain restaurants. When you are at a gas station pumping gas and want want more, YOU PAY for it. Many times a gallon of salad dressing costs more than the $4 per gallon you are putting in your car!!!

        August 8, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • dion

      AND whats the alternative go out of business? Better think these upcharges through. If they work for you more power to you but if you start to see in your books a start of a diminishing return better look REAL hard because it could be the beginning of the end. Many people are a lot more critical of what they eat and what it costs to consume same.
      In the end – restaurants are not a necessity.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Chef Bill

      You said that you are a chef. Doubtful that your restaurant will survive. While I fully understand the effort and expense of food, supplies, overhead, labor and utilities, I price based upon an average consumer. If a customer wants a little extra sauce, butter or mushrooms, I may lose a small amount of margin, but the goodwill and a repeat customer is worth more to me. If the number of extra requests increases, then adjust the base price of the food. Duhh. It is no wonder that there is a continuing market for the Robert Irvine's of the world (Restaurant Impossible).

      August 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • okiejoe

      But BK, if the demi glace sauce comes with the dish then you shouldn't expect to charge extra for it. If someone asked you to leave it off would you discount the price? Not likely.

      August 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  11. Andy Daniel

    The reality is that nothing in a restaurant can be free – not even the bathrooms, because all of these things cost the owner real money. Americans have long been accustomed to "bundled" pricing, in airlines ("free" checked bags and meals) restaurants ("free" bread and coffee refills). In other parts of the world, unbundled pricing is more common. Bundled pricing typically leads to higher consumer prices since people use the "free" goods and services whether or not they would otherwise have purchased them.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • TallinOK

      The only problem with that analysis is the unbundled price does not decrease the cost of the entree. The bundled price is the baseline and then the additional condiments/services are added to the charge. It is a cost always added to, but never taken from. The answer is, do not go to predatory restaurants.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  12. Guest

    Charging for water is quite common in many of the countries that I've visited. Also, one of the more ridiculous charges I've found was a "washing the dishes charge" in Sicily. That charge was about $7 USD per person on top of the tips that were already added on. Never encountered that kind of charge again.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Snappy@Guest

      I think that was the "Naïve American Tourist" surcharge...

      August 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
      • deesy


        August 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • Guest

        Not really. I'm well travelled and research locations before going, although I did not have time to choose a restaurant beforehand from local reviews for that particular visit since I was pressed for time. Asked locals afterwards and apparently that was the one restaurant that did it on the street. Oh well.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • dion

      Many restaurants here in Utah ask if they would like to get the same ordered drink at the table as also a drink to go (no charges) when you leave the restaurant. Coming from California this almost floored me!

      August 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  13. deregnaucourt

    Agree with all, except the New York bagel tax. This is not a special tax on "altered" bagels. This is the sales tax. As in many states, food purchased for preparation at home are not taxed; food prepared and served is taxed. Thus a bagel is not taxed, but if it's sliced and buttered and served, tax is charged.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dennell

      I live in NY and used to work at a grocery store as a cashier. The sales tax and food stamp laws were mind-bogglingly confusing. A cold meatball sandwich out of the deli case – no tax and food stamp-able, but a hot meatball sandwich made to order was a "prepared" item that triggered a sales tax and could not be purchased with food stamps. Same with pizza – a cold one made in-store that you bake at home had no tax and was food stamp-able, but a hot pizza was a prepared food and charged sales tax and non-food stamp-able. Wacky!

      August 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  14. SpaceCadette77

    I live in a touristy spot on the beach here in Sydney, and we often have "weekend/holiday/any other day we choose per person cover charges" added to our bills. It can be about $2.50-$5 per person. I'm very shocked that hasn't happened in the big cities/tourist places in the US. I assume it's coming though... Of course, our waiters also make about $18/hour as minimum wage, so we hardly ever tip.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Jake

    By the way, what really set me off was your little comment about the steak sauce. If its a high end steak joint that's like slapping the chef in the face.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Jer

      "Nothin' sets off the flavor of a steak like some ketchup!"

      Completely agree on this point. This may have been designed to discourage people from requesting it. I like A-1 but I'd never let it get close to a really nice fillet.

      You'll find similar stories with other aspects. I think I remember a story a while back on a place that charged extra for well-done steak (effectively a pay us for ruining this for you charge) and some places will outright refuse it.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • Anonymous

        Funny–my dad told me a story about how he took my mother to the Copa Cabana back in the 60s when they were dating, and he was mortified because she ordered a steak and asked for ketchup (my mother is English and I guess that's how they had steak growing up).

        August 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • BaltoPaul

          He still married her, after she pulled that stunt?

          August 9, 2013 at 12:14 am |
        • cadet

          Who doesn't eat ketchup on their steak? Ketchup on steak is perfectly normal/usual for my family Now if you were talking about ketchup on scrambled eggs.... now that is disgusting.

          August 11, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Michael

      Why would requesting steak sauce be a slap in the face of the chef? He/she prepared a good piece of meat but I prefer an additional layer of flavor. It is MY choice. I would challenge a surcharge for a small bowl of A1 or Heinz being added to my meal (they'd never dare bring a bottle to the table where others could see it) and would never dine there again. My money ... my choice ... my food. Deal with it.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  16. Bill

    The split plate makes sense to me. If you are sharing bites off each others plates it is just to try more variety of food. If you are getting one item, and splitting it two ways you're basically taking up two seats for the price of one. Restaurants don't make much money, they count on turn over to make what money they do. If every table is eating one dish split, they make half as much money.
    I can also understand if you are charged for compound butters or sauces that are made. These cost extra money, and take more time to prepare. It is different than asking for a bottle of A-1 which you are probably going to use just a couple of cents worth.

    August 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Anonymous

      A single diner would also be taking up "two seats for the price of one". Should they have to pay more because they are there alone?

      August 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
      • Tina

        Exactly! It is stupid to charge a split fee, absolutely stupid.

        August 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  17. KB in AZ

    Went out to dinner at a high end restrant in Scottsdale AZ, Mastreo's Ocean Club. These guys just are unbelieveable. The place charges $4 for an 8oz soda and no free refills. Mind you the average plate meal is $50-60, Side dish is $12-20, mixed drinks start @$10...It's a shame when High end places start charging for every little thing. It makes them look desperate for cash and that they take advantage of people out for special occasions. I wouldn't be surprised if they start to charge for the Bread but oddly this time they didn't.

    August 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Bella

      Should have went to Monti's La Casa Vieja on Mill Avenue. We were on vacation and someone that my husband ran into while running up Camelback Mountain recommended it. Food was excellent and staff was awesome. Manager even gave us a tour and told us about the place. The most amazing thing about the tour was that it was after they closed at 11 pm. He didn't make us feel like we were in the way or anything. Told us to take our time when my daughter was reading the captions on some of the pix. Place dates from 1871..the building does. Used to be an adobe hacienda. Anyway..they there. And try their Roquefort salad dressing. No blue cheese for them. Theirs is imported from France and there is a $2.00 upcharge but the server told us about it when I ordered it. It was excellent and well worth the extra couple bucks.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  18. Max

    I was in Hong Kong on business around 20 years ago and went into a McDonald's, After I got my food, I grabbed some ketchup packets and napkins from the counter and turned to walk away. Complete pandemonium erupted. The order taker literally started screaming. Then her coworkers behind the counter joined in the yelling.

    Shocked, I froze and looked back at them in confusion. They continued hollering hysterically at me in Cantonese, while gesturing angrily. I had no clue what were they saying, and what to do. So I just stared at them. Finally, an English-speaking customer stepped forward and told me that condiments (including salt) and napkins are not free, and must be paid for. I had no idea. Embarrassed, the whole place staring at me, I quickly paid and left. And I never went back.

    August 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Jen

      LOL, as a person of Hong Kong descent, I can completely picture this happening in my mind.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Tina

      1) Why the hell would you eat at a McD's when you are overseas?
      2) Learn the local customs when you travel, stop making Americans look bad.
      3) Why the hell would you eat at a McD's ANYWHERE?

      August 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • James

        Oh, thank goodness...the pretentious food snob has finally graced us with her presence.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
        • Wendy Jane

          Thinking McDonald's is garbage makes you a pretentious food snob? Seriously?

          August 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • Max

        Tina, as I said, I was there on business, not for pleasure. I ate plenty of local cuisine during that month long trip. But on that day, I was busy running around the city, from meeting to meeting. Sometimes you just need something fast and quick, no matter what country you're in. McD's is nowhere near my first choice, but when time is short...

        August 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  19. Customer'sLastStand

    I wish I could bill a restaurant for all the problems from start to finish. From lousy service to an intentionally erroneous bill (everything charged ala carte when they should know their menu) to a mandatory 18% tip for a party of 5! Everything that went wrong, could go wrong at a well-established restaurant managed by veterans in the business. If only a critic could have shared my experience!

    August 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  20. D-FILER

    JUST FYI-Mc Donalds, and most fast food restaurants in the rest of the world charge for condiments (nearly all of Europe, India, SE Asia, Japan, South Africa). It seems like only in the America's do they not. I haven't been charged for ketchup in Mexico or Canada. Peculiar?

    August 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • JennyG

      I lived in Japan for a year & went to McDonald's probably once a month when I was missing "Western" food. I was never asked to pay extra for ketchup. They would just ask me how many packets I wanted. The thing I like about American restaurants vs Europe/Asia is the free refills on drinks. Yes I know it's bundled into the meal price but I tend to drink a lot when I eat regardless of what I am drinking (water, tea, pop, etc). When all you're given is one small 8 oz glass and charged $3+ for it, you don't want to pay for another glass & often they don't offer water.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  21. Jason_Viper

    Some places will charge you a fee or flat out refuse to let you eat carryout in their restaurant. Never happened to me, but I know of one story of somebody picking up a pizza to go, a thunderstorm comes pouring down so they sit down to eat and they are told they are not allowed to. Some lame argument about servers not getting tips this way. Sounds like bad business to me, especially when you never intended to sit down and eat, but circumstances kind of force your hand.

    August 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Anonymous

      It probably depends on what kind of place it is–if it's a pizza place where you basically get your slices at the counter and then can either sit or go, then it is wrong to charge for sitting. BUT, if it is a full-on sit-down restaurant with servers and hostesses that does carryout, then I can see why they wouldn't want a carryout patron to just sit at a table with their order–especially if there are sit-down patrons waiting to be seated.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Tina

      I'm sorry but the thunderstorm is NOT the businesses fault. You chose take out so if you sit there and eat it, it is NO LONGER take out.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  22. BRYAN


    August 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Mark

      That is a charge for being a big nancy and putting fruit in your beer.

      August 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • Jerv

        L M A O! God love ya Mark!

        August 9, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Frustrated

      Went to a Little King (cold cut sandwiches) in Omaha, NE. Was charged 25 cents for a glass of water. It was a self serve soda fountain, so no extra effort for staff, except to hand me a cup.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
      • Tina

        And you think cups are free?

        August 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
        • Lee

          Did he get to take it home?

          August 9, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • Snappy

      Did they charge you extra for the pretty dress you were wearing?

      August 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  23. Jim

    Mr. Cury, WHY is it fair to charge an automatic 20% tip onto a larger group? This group is going to eat a lot more than just a couple, for example. So if you have 15% or 18%, whatever, and you increase that by the amount of food eaten with a group of, say, six people instead of that couple, man, you're getting a much bigger tip. Why ad insult to injury by not just getting more money (because of much larger bill) but a higher percent of that, too? And yes, I was in the restaurant business for many years.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Mary

      And to piggy-back off of that, what if the service was not up to par? Why force us to cough up 20% for mediocre service?

      August 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • ORChuck

      There's always still a line on the bill for "tip." If the service is not commensurate with "mandatory" tip, then just write a negative number on that line and subtract off the undeserved portion of the tip. I dare the restaurant manager to argue with you much about it.

      August 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • kit

        Wow I never actually thought of that, interesting concept. I guess if it is displayed on the menu then you should be charge the fee, although it should be the standard 15% giving you the option to add more if you thought it was great service.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • K

          Kit, it's not 1970, the standard has been 20 percent for decades, as it should be. Stop being miserly or cook for yourself.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:33 am |
      • Joseph22

        I would charge your ass, you don't want to pay, eat somewhere else.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
        • Matt

          The food has been paid for, I don't want to pay a tip for a sh....ty service.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • RdRunnerxx

      What most people do not realize is that the 20% gratuity is added to the total after taxes. So after taxes, it becomes more than 20% since in some states, tax can be as high as 10%.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
      • Maggie

        Not where I work. Tip for large parties is attached before taxes.

        August 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • okiejoe

          So, in that case you are paying sales tax on the tip!

          August 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
        • RdRunnerxx

          Then you are paying tax on the tip! Either way these two items (tip and tax) must be calculated separately which is almost never the case. I see almost everyone add tip % on top of the (total+tax) which means they are tipping more than they think they are. To be accurate it should be only % on total.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Will

      Jim, obviously you have NEVER waited on large groups. I work in a resort community in the Florida panhandle. Where we are located, on scenic 30-A on the Emerald Coast, we have parties of 10 to 30+ all summer long. If you dont think that a party of 6 adults and 24 kids want drop you tip, you are wrong. Kids menu items are typically cheaper. They share. Parents order them a soda or only water. This drops a check drastically.
      Now, this table requires all of your time to get that many orders properly, refill drinks and keep up with the table. You now loose the option of turning your table. Believe me......20% is not enough. Try it sometime. Oh, and BTW.....I choose this line of work because i like it.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Alan

        agree completely and as someone that has been going to the Emerald Coast for 15 years and staying on 30A exclusively for the past 5 I know what you are talking about. Best of luck and hopefully you keep the policies in place to ensure you are taken care of for serving these larger parties.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • Dren

      Even worse is a growing number of places that set it up so the mandatory tips do not go to the servers at all, but to the company as if it was an item from the menu, and the servers only get any additional tip that is added on top of that in the optional section. Many states don't allow this, but if you think the service is bad when they know they're going to get 20% for sure, imagine how bad the service is when they know the 20% doesn't go to them and the party won't tip them because they've already been charged once. I've done the negative tip thing to take off the 20% then put cash on the table at places that do that and haven't been charged on my cc yet for the mandatory tip, but i'm not sure if the server actually got to keep the cash.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Jay

      I worked in a 5 star hotel for many years and the stuff they charge is ridiculous like $8 for soda but when it comes down to it. The cost it takes to operate and keep a hotel that nice, clean, updated, trained talents gets very expensive. People pay for the environment. Also about that 20% service charge, I worked on a rooftop bar for few years and if you ever been a server trying to take care of a group of 30 in 110 degree weather in a full suit while they are all getting intoxicated for 4 hours? and worst of it is the management tells you not to charge service charge on those group because they are VIP and looks bad and they left without leaving a dime because they are so intoxicated to know.

      There is good side and bad side to the service charge but in this industry i believe that its imposed because of those not tipping customers.

      I went to Korea and they don't take tip but add a mandatory 10-15% service charge on every bill. I know a lot of restaurant in the city are doing the same thing

      August 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tina

      This has been debated to death.

      Large groups ALWAYS take up a whole lot more time.

      Large groups NEVER have everyone show up on time.

      Large groups make it very easy for people not to leave tips, everyone "assumes" someone else is going to tip.

      Large groups always complain the most, they don't understand why you can't serve 20 people all exactly at the same time.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
      • Joseph22

        Amen. Kudo's to restaurants that refuse to take larger groups.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Joseph22

      Because your group is going to be a lot more work than the table of one or two, which the waiter -still- has to wait on in addition to your party of 6-10 (Personally I think the magic number is 8+, automatic gratuity). And what if the party doesn't leave anything? Or tips very poorly (it happens all the time, whether its due to the fact that they assume there's a gratuity already, or more likely they are cheap)? Not to mention that a good deal of restaurants force waiters to share parties and the tip coming from that party (So instead of getting 20 from the party you're down to 10, less if it is a bigger party and more waiters are required).

      August 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • BaltoPaul

      Because big groups run up a $1000 bill, and then decide that $200 is way too much to tip a lowly server, and think that they are being generous throwing $40 on the table. The server ends up with a 4% tip that is probably getting split with kitchen and bussing staff.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  24. ted

    The title of the article should be how to get me to leave with out paying the check and swearing to never return, in a grand scene of course!

    August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  25. Jan

    I don't mind the "extra plate" charge when it is 1/4 or less than the price of the lowest cost menu item and allows two diners to dine on one meal. Often restaurants offer generous portions because many people demand them (feel cheated with less food and would not go to the restaurant if the portions were smaller), but when 2 customers who are happy with smaller meals and eating the same thing as each other are served, it is reasonable to expect more income for the restaurant than if only one customer were served. It still means a much cheaper meal for the customers than ordering 2 meals, and does not create the waste (or waist) issues.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Fiona

      Often when restaurants split a meal back in the kitchen, they garnish both plates and serve more than half of the one-meal-sized side dish (veggie or slaw or fries, etc.). I think the fee makes sense in that case.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jackie

      The first time I encountered an extra plate charge was several years ago. This place served enormous a friend and I went there and ordered one but asked for an extra plate. They said it would be added charge of 1/2 price. We only got one....and each had our own fork and ate out of the same plate.....never returned......never will. This encourages gluttony and the biggest glutton is the restaurant.

      August 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Bill

        You are taking up two seats for the price of one. Restaurants don't make much money and have the highest turnover rate of any business. Stop thinking of yourself and look for perspective.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
        • Anonymous

          So by your logic, a single diner should pay more than a couple, because restaurants don't have tables for one and a single diner is seated at a table for two?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • Another Bill

          So if 3 people eat at a restaurant that only has tables for 4 should they be charged an extra fee, too? Heaven help people eating alone! The seat thing is a ridiculous argument.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
        • I Love Food

          BALONEY! The restaurant makes no more money on a single person sitting at a table with one meal as it makes on two people sitting at the same table with the same one meal! It is NOT the number of occupied CHAIRS that matters, it is the number of available TABLES! DUH! As long as you are not occupying more than one table, it costs the restaurant absolutely NOTHING more to allow two people to share one meal! This is nothing more than pure GREED!

          August 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • Bill

          Saying a restaurant is greedy is like saying any business is greedy. They just want paying customers, and yes the ideal situation would be no empty seats. The only other way to combat people ordering like this is to decrease portion sizes. Then you complain about that. So just don't be so cheap, buy a meal for each person. You guys are the same people that take ketchup packets for home use. Who goes by themselves to dinner anyways?

          August 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
        • Tina

          And if I went to the restaurant solo I'd still be taking up a full table.

          August 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
        • K

          To anon, yes, restaurants have seats for one.. It's called a bar. Sit there and take care of your bartender and leave the tables for two or more so they can properly pay for the real estate and experience.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:41 am |
      • Fiona

        Again, I see a difference between having that salad split between two plates in the kitchen (in which case you have ordered two half-orders, and should be charged extra), and the server bringing you an extra plate (which should not incur a charge). I would not have tipped a server who saw me sharing a plate and didn't offer to bring an extra, small plate.

        August 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  26. Fiona

    I rarely eat at buffets, and when I do I take only what I can eat. But often you taste something and it's awful, or just not worth eating when there are so many good things on offer (or you notice only when you've gotten a good look at it that there's an ingredient you can't eat). If anyone tried to charge me for the small bits of food I'd rejected, I would refuse to pay. You can't force someone to eat, and you'd be treading on dangerous ground to require that diners clean their plates. I'd love to take a case like that to court.

    I will not eat at a restaurant that demands a credit card for a reservation, unless it's a "special" dining night, like Valentine's Day, etc. And as for increased prices for peak times, I think the way to go is reduced prices for off-peak times, no?

    I get angry when the extra charges are hidden. At one long-established local restaurant, a server comes to your table while you are looking at menus, and offers an assortment of munchies in small bowls, presented on a tray. You are told to select what you want. Only when you get the bill do you learn that you are charged per bowl. Sure, patrons won't get tricked twice, but the place gets a lot on one-time tourist traffic.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  27. Dan

    Real simple solution. Don't eat at those places.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  28. Nimrod

    Most of the time I'd be willing to pay extra to NOT be in the room with the live entertainment, and would definitely be willing to pay a surcharge toNOT have to sit in a room with children.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • bob

      I'd pay to have you seated at the kiddie table ;o)

      August 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • Bill

        I have kids, but I think some restaurants shouldn't allow kids. Some types of restaurants are place we go to escape our kids and get away. When paying $100 a person, it's nice to have grown up time.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • ed dugan

      If I walk into a restaurant and see kids I exit immediately. Don't want them around at anytime but certainly not at mealtime. I served my time with four and don't need some other family's brats to ruin my meal.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
      • BaltoPaul

        My kids have been eating out since they were toddlers.

        There are some restaurants in our area that ban children. The people I know who have children won't patronize the place on their "date nights" out without their kids, on principle.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:25 am |
      • Lee

        Wow. Aren't YOU a peach?

        August 9, 2013 at 12:34 am |
      • cadet

        Most agreed with you. I expect little rug rat behavior at McDonalds, Wendys and Chucky Cheeses, but if I'm going to a nice, upscale, sit down restaurant, then I want to be able to enjoy the meal WITHOUT brats ruining the meal.

        August 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tina

      Have you tried eating at home?

      August 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  29. Prince Fancypants of Wales

    I find it funny that getting a burger with mayo costs a lot extra at a fast food place (they charge you for the "deluxe" version), but asking for a side is free.

    And Ive never had a split charge, if I ever get one you can be 100% sure the tip lines are going to be crossed out.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • KC

      That's a good plan. Take the tip away from the below minimum wage server to "punish" them for their employer's policy.

      August 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Tina

        A good server will just bring you an extra plate and not bill you for it. A good server will say "we usually charge for this but I'm not going to charge you" and thus that server has a better chance to get a GREAT tip.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • Mike McDonalds

        If the server wasnt brain dead lazy there wouldnt be a split charge, that is a complete result of servers complaining about it. They dont deserve a tip if theres a split charge to make up for their laziness.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  30. chillin dawg

    The bagel "fee" is a tax leveled on prepared foods in certain jurisdictions where grocery items are generally exempt from sales taxes. Most prepared foods are also ineligible for purchase with food stamps. I will walk out of any restaurant that notes any of those other fees on it's menu including the 20% or any other % automatic tip. If not on the menu but appears on my bill I will not pay it.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  31. Edwin

    On the flip side, whenver I order a Chil-fil-a sandwich minus the cheese, they actually take 30 cents OFF the cost! I thought it was a nice touch.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Paratrooper_us

      The opposite is true with McDonalds – every so often when I am traveling with my dog, I will go to McDonald's and order a McDouble cheeseburger (no toppings, just meat, bread and cheese) for me and a McDouble hamburger (again no toppings) for my dog and I still pay the same for both. Also – if they are selling large drinks for $1 and coffee costs $1,29 at breakfast, if I get a value meal and replace the coffee with another drink, why do they charge me an additional 35 cents, I am downgrading according to your menu.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • Jen

        I'm allergic to gluten. If i go to a burger place i have to order a burger minus the bun. I don't get any of thr toppings, except cheese, either because it just doesn't taste too good. I still get charged full price for a burger. I don't think it's very fair, but I guess it's the price I have to pay if I want to eat out with friends.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • Lost Causes NM

        I ordered happy meal for my son and I don't allow him to drink soda. So I asked if I could have a water. They said they cannot give tap water in a happy meal or replace it with bottled. So I reluctantly ordered an orange juice. They said they only had Hi-C available. So I decided, no drink. That's when the most outrageous part came. If you order a happy meal without a soda, they will charge you for your burger, fries, and apple slices a la carte, it will not include a toy and it will be more expensive than if you ordered a soda. Shocked, I ordered a sprite and when they gave it to me, I dropped it and left. McDonald's is refusing to not give you a soda when you order food for children, how is that for their "healthier" image?

        August 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • Snappy

          I had the same thing happen at Burger King at breakfast. Wanted a breakfast sandwich, but no drink. Charge was higher, and they would not budge (even though it saves them the cost of a drink, however marginal). I just walked out.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Tina

          You sound like a major douchebag.

          August 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • BaltoPaul

          Most fast food franchises are built around selling the entre at cost or a loss, and making margin on fries and drinks. If they can't charge you for a drink, you're costing them money.

          August 9, 2013 at 12:28 am |
        • Lee

          Same thing with breakfast sandwiches at McD's. I'd rather just have an egg and cheese sandwich - no greasy meat. You can get a Sausage and Cheese McMuffin for $0.99, but if you as for an egg and cheese they charge you full price ($2.99) as if you ordered it with a meat. Makes no sense.

          August 9, 2013 at 12:37 am |
      • Tina

        That' animal cruelty to feed them McD's food.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Michelle

      Chick Fil A doesn't come with cheese, just pickles.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • SpaceCadette77

        Um, Chick-Fil-A has more than one sandwich...

        August 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
      • Henry Lancaster

        As a matter of fact Chick-fil-A now has a deluxe sandwich served with lettuce, tomato, pickles and CHEESE.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • Edwin

        You're right, the original sandwich has only pickles. I meant the breakfast bagel sandwich. Comes with chicken, cheese and egg on a bagel. I just get mine without cheese.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  32. There Is No Spoon

    I like waffles. Who will give me waffles on the rocks?

    August 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  33. Michelle

    I recently went to a local coffee house/bakery for a morning coffee and croissant. It wasn't my usual spot, and I wanted to try it. After I sat down, I went looking for the napkins, knives, and (most importantly) the butter. When I couldn't find it, I asked the cashier; she informed me the butter was extra. $.50 extra! I was peeved to say the least. Why didn't she ask me when I was ordering and paying?! Seriously, butter is extra? I won't go back there. The croissant was average. The place close by has much better pastries and has all the butter I want. Jam too!

    August 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Ninety-9

      I'd have to agree. There are certain foods that almost require toppings to the customer's preference. It's like ordering a steak and having an up charge if you would like it seasoned, or ordering fries and an up charge for ketchup. I'd probably tell the manager that I'm never coming back and make sure that a few other customers hear me. I hate being nickel and dimed for little things like that.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Fiona

      You put butter on a croissant???

      August 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • Michelle

        Yes, it's divine. Orange marmelade too, if I'm at home.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • Pippi

          Toasted croissants with butter and orange marmalade with a cup of French Market coffee = heaven.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
      • ORChuck

        Especially if it's warm.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • cadet

        You eat a crossiant dry? eewww

        August 11, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • scooterdie

      It's is one of my biggest pet peeves. When my husband stops off at Taco Bell he picks me up a 7 layer burrito. I'm all excited at the treat till I open the bag and see no sauce. I can't complain to him because he just did it to be nice, but they never ask if you want sauce packets. He never remembers to ask and if they don't remind him, I have to go without. How hard is it to say? "sauce packets?" I've worked in fast food, it's simple enough. I've called to complain, they've promised to train their employees but guess what, last week, no sauce.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • Jason_Viper

        mmmmm.....7 layer burrito!

        August 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • KC

        At the local Taco Bell the sauce packets are self-serve, in bins next to the utensils, napkins etc. If you do drive through you have to remember to ask. I never do drive through, always less wait time by walking in.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
      • Jay

        As far as fast food, i never had any fast food restaurant ask me if i want condiments. you have to ask yourself because everyone preference is different. My friend likes mayo on fries and i like mine plain

        August 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
      • Tina

        If your husband loved you he'd remember to ask for sauce.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • Wendy Jane

          I agree! Taco Bell doesn't need to train their employees – you need to train your husband.

          August 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
        • Names not required

          I'll give you some of my sauce, Tina.

          August 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • magnus

      why are you putting butter on a crossant? I am not being mean but you will be obese if you keep that up.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  34. Anonymous

    I usually avoid restaurants that charge most of these extra fees. But the one thing that drives me crazy is the automatic gratuity for a party of 6 or more. First, it assumes that even if the server gives excellent service, that the customer will shortchange the tip (or, it assumes that we can't do math on a large check, which is also insulting). Second, I have been in restaurants with large parties many times, and most of the time, the service actually does suck (probably because the server knows they are guaranteed a tip no matter what).

    A tip is for good service–not an automatic expectation. That means the customer gets to decide what to give, not the restaurant.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Ninety-9

      It can be a slap in the face, but large parties typically do take up a disproportional amount of time, on the server's part, than the same amount of people at multiple tables, especially distributing and collecting multiple payments. Larger groups also tend to stick around longer consuming only free refills and not necessarily spending any more money.

      If the service is bad, you talk to a manager. Don't sweat the extra gratuity because if you really had unpleasant service, a manager will typically more than make up for it with a discount or gift card.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • ORChuck

        If the service is bad, just go to that line on the check where it says "tip," write in a negative number, and subtract the undeserved portion of the tip right off of the bill. If the waiter or manager wants to discuss it, they'll have to account for the poor service. Your bank will pay the amount you wrote in as the total.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • cadet

          Better yet, pay cash after subtracting the undeserved tip, then you don't have to worry about the restaurant trying to put in for that unapproved tip amount.

          August 11, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • BaltoPaul

        Six couples at six tables = six checks. Six couples at three tables shoved together = 6 checks. Also, filling water glasses and such for one large group instead of six smaller ones takes less trips. I do not see your point.

        I go out in large groups frequently. We often have groups of 12 to 20. We order a lot of food, and we tip well. Some establishments are very welcoming. Others act like we are a huge inconvenience. They lose our future business.

        We're usually out after early or mid-week sports, later in the evening, well past the dinner rush. You'd think a 3/4 empty place would be glad to get an extra $1000 to $2000 in walk-in business, but some places / servers act like a big group and separate checks is just too much bother. Guess what, server? It might be a chore to ring up 10 checks near closing time, but those empty tables weren't going to tip you $200-$400.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Byron

      The only reason places do that is because of the amount of people who stiff servers. Having tables with large parties requires more time and work than smaller parties. From personal experience, and from friend's experiences, it is ridiculous to have a party of 10, work your butt off and then be lucky to receive a 10% gratuity. People think the servers are receiving a wage, so why do they need to tip? They don't realize most servers do not even make minimum wage. I made $4 an hour when I was a server. Servers live off of tips!

      I'm not a huge fan of automatically adding 20% gratuity, but it makes sense for larger parties, and I don't see a problem with it as long as the customers are informed of the policy before hand.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • Anonymous

        But those people probably stiff the servers regardless, right? I get what you're saying, but 10% of a bill for a large party is still more than the 10% the same person would tip if it was just 2 people. A person who tips 20% normally isn't suddenly going to be cheap just because the party is large.

        I don't know, it just feels wrong.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • Will

          But.....if you have four tables of two, instead of one group of eight or more, I can almost guarantee the tip is better. Parties arent concerned with the server....just that their large party is taken care of implicitly with no concern of the amount of time they are consuming. Communal groups who insist on having dinner in a restaurant together......with split checks and no gratuity added, should have to wait on their own group. Again....i challenge you to work in the industry and think otherwise.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • Jay

          every server is assigned a section and let say your section only had 3 table of 4 tops. A group of 12 comes in and takes all three tables. The whole 2-3 hours you wait on that big party is the only tip you will make on those hours so i feel sometimes 20% service charge isn't even enough. Larger party also have slower turn around time verses group of 2 or 3

          August 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • ParkCity

      I understand where you are coming from. As a waiter I have witnessed and even split large parties with other waiters/waitresses who have given poor service simply because they know that the check will have an auto gratuity. Having said that I have waited tirelessly on large and small parties only to find a tip 10% or below, or no tip at all. Servers make $2.13 an hour, and rather than risk spending an hour or two waiting on a large group of people only to make $6 or $7, I choose to be sure that I am at least going to be payed what I deserve for my work. Perhaps if there were a universal etiquette on how to tip and treat your waiter, we wouldn't need to add on any gratuities.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • scooterdie

        There is now federal minimum wage laws. If you are getting 2.13 per hour, your employer MUST ensure you are taking home $7.25. Not great, but I am sick of servers throwing that $2.13 out there. It is only in some states that allow $2.13 and as I say, federal law mandates you take home at least $7.25.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • John

          Not true for tipped employees. The minimum wage is only 2.13 for certain employees who primarily earn their money from tips.

          I never mind the mandatory tip for large parties. I'm always going to drop ~20% on the tip anyway, and I recognize that a single large party (especially during the lunch shift) seriously impairs the server's ability to deal with other tables. In addition, large parties tend to stay at the meal longer than a group of 2-4, meaning that in the time it takes to serve a single group of 8, the server could have served 3 or 4 groups of 4.

          It's reasonable to guarantee a certain minimum tip in this case, so that the server is guaranteed to make money off the deal. (Otherwise no servers would be motivated to work large parties.)

          Just make sure it's noted as such on the bill and I don't have a problem.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
        • spoonfedkitty

          Not at ALL true for servers and some other tip-based employees. I made about $5/hour when I was serving a couple of years ago and that was considered "good" base pay.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • haw

          Stop being a cheapskate. If you don't want to pay for the service, then you can go to the grocery store. By the grocery , wash it, prep it, cook it and serve it yourself. You don't have to tip yourself. Don't forget to wash the dishes. You can then complain about your own bad service. You don't have to tip yourself.

          August 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • Ryan D.

          John and spoonfedkitty,

          scooterdie is correct. For tipped employees whose tips fail to increase their income from $2.13/hr. to $7.25/hr., employers must make up the difference.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • James

          This is entirely correct but is not known by the majority of servers, which is a fact their employers reap the benefits of.

          August 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • LaLa

          and when they take the 31 dollars from my check and my employer has to make that up, who do you think is going to ultimately pay that difference? The customer

          August 10, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
      • Tina

        I've known a lot of servers over the years, every single one of them make great money. If you are consistently getting low tips it isn't the customer to blame.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Francesco Zappa

      That's due to certain ethnic persons who leave $3 on a $150 tab.
      I have no problem with the automatic gratuity for large groups. I tip 20% anyway.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Cam519

      The "to insure proper/prompt service" thing is something made up by cheapskates. Tips is not an acronym. The historically accurate "tip" was the tip of the spear that would be shoved through your a** at the village meadhall if you didn't pay the barmaids. It evolved a little afterwards in that you'd pay more up front for your drinks to the server bringing your ales so they'd pay you more attention instead of the peasants at the next table. The practice today is why good tipping regulars get the attention and a fresh refill while you stare blankly at the wall in front of an emtpy glass wondering what's going on.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Sam

      What you fail to take in to consideration is that servers in many parts of this country work on tips alone. When server's wages are under $3/hr, we sometimes end up OWING money on payday to cover the taxes on our presumed tips (based on the servers' sales). So while you may feel gratuity should be optional, when someone stiffs a server, that server may actually end up not only waiting on that table for free, but because they are taxed on a percentage of their sales, they actually end up paying to serve that table.

      That being said; if there is a large party or banquet assigned to a particular server, that means that they will be taking substantially fewer or no other tables for that evening. So that ONE party determines a large percent or ALL of their earnings for the evening. You seem offended at not being trusted to tip appropriately but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people out there who just don't. I've had people compliment me up and down for a fantastic evening and fantastic service and even ask to speak with the manager to let him know how wonderful I was and then leave me a 5% tip. If I get stiffed on a small table it's unfortunate but I can try to make it up on the next one. But if I spend ALL or MOST of my night on one large party and it just so happens that they are cheap-skates or ill-informed on tipping protocol, that could end up being several hundred dollars out of my pocket and that's not a risk I should have to take.

      When I know there is an auto-grat attached to a party, I go above and beyond to ensure that they are getting a level of service that will be deserving of that. And if you go somewhere with a large party where the service is truly deplorable than by all means say something. But otherwise try to understand that the gratuity is not simply an extra little bonus for your is their livelihood. And while you may feel you always tip appropriately, rest assured there are people out there who don't.

      August 8, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • cadet

      Never been to a restaurant that put a mandatory tip on a table of 6, table of 8 or more yes, but not on 6. But if you object, you could go in as 2 groups of 3 and get two tables and avoid the automatic tip. You could also probably get the meals to go and sit where ever in your own home.

      August 11, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  35. Jill R

    The one I see doing this the most is McDonald's. I wanted mayo instead of ketchup on my sandwich and they charged me $.30 (this is in the Indianapolis market). It's not a big deal.....but kind of flabbergasted me since they give away PACKAGES of mayo for free. So, lesson learned: don't have McDonald's put the mayo on your sandwich in Indianapolis. Ask for the free packet and do it yourself :-).

    August 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • sqwah

      This is a great lesson. I'll remember it next time I want mayo on my disgusting burger.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Fiona

      McD's is so automated that a special order like that means someone has to supervise the assembly of your burger. The charge actually makes sense.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
      • cadet

        You must be delusional if you think the making of sandwiches in McD is automated. Yes, the sandwiches have a standard list of condiments on them, but each sandwich is made by a human, not a machine.

        August 11, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  36. RPMason

    rhobere is correct that European restaurants usually charge for water - but they don't gouge for bottled water like in the US. It's also the case that in many Euro countries they charge for bread, so you have be careful to decline it if you don't want it. So extras happen there as well as in the US - you just have to know about them.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Chiara

      In some European countries, like Italy for example, it doesn't matter if you turn down the bread, because you will still be charged the "coperto" or cover charge. This is essentially the "tax" or tip to even dine out. And if you do tip, they'll look at you like you have 7 heads, because it was already included in the bill. :)

      August 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Andy Daniel

      In some European countries, the waiter will immediately bring a basket of rolls. They are NOT free, you are billed for the number you take. This is not a scam, as the customers already know this is the normal way of doing business. The rolls you don't take are simply offered to the next table. Americans might consider this unsanitary, but it's no different than being handed a roll by your wife, nobody gets sick from it.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  37. Bob

    Oh the welfare liberals... always wanting more without paying for it.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • get realist


      August 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Actually, it's the conservatives who b i t c h the loudest when they don't get what they want for free..

      August 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • no

      Oh shut up, Bob. Nobody cares.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • rschier

      oh the pathetic Bob....turning everything political.....

      August 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • scooterdie

      do us a favour Bob, look up "liberal" in the dictionary. You'll see that you are likely one (unless you are a communist).

      August 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  38. laurie

    I don't eat out unless I absolutely must. Why anyone would pay more than quadruple the price of food in order to willingly subject themselves to unhealthy ingredients, unhygienic conditions, grouchy, fake and pretentious fake servers, noisy and crowded environment, greedy management is beyond me. Even when traveling, with a quick visit to a local grocery store, you can get much healthier no-preparation food at a fraction of the price.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • rschier

      Bravo !!!

      August 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jen

      You sound like a lot of fun Laurie.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • jenny

        So do you, Jen!

        August 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Pippi

      Maybe because there are some things that cost a heck of a lot more to make at home than eating out. Lasagna for instance, which costs me upwards of $50 to make a pan, silly for a single person. I can get a lasagna dinner at my local pizza place (not a franchise place) with garlic bread and salad for $10, eat a third, take 2/3 home for an additional 2 meals, so that $10 meal (plus tip) ends up costing me $4 each for three meals.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
      • Tina

        HOW ON EARTH can it cost you $50 to make lasagna???

        August 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
        • Ann

          Don't you just love the fuzzy math people come up with to get out of cooking?

          A pan of lasagna: Noodles, $2. Ricotta, $3. Mozzarella, $4. Pound of sausage, $4. Two jars of sauce, $5. That's only $18 for the basic ingredients. You may throw in a few extras, but they'd have to be damn expensive to get up to $50.

          August 9, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • cadet

          May not quite cost $50 to make a pan of lasagna, but it can be expensive. The noodles may be cheap, but when you add in the meat (sausage or ground beef), the cheese, the sauce, chopped onions, mushrooms and other fixings, it can get expensive. Then of course the cost of utilities for cooking the meal and clean up.

          August 11, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Mark

      Laurie why go to the grocery store when you can grow your own crops. Maybe grow cotton to, spin the fiber, create cloth, and make your own clothes too! Stop being lazy!

      August 8, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  39. jack

    Corkage fee? If they were charging even as much sa 50% over retail for wine, I would happily pay it. But to charge 2-300% over retail, as is common in the USA, l and then charge more that 10% of the retail price if I bring my own wine is robbery. It's also bad business. I would buy much more wine at restaurants if the price were reasonable.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • mattski

      Some people like to enjoy life, some don't. To each his own.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • rschier

        nothing like equating "enjoying life" to "taking it up the rear side"....

        August 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Ryan D.

      I used to think the same way re: wine pricing, until a buddy of mine pointed out that I never complained about sitting in a bar and paying $3.00 for a bottle of beer that only costs $5.00 a six-pack in the supermarket.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  40. Eater-E

    You can't tell us you don't agree with charging for butter and sauce, then say it's perfectly reasonable to charge $3 for bread and $2 for the butter that goes with it. I suppose it's reasonable if you make it clear beforehand that there's a fee to charge for bread, but a separate fee for the butter? Why?

    I don't mind an automatic gratuity (of 15-18%, not 20) for large groups, as long as it's clear they will be charging it before the meal, and it's clearly stated on the receipt. But that's all they get when they charge it. I won't tip extra. And I don't like being deceived. If they try to charge me and don't tell me, I will have a problem, and then they will have a problem.

    I'm also not going to pay for prime time or atmosphere. It's pretentious and unnecessary, and I'm rather tired of being nickled and dimed absolutely everywhere for everything.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Hey that stuff costs money. No one says they have to give it away for free.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • Eater-E

        Understandable. But the author can't have it both ways. Either he's for charging for every little condiment, or against it.

        Really, if you're going to charge for the bread, why not just roll in the price for butter or oil so that your customer won't feel cheated?

        August 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • whorhay

      The condiment conflict is kind of amusing.

      I've always been pretty forgiving of the automatic gratuity. Then again I guess I'm pretty forgiving regardless, I can only think of a couple times in my life where I deliberately left a poor tip. I usually tip 20% as my minimum and frequently hit around 30% especially at lunch because I always tip at least $3.

      I don't know that I would pay for eating at prime times or at specific tables, but I wouldn't rule it out. To me it's about getting what you want, if you are willing to pay a little extra for it then so be it. If a restaurant is always packed with a 45 minute wait during specific times of the day then charging a little more during those times makes good business sense for everyone involved. If done right the business still serves as many customers as they can over a given time while making a little more profit, and if it results in less of a wait time then the customer also benefits by being served more promptly.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  41. sebbyholmes

    Very well written article. I have been a chef, with an involvement in the food industry for my whole life and completely agree with most of what you say. The hidden costings in setting up and running a catering business/ restaurant, not to mention the rise in the cost of ingredients and transportation have forced the industry to squeeze pennies out of every place possible – sad truth. However, I am souly referring to the characteristics of a small/ private business within this economical climate. The slightly more corporate side of this argument is an absolute joke, for example McDonalds charging extra for ketchup – do they really not make enough money already? £6-£7 for a large burger, chips and a drink that would cost no more that 80p for a corporation of that size to put together. It's a real shocker that they can even get away with it – what's to come in the future? A breathing fee?

    August 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  42. Dave

    When pouring a drink 'neat' or even a martini 'straight up' more alcohol IS used (1 1/2 oz vs 1 1/4 oz), therefore you SHOULD charge more.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Old Enough

      I don't expect more in a "neat" drink. If I want more I will ask for a double.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • Dave

        It isn't a matter of what you want. Bartenders (I have been one) have a certain protocol in making drinks. They won't ask you if you want 1/4 oz more liquor in your drink, it is made a certain way and unless you specify otherwise, that is how it will be poured. I have had a few people get pissed off at me because I filled the glass completely with ice. Sorry, that is protocol in any bar, fill the glass to the top with ice first, then build the drink. If you don't like a lot of ice then you should state that when you place your order. If you think you will end up with more booze then you are stupid, you will end up with more mix instead. So in your case whether you like it or not, or whether you know it or not, you are getting slightly more booze if ordered neat or in the case of a martini, straight up. And you should be getting charged slightly more because of that. If you want a double, that is your prerogative but unless you specify, you have no control over how your drink is poured. And if anyone is still listening: If you ask a bartender to make you a 'good' drink or suggest he/she make it stronger than a standard pour, you should be asked if you want a double. If you say "no, just give me a hefty pour", well, we know someone looking to get something for nothing is most likely a poor tipper and you will be getting a standard, or less than standard pour. Fact of life.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Old Enough

      I know the drill, however I don't expect to get more for a neat pour. If I want more I'll order a double.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Old Enough

        Sorry about the double post, my computer went wonky.....

        August 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Opus

          Actually, your computer didn't go "wonky." You edited your post and then posted again. It was not a double post.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Mixtape21

          Maybe you've ordered too many doubles today? ;)

          August 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Josh

      If I orders 3 fingers of scotch – on the rocks or neat – it should still be the same. If you can't figure out how much the ice displaces the scotch you should pour the scotch then put the ice in. There is no reason why the amount of alcohol should vary that much between neat/on the rocks that would warrant an up-charge.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Chris

        Actually Josh, you pour a significant amount more when a drink is ordered with rocks. The 1 or 2 dollar upcharge is completely reasonable. I frequently get complaints from guests if their cocktail ordered on the rocks does not seem to fill the glass, which will normally necessitate giving them an additional full ounce. And you don't order drinks by the finger and dictate your own price. A house's pour is their pour. If I do a four count on a neat pour and it's a $12 glass of JW black, but I need to do a 6 count to fill a rocks glass, the drink should technically cost $18. You're getting a deal with a $2 upcharge.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • Tina

        Only pretentious douchebags drink scotch.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Ryan Texan

      I don't get it. Use a shot glass if you can't pour the same amount each time. Either way, it should be 1.5 oz. Yes, it will look like less in different glasses with ice or not – but it doesn't matter.
      Technically, some states have limitations/regulations on this. (Not that you are going to have a perfect pour every time).
      It's too complicated to explain price differences with ice or without.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  43. joy

    have you ever tried splitting a check? split a pitcher of beer, bottle of wine, app, dessert especially when everyone didn't share it? Then you have 8 separate credit cards or cash payments needing change? Believe me your other tables do not appreciate waiting for your attention while you are spening all of your time with this one table.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Wah wah wah

      If you're a waiter or waitress, ask at the beginning of the meal if it's all on one check, then just keep track of who has what. You're writing it down anyway. Then there's not a lot of extra time.

      I'm sorry that splitting a check takes two extra minutes. Still no excuse to charge for it or refuse to do it. Unless you've been going incredibly slow all night, most of your patrons won't even notice a delay.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • joy

        No reason to be antagonistic wah wah wah. I just have a feeling that when you are that person waiting for your server you are not nice about it. I think I am right.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Wah wah wah

          Actually, not at all. I don't mess with the folks handling my food, and generally when I'm eating out, I'm concentrating on having a good experience.

          But splitting a check is a simple task. I understand if it's not the favorite part of your job, but you know what, I do things every day that I dislike or even hate because it's part of my job. I don't refuse to do it. I don't charge extra for it. And I don't make snotty comments online about how no one should expect it.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Josh

        It has also been my experience (as a former waiter) that you make more money in tips when the check is split anyway. Maybe only a buck or two, but if you aren't capable of handling this process swiftly then you shouldn't be a server....bus tables instead (it's not so taxing on your mental abilities.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Jen

          I agree Josh, when I used to be a waitress I found the tip was better when the check was split. Primarily because some people prefer to tip high whereas as a group they may have just done a standard percentage. And as wah wah wah said .. if you know ahead of time (the server can just as easily ask if the checks are being split) then you can separate accordingly as you take the orders.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • Chris

        Actually you have no idea what you're preaching about. At peak hours, I may have as many as 8 tables ordering up to 32 individual drinks, apps, and entrees within a 30 minute period as long as the front of house has any experience with pacing how I'm being sat. It's quite possible if not probable that I've thrown away any paperwork with your order on it, and if the restaurant isn't using pivot points which their POS can make easily accessible to the server, we will definitively NOT be spending two minutes of our time splitting your check. It's absolutely lovely when 7 people are splitting 4 apps, two women are sharing a salad (one came with her daughter who had one bite, and one came with a man...are they splitting the cost of the salad? Who's bill does it go on? Is the man paying for the lady? Are they on the same tab or are they just friends going dutch? Now, let's stand at your table while we literally have 4 dozen OTHER tasks that need to be accomplished concurrently for other tables and watch you all look at each other and say, "Well, I guess I ate most of the calamari so you can put that on my tab," let's not forget that he changed chairs at one point because the sun was in one of the lady's eyes and she needed some shade, so I have no idea what couple is together with whom now. And the one guy wants to buy the first round everyone had, and asks you to put those cocktails on HIS tab.....but your printout only has a long line of drinks from the entire evening, and now your have to go around person by person and ask what they had for the first round....which takes another 2 minutes for them to remember....all while 7 other tables are looking at you like they want to kill you and the idiot table you have to listen to jumble their words and complain about the upcharge for Grey Goose in their Cosmo, which was listed at $8, but will now be $10 because you want top shelf.

        That, hopefully, made any other servers reading this smile and chuckle, because you have seen this happen, verbatum.
        Granted, that's a nightmarish version, but when your income is based on keeping all tables pleased, and this "supposedly simple two minute task" takes 10 minutes (not to mention that some restaurants charge the servers for each credit card thanks for handing me 7 cards) you start to get the picture. Just look at the damn bill for a minute, hand me your card, and say $60 on this one, $40 on this one, and the rest on the Visa. Boom. You just saved me from going through a shit storm.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • Nojoy

      So you'd rather like them splitting the table? 8 separate tables, I mean.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • laurie

      Splitting a check is not the restaurant doing you a favour, it's you doing them a favour by "joining tables" and reducing their costs. If they are going to complain about splitting a check for a party of three, how about asking for three separate tables when you walk in? They will be out two extra tables, need extra waiters, will need to serve extra bread bowls, pitchers... etc.

      So next time you walk in with a group, ask if there's a charge for splitting a check and added on automatic gratuity. If they say yes, tell them you are not a party of 8 but 8 separate customers that will occupy 8 tables and 8 servers. Watch their reaction.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • Josh

        ooo...good one. I like it!

        August 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • Ninety-9

        Splitting the check can be costly to the business because, take someone like myself who eats out with friends at the local wing joint. You have a table of 10 people (no fixed gratuity) splitting a check 8 ways, that can be up to 8 credit card runs. And it takes the server about 10-15 minutes to distribute the checks, collect the checks, run all of the tabs, make change (for the cash people), redistribute the final check, etc. which means she can't serve her other tables. On the up side, people tend to tip better in larger groups with split tabs. If my meal cost me $6, I feel bad about leaving any less than $2 and change, which is a 33% tip. Most people tip high on smaller amounts. On larger amounts, I pretty much stick to the 15% rule, give or take the individual.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • Prince Fancypants of Wales

          did you SERIOUSLY just say splitting checks is costly to the business? More costly than not getting those 10 customers at all? REALLLLY?????

          August 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • Jen

        It's not the "splitting" part that's the problem, it's the credit card charges restaurants have to pay. It costs money every single time a card is run on the machine, depending on the credit card company it could be standard fee + percentage of sale. So, if every one in the party is splitting checks, it does cost the restaurant more to run all those cards.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • ?uh what?

          If you had ten tables with one person each, you'd still run each credit card. Otherwise you wouldn't be in business.

          It should make no difference with a party of ten. That's stupid to stay. Would you rather just not have those patrons at all? You're making a whole lot more than the fee takes away.

          No I don't agree with credit card fees. They're ridiculous. But I can't do anything about it, and I can't always carry cash.

          August 9, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • Tina

        Or they can not seat you, or say that they only sit singles at the bar, or they can just refuse service to douchebags like you.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
      • cadet

        And what city do you live in where restaurants charge a fee for splitting checks? Live in the 'burbs of Philadelphia and have gone out quite of few times with groups of 10-15 people and not once has there been an added fee when split checks were asked for.

        August 11, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  44. Brett from Philly

    My opinion is if you set out to eat out you have to pay up. But the deal is this quality food and great service equals a great time and a memory. There are memories I continue to share about a Chinese restaurant that no longer is open, but the food was that good I'd save my money from breakfast lunch and dinner just to eat there. That is worth the price.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Repugnant 1

      I always have to pay up before I eat out.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  45. Businesses Suck

    All businesses suck, there main task is to get as much from you as possible while providing the least possible.
    Buy low, sell high. It works in ALL businesses.
    The worst part is you have no idea how clean their kitchens are, and that is not even taking into consideration the people that work there, and let's be honest many people are disgusting and barely find the time to wash their hands after using the bathroom. I have seen more men in my building not wash their hands then ones that do.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Ninety-9

      Damn straight. All businesses should operate at a net loss.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  46. Josh

    "Even a few McDonald’s (them again?) got in on the action."

    McD's, and other fast food restaurants, have to deal with customers who request a cup "just for water", but then actually fill the cup up with soda. It happen more than it doesn't. It doesn't surprise me that these restaurants have resorted to charging for a water because, as I said, it usually isn't water that goes into the cup.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • rhobere

      Soft drinks at fast food restaurants are the most marked up item in the world, short of printer ink. There is a 6000% mark-up on your soft drink. That means if only 1 person bought a soft drink, a store could give a free soda to nearly every other customer for the rest of the day, and still make a profit.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
      • Ninety-9

        Yes, soft drinks (and tea, lemonade, similar) are expensive, but also remember you get unlimited refills at MOST restaurants. Now, I typically opt for water because I know that soda is just empty calories that I don't really crave all that much, but no matter what sits in front of me, I can typically be on my 2nd refill by the time my meal comes. The average cost is about $2.50-$3 for a soft drink, and if you only drink one glass, that's about a 5x mark-up to what you would spend on the equivalent volume at your local 7-11's fountain dispenser. But as you drink up, 2-3 glasses later, you're pretty much on par with the cheapest fountain drinks on the market.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Old Enough

      And why is the soda dispenser self serve? Because it is such a high profit item, it doesn't matter, also they are saving on labor, not having to pour the drinks. The drive through gets priority anyway, might as well stay in the car.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tina

      Someone tried that at a McD's here, McD's called the cops for theft and the cops arrested the guy. That's a $714 shoplifting fine and an automatic overnight stay in jail. Was that "free" soda worth it?

      August 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  47. cmalbrecht

    In "Marta's Place" the free water subject is covered nicely. Check it out at

    August 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  48. El Flaco

    It bothers me that restaurants advertise 'home made' food.
    First, it's restaurant made if it's made in the restaurant, which most food isn't.
    Second, it's factory made if the restaurant just thaws it out for you.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Tina

      In 'merica a home made meal is either take out or something out of a box from the frozen food section.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
      • Ann

        Not in my house!

        August 9, 2013 at 9:26 am |
      • cadet

        Maybe in your house, but not in mine or any of my relatives.

        August 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  49. Maggie

    Your article is ridiculous. When people split plates, they generally receive bigger portions than the "half" they should receive. Guests know they save money, and get more food, ultimately. Moreover, the extra 1-2$ for the Rocks pour is due to the fact that drinks with mixers, as a standard have 1 1/2 ounce pours. Drinks on the "rocks" are a 2 ounce pour. The extra money is for the additional 1/2 ounce of booze. I have worked in the business for 20 years, and I have NEVER been to a place that charges for tap water.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Josh

      I can see if one entrée was ordered for two people. The are costs for the extra plate, extra silverware, extra napkins, and so on. However, if the number of entrées equals the number of customers, and they are truly passing the food around and sampling a bit of everything, then there should not be a charge.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Erica

      Did you even read the article? The author acknowledged that if the restaurant splits the meal and prepares the two portions, a split plate fee is warranted – his gripe was with charging simply for an extra plate, with the diners doing the splitting themselves. Your argument – that the guests get bigger portions – would only apply if the restaurant is doing the splitting. Some great restaurants do this, and as part of the fee, the diners get extra portions of the side dishes and/or salads.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jackson

      No, your attitude is ridiculous.

      First off, they explained the pour difference in the article. Did you bother to read it? If so, why repeat something they said, only make it sound like they never explained it? Makes zero sense.

      Secondly, in the case of splitting portions, he talked about asking for an extra plate, which does NOT result in more of a portion, does it, Einstein?

      So, you have been in the business for 20 years and have never seen a place charge for tap water. How many places are there in the world, and how many have you been to? Less than 1%, I bet. But somehow, your bitch highness is suddenly an expert on every last restaurant on the whole freaking planet? Get off your high horse bitch.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • Maggie

        Jackson, you are a classless ass hat. I'm guessing you have a very, very tiny penis, hence the sever anger issues. Restaurants in the US do not charge for tap water. I wasn't not referring to foreign countries. WTF is wrong with you? Oh, wait. Yes. A tiny penis.

        August 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
      • Jen

        On the contrary, YOUR attitude is ridiculous. Maggie is just stating her opinions, and you're the one attacking her and calling her a bitch, which is completely unwarranted. Time for you to get off the internet and end your power trip...

        August 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • rhobere

      Go to Europe. Every restaurant charges for tap water. Sonic Drive-in? Charges for tap water. There's a few thousand examples for you.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • Lisajain

        Who would drink European Tap Water let alone pay for it?

        August 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • James

          European tap water has to meet stricter safety regulations than American tap water.

          August 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • James

        In the EU it is illegal for premises licenced to serve alcohol (i.e. the vast majority of restaurants) to charge for tap water. I've never come across a restaurant that charges for tap water on either side of the Atlantic, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

        August 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
        • Nathan

          the few places I've ever been to that charged for tap water was like 5 or 10 cents, not the same $2 they charge for a soda. And that was just to offset the cost of the to-go or cleaning the cup more than the water. But yeah, I've almost never been to any place that charges for tap water, either.

          August 11, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • cadet

      The handful of folks that I know that would "split" their plate always did so themselves at the table. They would order the one meal, two drinks and then eat off the same plate or used one of those bread & butter plates put on the table. With this, there was no extra food being served for that "split" plate.

      August 11, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • iRex

      The article is much less ridiculous than your lack of reading comprehension is.

      August 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  50. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Several of many reasons are listed as to why I rarely eat at restaurants.

    August 8, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Dover

      But the main reason is that you are a tightwad.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • rschier says the dissatisfied server.....

        August 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • Frank

          So says the obvious poor tipper.

          August 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • gremlinus

      Because they charge you for stuff when you want extra? If a restaurant gives extras away like there is no tomorrow it doesn't mean they are friendlier, it means their food cost is ridiculously cheap and they're making a ton of money off you anyway. Chain restaurants have less of a problem with it, but locally or individually owned restaurants can live or die by a tight budget, especially if they are just starting out.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:20 am |
1 2 3 4
| Part of