Food News

Côte latest chain to indulge in service charge rip-off

Is tipping now expected in the UK? I know that when I go to the USA or Canada I am expected to tip bar staff, waiters, and taxi drivers, but it now seems that in the UK we’re expected to just accept that there is an ‘optional’ 10-12% charge added to our bills in the name of ‘service’.

I am not someone who avoids tipping when I’ve experienced good or even just acceptable service. If I go to a restaurant and have had a nice meal and the serving team have been good, I will try my best to reflect this in the tip, whether that be at a buffet where you want your plates taken away quickly, or at a Michelin star restaurant where you want the serving team to make sure that you understand the dishes. If this doesn’t happen, then surely it is my prerogative to say that I don’t wish to leave a tip without having to ask for a bill to be edited to remove a charge that I don’t feel happy with.

In light of this, the news that chain Côte divvy up their service charges to boost wages for their staff doesn’t come as a real surprise. It’s a nice idea in all fairness, but surely a better thing to do would be to cut down profit margins in order to pay the staff more without fleecing customers for more cash. They could even explain that they use the service charge to raise pay for all staff and see if customers still want to pay it or would rather have the option to just tip the one member of the team they were served by.

Whatever the reasons, the increasing prevalence of these service charges at day to day and fine dining restaurants surely means that the staff are the big losers. Tips paid by card rather than cash are subject to VAT etc and surely leave staff out of pocket compared to the traditional cash tip that I personally much prefer to leave.

Categories: Food News

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2 replies »

  1. totally agree it’s getting everywhere, the worst one was Red Hot Buffet- it’s self service for God’s sake- therefore there is no service that needs rewarding! It’s my choice based on staff service/food and i really object to it being forced on me.


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