Surprising new charges at restaurants – and some oldies as well

Peter Holland 16 June 2008 135

Talking to a mate today, he told me that he got slugged at a restaurant at a birthday party for the following charges:

Corkage – an oldie but still around

Cakeage – What the?? it is a cake, you get a knife, you cut it. Not really haute cuisine…

Service Charge – apparently similar to an american “tip”

Cancellation charge – one member of his party cancelled, cost him, wait for it….. $29.00!

His reaction to these charges, never go back to that restaurant, which he wouldn’t tell me the name of, priceless.

have you heard of these charges or other new ones that seem a bit over the top?

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135 Responses to Surprising new charges at restaurants – and some oldies as well
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peterh peterh 1:15 pm 19 Jun 08

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Just out of curiosity – how many of you who are against tipping receive performance-based pay and/or bonuses?

I receive commissions for my sales, I would prefer that the end user recommends me to their friends – one tip aint gonna pay the mortgage, repeat business will.

needlenose needlenose 8:10 pm 18 Jun 08

@Danman – I agree that US table service is fan-bloody-brilliant almost all of the time, and I wish there was the same sort of service here – but I also think that the social cost of that system is pretty awful. If you don’t get tipped, then it actually costs you money to go to work, and that makes staff very vulnerable to abusive customers – particularly female staff, who often have to put up with behaviour that would simply not be tolerated here. It’d be nice to find some way of motivating staff that didn’t penalise some of the poorest people in (that) society.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 4:15 pm 18 Jun 08

Interesting point WMC. Being self employed – if I don’t work I don’t get paid. On the up side the harder and smarter I work the more I make. If one of my clients isn’t happy with the product I deliver they go elsewhere – and are unlikely to come back.

I think that a comparison sounds appealing, but it’s not really comparing apples and apples.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 4:12 pm 18 Jun 08

Me, but it’s my company that pays for it, not the individual clients. While the bonuses are most likely built into what the customers pay, they are not then asked to directly fund my bonus after they receive their service and/or product.

I don’t really see how these 2 examples relate…but happy to read opinions that disagree!

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 4:02 pm 18 Jun 08

Just out of curiosity – how many of you who are against tipping receive performance-based pay and/or bonuses?

Clown Killer Clown Killer 2:10 pm 18 Jun 08

Ramas! Well there’s a turn out for the books. I guess thats why the BYO cake – it’d be a tad difficult to stick a bunch of candles into a dumpling of deep fried powdered milk (sorry – I have no idea about Indian desserts and that’s the only one I can recall).

I’ve never had a sit down meal there, but it is my regular Indian take-away. To date my only gripe had been that they regularly advise that it will be a 30 minute wait for take-away, when it is without exception closer to 45-50 minutes. Its no big deal though you just adjust your departure time accordingly.

madman madman 1:38 pm 18 Jun 08

Thanks Peter – good to know the offender!

AG Canberra AG Canberra 1:37 pm 18 Jun 08

Skaboy – I tip my mechanic a case of Crownies each Christmas and am happy to do so.

Now everyone needs to try this – when charged a “Sunday or Public holiday surcharge” ask the staff if they are on double time. If they are not refuse to pay it. I am more than happy to bay it if it is going to staff – but if they are getting a flat rate all week then it is just a rort to make some extra cash for the owner.

peterh peterh 1:34 pm 18 Jun 08

fabforty said :

OK, I used to own my own restaurant. Every dollar counts. Like all business owners I had huge overheads. When you own a small venue and have it taken up with a large table of customers who bring their own wine and cake your small profit margin is even less. For each bottle of BYO wine staff have to provide glassware and a wine cooler then clear the glasses and wash them up. For each cake brought we have to store it, serve it complete with candles, forks and side plates. The same has to be cleared and washed. Often for a Woolies mudcake. That’s not to mention how much we have lost through loss of dessert sales.

I have even had arguments with customers who thought bringing cask wine and a six-pack of muffins was OK. At what point do we say “enough” ? Should we accept customers bringing crackers and dip for pre-dinner drinks ? How is that different to bringing their own dessert ?

The point to say “enough” is when it puts your restaurant at risk from a health perspective – I have had people ask if we could grill the steaks that they had bought elswhere at our grill – not telling you where I work…. suffice to say, it didn’t happen.

it is also a case of education. If they want to bring a six-pack and muffins, they probably aren’t aware of the risks that this poses – unless you can explain to them a bit about the rules and regs that all restaurants comply to. The health act should take care of the muffins, liquor act for the six-pack.

If they front up to your restaurant half cut, with a six pack, shouldn’t you be able to withhold their beer when they want it if they are inebriated? (cannot supply alcohol to persons who are intoxicated) – doesn’t mention if it was BYO or House alcohol…

of course, the other option is to say up front usually with a big sign:

this restaurant is a NON BYO restaurant. We apologise for any convenience this may cause.

(cake is the exception, of course)

peterh peterh 1:23 pm 18 Jun 08

Clown Killer said :

I think that the cancellation fee would be legitimate if the booking was for a set number, like at a wedding or similar, where the services provided ar a set fee per head, but if it’s just a regular booking at a restaurant and say eleven people show when the booking was for twelve, I’d simply refuse to pay it.

Go on then … out them, and let the fun commence!

it was Rama’s Indian restaurant.

I don’t go to one indian restaurant, I do try others as well…

but the service charge, the cancellation fee & the “cakeage” was a surprise, if I think a restaurant has provided me with best food / service etc, I will make the decision to tip.

in regard to dessert, the best way to make money in a restaurant is to provide alcohol – and inflate the cost of the bottle. Dessert is an added bonus, but these days, many people pass on dessert and go straight to coffee.

Danman Danman 10:49 am 18 Jun 08

Also when i was a chef – it was really different rules in different places in regards to the distribution of tips.

Some kept them only for floor staff – some distributed it equally between non senior staff – some places pooled it and had a night out bi-annually.

Waiters can make a poor meal good and save th ekitchen on bad nights, likewise, the kitchen coul dbe having a great night but every meal is ruined by poor waiters.

They are more than just plate carriers, they can make or break a restaraunt.

Danman Danman 10:45 am 18 Jun 08

hells kitchen is a sham and a marketing exercise.

Each “customer” is paid in advance an appearance fee for being on the show.

Just another gear in the corporate machine that is Gordon (Henry) Ramsey

Ok chef – smart guy.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 8:45 am 18 Jun 08

Hi all – all really great points. In regards to the last couple of comments, don’t take for granted that the “great service” and the timing of the service comes down to some pretty important people…yep, the kitchen brigade. If they can’t run their kitchen, get food out on time, and at a great standard – doesn’t matter how sweet your waiter is – customers get unhappy.

While this is based on personal experience rather than TV, look at the crap show that is Hells Kitchen. Not a great show, but illustrates that no matter how great the service is, if the kitchen isn’t working well, guests leave.

lux lux 7:49 am 18 Jun 08

Steady on there… Guests usually tip the service , not particularly the food. A good waiter will look after a table and ensure they are having a good time, not just throw food at them and ignore them. But i think that’s already been discussed ad nauseum on this thread.
Incidentally, i worked at one restaurant where the tips were collected and divided between all the waitstaff and chefs. It kind of sucked if you knew you’d been working your arse off and others had been slack, but i suppose them’s the breaks. Another restaurant i worked at didn’t even offer the kitchen tips, and they never asked for them. Then again, it was a hotel restaurant, and tips were few as most people just signed the meal to their room and walked away… people don’t seem to think of tips if they aren’t handling actual money.

/rambling post

madman madman 12:19 am 18 Jun 08

And thats exactly the point I was sayin Caulfield and Ant – how is that fair when they’re only plates on wheels (bring the food to your table).

I think alot more effort comes from the people in the Kitchen and they’re the ones that should collect any tip if there was one…

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 11:17 pm 17 Jun 08

ant said :

the kitchen gets a share of the tips? No they bloody-well don’t! And if the chef gets a share, no one else does.

Yes, I was going to mention that. I was a dishpig while studying and not only did the place I work generally have 6 waiting staff to 2 kitchen staff (1 chef, 1 dishpig/assistant), but we never saw any sign of the tips the wait staff “earned” through sitting on their arse all night, haha.

shiny flu shiny flu 10:46 pm 17 Jun 08

Gratuity charge is way over the top for Australia, America: definitely normal, Europe: to be expected. If the service/food was not up to a high standard I would refuse to pay a set ‘tip.’ But if the service and food were good 10%-15% if it was average then 5%-10%.

ant ant 9:26 pm 17 Jun 08

the kitchen gets a share of the tips? No they bloody-well don’t! And if the chef gets a share, no one else does.

shauno shauno 9:06 pm 17 Jun 08

Speaking of tips once in Singapore a while ago we had a pretty big night out in Chimes and I had my credit card over the bar. End of the night gave them a $100 tip and woke up the next day hungover to the max. Was going through a few receipts and noticed the 100 tip had an extra 0 added by one of the staff. So in my drunken state ended up paying $1000 tip yipee

Thumper Thumper 8:30 pm 17 Jun 08

I should add that I have absolutely no problems with corkage and cakeage.

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