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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VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 2:52 pm 16 Jun 08

For things like ‘service charge’ and ‘cancellation charge’, I would simply refuse to pay. If they don’t like it they can take me to court.

canberracafe.com canberracafe.com 3:08 pm 16 Jun 08

Feel free to name the restaurant in Canberra Cafe so we can slam them in a poll. Consumers deserve to know about such rip offs. It just shows contempt for customers.

If the charges are justified, they should explain these up front, not at payment time.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 3:09 pm 16 Jun 08

I believe that ‘corkage’ is legitimate if they provide glasses, an ice bucket for white and sparkling wines etc … as you point out it’s been around for a while.

I’m guessing that ‘cakeage’ is a derrivative of corkage. A mate of mine in the restaurant business once told me that from a financial point of view, dessert was a big money maker – in that the money you made on entres and mains covered your costs, but dessert was all profit. If that’s really the case, I’m guessing its an attempt at clawing back some lost income, but it looks a bit sus realy.

The other charges should be ignored. Simply refuse to pay them.

Jonathon Reynolds Jonathon Reynolds 3:11 pm 16 Jun 08

Corkage – long standing accepted charge

Cakeage – an acceptable charge as per corkage. The restaurant is providing a service (cutting, plating, serving, and associated clearing and wash-up) in exchange for forgoing revenue that they would have taken otherwise by selling desserts.

Service Charge – as far as I am concerned a gratuity or tip is recognition of good, preferably exceptional service.

Cancellation Charge – possibly justified, if your colleague had booked an event for a set number of attendees then it is not unreasonable for the restaurant to charge for the provision of that meal even though there was a no-show and one of the meals was not consumed.

Jonathon Reynolds Jonathon Reynolds 3:12 pm 16 Jun 08

Jonathon Reynolds said :

Service Charge – as far as I am concerned a gratuity or tip is recognition of good, preferably exceptional service.

And totally optional, not a mandatory requirement.

stereo henry stereo henry 3:21 pm 16 Jun 08

out them

Crikey Crikey 3:24 pm 16 Jun 08

I would refuse to visit any restaurant that charges a service charge.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 3:30 pm 16 Jun 08

As much as I hateto say it, for once I mostly agree with Jonathon Reynolds. Mostly.

But…
As someone who worked in hospitality for a short time, a ‘service charge’ (as in a tip or gratuity) shouldn’t be included on anyone’s bill unless they’re so horrendously drunk or otherwise incapacitated that they require exceptional services forced on them.

Even then it would need to be so exceptional a circumstance that they wouldn’t be able to come back and sort something out afterwards.

el el 3:32 pm 16 Jun 08

Yep. A tip should be earnt.

el el 3:33 pm 16 Jun 08

Earned, even.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 3:42 pm 16 Jun 08

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!

lenny lenny 3:51 pm 16 Jun 08

I think Cakeage is a bit over the top, how much pp are we talking?

BenMac BenMac 4:04 pm 16 Jun 08

I got charged for corkage once, even though the bottles were unopened. The waitress asumed we were going to drink the wine, so charged us. Although after a chat to the manager, we weren’t charged.

Primal Primal 4:33 pm 16 Jun 08

lenny said :

I think Cakeage is a bit over the top, how much pp are we talking?

Bringing a cake is basically bringing your own dessert into the restaurant – imagine the reaction if you tried to BYO entrees or main meals! I have nothing against a reasonable cakeage fee, ditto reasonable corkage. The other fees can get stuffed though.

mouthface mouthface 4:34 pm 16 Jun 08

Cakeage is a legitimate charge as is corkage, and anyone who refuses to pay it is a bit of a scab.
Why do people think they can walk into an establishment that already sells food (including dessert) and wine, bring their own and get served for free?

Could you imagine going to a tyre fitting place for example, bringing your own tyres and getting them fitted onto your car at no cost? I doubt it. Or maybe hiring an ironing lady and then not paying her because you own the clothes!

Remember this, the cake is stored for you while you have your dinner, it is usually brought out to you by smiling staff who even sing ‘Happy birthday’ without a hint of embarrassment, the cake is cut and served on their plates, with their cutlery and then the whole thing is taken away, the leftovers repacked, and plates and cutlery washed. Who does all this? Certainly not you!
If you don’t want to pay for this type of service, then just have your dinner party at home, otherwise pay up and shut up.

mouthface mouthface 4:43 pm 16 Jun 08

canberracafe.com said :

Feel free to name the restaurant in Canberra Cafe so we can slam them in a poll. Consumers deserve to know about such rip offs. It just shows contempt for customers.

If the charges are justified, they should explain these up front, not at payment time.

@canberra.cafe

For someone interested in getting a cafe website up and running you sure come across as totally naive on hospitality industry issues! There’s a thought: set up a website so that idiots like canberra.cafe can become half-arsed food critics and slam legitimate businesses without having a clue.

Wake up to yourself.

mouthface mouthface 4:47 pm 16 Jun 08

…idiots like canberracafe.com even!

mickeymouse mickeymouse 4:53 pm 16 Jun 08

I’ve only over been charged for ‘cakeage’ once. That was at Pangaea Restaurant in Manuka. I think a modest charge can be justified if the restaurant actually brings out the cake with the candles lit, cuts it and serves it to you. That being said, Pangaea didn’t cut or serve the cake nor preserve the element of surprise for the birthday boy, but charged an amount for each member of the group (~20 people), which made for a total cakeage amount far greater than the value of the cake. I would have liked to see them try to cut that small cake into 20 pieces!

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 4:57 pm 16 Jun 08

I am happy to tip when the service justifies it, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve received service in Canberra that I would tip for. Going to the US opened my eyes on this – the quality of service and friendliness justifed a few bucks almost every time I was served. In Canberra, the wait staff are usually (no, not occasionally) slow and not particularly smart, or friendly and smiley. Just yesterday I had lunch in an upmarket Manuka resturant where I ordered a small salad (22 bucks!), which took half an hour to arrive, and they forgot the drink. Not the end of the world, but definitely not deserving of a tip!

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 4:58 pm 16 Jun 08

For anyone setting up a food website, or claiming food critic status:
Beware the Blowback

The Grazing Incident (scroll down, they respond)

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