25 Apr, 2012
The obligatory service charge
Posted by: peter in: Customer Service
Last year, my sister and I decided not to endure the bad service at Harvey Nichol’s cafe, Dundrum, and walked out before ordering.
But we were back again recently, partly because Cafe Mimo is closed for renovations, partly because we liked the look of its menu, and partly because we wanted to give it another go.
Barbara’s baby Jamie was with us, and the manager was very accommodating, ensuring we got a decent seat with space for the buggy, and providing hot water to heat Jamie’s bottle.
I wasn’t madly impressed with the food, some of which was served cold, but the manager replaced it without quibble and was apologetic. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be wildly keen to give Harvey Nichol’s Cafe a fourth try.
The bill arrived with a ten per cent service charge. I don’t object to paying a tip as such – but in a cafe? At lunchtime? Shouldn’t the amount be up to the customer?
That said, to leave anything less than ten per cent is miserable, and there should be a incredibly hot damn good reason to leave no tip at all. I do occasionally see an added service charge, but it’s usually for larger parties, or in higher end restaurants.
But forget about Harvey Nichols: I sometimes feel that the obligatory service charge is a disincentive to provide a more generous tip (“ah sure, the tip is covered…”). And I wonder if it always goes to the staff.
On the plus side, maybe it balances out for the waiting staff by ensuring that stingy diners don’t leave them short. Oh, I don’t know… Clearly, my feelings on this issue are mixed, so it’s over to you.
What do you think? Should service charges be added as standard? I do like a good old fashioned argument, so please tear each other limb from limb below. Comments from waiting staff are particularly welcome.