A Good Meal Spoiled …

Not a lot of time to write today – we’re heading to California this week to see our son. I thought I would just relay this short story about our restaurant bill this weekend that borders on fraudulent – but is becoming more & more common.

Our tab came to a little over $50 – with tax – on Saturday night and we noticed a $1.64 “surcharge” added at the bottom of the bill. When we asked about it, the wait person said it was a “3% surcharge to cover higher food costs”.

I get that inflation is happening, but my friend followed-up asking, “why isn’t that simply reflected in the prices on the menu?” Her response was that “we didn’t want to have to print completely new menus.” This is despite the fact that their menus were simply black & white, 8.5 x 11” pieces of paper.

This seemed straightforward enough, but it bothered me that the surcharge just unexpectedly was on our bill. I asked, “aren’t you letting customers know ahead of time that there is a surcharge on the prices?” Astoundingly, she said, “we do – we printed a notice of it on the bottom of the menu.”

So they didn’t want to print new menus, but then they did it anyway?

Obviously something doesn’t add up with her explanation and they are trying to sneak through a 3% price increase. The menu only had about two dozen things on it, so it wouldn’t be hard to multiply the current prices by 1.03 and put it in their system.

Restaurants all over the country are reminding us to “let the buyer beware”. Customers are getting frustrated by the surcharges, automatic tips, health insurance add-ons, and ‘social justice fees’ that many restaurants have added.

They make the airline industry’s dedication to nickel-and-diming everyone – with their charges for baggage and seat assignments – look relatively forthright and transparent. At this restaurant, the view was beautiful, the food was OK, but the billing was highly suspect. I won’t be hurrying to go back there!

Let’s hear about your odd restaurant billing experiences!?

Image Credit: (c) MrFireStation.com

5 thoughts on “A Good Meal Spoiled …

  1. Wow… I think if that happened to me, I’d ask to speak to the manager, and I’ve only ever done that once in my life (The meal i received was significantly different from what was written on the menu. The waiter insisted it was correct. I did not want to make a fuss, so I ate it, but when the bill came, I declined to pay the “automatically added” tip / service charge. The manager then came to speak to me. I got an apology and a free desert.).

    But yea, that… is simply not how you do business!

    I never understood how in some countries what is printed on the menu is NOT equivalent to what you need to pay at the end. Why expect the customer to make mental calculations? Just print the final price. If you are ashamed of it because you think it is too high, consider changing your business model…

    I think it’s unfortunately up to consumers to stand up against such practices and simply vote with the feet / wallet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree! And that is what the couple we were having dinner with said. If you don’t question and complain a bit, they restaurants will think that their approach is fine. Obviously the wait person isn’t behind the policy, so talking to the manager is appropriate.

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  2. That is poor form. You have to complain to the manager and not accept a free desert or whatever. Sadly the ire is often put on the wait staff. This reminds me of a time thirty years ago in which we were taken out to a known restaurant by a sales person whom I am still friends with. The service was appalling with wrong dishes served, reaching across others to place food and an incorrect bill. My friend paid the server a tip of 8% cash and then reduced the bill by 20% paying in cash while explaining reasoning to the manager.
    We have never returned

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  3. I get it that there can be some inflation but also I’m tired of all trickery companies are always doing to squeeze a few more dollars out of you (and using lame excuses to justify it). Some car repair shops now charge a “Shop fee” of 9.99% on your bill which they say is for supplies and profit if you read the fine print. Also, I read about the parts companies CEO’s conference calls saying they would raise the price of auto parts this year. Part of it was that most people only need to buy a certain part for their car every few years and wont notice or complain about the increase. My previous wireless company Sprint had an “Administrative fee” of $1.99 which they later upped to $2.50 which was basically BS. It allows them to keep the price point of $49.99 for example but basically raise the price on you. As for restaurants (or any business) I’ll just go less or not at all. Even though I can now afford it, I’m much more motivated to fix things myself or shop around more. I now have more of a fight back mentality about things. Its the principle of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree – it seems like every industry has come up with sneaky ways to make people pay more beyond the price. My favorite example is a ‘Stadium Fee’ that I was charged on a hotel bill in Northwest Arkansas – where they didn’t have a stadium (or immediate plans to build one)!

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