This may get little ranty and for that I apologies. But this is a subject I’m really passionate about and I even made it my New Year’s resolution. Service charge is wrong. It just is. I’ve heard many attempts at justifications, but after working in the hospitality industry for over 7 years I’ve made up my mind.
What is Service charge?
Service charge is an optional “tip” (Usually 12.5%) added onto your bill in a bar/ restaurant to go to the “staff”. Below are my reasons for not paying it and I’ll hope this will make you think about paying it in the future too.
Why is it a load of bollocks?
- I think most people know that service charge is optional, what makes it difficult is that it is always automatically added. You have to receive your bill, see the service charge and request that it be taken off. Embarrassing right? It’s usually met with “Was something wrong?”, as if there must be a huge problem. The amount of times I have had to explain why I don’t pay service charge, had a manager come over to check why I’ve asked for it to be removed or even watched the staff bitch about the service charge coming off is ridiculous. If service charge was truly optional I wouldn’t be made to feel like the bad guy every time I asked for it to be removed. Try it. If you don’t have the same experience…tell me where that place was!
2. Tipping. I’m not against tipping, let’s get that clear. What I do disagree with is tipping seeming automatic. An employer pays an employee to do a job. You as the guest/ customer do not have the responsibility to make sure your server gets paid. This isn’t America. I find it really rare to get service that goes beyond their job description. Almost every time I go out I end up waiting to ask for the bill or even worse waiting over 15 minutes to pay. (Do they even want my money?) There have been countless occasions when I’ve asked for a drink or dish on the menu and the server has looked at me like I’m talking gibberish and I’ve had to point out the item for them. Why should I give you extra money for that? Why should I give you 12.5% of my bill for just about doing your job? (Told you it would get ranty).
3. 12.5%. Where has that come from? Who first said I think we should add precisely 12.5% on top of people’s bill to give to the staff. Rubbish. A tip should reflect the service you were given. If it’s the same for everyone everywhere…what’s the point? Where’s the rush when you get a big tip and you know you did an amazing job? Instead you get hospitality staff who expect that extra income for just doing the bare minimum of their job. (This is me generalising, their are so many members of the hospitality industry that go above and beyond. They are bloody fab.)
4. Service charge is meant to be for the staff. As we all know, that’s not always how it works. The fact that this is even possible shows how messed up service charge is. I’ve been to restaurants and later found out that the service charge went to the owner. I’ve worked in a place where the tips were split 50% to the owners, 25% to the Restaurant manager, 25% to the head chef. It was then up to the Restaurant Manager and head chef to split their shares between their teams. There was a month where I worked full time and got £1 for the month. We were a small team and popular, that was not an equal share. Even if a place says they get the service charge equally, that money will be taxed. So really you’re tipping the government as well. Do you really think they deserve that? Always tip cash if you’re going to tip.
5. Wish I had a fifth point to make, as it would really even this whole post out. There is the whole why do we only tip hospitality and not other amazing industries like hospital staff etc. But I feel that’s more a tipping argument, rather than service charge.
I hope through this little rant will help you re-think service charge and maybe in the future it will disappear all together. Be strong and don’t feel bad for asking for it to be removed.