Thursday 23 May 2013 10.32am
you can always instruct the waiter/barman to remove the service charge...it isn't obligatory to pay it
This is true Paul, it usually says, "a discretionary X% service charge will be, or has been, added to your bill."
Then it is at your discretion to pay it, or ask for it to be removed.
A lot of people are loath to ask for it be removed, not wishing to be labelled as "cheap" by other customers, and I guess that the offending establishments are aware of this and probably up the volume when they say, "REMOVE THE SERVICE CHARGE FROM THE BILL SIR? CERTAINLY, WAS THERE SOMETHING AMISS?"
In addition, if the service had been good, you probably would have left 12.5% or even more, so in that case you don't mind the added 12.5%.
As Gavin says, the establishment is wrong in taking the customer for granted, and just imposing an arbitrary service charge, no matter if they'd provided good service or not.