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Wednesday 22 May 2013 10.08pm
Just popped down to this new place on Bermondsey St and have left with the feeling that Delfina will be sorely missed. Service looks like it will be a big problem, the decor is a bit wishy washy and the fact it cost 30 for 4 drinks (2 pints and 2 wines) was not a good sign especially as 12.5% was for "service charge" to deliver the drinks to the bar where we were stood when placing the order. One word: disappointing.
Wednesday 22 May 2013 11.38pm
I had the same "service" deal tried on me at Addendum, in Seething Lane EC3.
My wife and I, plus two friends, had met there for dinner.
When the bill came, including 12.5% service charge, my friend paid it on a credit card, and I gave him my half in cash.
We adjourned to the bar and sat there on four stools, to have a couple of drinks while deciding where to finish the night.
I called for a pint for my friend, a vodka and tonic for me, and two glasses of white wine for our wives.
When the barman presented the printed bill, it had a 12.5% service charge on it.
My friend said, "Can you take that service charge off, if we'd sat at a table and you'd brought the drinks over I could understand it, but you've barely moved one metre in pouring and passing the drinks over."
I murmured, "Forget it Peter, treat it as if we were in the U.S."
He replied, "No Tom, we're not in the U.S., you know that I'd leave around 18% over there, and so would you, but all this guy has done has passed us our drinks, that's not service."
The barman knocked the service charge off.
Thursday 23 May 2013 7.23am
Wow, I've never known a place that applies a service charge for sitting at the bar. I hope that doesn't become common.

I suspect everyone is now going to depress me by telling us about all the other places in SE1 that do this!
Thursday 23 May 2013 8.33am
Yeah lots of places are starting to add a service charge for bard drinks....not good.

And another thing to consider as well is you are paying 10/12.5/15 % on a bill that is already bumped up by a 20% VAT 10% of the whole bill becomes 12.5% of the real amount 12.5% becomes a 15.625% charge and 15% becomes a whopping 18.75% fee. Why would anyone want to tip an amount based on a tax. In the US a charge of 15 or 18 % is the norm...but based on the pre-tax amount.
Thursday 23 May 2013 9.22am
I think service charges are disgusting wherever they are. If you want to 'tip', then you will do so, but for it to be assumed that you WILL pay an extra premium is taking proverbial. I always have it removed from the bill.

The fact is, these businesses are obliged to pay at least the minimum wage to staff. What happens - and I believe it's perfectly legitimate - is that this service charge is used to top up the employees' pay to at least the minimum wage. When you're considering the already exorbitant prices charged on Bermondsey Street - or elsewhere - surely the proprietors can afford to pay their staff handsomely, instead of taxing customers, as Urbanite says, at 35 per cent - especially, in the case of B Street, where you're already paying a premium price which is probably 25 per cent more than the price elsewhere to begin with!
Thursday 23 May 2013 11.09am
you can always instruct the waiter/barman to remove the service isn't obligatory to pay it
Thursday 23 May 2013 11.32am
boroughpaul wrote:
you can always instruct the waiter/barman to remove the service 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.
Thursday 23 May 2013 12.08pm
12.5 percent added to my half pint of beer and bottle of sparkling water at the Garrison. Whilst my wife was sitting there in her wedding dress and me in my Tux!!!
Thursday 23 May 2013 1.42pm
Yes, this adding service charge onto drinks bills seems to be the norm now in bars across the borough. I first noticed it at the Wine Wharf 4 years ago. You sit at the bar, the waiter opens a bottle of wine at say 25, passes the wine and 2 glasses to you and you pay 3.12 on top. I found that if you had the correct cash you were never charged service. I later spoke to a friend who used to run a bar and he said that because so many people now use credit/debit cards for small bar bills, adding a service charge was an easier way to cover the card fees rather than charging more for card purchases

I wonder if pubs will follow..................
Thursday 23 May 2013 1.59pm
I do know that it is now illegal for employers to use service charge to top up minimum wages.
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