Restaurants Slap Diners with Charges for Everything from Water to Staff Healthcare, Drawing Scorn
It’s no secret that dining out can be pricey. But what happens when restaurants tack on additional charges for things that diners should expect to be included in their meals? From adding a dollar for a glass of tap water to adding extra fees to offset the cost of staff healthcare, restaurants are increasingly drawing the ire of diners who feel like they’re being taken advantage of. In this article, we’ll explore the rise of these charges and the backlash they’re facing from customers.
The Rise of Additional Charges
When you sit down for a meal at a restaurant, you might not think twice about the items listed on the menu. However, over the past few years, restaurants have started adding a growing number of additional charges to their bills. Some of these charges are relatively small, like a few cents to cover the cost of using a credit card. Others are more substantial, like mandatory gratuities when dining with a large group.
The trend of restaurants adding charges to diners’ bills has been gaining momentum over the past decade, but the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the trend. With many restaurants struggling to stay afloat, they’ve turned to these additional charges as a way to help balance the books and cover costs that might otherwise be overlooked.
The Controversy Surrounding These Charges
While restaurants may believe they have good reason to add these additional charges, not everyone is on board with the trend. Many diners feel like they’re being nickel-and-dimed for things that should be included with their meals. For example, the cost of providing water to diners is generally considered a basic service that should be included in the cost of dining out. When restaurants add a charge for tap water, it can feel like a cash grab.
Another controversial charge that’s been making headlines recently is the surcharge that some restaurants are adding to offset the cost of staff healthcare. While it’s understandable that restaurants need to cover their costs, some diners feel like they’re being penalized for supporting businesses that take care of their employees. In some cases, this charge can add up to several dollars per meal, a substantial amount for diners who are already paying a premium for dining out.
The Backlash from Diners
As more and more restaurants add these additional charges, the backlash from diners has been growing. From angry reviews on Yelp to social media callouts, customers are making their dissatisfaction known. Some are even calling for boycotts of restaurants that engage in these practices.
Part of the issue is that diners feel misled. When they see a price listed on a menu, they expect that to be the full cost of their meal. When additional charges are added to the bill after the fact, it can feel like the restaurant is being sneaky or dishonest. Some diners also feel like these charges are unnecessary, and that restaurants should simply raise their prices to cover the costs instead of nickel-and-diming customers.
The Restaurant Response
With so much backlash from customers, how are restaurants responding? Some have doubled down on the practice, arguing that the additional charges are necessary to cover the rising costs of running a restaurant. Others have decided to eliminate some of the more controversial charges, like mandatory gratuities or surcharges for staff healthcare.
Still, others are taking steps to be more transparent about these charges. Some restaurants are now prominently displaying notices about additional charges on their menus or having servers inform diners about the charges before they order. This can help to set expectations for diners and avoid any surprises on the bill after the fact.
The Future of Additional Charges
It’s unclear where the trend of adding additional charges to diners’ bills will go in the future. While some customers may continue to grumble about these charges, others may simply accept them as the cost of dining out. However, if restaurants want to avoid alienating their customers, they may need to find more transparent ways of covering their costs.
While additional charges on restaurant bills may not seem like a significant issue, they’ve sparked quite a bit of controversy among diners. From anger about surcharges for staff healthcare to frustration about paying for tap water, customers are calling for transparency and an end to these hidden costs. As restaurants continue to grapple with the economic fallout from the pandemic, it’s unclear whether these additional charges will continue to be a fixture or fade away. However, one thing is clear: customers want to know what they’re paying for when they sit down to eat.