London Restaurant Service Charge

When I was in London in November 2011 I was a bit taken aback by the supposedly discretionary 12.5% service charge added to the bill at a Greek restaurant in Earl’s Court. Now I do usually leave a tip of around 10% in a restaurant but I just didn’t like the fact that this was added to my bill. In my opinion, if the restaurant is going to automatically add 12.5% to my bill, I think they should increase their prices by 12.5%.

London restaurant service charge

Courgette pancakes with yoghurt dressing at As Greek As It Gets

In theory, I suppose you could ask for the service charge to be removed but I can’t see many people doing that, which is probably what the restaurant is banking on. I do wonder if that 12.5% is being paid directly to staff?

What’s your opinion? Do you think that the discretionary restaurant service charge embarrasses diners who are usually too stingy to leave a tip into coughing up, or is it merely a way for restaurants to increase their prices in a non-transparent fashion?

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About Karen Bryan

Hello, I'm Karen Bryan, I created Europe a la Carte in 2002 to highlight the best places to visit in Europe with travel tips, photos and no fluff reviews. I’m also an artist; my artworks are often inspired by my travels