Great news! Over at The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid’s review of service charges in restaurants looks set to bring more clarity for consumers as to where their money ends up.
No longer will restaurant-goers have to guess whether money paid as tips will go into the restaurant’s pocket instead of the staff’s. The consultation (you can read it here) launched on 2 May has already established the objective that “all discretionary payments for service should be received, in full, by workers where appropriate”. All credit to the Unite union for kicking off this whole debate and winning a major (and commonsense) clarification in their members’ interests.
Sadly, the government missed the point…
Disappointingly, from the consultation document, it looks like the government is going to balls up the chance to clear up the whole dreaded business of “should I tip?”.
The thrust of the consultation document still seems to be a mindset of how service charges are presented, rather than just setting out to ditch them all together. This suits large elements of the industry for whom it is too much of a mind wrench to give up deceptively lowering the apparent price of their product by relying on consumers’ goodwill. But it ignores the fact that survey after survey shows that about 2/3 of the public don’t like tipping.
The government seems to have missed the fact that the world has changed since tipping came into being. Dining out is a daily consumer happening. Of course I don’t want an optional service charge added to my Pret sarnie, but you know actually I don’t really want it added to my chain pizza either. Come to think of, nor to my really expensive meal where removing the “optional” 12.5% service charge would cause no end of delay and harrumphing from the maitre d’. Let’s call a spade a spade and just price eating out like any other service.
As we said when this consultation started in our August article, it’s high time to #DitchTheTip.
The option missing from the government consultation is a binding obligation on all restaurants to print on menus and bills “Prices include a charge for service”.
Let’s set the same standards for the trade as in Italy, France, Australia and Japan where the price of your meal is the price of your meal: end of.