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To think that if you are going to charge a pound for a mug of hot water, you should make it clear?

(235 Posts)
pussycatwillum Wed 17-Jul-13 09:50:15

Yesterday I went out for lunch with a group of old ladies. One of them only ever drinks hot water. The waitress provided this for her. We then had lunch and asked for the bill.
The mug of hot water was charged at one pound.
The lady concerned was a) not happy to be asked to pay so much, although she did concede that she would have happily paid 50p as presumably they do have overheads to pay.
b) cross that nowhere on the menu was it mentioned and the waitress did not say 'There will be a charge of a pound for that, madam' which would have given her the chance to say no.
So was she being unreasonable?
It was at a place I have been to lots of times and when I mentioned that she wasn't happy the waitress immediately deducted the charge, but I think this was to avoid a scene.
Is it reasonable to charge for hot water, and is one pound a reasonable amount?

MadameDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 22:46:43

but Team, it costs more money to heat up more water once your nan has had hers! it is cost free.

having said that, I think a pound is a bit steep. 50p would be fair, and I would waive it for regulars. But certainly not for randoms who get huffy.

CottonWoolCandy Wed 17-Jul-13 22:52:49

I only drink hot water and it's probably about 50/50 whether I'm charged for it.
I think the most expensive cup of hot water I ever had was at Schipol airport where they charged me for a pot of tea even though they knew I only wanted water. hmm
Their view was that they didn't sell hot water. When I pointed out that their tea came as a pot of hot water with a teabag on the side of the saucer, they said I could order a pot of tea. tbh I'd just come off a long-haul flight and was so looking forward to sitting down with a cup of hot water I'd have paid whatever they asked blush

SusuwatariToes Wed 17-Jul-13 22:57:35

Exactly my thoughts Team. You would be outraged to be charged for cold water, why is hot water any different? Especially if cold water comes with ice and lemon.

Mintyy Wed 17-Jul-13 22:57:37

I just can't get over the fact that people drink hot water!

Why why why why why why why why why why why why why why oh why?

MadameDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 23:00:44

tap water is a legal obligation. Hot is not. and it costs to heat.

I stopped offering ice and lemon because I worked out it cost me £200 a month for ice, and £50 a month for lemons.

For a small business that can mean the difference between trading and going bust.

LazyMonkeyButler Wed 17-Jul-13 23:10:46

I only drink black coffee. Should I be paying less because I use no milk or sugar?

Given that a black coffee can be anywhere between about £1.80 and £3.00 (IME), and that a spoonful of coffee costs a few pence - I would say that puts my average spend on a cup of hot water at more than £1!

Cerisier Wed 17-Jul-13 23:11:20

An aside- but In Asia drinking hot water is normal, I had to get used to asking for cold water else I got given boiling. Apparently hot water is good for the health.

MadameDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 23:17:24

margins on food are extremely tight.

The only way a food business can survive is on the mark up on drinks.

I would always give a mum some hot water for a baby bottle (many won't, bizarrely, for health and safety reasons), and young baby food (but would be a bit hm if they wanted to bring food in for a toddler, if there was a kids menu.! most cafes I know do a kids combo which is good value).

For example, real butter in a sandwich costs approx 17p - 20p. that adds about 80p to the cost of the sandwich.

Places don't charge fortunes (unless they are tourist traps, and probably have huge rental costs)for stuff, they charge what they need to survive and the market will take.

MorrisZapp Wed 17-Jul-13 23:18:59

I'd expect a quids worth of water to be clear, yes.

I won't pay more than 10p for that murky stuff.

SusuwatariToes Wed 17-Jul-13 23:36:56

I think it also depends on the type of place. Anywhere with waitress service I would expect to have ice if requested and not charge for it. In which case i don't see how hot water is any different. I think in these cases the business has to absorb the charges but perhaps have a rule that they will only be given to paying customers. I have had customers complaining about having to pay for extra sauce/dressing or more fajita shells etc. so I think you have to pick your battles

MadameDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 23:41:53

you can have ice in drinks like coke and juices, but small local places might not be able to afford it.

I feel invisible on here. did you not read the ice post I did?

what you think, susu, is just rather greedy. You want stuff but don't want to pay for you do this to other businesses?

Can't imagine anyone going into M&S and saying, actually, this salad is a bit small, I want two for the same price.

Or, can I have two jumpers as this one doesn't quite suit me?

MadameDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 23:42:51

or a florists, ooh, those roses are lovely, but I think the buds are a bit small, chuck a few more in for me!

MadameDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 23:44:07

Ok. Susu, do you have a food business? or just work in one? I see you say have had customers complain...

mayoandchips Wed 17-Jul-13 23:54:31

I agree with MadameDefarge. A lot of customers do have a sense of entitlement about them. It's not the waitress' fault you have essentially ordered a cuppa sans the teabag. Tap water is not the same as water that costs money to heat up.

Especially when the customer is using their own teabag- I get this a lot at work. Tea costs 90p, so hot water costs 90p whether you want to pocket the teabag or not.

I work in a food court in a shopping centre, and we make it clear that we are not obligated to heat up baby food/ baby bottles (I do microwave food time to time), but people get pissy when they are told they have to pay for hot water! Not our problem! Bring a flask of hot water! You cannot have possibly thought 'I will go to the food court and they will give me free hot water to heat my baby's bottle' when you left the house hmm

MadameDefarge Thu 18-Jul-13 00:02:38

<falls upon mayo's neck weeping grateful tears>>

I was beginning to think it was a weirdy conspiracy to ignore any rational explanation...

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of charging for hot water, and any questions about the entitledness or otherwise of customers, I do think that the waitress should have explained the charge when the OP's friend ordered the hot water. Putting an unadvertised charge onto the bill is not ethical, imo.

As a student nurse, I went on a night out with a big group from my training 'set'. We ordered our meals, and the waiter offered us mushrooms as an extra, and quite a lot of us added mushrooms to our order. We were all paying individually, and were on a tight budget (student nurse wages were not high), so we all added up our bills carefully, and put our money into the pot, only to find when the bill came, that we were a number of pounds short - too large an amount to be a mistake - and when we questioned this, we were told that there was a charge of 50p for the mushrooms - which hadn't been explained when the waiter made the offer. Naively we had thought that, as we were a big party (20+), placing a large order, the restaurant had decided to offer us a little freebie - not that we would have objected to paying the extra 50p, had we been told in advance. We all paid up but it did leave a bit of a bad taste.

mayoandchips Thu 18-Jul-13 00:13:16

It's one of those things that it is at the managers discretion, and for those of you saying the charge should be mentioned, it could also be argued that it shouldn't be assumed that it is free. Double check.

MadameDefarge Thu 18-Jul-13 00:15:16

er, yes, naive. why would you assume it was a freebie?

And as I explained upthread, it is not the job of the waitress to list the cost of every item, unless asked, and certainly not her job to calculate an usual request cost. That would be for the owner or manager.

The polite thing would have been to ask for the hot water and ask how much it would be.

MadameDefarge Thu 18-Jul-13 00:16:40

would you go to a pharmacy and ask for nurofen for an ailment but the chemist suggests something more appropriate, would you not ask the price?

MadameDefarge Thu 18-Jul-13 00:18:04

I daresay if you had read the menu carefully you would have seen the charge for mushrooms.

I cannot believe you thought you were getting a freebie and didn't query it.

BackforGood Thu 18-Jul-13 00:27:31

I totally agree with MadameDefarge. why does anyone assume a business should be providing you with anything for free ? confused

As others have said, you expect to pay £1.20 - £2. for a coffee or tea when you are out. Of course it's ridiculously expensive compared with making yourself one at home, but they've got a lot of overheads to cover. Of that, the teabag would cost about tuppence and the milk probably about 3p. By that logic, the hot water should surely cost the same as any other beverage less 5p, so £1 was a bargain. They still have staff to pay, rent or mortgage, loans on start up costs, heating lighting, toilet facilities, training and hygiene certificates etc., cleaning costs... it goes on and on... all of which every customer is contributing to with their orders, not just the ones who choose a certain beverage over another - you are not just paying the unit cost, you are paying to have a sit and a natter and use the toilet and shelter from the rain or heat of the day, etc.

MmeDefarge - we were naive, not stupid. The mushrooms were not on the menu.

And the way that the offer was made did make it seem as if it was a freebie.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 00:41:16

I think a pound is pretty cheap rent for a couple of hours use of a table.

Wallison Thu 18-Jul-13 00:43:45

I think if someone asks for something that is not on the menu, waiting staff should give them a price for it.

SDTG, I hate it when waiters 'helpfully' suggest food and make no mention of paying. You get it in places where they ask "Would you like some bread?" with no clue as to how much it costs. It's a bit sneaky imho and can be very confusing especially for people who are used to eating in places/countries where bread would be given for free.

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