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charging for tap water - illegal?

(19 Posts)
maif Wed 02-Apr-08 21:17:49

I have just got back from my local indoor soft play centre where they tried to charge me £1 for a jug of tap water - when i refused and asked why, i was told it was because they had a water meter and because they sold bottled mineral water. Before i write A Strongly Worded Letter Of Complaint i would be interested to know what the law says about this - I do not want to make a total fool of myself, but it seems to me essential to offer either a drinking fountain or free tap water when you are offering excercise facilities for children? Am i right in thinking that restaurants and cafes are obliged to offer it?I was FURIOUS - what does anyone else think? is this a common problem? thanks!

fingerwoman Wed 02-Apr-08 21:23:01

hmm I don't think it's against the law.
but happy to be told otherwise

bluefox Wed 02-Apr-08 21:26:10

Yes I thought it was illegal not to provide tap water in a restaurant. However in one local "help yourself" chinese buffet there is a sign which says "due to health and safety reasons - tap water cannot be provided". Funny, I always thought we had a clean and safe water supply!

cat64 Wed 02-Apr-08 21:26:41

Message withdrawn

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 02-Apr-08 21:28:24

Message withdrawn

Kathyis6incheshigh Wed 02-Apr-08 21:29:07

I read the other week - I think it was Giles Coren in the Times - that it is a myth that you can't charge for tapwater. Apparently it was a law that really did apply to certain inns that had to provide refreshments for travellers, but it was never meant to apply to everyone.

southeastastra Wed 02-Apr-08 21:31:17

refreshments probably make a big difference to their income too, like the cinema where drinks are always marked up by about 500%

maif Wed 02-Apr-08 21:32:40

but you'd think they could put in a bloody water fountain, no?

Joash Wed 02-Apr-08 21:35:33

Not against the law and if they offer a drinking fountain they still have the upkeep, etc to pay for it. I don't think £1 for a jug of water is bad.

southeastastra Wed 02-Apr-08 21:36:30

they're under no obligation to fit fountains are they? to me they always seem really badly run.

Joash Wed 02-Apr-08 21:39:20

Is it a soft play area or a cafe with a soft play area. I know that sounds pedantic, but people have complained about being asked to leave our local one after 2 hours when they are very busy - and these are people who generally do not buy food or drink in there. It is a cafe first and the soft play is provided to keep the kids amused - not somewhere for the kids to play whilst mum/carer sits and expects to use the facilities for free (I don't mean you maif - I mean those at our local one).

Fizzylemonade Thu 03-Apr-08 08:38:51

I seem to remember that there was an article about this in the Guardian or Times that when a gentlemen visted a rather nice hotel and asked for a glass of tap water they told him he would be charged. He was outraged and actually wrote a letter of complaint to the manager,

his reply was this "I have to provide you with a glass that has to be washed, the person who serves you has to be paid, and I have a mortgage on the establishment you are drinking in. The water is not free as it comes from the water company and they charge me for the privilege"

Re soft play, we go to an absoultely fantastic one but the deal is if you want a drink you pay for one, even water. I am glad when I can buy a bottle of water as opposed to a bright, chemical laden drink, and a jug for £1 is a decent price methinks.

StealthPolarBear Thu 03-Apr-08 08:48:53

I understood it was illegal (for clubs anyway) not to provide tapwater, but it doesn't have to be free.

Fillyjonk Thu 03-Apr-08 08:59:21

ok i thought that PUBS couldn't charge-I thought it was part of the licensing laws (nt sure about licensed restaurants though...)

but everywhere else can, though its a pretty stupid business idea really, imo

maif I'd just write saying its rather stingy and mean.

do check with trading standards though and tell us!

LucyBr Thu 26-May-11 18:03:31

Just been asked to pay 75p for a small cup of tap water for daughter despite ordering 2 lunches and a coffee - cancelled orders and wont return there again! Ridiculous when alternative local soft play areas provide free water - oh well I voted with my feet!

PatriciaHolm Thu 26-May-11 22:09:22

If premises serve alcohol, then they are required to provide tap water for free; see here

If they don't, they don't!

trixymalixy Sat 28-May-11 08:56:45

I don't think it's illegal either. The club I used to work in charged for tap water, but clearly licensing laws have changed since then.

MotherPanda Sat 28-May-11 09:04:07

as Patricia said - its only if a premises serves alcohol that they have to offer free tap water.

Maybe ask your soft play centre to start serving wine????

£1 for a glass would be a rip off, a jug isnt too bad.

TheMonster Sat 28-May-11 09:07:48

I thought water was free but I have only ever asked for a glass. Asking for a jug seems cheeky.

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