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Is this restaurant taking the mick, or are we just naive?

235 replies

IbizaToTheNorfolkBroads · 01/07/2023 22:13

DH had a £100 voucher for a local restaurant.

We went tonight and ate/drank £76 on food and drink.

They initially refused to give us change (fine, I wasn't expecting cash change), or a smaller voucher for what we hadn't spent/ annotation on the original voucher for what we had left.

They did finally give us cash change as a goodwill gesture since we were unaware (doesn't say anything on their website or on the voucher).

Is this normal? They've been paid £100 for the voucher, they were essentially planning on picketing £24 that they'd been paid.

Or should be have forced ourselves to have had another bottle of wine ?🤣

I've never had a restaurant voucher before, but a local bookshop just writes on their vouchers how much you have left to spend if you don't spend it all at once.

OP posts:
RosaSkye · 03/07/2023 16:57

(( sorry just caught up and realised it was a no go on the wine!))

WasJuliaRight · 03/07/2023 17:02

IbizaToTheNorfolkBroads · 01/07/2023 22:17

A very small tip. The service was very good until we came across this unpublished voucher policy.

I would expect a credit note for the difference and I wouldn’t penalise very good service from the wait staff for a company policy that was resolved to your satisfaction in the end.

Mirabai · 03/07/2023 17:25

Usernamen · 01/07/2023 23:45

I live in London. No there isn’t a tipping culture at all. Most restaurants add service charge. Maybe tourists add more on top, but I’ve never seen a local do that, and I eat out with friends/family/colleagues/clients an awful lot.

Lifelong Londoner, I tip everyone, unless the service charge is specifically added to the bill.

camperjam · 03/07/2023 17:54

This thread is another example of mumsnet being mental again, of course you should get a voucher for the balance.

musixa · 03/07/2023 18:04

I'd expect a voucher for the leftover amount. I wouldn't tip more than £10 for a £76 bill and I always tip in cash.

Imisssleep2 · 03/07/2023 18:09

No that's not normal, if a paper voucher you wouldn't get change or a smaller value voucher but they are pretty old now. If a digital card you should have the balance left for another time.

If like that again, get a bottle of wine to take home to use the value

lieselotte · 03/07/2023 18:11

I would expect a refund in voucher form, although I would probably add the tip to the overall cost so eg if I was tipping 10% I would probably round up from £76 to £85 and ask for a voucher for the £15.

I often tip in cash but more usually by card, although only if I know the staff will actually get the tips if I add it by card.

wordler · 03/07/2023 18:20

MichelleScarn · 01/07/2023 23:08

Or anyone really, what is it about food/drink industry that reasons they're entitled to extra money for doing their job!
I have seen threads here that mention police being called in the states if serving staff aren't happy with the tip!

In a lot of places in the US the tip is part of the bill - and the servers are taxed based on their expected tips - so their wage is calculated from their sales and their tips are taxed based on the assumption that customers left the minimum 18%.

If a customer leaves nothing they can end up owing taxes on money they didn’t get.

Dagnabit · 03/07/2023 18:36

They're shooting themselves in the foot - if they gave you your change on a smaller voucher, you would return and end up spending more money there. Clearly lacking in business acumen!

wildfirewonder · 03/07/2023 19:19

That is really stupid of them. They already have the money, they can entice you back to spend more.

I pretty much never post bad reviews due to not wanting to damage a small business, but I would be tempted to do it over this as it is a genuine warning to other customers.

Was it the owner? I wonder if the staff were hoping to pocket the difference. It seems a self-sabotaging approach.

mfms · 03/07/2023 19:20

I'd never expect cash but I'd expect it to come off the voucher with the change remaining on the voucher

Matronic6 · 03/07/2023 19:45

Firmly in the should have got a replacement voucher for the outstanding balance. It's such an unusual policy they should make it clear and print on voucher.
Shooting themselves in foot as if I think such a policy will definitely lose them trade.

Talia99 · 03/07/2023 20:06

PinkStarAtNight · 03/07/2023 16:32

I think you should have checked what their policy was before you went.

We use the Tesco clubcard vouchers for restaurants, and it always states that no change will be given so you have to try spend it all or lose what you don't use. For this reason I wouldn't assume a restaurant voucher would automatically give change and if it wasn't clear I would always check.

If this is a nice place and you've spent £76 in one night, what good would it do to have £24 to spend another time? Surely in a place where you can easily spend £76, then a voucher for £24 would mean nothing. Seems to make more sense just to get an extra bottle of wine/fancy desserts/cheeseboard while you're still there.

The only person I buy food vouchers for is very well off (far more than me) and the restaurant in question is the mid range restaurant where she and her husband and children go for celebrations (birthdays, sporting achievements, end of school etc). Date night is at a nicer, more expensive restaurant (not always the same one, obviously). The family probably go once every 6 weeks and spend about £60 / £70 a time (neither adult drinks). I’m buying them a meal I know they will like on me not buying them a once in a lifetime treat.

If I buy them £100 of restaurant vouchers, I expect them to be able to spend £100 on food. Because I have to buy two £50 vouchers, they have to split my gift over two visits and top up each time. I’d much rather they were able to have a full meal on me and then use the change to knock a bit off the next bill.

In this case, I don’t think 1/4 of the voucher is ‘nothing’. It sounds about right for a couple stopping in for lunch to me (no alcohol, 1 course) so easy to use up.

Talia99 · 03/07/2023 20:12

wordler · 03/07/2023 18:20

In a lot of places in the US the tip is part of the bill - and the servers are taxed based on their expected tips - so their wage is calculated from their sales and their tips are taxed based on the assumption that customers left the minimum 18%.

If a customer leaves nothing they can end up owing taxes on money they didn’t get.

A server in the US has a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour (as opposed to the normal minimum wage of $9.50 per hour).

Effectively, it is expected that tips will pay their salary.

Tipping less than 20% in the US is basically requiring servers to wait on you for free (since they also have to do general restaurant prep duties). They would have to do something pretty awful to justify not tipping or tipping only a few dollars (unless a few dollars is 20%).

stichguru · 03/07/2023 20:40

It is very clearly fair because part of a paper voucher can't be given back to the customer to re-spend. If you buy a kids art set for £10, you wouldn't go "actually we want paints, coloured pencils, a rubber and a sharpener, but we don't need wax crayons so have the was crayons back an give us £2". Also you wouldn't go, "I'll keep the £30 trousers I bought, but they aren't as nice as I thought, so I don't think I'll wear them as much as I thought, so give me £15 back." You either keep the trousers you have bought and let the store keep the full £30, or you give them the trousers back for re-sale and get back your £30. The voucher thing is the same - you have bough the thing, you can't decide you don't want part of it.

Middlelanehogger · 03/07/2023 21:01

Bizarre example, you can't give back 1/4 of a pair of trousers but you can certainly give back 1/4 of £100.

I've literally never been to a restaurant in London that didn't automatically add a 10-15% service charge onto the bill.

It's probably related to the technology rather than culture though. I think British people are happy enough to leave a small tip / keep the change / and one for yourself, but until recently there was no easy way to add tips via card transactions and London is basically a cashless society so there was no point, beyond SC on bill already. Maybe tips will come back into fashion now that POS machines can prompt you to add a tip?

I have to say I'm traveling now in a tipping country and I can't stand it, constantly having to have random $1 notes on hand to tip barmen and porters and whatever. It feels very smarmy and supercilious too, handing over notes to "the poors" etc

GirlOfTudor · 03/07/2023 21:13

Most vouchers have in the terms and conditions that you get no change if you don't spend the whole amount. I'd expect that to be the general rule.
If I couldn't manage any more food or drink, I would've just ordered some to takeaway for tomorrows dinner, or a bottle of wine for another night.

Pars78 · 03/07/2023 21:43

That would be more than a 30% tip on their bill. That would be way more than my usual tip and a tip shouldn't be expected.

Lucyh999 · 03/07/2023 21:45

Usernamen · 01/07/2023 23:35

If the bill was £76 it was £76. No need to tip. If the restaurant wants more they can add a service charge. There is absolutely no expectation/culture of tipping (outside of service charge) in the UK.

I’m not sure you’re right here. Where do you live? I’m in the south east and just moved from London and tipping is commonplace. Me and basically anyone I know would never eat at a restaurant and not tip unless the service was really bad.

Lucyh999 · 03/07/2023 21:50

Womencanlift · 02/07/2023 00:50

Do you mean tipping in addition to the service charge? Because I don’t know anyone who would do that. It tends to be one or the other

No I’m pretty sure she means, tipping when there is no service on the bill.

Lucyh999 · 03/07/2023 21:55

IbizaToTheNorfolkBroads · 02/07/2023 07:08

Thanks all. Sounds like we weren't being that daft. Just for clarity:

I didn't expect cash.
I did expect a smaller voucher, or annotation on the original.
There was nothing on the voucher/website/menu to indicate that vouchers could only be used in their entirety.
I've never had a restaurant voucher before. Other vouchers I have had, have generally allowed you to keep the outstanding credit if you don't use it all at once.
We couldn't take home a bottle of wine, as the restaurant is not licensed for selling alcohol for off premises consumption.
They did, after a bit of discussion, give us cash change (their idea) as a goodwill gesture.
We'd had 3 courses, wine, water, coffee. I'm not sure we could have spent it all at once!

Wow 3 courses, wine and coffee for £76. I need to go there, just not with a voucher.

Nanaof1 · 04/07/2023 05:25

Lucyh999 · 03/07/2023 21:45

I’m not sure you’re right here. Where do you live? I’m in the south east and just moved from London and tipping is commonplace. Me and basically anyone I know would never eat at a restaurant and not tip unless the service was really bad.

So, the wait staff makes a livable wage and still expect to get tips? What % is expected?

Though I dislike it and wish they'd just get paid more, I can understand the tipping in the US. But, if they make the same as many other workers in other businesses, why tip? Should all low wageworkers get tipped? Here in the states, there has been talk of upping wait staff wages to $20+/hour. That might be good for a small restaurant with low prices (like a Denny's or Waffle House), but in pricier restaurants, the wait staff would be making a fraction of what they make with tips. Some have said that they wouldn't work for $30/hour as they make more in tips than that.

Nanaof1 · 04/07/2023 05:29

Lucyh999 · 03/07/2023 21:50

No I’m pretty sure she means, tipping when there is no service on the bill.

I think service charges for eating in a restaurant are silly. It should be (and probably already is) in the price of a meal and is just another way to eke out more money for the restaurant from patrons. I hope they make it known there is a service charge before you order.

Puzzledandpissedoff · 04/07/2023 09:56

I hope they make it known there is a service charge before you order

In the UK they have to, though there are still clip joints where it'll appear in size 4 font at the bottom of the last page of a huge menu

Much easier to just ask if it's not clear, though this chances the common speech about "the staff not getting it" - something which, as said, I expect them to deal with themselves rather than involving customers

MaybeSmaller · 04/07/2023 17:16

Creamteaforone · 03/07/2023 15:16

We had a restaurant voucher for £120.00. It was a lovely gift from a family member for my special birthday. It was one of those book a special lunch, tea for two type vouchers. My sister gave me the receipt so I knew it wasn't cheap. I then could book on-line and choose where to visit. We also paid an extra £30.00 so in total it was worth £150.00.
We booked an evening and was really looking forward to it. My DH and I turned up and spoke to someone behind the bar. She gave us the menu and was just about to sit us at our table when the manager turned up and said, not those menus, it is the voucher people so we were given another menu.
It made us laugh and all night we were known as the voucher people.
The thing is the place was more like a harvester so it wasn't a 5 star restaurant.
We asked for a bottle of wine but we could only have the house red as the other wines weren't on the voucher which was fine. No glasses and we had to ask if they could take the Cork out of the bottle so we could drink it.
We had a small started and burgers for main, skipped the dessert. We should of ordered a sh*t load of gin but couldn't wait to leave. The experience wasn't great and I suspect the cost was around £70.00. It was like fawlty towers.
Best part of the evening was grabbing a few treats from our local shop, going home and watching a movie with our DC's. Should of stayed in and ordered a pizza.
I has put me off using those type of vouchers again.

This is utterly shit and is why you should NEVER volunteer in advance that you have a voucher. Order whatever the fuck you want, enjoy the heck out of it, then when the bill arrives, then (and only then) offer the voucher as payment. End of.

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