Under new government plans to remind consumers they do not need to tip when eating out, restaurants could be stopped from adding discretionary service charges.
According to UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid, his department would be launching aconsultation on tipping amid customer concerns that restaurants are confusing customers about the charges and who receives their provided tips.
Restaurants in the United Kingdom usually add a 10 to 15 per cent service charge to their bills. Ministers find themselves troubled with “double tipping” because the customers did not think they had already paid a service charge before leaving cash for their waiter.
The consultation may force restaurants to make it clear to consumers that they do not have to pay the discretionary service charge. Another is to abolish the service charge completely.
According to Javid:
“The alternative would be to prevent businesses from suggesting any specific discretionary payments for service, e.g. 5, 10, 15 per cent.
“In other words, there would be no mention on the consumer’s bill of a suggested specific amount for a discretionary payment for service, other than that a discretionary service has not been added.
“The consumer may still decide to leave a discretionary payment for service without any prompt of a specific amount from the employer.
“Under this option, discretionary payments for service would become an ‘opt in’ decision for a better informed consumer, who would hold complete discretion towards making any such payment.”