Service charges putting off diners

Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:20am EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Nearly half of Britons are put off returning to restaurants by the rising trend of "optional" service charges automatically added to their bill, according to a survey.

Other bugbears include limited-time booking slots and being billed for bread that the diner did not ask for.

The survey for online restaurant marketing service Livebookings also found nearly a quarter admitting they are more likely to moan about poor service due to the economic downturn.

"It seems an increasing number of restaurants have been adopting customer service ideas traditionally found in the best and most expensive venues," said David Norris, Chief Operating Officer, for Livebookings.

"From the results of our research, many of these changes such as service charges and limited-time booking slots have not been met with universal approval."

But in better news for the industry, 38 percent say they have not cut back on their meals out. Just over half are also fans of special offers such as 50 percent off or buy one get one free.

ICM surveyed 2,000 people. In all, 47 percent objected to service charges, 31 percent to time-slots and 22 percent to unwanted bread charges. 22 percent were more likely to complain now.