Wednesday, 30 September 2009

twelvepointfivepercent - no more?

I'm absolutely delighted to hear that D&D restaurants, owners of (among many others) my beloved Skylon, have taken the bold and very welcome step of abolishing the addition of a 'discretionary' 12.5% service to bills across all their 20-strong restaurant portfolio. That the move coincides with October 1st's change in the law whereby restaurants will have to pay staff the minimum wage before tips is bound to attract cynical comment. But in my view this makes it an even smarter move on D&D's part, as it throws down the gauntlet to other restaurateurs, be they owners of one or one hundred venues, to admit what diners have known all along but been too polite to challenge: that 'discretionary' service charges are nothing to do with rewarding good service and everything to do with topping up wait staff's meagre salaries.

It remains to be seen whether, and if so how quickly, other restaurants will follow suit, but we can certainly all do our part to ensure they do by plucking up the courage to exercise our discretion not to blindly pay the 12.5% service but instead to ask that it be deducted and tip instead in cash. You can still leave 12.5% - for excellent service you may even want to leave more, for mediocre service, less - but it makes the point that actual 'discretion' means leaving the choice of how much to tip entirely to the customer. Waiting staff shouldn't lose out; they'll be getting paid more anyway (hopefully - of course there will be unscrupulous employers who try to avoid their legal obligations but this is true in any industry) and rather than having their wages topped up by tips, any offering from customers will now be additional to their earnings. The addition of service to bills has never been about ensuring staff get a fair tip or saving customers the hassle of calculating service; it has only ever been about enabling restaurants to reduce their wage bill at their customers' expense and D&D deserve a round of applause for blazing the abolition trail.


  1. Hugh, it would be great to get an update on this. Have you seen any other restaurants / chains follow suit?


  2. Alas no, it seems that D&D are the only major group to have taken this line. Worth noting however that, just anecdotally, I think that many restaurants are now treating the 12.5% service as being genuinely discretionary and respecting diners' right to choose to give less.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...