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Horrible Rip Off at Corner House! [moved from Ontario board]

s
soho Nov 24, 2007 09:20 PM

I've been to Corner House a few times before, including Winterlicious, and had great experiences. It's my 4th time going back. However this time, it would probably be the last. Food was still good, but here's what happened. This was the first occasion where we did not order any wine. Plus the upstairs room was kind of cold, and my bf was just getting over a cold, so we both asked for hot water. We shared an appetizer, each had 1 main (steak and rack of lamb), and ordered 1 dessert to share. We were both stuffed and couldn't have ate more.

When the bill came, they charged us 2 hot teas, $5, and $3 for the spliting of the appetizer. Now that is spare changed in comparison to the $32 mains we both had. I am not bothered because the bill came to $7 extra, but the principle of it. It really bothered me that they did not say anything or try to charge for hot water which is normally free at most restaurants. Just charge me more for my mains or raise the menu prices, if you feel you need to make more money. When I asked about the hot tea, saying we just had hot water and perhaps the waiter made a mistake, they came back with a "fixed" bill that literally said 2 HOT H2O service, $4 (so hot water with lemon apparently costs $2 each). I cannot believe that. It wasn't the amount, as we were not there on a budget. It was the audacity to charge for what would be normal service that is expected at any restaurant, and without a word beforehand. Should that not be what the tip is for? Simple water service that should come with any meal at ANY restaurant?

We tipped them well as normal, and bid the place audieu. I am not sure if management changed or whatever the reason was for this, but I don't like the way they work, and I will not be going back. Perhaps next time they will charge me for a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or the grinding of fresh pepper?

  1. scuzzo Nov 29, 2007 09:02 AM

    I don't think it's right to be charged for hot water with out being told and a split charge for an appetizer??? That's crazy.

    I have my own business, and I want to know if someone is unhappy. I DON'T want someone to walk away and not say anything. Maybe the owner doesn't want the waiter to be making these charges. I'd encourage you to express your concerns before walking away.

    1. jfood Nov 29, 2007 07:28 AM

      jfood may have a different opinion on this one than most.

      - Hot water - jfood went for a pizza lunch the other day, sat at the bar and ordered a club soda. The bartender used the gun to fill a glass. It NEVER occured to jfood that he would not be charged for this. It was $2.50 and that was fine. Likewise the OP ordered the hot water, it was delivered, it was drunk, it should be paid for. Jfood agrees with others that it is not good business to do it, but it should also not be expected that it is free.
      - Split apps - if the app was split in the kitchen and delivered on separate plates, many resto do charge a split fee. This normally covers the added cost of having more than a "single" order split, and is normally fully disclosed on the menu. Given the circumstances here, with an app, 2 entrees and a dessert ordered by the OP, jfood also thinks the resto should have waived this given the level of the order. Now if the app is delivered with just a separate plate, a split charge should never be placed on the tab.
      - dessert - rare is a split charge seen on a dessert. As others have stated, normally jfood sees mulitple utensils delivered with desserts. Desserts are made for sharing, it's part of the fun.

      But is this a "Horrible Ripoff"? Nah, just an aggressive and non-customer focussed gonif owner.

      1. maplesugar Nov 27, 2007 10:09 AM

        Free hot water? I've never been given anything "free" but cold tap water. I've seen people order hot water then pull a tea bag out of their purse. Tacky to say the least. It's probably that kind of behaviour that caused the restaurant to charge $2/each for hot water and lemon.

        Exactly how does $6 - 7 extra on the bill qualify as a "Horrible Rip Off"?? If we use your benchmark of $2 for hot water and lemon as a "Horrible Rip Off" then a 100-200% markup on wine qualifies as a what? Catastrophe?

        5 Replies
        1. re: maplesugar
          s
          soho Nov 28, 2007 04:58 PM

          Like I said, it wasn't the cost, it was the practice of sneaking in underhanded charges, without saying at any point. Wine costs are marked clearly on a menu for you. I see tea on their beverages menu, but the hot water is not listed. Does that make sense? If they want to charge for it, then shouldn't it be a menu option?

          No we did not have any cold water, only hot, it was much too cold to have any cold water.

          I've never brought my own tea bag out of my purse. I'm not sure how often this happens but I am guessing it's not the majority of patrons. Other people have tried to walk out without paying, does that mean everyone should pay before they get their food?

          1. re: soho
            g
            gryphonskeeper Nov 28, 2007 07:10 PM

            I am 100% with you soho, and I would never return to this pitiful excuse for a restaurant. Charging you for hot water as opposed to cold? and most appy's ARE split, that is the whole point of them! I would have left the tip for 15% of the bill (pre inflated with tax and surcharges) I have been a bartender long enough to know many servers will pad the bill as much as they can when people are not drinking wine/ alcohol. I even had a server tell me he wished he could charge an extra $2 per trip he had to make to get water for the table.

            1. re: soho
              j
              julesrules Nov 29, 2007 05:15 AM

              I have no problem with coffee shops / diners charging for hot water. *if* it's the only thing or close to the only thing a patron orders (say with dessert or a sandwich), or they see the patron pull out the tea bag (note to young men everywhere, you will not impress your date with this trick, especially if you chose the meeting place... yes it happened to me).
              But Corner House is a fine dining establishment is it not? I feel it's beyond tacky for a place like this to charge for hot water. Even if 1/1000 of their customers were actually so tacky as to bring their own teabag (which I doubt), the restaurant should not stoop to the level of the lowest common denominator!

              1. re: soho
                Scrapironchef Nov 29, 2007 07:09 AM

                I think Denny's tried a pay first policy for a while, they had some consistency of implementation problems.....

                1. re: soho
                  jfood Nov 30, 2007 05:02 AM

                  Soho,

                  jfood is on the side of no big deal to charge so it's understood where he stands ofr full disclosure.

                  Ok, it was not on the menu. But the resto accomodated a custo when the custo ordered something off the menu. Surely that is not the standard for pay/no pay. If someone had a great veal milanese the week before and it was not on the menu this week, and the resto accomodated the custo and "special made" the dish, would the custo expect the not on the menu = no pay? Granted this is a silly analogy.

                  But how about people who are on Atkins. They order a veal chop that the menu states comes with mushroom risotto. They ask for it without the risotto, just plain. should they receive for free or receive at a reduced price? In this example, tea was oredred without the tea bag, and the custo was given a discount from that price. And if one were to list the various costs, both fixed and variable, that go into deciding the price to charge the custo, the bag itself is one of 20-30 items. Please do not give me a saucer, just a cup? No sugar? No milk. Should each of these items receive a discount as well?

                  Not being critical of the position of "it should not be charged" but think about what goes into the tea order versus what was received and you may not totally agree with the resto's policy (customer service and repeat biz outweigh $2) but there is jutification for the reduced charge for the hot water versus the hot tea, but all the way to zero, sorry jfood just can;t get there.

                  If the resto receives numerous complaints about the charge they need to either place on the menu as such or not charge at all. Placing the server in the middle of this, is unfair to the server and probably reduces the tips from many custos.

              2. Scrapironchef Nov 27, 2007 09:31 AM

                Sounds like bad communication on the prt of the resto, was there anythng on the menu about a split charge?

                As to the hot water, my mother used to work with a woman who always ordered hot water at the regular Friday lunch out and used her own Lipton tea bag (same as the house brand) to save a dollar. It's unfortunate that they didn't tell you of the charge in advance somehow, but as pointed out in other posts, some people would find that as offensive as being charged. It's a no win situation for the server.

                When you dine out you aren't just paying for the food, the service also figures in, not just as the tip. The glass of cold water on your table is a standard per capita cost for most places (I'm assuming you had that in addition to the hot) and figured as part of overhead. Hot water as you had served is all but equivalent to being served a cup of tea, while tea is free at some places, it apparently isn't here. In your mind hot water and cold water are the same thing, try cold showers for a while and you may think differently.

                1. v
                  Vinnie Vidimangi Nov 25, 2007 11:40 PM

                  We were once at Jerusalem buffet Leslie and Finch (now moved) . I asked for hot water to warm up a baby bottle. I was charged 75 cents. 'Had it not happened to me, I would not have believed that a restaurant could do anything this inhospitable and idiotic. The remedy is not to leave a tip. Don't think that this hurts the server. Often the restaurant scoops the tip and pays the server a better hourly rate. Second , often the tips get pooled and then split throughout the entire staff.

                  Two points in any event. The server has some discretion. Th eitem can be left off teh bill. Second the customer has a right to complain and asssert himself, and shouoldn't be obliged to make a scene . Don't leave a tip but do leave a note as to why you didn't. Believ me , the place will get the message.

                  As for Jerusalem, I go to a restaurant for the food not for obsequious service. This is not the first time time that I have run into asshole staff at Jerusalem, and I think that very time it was family memebers who married into the family that owns and runs the place . As for why I stop going , it is because the food is a big disappointment. As for why I go very 9-12 months, it is similar to subsequent marriages . The triumph of hope over experience. I really like Arab cooking despite what gets passed off in Toronto, and I get punished
                  .VVM

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                    basile Nov 26, 2007 08:07 AM

                    This certainly is a very lively thread!
                    I have no problem with a restaurant adding a charge if you request to have a dish split. Personally I have never requested this, but have opted for an extra plate, should we wish to share a couple dishes.
                    However, being charged for hot water is a bit tacky. When we take my elderly mother out she always asks for hot water at the start of the meal. Some places have added a slice of lemon without us asking, and we have never been charged.
                    I guess some restaurants figure they can get away with this, and probably will, should people not speak up.

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                      invinotheresverde Nov 26, 2007 09:57 AM

                      While I agree that the extra charges are very poor form and completely bad-show, I don't agree with Vinnie that not tipping is the remedy.

                      Your waiter is following the house policy. If he was just randomly making up things the restaurant doesn't charge for and adding them to the bill (extra napkin perhaps, chilled glass for a beer), the house would eventually notice and he'd be fired. He was obviously following the house's (very stupid) rules.

                      "The remedy is not to leave a tip. Don't think that this hurts the server."

                      Actually, not leaving a tip ALWAYS hurts the server. If you leave no tip, do you really think the house is going to give the waiter a higher hourly wage (I'm assuming that's what you meant by "scooping the tip")? If so, you've never worked in a restaurant. The only time the house has to kick money in is if the server doesn't make enough in tips to equal minimum wage. Also, if the server pools his tips with others, you're not only hurting YOUR waiter, you're hurting the rest of the waiters who had nothing to do with your dinner.

                      If you have a valid problem with a restaurant's policies, speak with a manager or the owner when possible. Your waiter didn't create the rules.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde
                        n
                        nc213 Nov 26, 2007 05:51 PM

                        second that invino--in nearly all cases waiters don't actually have discretion over whether or not to charge for things. Servers may choose to not charge customers for some things, but if a waiter doesn't charge for things he or she is supposed to charge for, he or she may be risking a job. I have seen managers threaten to fire employees if they don't charge for everything they are supposed to.

                        If I'm a poor grad student trying to make enough to pay my rent, I'm not going to risk my job by not charging you for a split. I may believe that split charge to be unfair, and I may have made my feelings known to a manager, but beyond that, it's not my restaurant, so it's not my decision to make.

                    2. z
                      zen123 Nov 25, 2007 03:10 PM

                      Two things:

                      1. The restaurant should have told you about the hot water charge. On the other hand, you have to think from their point of view: if they did, you could have been on this board whining about "I can't believe how much they patronize me, talking to me like I can't afford $2 for hot water". Personally, I have read many reviews complaining about just that, waiters who mention prices at every conversation. You may think it's a stupid complain, but these people may think the same about yours.

                      2. Splitting the appetizer: same thing. They should have told you, but at least in places like New York and LA, especially at more popular and high end restaurants, this is so common that waiters don't even bother to mention it, both because it's common knowledge and for the same reason as above.

                      At most, you encountered an uncharacteristically risk-averse waiter. To say that it's a "horrible rip off" is a gross exaggeration.
                      It's easy to pick on little things to complain about if you just don't like the restaurant in general. I'm sorry you had to pay $32 for the mains you had, perhaps next time you should stick to winterlicious.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: zen123
                        deelicious Nov 25, 2007 03:26 PM

                        1. Yes the restaurant should have told them. But because it is such a cheap thing to do it is much easier to not mention it. I have never read a posting on CH where it is said that the waiter insulted the patron by confirming a charge for something.

                        2. You are unfairly calling the OP cheap with that winterlicious comment. There is a problem (especially in the USA) if restaurants expect that all of their diners want to roll out of the restaurant. Portion sizes are often out of control and there is only one way to limit your intake without wasting a bunch of food. Don't charge me for not being a pig. I have split bruschetta or calamari as an app tons of times and have never been hit with a charge. Sides at Harbour and Ruths Chris are impossibly huge to not share them.

                        3. And maybe the OP is in fact on a budget. Is that criminal? Do you really think that the restaurant does not want to see that couple again for the sake of $7.00?

                        I also know that standard in LA or NY is not standard in TO...thankfully!

                        1. re: deelicious
                          e
                          erly Nov 25, 2007 03:47 PM

                          we always split a dessert, and sometimes 4 ways, as we like a "bite" of sweet, only.
                          I have never anywhere in the world been charged extra.
                          I have had the dessert split (the house choice) on several plates,... four spoons, etc.
                          I will cross Corner House off my list, as this would have spoiled my evening.

                          1. re: erly
                            skylineR33 Nov 25, 2007 07:32 PM

                            Totally agree. I once had 2 apps, kaiseki plate, and 1 main at Habitat, they automatically split the main into 2 plates for us with no extra charge. And the charge on "hot water only" also sounds not right to me.

                        2. re: zen123
                          b
                          bebevonbernstein Nov 29, 2007 07:01 AM

                          Actually, in the 23 years I've lived in NYC, I've NEVER been charged extra for splitting an appetizer. Nor dessert -- in fact, most restaurants bring the dessert and a fork or spoon for each diner at the table. Can't speak to sharing charges on mains, but to charge a sharing fee on apps or dessert seems pretty crazy to me.

                          1. re: zen123
                            l
                            Lucia Nov 29, 2007 10:17 AM

                            I've eat out 3-4 times a week in NY and have never been charged a split fee. My fiance and I often split appetizers and desserts at dinner.

                          2. deelicious Nov 25, 2007 01:34 PM

                            I would not have paid for the hot water, the appetizer charge, or the usual tip. And I would have politely asked them to call the police if they must.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: deelicious
                              m
                              millygirl Nov 25, 2007 01:44 PM

                              I dunno. To me life is too short. Why bother with the outrage and embarrassment. Besides that, I hate confrontation, esp. when I've gone out to enjoy a meal. My hubby and I would have settled the bill with a nominal tip and made a pledge never to return. Oh and if it was his pick, I'd never let him live it down AND the next 5 dinners out would be my picks...just kidding.

                              1. re: millygirl
                                deelicious Nov 25, 2007 02:09 PM

                                I am exaggerating to make the point that I think it is wrong and that I would question it with the waiter. I would not raise my voice nor would I ask for the owner etc...

                                I am also not that person who cuts his nose off to spite his own face. If I love a restaurant and a server or chef does something wrong, I will much sooner say something than deny myself access to that restaurant ever again. I dont understand it when people I know swear to never return to a great restaurant because of a server who will likely quit or get fired soon after.

                                1. re: deelicious
                                  m
                                  millygirl Nov 25, 2007 02:24 PM

                                  I think that there are soooo many great restaurants in TO and even more that I have yet to try that should I have a bad experience I will strike it off the list. Besides stuff like this, IMO says a lot about the restaurant and the owners. Crap like that would never happen at Mistura or Scaramouche. Not sure why I added that last part in, but it's true.

                                2. re: millygirl
                                  p
                                  pearlD Nov 26, 2007 08:36 AM

                                  millygirl...are you sure you're talking about your hubby and not mine????????
                                  Corner House is around the corner from my house...after all of the kefuffle of this thread they won't be seeing us in the near future....who needs that kind of restaurant annoyance when out for a nice dinner.....

                              2. OnDaGo Nov 25, 2007 08:15 AM

                                It is standard to give free water with a meal but I have never been to a restaurant that includes free lemon with that water. So in my opinion asking for hot water with lemon they waiter has to do almost as much work as making tea and the restaurant has to eat the cost of the lemon. Also imagine what the waiter is thinking - would you like a drink? - yes to hot waters with lemon... and we will share an appitizer...

                                I have actually seem people at high end restaurants (mains in the $42 range) where the customer has asked for hot water and proceeded to pull out their own tea bag....

                                If they split the app for you onto different plates that is extra cutlery, and plates to wash plus the time to split it and extra garnish. I think a charge is acceptable.

                                Also if your were just getting over a cold why go out for dinner your taste buds are ruined and more then likely you were also blowing your nose several times through the eveneing which is frankely a large turnoff for the diners around you...

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: OnDaGo
                                  a
                                  alltummy Nov 25, 2007 08:30 AM

                                  I've never been to a restaurant that wouldn't serve free lemon with the water if requested.

                                  not sure what your point on going out when you are getting over a cold has to do with anything. surely one shouldn't be penalized for that.

                                  and i often order the cheapest thing on the menu. Not for financial reasons, but because I am vegetarian, and that is often the cheapest. I surely don't think that I am going to a restaurant to maximize the amount I spend, and good service requires being treated the same no matter what you order. Maybe next time I am there I will order a $200 bottle of wine, but I expect the same service either way.

                                  1. re: OnDaGo
                                    Googs Nov 25, 2007 08:32 AM

                                    It's implied in Tout Garni's post that the additional charge for splitting a dish is not based on cleaning anything additional. If the restaurant doesn't clearly spell out on their menu that there is a charge, then clearly they shouldn't do it.

                                    As far as the hot water with lemon argument goes I just don't get it. They don't appear to have caused the grief and embarrassment of pulling out teabags. If they did they shouldn't be charged for tea. They should just be politely asked to leave. Should I now go there, request a cocktail without garnish, and ask what my discount will be?

                                    1. re: Googs
                                      ostracario Nov 25, 2007 01:12 PM

                                      Politely asked to leave? LOL! The poster almost ripped them a new one for charging for hot water and lemon. Can you imagine the rage if they'd been asked to leave? (I'll take a ring-side seat for that one!) After all this I'm going to the Corner House, ordering wine with my meal and splitting an app...just to see what'll happen. ;-)

                                    2. re: OnDaGo
                                      d
                                      DrewStar Nov 25, 2007 01:35 PM

                                      I can see both sides on this one. As a customer it's always appreciated when the restaurant goes above-and-beyond the call to make the customer happy. In that case, hot water with lemon for free, and no extra charge for splitting an app. By the way, did they put the app on 2 plates or did you share from one plate? I know it sounds cheap, but restaurants have to pay for the dishwasher, soap, rinsing agent, the cook's time to make 2 plates instead of one. I realize that the extra effort is minimal, but it all adds up.

                                      I think of this as similar to corkage fees. You bring your wine to a restaurant. Why not just drink it with no added fees? Well there are the glasses to provide and wash, waiter opening the bottle, perhaps returning to refill your glass, plus the restaurant is losing out on selling you one of their bottles. Compared to a $20 wine corkage fee, the extra you paid isn't that much.

                                      That said, the waiter or manager may have been unhappy that you had hot water to drink, split an app and split a dessert. Unfair perhaps, but as someone who works in the business, I can see where they're coming from. I probably would have charged $1 each for the hot lemon water and done the app and dessert split for free.

                                      1. re: DrewStar
                                        deelicious Nov 25, 2007 01:38 PM

                                        Or give both for free and treat your customers like guests....who will return.

                                        1. re: deelicious
                                          d
                                          DrewStar Nov 25, 2007 01:43 PM

                                          I don't know. Where do we draw the line here? If they had split a main as well, would any extra charge be warranted?

                                          1. re: DrewStar
                                            deelicious Nov 25, 2007 02:04 PM

                                            In my opinion splitting a main is hugely different to picking at a dessert together. It requires extra work and dishes, not to mention the lost revenue from a seat. More often than not I ask for an extra fork or spoon so dessert can be shared simply because I don't like a full dessert after my meal. I have never been charged for such a "privledge" and I have never had a restaurant split a dessert to two plates.

                                            In my circles it is very common to expect a surcharge for an entree split and unheard of to see one for a split dessert. If anything the waiter says "I don't blame you for wanting that fork".

                                        2. re: DrewStar
                                          lilith Nov 25, 2007 05:24 PM

                                          I used to be in the restaurant business and always regarded 'giving freebies' as a tactic to make yourself look good, kind of a 'bait' to bring back customers.

                                          Just like most of the Japanese restaurants, we never charged the customers for tea, tsukidashi (mini-appetizers not on the menu), hot towels, after dinner mints/candies, etc. We also never charged extra for special requests such as splitting food, extra plates and chopsticks for kids to nibble from parents' orders, extra pickles, hot water, taking home the flower (yes someone wanted to take home the flower we had on the table), taking home the origami crane decorations, iced tea (not the Nestea / Lipton 'ice tea' but Japanese tea served cold), etc... and we also gave free apps or sweets on special occasions like birthdays and people returning to Japan, etc...
                                          We also had an origami crane as a tabletop decoration, and we drew li'l somethings with food colouring on the kaishi paper that we placed under the tempura, and there were times that someone wanted to take these home. We said, "take'em!" or pull out a fresh piece of kaishi not stained in oil.

                                          Oh, we did charge $0.25 for a second serving of rice, after the 2nd or 3rd year where a bunch of students decided to eat 3-5 bowls of rice without ordering the mains, just rice a la salt and soy sauce lol, but that extra charge we clearly marked on our menu and we also put a big poster on the walls for a few months to inform our clients of the change in our policy.
                                          Also, occasionally someone wanted a dozen or two extra kaishi papers for tempura or origami cranes to take home for a party, and we settled for a few dollars. We never charged for 1 but for that much we thought we could charge... we were using real kaishi and washi paper:)

                                          As says soho, if you need the money, it is best to price the meals accordingly so that you don't look cheap by charging an extra loonie or two, and if you MUST charge extra for something (like our rice and paper items), in all fairness, let the customer know BEFORE charging them. I saw a McD (or was it Taco Bell) post a sign saying they charge 10 cents for their ice without a drink order. Once the customer is informed, it's up to them to take it or leave it.

                                          You mention detergent and labour and whatever, and I'd assume also the charge may be imposed to discourage special requests for efficiency purposes, but we closed down after a few years, not because we didn't charge for those extras and the cost added up, but because the business went well and we made the money we needed. In fact, in our last years we were so busy that sometimes the customers were waiting for 45mins+ for their food... which made us feel bad but thankfully, they were willing to wait.

                                          Yes, you can definitely make more money in the end by NOT charging the customers for extra detergent. Even if 1 in 10 people decided to split their food, cleaning 500 plates or 550 and paying staff for that extra time did not make a huge difference to us, because more than half of them returned, and became regulars.
                                          It was more important for us that these people came back knowing that we cared for them, it was before the internet days and word-of-mouth mattered alot for places like ours that didn't spend the money in advertising, than charge a mere $1-2 for hot water&lemon or whatever.
                                          By being nice they came back, often with friends:) and as we got busier we sometimes had to say "sorry, but the wait time to get your food is xx mins", they gladly waited because they liked what we were doing, and because we offered them free pickles or sunomono while they waited.

                                          Now, our place was a good ol' Japanese shokudo, mom's kitchen style with 5-7 staff, serving chicken-katsu and saba-miso kinda cheap set meals at $6-8 consisting of rice, miso soup and main dish, so I can't speak for a place with mains at $32 and paying higher rent and hiring more staff, but if we charged $6-8pp and gave them free hot water and plates and still made profit after all the expense, it's hard to believe that a place chargning 4-5 times as much to not have room for free hot water w/lemon and one or two extra plates & cutlery.
                                          I have some restauranteur friends, some with cheap places like ours and some haute, they all agree that you gain in the end by losing (aka spending the right way) in the beginning.

                                          1. re: lilith
                                            h
                                            hungryabbey Nov 25, 2007 05:37 PM

                                            I agree with Lilith, I have never owned a restaurant so I cant speak from that end of the equaiton but I do know from experiences with high end restaurants, that they can afford to do the customers some favours. For example, the first time I visited the Globe bistro they offered myself and my two other guests a free wine flight each (3 glasses of 3 oz. pours per flight!!), they split the appetiser 4 ways without being asked and did not charge us any more. The 2nd time I went (last weekend) my boyfriend and I were given a glass of ice wine each without charge. These details make customers return and they know this. So obviously that ice wine cost a hell of a lot more then 2 slices of lemon, plus they too had to clean the dishes, but they knew it would help their business in the long run so it was clearly worth it.

                                        3. re: OnDaGo
                                          b
                                          beachmouse Nov 28, 2007 05:38 PM

                                          Lemon's common enough with water here that it's usually the default and you have to specifically ask them to leave it off if you don't like it.

                                          I suspect it's because the taste of the local tap water isn't that great, even after most restaurants filter drinking water for customers.

                                        4. t
                                          Tout Garni Nov 25, 2007 08:04 AM

                                          That's nothing. I was there once with my gf (no relation to your bf, I'm sure) and we each had a different entree. As usual, we both wanted to try each other's dish and so put a sampling on the bread plate and exchanged. When the bill came, we were charged an extra $5 each for splitting the entree!

                                          Where is Mayor Miller on all this?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Tout Garni
                                            m
                                            mickeyj Nov 25, 2007 08:41 AM

                                            ?????? You must be kidding. What if you had placed some of your entree on your fork and placed it into your gf's mouth? Would that be considered splitting the entree and would you have been charged $5?

                                            1. re: Tout Garni
                                              v
                                              valuu Nov 25, 2007 08:53 AM

                                              Oh my. Please tell me you disputed the charge and they took it off, for the sake of my general faith in good sense and taste.

                                              1. re: Tout Garni
                                                EWSflash Nov 26, 2007 07:14 AM

                                                Okay, after reading Tout garni's post i amend my opinion- they shouldn't have been surprised to be charged extra for lemon in hot water, but maybe they had the right to be offended. It looks like the restaurant is keeping tabs on who eats what and charging for every variance, and only an all-you-can-eat place should be doing that. It's a scroungy practice if that's what they're doing.

                                                But in giving them the benefit of the doubt, and without all the other "annoyance" charges, I wouldn't have been surprised at the lemonwater charge. It isn't mandatory to put lemon in water, though lot of places do it.

                                              2. vorpal Nov 25, 2007 07:46 AM

                                                I also think that both of these things were quite underhanded.

                                                My question for you, soho, is why you tipped as normal? This seems to be a trend that I witness here all the time: someone is quite upset about something that happens at a restaurant but then he or she tips their usual 15-25%. It is the duty of the waiter to make sure that you enjoy your experience; the tip should be a reflection of their success at doing so.

                                                I think in this case, I would probably have tipped as usual, and then politely told the waiter (and probably the management) that as the charges made no sense and were nowhere disclosed in advance, I refuse to pay for the hot water and the appetizer splitting. If they insisted on being paid for these, they could deduct them from the tip.

                                                I understand that this may seem like penalizing the waiter for restaurant policy, but he or she should have probably disclosed such clearly stupid things to you in advance, IMO, and it would send a clear message to the restaurant that you disagreed highly with their business practices. If everyone keeps refusing to do so, restaurants like this will feel justified in this kind of behaviour.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: vorpal
                                                  a
                                                  alltummy Nov 25, 2007 08:07 AM

                                                  much like the $7 tea at Xacutti, one should be warned when arguably basic things are significantly more than one would commonly expect....
                                                  at the same time, if there isn't at tactful way to say "2 hot waters with lemon costs $5", then really, there isn't a tactful way to charge $5 for 2 hot waters with lemon.

                                                2. ostracario Nov 25, 2007 06:00 AM

                                                  I don't find this to be a problem. To serve hot water it costs the same as serving tea. The bag itself is just a few cents, while you're really paying for the use of the cup, the cost of heating the water, the cleaning of said cup, etc. And many restaurants charge a nominal fee to split meals - this isn't rare. Not so common here perhaps but in New York, where eat seat is a premium, you see it quite often. One higher-end resto in Toronto used to charge $4 extra for a half pasta for people who only wanted a small pasta but weren't concerned about the price! Restaurants are in business to make money...sad for some, but a reality.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: ostracario
                                                    s
                                                    seeldee Nov 25, 2007 06:36 AM

                                                    WHAT??!?! You are honestly trying to justify a restaurant charging diners for plain hot water while trying to imply that the poster, soho, was somehow crazy for not expecting to be charged? And on top of that, the server didn't even have the balls to tell soho that there would be a surcharge for holding the nozzle on the hot water portion of their, likely, industrial coffee machine? That to me says that the server was looking for ways to pad the bill to average out a larger tip. Give me a break!

                                                    Restaurants charge for tea because the markup is on the tea bag, not the hot water. With reasoning like yours, restaurants should be explicitly portioning out a measure of their overall electric or gas bills to each diner as well as each menu item. I'm not even going to address how offensive it is to charge an additional charge for sharing an appetizer. Portions are usually way too large in most restaurants already, and it makes perfect sense that two diners would share an app if they were aware, from past experience, that their mains would be more than enough food to begin with. What this restaurant's management has done with these surcharge practices makes it pretty clear what their priorities are.

                                                    Of course the restaurant is entitled to make a profit, but looking for ways to pad a bill is just offensive.

                                                    1. re: seeldee
                                                      y
                                                      Yum2MyTum Nov 25, 2007 06:46 AM

                                                      I have to agree with seeldee and soho.
                                                      The practice is just bad business. I never understood why restaurants would stoop low just for a couple of extra dollars, especially since those few dollars will ultimately cost them repeat business (plus the effects of negative word of mouth...)

                                                      1. re: seeldee
                                                        EWSflash Nov 25, 2007 07:29 AM

                                                        If the diners ordered just hot water, it's very shabby if not flat-out dishonest to charge them for hot tea. But in rereading the original post I saw that they were served hot water with lemon, which by definition of tea being flavoring infused into hot water, is a tea indeed. If that's what they asked for they shouldn't be surprised OR offended by being charged for such.In many cases a generous slice of lemon in certain places at certain times of year could easily cost more than a teabag. Room temp and getting over a cold sound more like excuses or padding of their side of the story, and I wish she had left that part out.

                                                        For the appetizer or dessert I agree with the poster- they each had an entree, it makes the restaurant look bad to split hairs and generates a lot more ill will than income..

                                                        1. re: EWSflash
                                                          Full tummy Nov 25, 2007 09:18 AM

                                                          But a slice of lemon or lime with cold water is standard in a restaurant, and one doesn't have to pay extra for it.

                                                          1. re: EWSflash
                                                            Full tummy Nov 25, 2007 09:21 AM

                                                            Never been to a restaurant that includes free lemon with water? What? I've never been to one that didn't.

                                                            Don't know why this ended up here, but it's supposed to be a reply to OnDaGo below.

                                                            1. re: Full tummy
                                                              s
                                                              soho Nov 25, 2007 03:13 PM

                                                              Wow, I am returning to a very lively thread. I think it raises the point of if the restaurant has the right to slip you charges without telling you, which makes it a lively discussion, beyond the scope of just what happened last night to me at dinner.

                                                              I just asked for some hot water, not hot water with lemon. But like someone else pointed out, you get ice colds and lemon with cold water too.

                                                              Often when you ask to change a dish, a waiter would tell you whether substitutions are ok, and they would at that point say, there is a charge for it. That is fine in my books. It's about telling your customer beforehand, and not about trying to gain the few dollars here and there.

                                                              I do want to write about what happened though, even if I had tip them less, because I think it's fair to let people know about the policies at this restaurant. This is part of the reason for this board, to talk about our good and bad dining experiences. In all fairness I did say the food was good. If you think it's acceptable, then feel free to go. In the end the decision is all yours.

                                                              --------
                                                              Vorpol you do have a good point. I told my guest we shouldn't tip as normal, but my guest did not seem to want to. I didn't want to make a scene at our dinner and ruin that experience for the guest. I have written to management about this incidence to let them know. I don't think a waiter would have the audacity to charge the 2 H2O if they did not think they could get away with it, especially after I had asked them to fix the bill once (asking if hot tea was a mistake, they then changed it to hot water, so either way they seemed determined to charge for those 2 slices of lemon).

                                                        2. re: ostracario
                                                          c
                                                          cocolou Nov 25, 2007 09:23 AM

                                                          Hum... Hum... I feel restaurants should check what's going on in town. Lots of competition and lots of reviews. Beware !

                                                          1. re: ostracario
                                                            susancinsf Nov 25, 2007 04:43 PM

                                                            Among several reasons I disagree with this post: the logic assumes that the restaurant in question serves tea bags when one asks for tea. I don't know the Corner House, but at an upper end restaurant, I'd consider it a disappointment to get hot water and tea bag when I order tea. It certainly isn't proper tea service!

                                                          2. Food Tourist Nov 25, 2007 05:17 AM

                                                            soho, how did you share the appetizer? Did they serve it to you on two separate plates or did you split it yourselves somehow?

                                                            I'm so disappointed because I had been looking forward to returning to Corner House after a really good winterlicious experience a couple of years ago.

                                                            1. m
                                                              mercyteapot Nov 24, 2007 09:37 PM

                                                              I don't know this Corner House of which you speak, but I agree that $2 for hot water is ridiculous. They surely wouldn't have charged you $2 for cold water. If they were going to charge you the price for tea, they should've at least offered it to you!

                                                              What would bother me more, though, is the extra plate charge for splitting the appetizer and dessert. I totally get why restaurants do that when an entree is split, but I think it's ridiculous to assert the charge when both an appetizer and a dessert are ordered along with one entree per diner. It would be akin to imposing an extra charge on diners who elect not to order any appetizer or dessert.

                                                              As you've had 3 positive experiences there previously, I wonder if it might not be worth it to give the place another chance after talking to the manager about what happened this time? I'd be sure to point out that I returned specifically because I'd enjoyed so much previously, etc. and see if this wasn't just an aberration.

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