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Dec 11, 2007 12:40 PM

Lunch at Thuet- not given option of ice water [moved from Ontario board]

Had Lunch here today...Waiter asked would it be flat or sparkling water...answer flat....weren't given the option of ice water...a bottle of flat water came Waiter poured...only half finished bottle at end of meal...Bill charged $6.00 for the Water....I hate it when that happens...I was going to make Reservations for there this Sunday Brunch...changed my mind...I forgot about this ruse and have eaten there many water is free....Miranda

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  1. Damn, I hate when that happens!!! Not nice.

    1. I agree with you, however, I have learned that when I am asked in an upscale restaurant if I want flat or sparkling, I have to specify tap. Might not be right, but it's commonplace. If you like the food, I would give them another shot.

      4 Replies
        1. re: pescatarian

          Hum... I know what might happen (sometimes) in the kitchen when a client orders tap water without ordering some fancy drinks or some wine to go with the meal. I leave that to your imagination.

          1. re: lamaranthe

            You clearly live in a much more jaded world than I do. We're not talking about sending an order back to the kitchen or insulting the cooks in the kitchen. We're talking about a drink order. I am quite aware of what goes on in kitchens and I honestly can't imagine any that I know of sabotoging a diner's food over a drink order, or lack thereof.

            This whole thread is hilarious, IMO, we're talking about how the server took drink orders. There's no suggestion here that there was any serious breach in service.
            Honestly, I think these restaurants are better off without customers who are so put off by such matters. They have customers who do not make such a fuss about these things.

            1. re: pescatarian

              I'm with you, Pescatarian. Ordering tap water is not going to send an overworked kitchen staff into a revenge-driven tizzy. In addition, clarifying what kind of still water one wold like (tap) isn't exactly a taxing demand placed on a customer.

              Perhaps I'm missing the 'what constitutes suitable dining' gene, but 'tap will be fine' is a sentence that has never caused me much trouble-- in saying or in the fall out. (Although, in some places, tap really isn't that fine; as a child I lived somewhere where the tap water was the subject of a dare at restaurants.)

              There are sneaky upselling strategies to be sure, but this one? Just not fussed, I suppose. Go figure.

        2. Unacceptable. Thuet's is living on its doubtful reputation. They should watch the competition.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. Gimme a break, it’s a lowhanded cash grab that higher end restaurants should be above doing, yet for some reason own a monopoly on. Who offers a choice of flat or sparkling water as a default to starting a meal?! Come on. It’s a rotten thing to do to people who are already paying very good money for what is supposed to be good food and honest, helpful service. It’s such a blatant and sneaky thing to do it’s sickening.

              1. re: magic

                I'm sorry magic, but I totally disagree. It's perhaps a restaurant short-hand but it's not sneaky.

                What the heck is wrong with just saying "tap is fine" when asked "flat or sparkling"?

                1. re: orangewasabi

                  Because many people assume flat means tap. It's damn sneaky, and that is why it is pervasive. Cuz it works.

                  1. re: magic

                    It works because people don't have the nads to say "tap's fine" if that's what they want, not because the rare person who's eating in one of these higher end restaurants for the first time mistakes flat for tap.

                    To say nothing of chances that the majority of the diners in these restaurants actually buy bottled water by the case because they actually prefer bottled water (for some odd reason).

                    1. re: magic

                      I don't assume flat means tap, I say "tap is fine" everytime I'd rather spend the money on food or drinks (chic or cheap? I don't really care...) if it is a concern to the diner, you are making the same assumption they would be by not mentioning you're ok with tap...

                      1. re: Recyclor

                        You don’t assume that. But lotsa people do. Thus the reason for this thread to begin with. It’s not like Miranda was the first to make that mistake. TONS of people, naively make this mistake at least once and then learn. Which is sad, cuz ordering should not be a game of cost evasion – it should be assisted by servers. Especially at places like Thuet. Or wherever.

                        In fact, let’s just pre-empt all those who know the difference between flat and tap water. This issue isn’t about that, and I think people are missing an important point. Which is that misleading customers, even in a minor or passive way, is wrong. Still not sure why some people don’t see this as really disturbing. Who cares if you know the difference between flat and tap!! Many DON’T.

                        1. re: magic

                          I don't recall, but I probally learned the tap or flat difference through experience, I also don't remember being upset by it...even at McDonalds you specify if you want a cup of (free) water or (pay for) a resto's that are presenting themselves as a high-end experiences, diners should expect to be immersed into that world by choosing to come, if they want to be accomodated certain ways they can make requests, I assume all the wines and ingredients in the food are "the good stuff" why would they opt to offer anything else of lower quality?..I appreciate the option though since I take it, but, if the service was noticably poor due to making such a choice as drinking tap water the tip would reflect it, and THAT might get them on my black list...

                          1. re: Recyclor

                            That's a good point but to me the difference is McDonald's isn't inviting you to potenitally make the wrong choice.

                            The difference is the context. And I think when higher end places that pride themselves on customer service initiate a policy of customer trickery at an insane profit, the context is changed. It’s not really the same thing. I agree that customers should always be aware of what they are buying but McDonald’s doesn’t offer you the choice in quite the same way that these other establishments do.

                            1. re: magic

                              "That's a good point but to me the difference is McDonald's isn't inviting you to potenitally make the wrong choice."

                              How are they not doing the same thing? They don't list tap is free, you only know to correct the error cuz your food is slapped on a tray while you order, if you asked for water with a combo and they had table service you'd probally get a bottle...if you are too ashamed to correct it, you need to get over yourself...I expect a high-end experience through all the details of the dinner at a place like Thuet, to deviate from it by wanting tap water is on me, and thus I better be prepared to speak up or put up...

                            2. re: Recyclor

                              The bottled stuff is not necessarily the "good stuff". I'll sometimes order sparkling water, or try a bottle of an unusual flat mineral water. Usually I order tap. But I'm not embarrassed about a server deciding I'm cheap. And I will tip less if the service sucks.

                              Test after test (and even the odd study) shows that most bottled waters don't taste better than tap water and are not cleaner or safer than tap water. And much bottled water comes in plastic bottles that leach chemicals into the water, giving odd tastes and causing who knows what future problems. I taste these chemicals and I won't drink these waters if I can avoid them.

                              Not long ago, restaurant trade mags were touting the profit potential of bottled water. "Water sommeliers" were starting to appear. I don't think many of these folks lasted very long. Because most bottled water isn't better than the stuff from the tap. (If I happened to live in Bellville ON or Rockford IL, I might feel differently.)

                      2. re: orangewasabi

                        sorry, Magic, I disagree with you on this one too. Of course, they are trying to get you to get the bottled water. I've been to enough places where this is commonplace. To me if a waiter asked me if I wanted flat or bubbly/sparkling, I would assume they were referring to bottled. "Flat" does not refer to tap water in these restaurants. It might take a couple visits to learn this, but once you do, you learn to ask for tap water if that's what you want. Not a big deal. If they were rude to me if I requested tap water, that would be a whole other matter. Also, if I meant tap water, I would have mentioned it after they brought the bottled water to the table. Once it's opened, of course you're going to pay for the whole bottle.

                        1. re: pescatarian

                          When someone is paying $200 upwards for a meal I don't even want a whiff of underhandedness. It is unacceptable and wrong and not as rare as some believe, and I'm not sure advocating consumer responsibility makes it all ok, pescatarian.

                          If servers were to add 'tap water' as a choice that would be fine with me. But they don't. And the reason they don't is most people will of course choose tap. And they won't make a beverage sale. It's so transparently obvious I'm not sure why paying customers would defend this practise.

                          And it's not a nads issue, orangewasabi. It's about treating customers with respect.

                          1. re: magic

                            I guess I don't consider it underhandedness. I consider it part of being in business. The practice of asking if you want flat or bubbly is not rare, I agree. Underhandedness? I thinking that's stretching it.
                            As an educated customer, if I don't want to pay for a bottle of water, I consider it my responsibility to ask for tap if that's what I want.

                            1. re: magic

                              "And the reason they don't is most people will of course choose tap. "

                              I beg to disagree. I work in a restaurant with decent tap water. The waiters are instructed to ask "sparkling, spring or tap?". We sell bottled water to 71% of our guests. "Most" of our guests choose bottled.

                          2. re: orangewasabi

                            It sure is sneaky! And it's done because it works. It's an issue mainly at high end restaurants primarily because, at less lofty venues, people who want bottled water must order it explicitly.

                            I haven't met many people who mistook "sparkling or flat" to mean sparkling or tap. However, I have met many people, including some close friends, who are embarrassed to ask for tap - a reaction I don't understand myself, but see quite often - when given this dual "choice". Some believe they they will be viewed as cheap and will, therefore get lousy service .

                            And many servers who pull this stunt (sometimes because of management policy; sometimes on their own) oblige by giving bad service - sometimes creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and sometimes getting a decent (and possibly undeserved) tip anyway.

                            Twice in the last week, once at a very high end place and once at a more modest one, we were asked "sparkling, flat, or tap?" What the heck is wrong with expecting that of a server? (And, at the high end place, the tap tasted filtered, was served on ice with lemon, and was refilled - without asking - throughout the meal.)

                            1. re: embee

                              Thank you embee, exactly. Well said.

                              1. re: embee

                                But if they don't, and you know better, the customer has to get over the embarrassment of asking for tap. After going to these places a number of times, you should know that if they ask you if you want flat water, they are not referring to tap and shouldn't be surprised, if you agree to the flat water, when they bring a bottle to the table.

                                1. re: pescatarian

                                  So people who have never experienced this unwritten 'water' rule and get charged $6 for unwanted water have nothing to gripe about then? Because, as you say, they haven't been exposed to these places a number of times....

                                  This is exactly what I'm talking about. This sales strategy isn't aimed at people like us, pescatarian. We all know better. The problem is that many people, indeed most, don't. They learn the hard way. And it is such an obvious ploy and breach of trust I'm not sure it is defendable.

                                  1. re: magic

                                    I agree with Magic on this one. I didn't know that water other than sparkling would be a water with charge. (I guess on reflection it does make sense) I would have assumed flat meant tap until this thread. Luckily I haven't been caught with a $6 to "teach me a lesson" and I thank all of you for informing or the flat vs sparkling terminology

                                    1. re: magic

                                      At those places which ask only if we would like "tap or sparkling water" I have taken to replying "free water will be fine, thanks"

                                      1. re: magic

                                        But even if you didn't know and you thought you were asking for tap - as soon as you saw them bring bottled and start pouring, wouldn't you say something? I would!!
                                        And, btw, I drink tap all the time. I prefer it. It's regulated. Has nothing to do with being cheap.

                                        1. re: pescatarian

                                          Of course I'd send it back. But to me that's not the issue. The issue is they should not be doing this to begin with.

                                          1. re: magic

                                            Yes, but they do. All of them do. So should we hold such a small matter against them if it's standard practice and you enjoy the food and the service is otherwise pleasant? Do you think if we all revolt, it will make a difference?

                                            1. re: pescatarian

                                              Haha, I don’t think revolt is necessary but I still think it’s wrong. And yes, I think if something like this were reported to a regulating body it might be looked into. That said, I don’t think it’s cause for legal action. I just don’t like it and think it’s wrong, particularly for restaurants where you pay for good service as well as good food. And obviously I’m not alone.

                                        2. re: magic

                                          But magic, wouldn't you correct the server before they poured the water? Or would you assume they were giving you a free bottle of water? Perhaps this is a case of miscommunication, waiter asks flat or sparkling thinking bottled water, and customer thinks tap. It is not underhanded, it's actually very common in many restaurants to offer water in this way. Right or wrong is subjective. The point I'm trying to make is the customer should have corrected the server. If I order a steak and I get pasta, I'd correct the mistake.

                                          1. re: magic

                                            the more I think about this, the more annoyed on behalf of the restaurant and servers I am.

                                            This isn't some conspiracy. Servers are there to deliver the items the establishment sells -- not to list off all the free stuff available. As the customer, I am in control of what I want to buy . . . particular if I am asked in advance if I want it.

                                            I must be living on a different planet from you Magic, since I can't remember the last time I had bad service or paid for something in a restaurant I didn't want.

                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                              The incident itself is trivial. The issue is one of respect. Good service means making customers happy so that they will, hopefully, tip generously and come back. A meal at a good restaurant shouldn't include caveat emptor as part of the experience.

                                        3. re: Recyclor

                                          I can't agree or disagree with with your comment, simply because I've never seen this happen. But I'm sure it probably does:-)

                                          1. re: embee

                                            Harbour Sixty last night asked "sparkling, flat, or tap?" I agree with Magic because I am not naive about restaurant management choices.

                                    2. They're not the only ones doing this... I remember travelling in Europe six years ago and discovering that there were some restaurants that simply wouldn't serve you tap water, even if you asked. Wonder if this will be standard in Toronto sometime.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                        This has been true in some parts of the world for a very long time. In some places it's the long standing local custom (which it is not, and never has been, in Toronto). In some places it's because the local tap water tastes disgusting and anyone who can afford bottled drinks it, even at home. And in some places it's because you must - because the tap water is not safe.

                                        But Toronto tap water is eminently drinkable. (Full disclosure: our home drinking water is filtered, but it is NOT bottled.)