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Jun 5, 2010 10:33 PM

Lunasia -- Charging for Nonexistent Hot Tea

My friend and I went to Lunasia in Alhambra for Dim Sum. We told the waiter we didn't want any tea so only iced water was brought to the table. I was surprised to see a $2 charge on the bill for "Hot Tea". When I inquired about this, the guy who handled the bill said it was a "seating charge". When I said "huh?", he clarified that it was for the iced water. Again, I said "huh?". Finally, the guy left then came back and THREW a revised bill on our table with the Hot Tea marked "Promo". Couldn't they have just taken it off the bill instead of giving some ridiculous explanations and still be nice about it and not throw the bill on the table?

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  1. Standard dim sum practice is a tea charge whether you drink it or not. That's why they were angry with you.
    I remember going with my daughter when she was an infant and they'd charge her for tea.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      That sounds kind of nutso to me, but shouldn't they at least BRING you some hot tea if they're going to charge you for it?

      1. re: EWSflash

        It's a "set up" charge, but they call it a tea charge.
        The waiter was probably flustered because the OP answered "huh?" everytime the waiter tried to give an answer.

        The OP may have gotten away with "no tea charge" that time at that restaurant, but they might tell them not to come back again.

        I've noticed sometimes a person will occupy a table and people will come and go and that's the restaurants way of getting something for the traffic.

        Just pay it, it's part of the dim sum game no matter where you go.
        You're going to get charged whether you drink tea, water or nothing. It's the price to pay for occupying a seat.

        Some places charge $1 some will charge $2.

    2. This is typical for dim sum.

      You get charged basically for a plate setting, which includes tea service, plates, condiments, chopsticks, etc. Usually the bill refers to it as a "Tea" other times it will be "table setup" or something of that ilk.

      Think of it as the dim sum version of a "cover charge".


      1. I am in the San Francisco area and have never paid for set up or hot tea (unless I ordered it) for Dim Sum. Never heard of this.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Janet

          You probably don't look closely at the bill--usually looks like sales tax the amount is so small.

          1. re: monku

            I've dined solo before at some smaller NorCal places and never got charged that $1. Even if I got charged, a quick explanation would take care of it. Never even been told in Cantonese to my face that "oh this is house charge etc etc". Other than that, other times we do order and pay for tea, so I can't say I'm the exception.

        2. I hope you threw down the exact amount for the bill with ZERO tip~.

          5 Replies
          1. re: gryphonskeeper

            Because of the OP's ignorance the waiter shouldn't get a tip?

            1. re: monku

              No, for the throwing the bill at him. There are ways to be decent to a customer, even one who as you pointed out, was ignorant to a custom. That customer was not belligerent and should not have had his bill thrown at him so disrespectfully.

              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                Well, of course that's the case, right? Of course the waiter "threw" the bill at the table ... it's not like the OP could be biased or anything ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I tell ya I have worked in the biz for a while, and I never treat a customer like dirt unless they deserve it. (one particular <insert word that rhymes with rich and begins with the letter be here> comes to mind) One way to kill a business in this economy is to make the customer feel slighted.

                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                    Well, certainly I was not impugning you (or your customer service abilities).

                    All I was trying to point out is that we only have the OP's version of what happened -- i.e. the bill was "thrown" down on the table. Maybe it was, or maybe the OP was taking liberal iterary license with this description. Who knows.

          2. WHo doesn't drink tea with dim sum?