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Sep 13, 2010 04:01 PM

New Marche downtown low on quality, high on service charges

We were going to check out the newly reopened Marche in Brookfield Place downtown last week. There is a sign greeting patrons by the front door saying they are charging an extra 12 per cent automatic service fee on top of your bill for service, however. You also get incorrectly charged HST on the service fee, which means it works out to more than 12 per cent.

Inside the cafeteria style restaurant, the service is anything but worth the money. It appears as if staff don't care. Dirty dishes are left on tables, cooks at the food stations act as if customers are interrupting their important work and everything is rushed.

You could do better at the nearby Ryerson University student cafeteria, for a fraction of the price.

Food quality is even worse. Salmon looks grey and out of date, potato rosti is served cold and vegetables are lifeless. I can't see this lasting very long.

4061 Rue Hochelaga, Montreal, QC H1V, CA

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  1. Too bad. I remember when I enjoyed Marche, and I still have fond memories of brunches at the Movenpick in Yorkville in the '90s. I wonder what happened that they fell so far so quickly?

    1. Unfortunately, Marche is correct in chagring HST on their automatic service fee - once a service fee is mandatory, it is a part of the contracted price, thus subject to GST/HST. A tip/gratuity is given freely by a customer, a service fee is a mandatory charge.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dachopstix

        Thanks for setting me straight on that one, Dachopstix. Does anyone know of any other restaurants that charge an automatic gratuity/service fee? I can understand with large groups, but a flat mandatory fee across the board is completely unfair to the consumer. Staff at Marche/Movenpick did not seem motivated in the least to provide good service either, because they knew they would be getting the gratuity regardless.

        1. re: dachopstix

          Thanks dachopstix, this is great info and makes me think twice at going to restaurants with mandatory service charges. What I don't understand is how you can add a "suggested amount" to the customer's bill?

        2. But the free water is back! They've installed a water "fountain" again and lots of pitchers/glasses/ice around.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Cat123

            I love the fountain! But then I've also seen kids spit and wash their hands in it...

            Basically, a restaurant will list whether or not they're charging a service fee, usually at the bottom of the menu, or will reserve it to a larger party. However, in cases like that, I've spoken to the servers, when in a large party (in excess of 20), and told them that we would take care of them and to not charge the fee. They were quite content with that, but some restaurants may be adamant in charging it due to party sizes.

            Marche wants to ensure that the "service fee" is allocated to both the table clearers and the kitchen staff, plus perhaps take a cut as well... All of this would go on the staffs' T4s, so no need for tip reporting for them on their personal taxes :p

            1. re: dachopstix

              The new "fountain" is really a tap gushing from the wall and doesn't pool anymore, which is much ore sanitary!

              1. re: dachopstix

                I don't buy it, dachopstix. Lots of restaurants share tips without resorting to mandatory charges. My guess is since Marche is basically self-serve - you have to get your own food like in a cafeteria, guests might not leave a tip, thus they charge a mandatory service charge.

            2. I don't think this policy would have changed.- but in the past you were able to opt out of the service charge by simply telling them at the register that you did not wish to pay the service charge.

              They would remove it without batting a lash.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pakmode

                Past experience at the chain causes me both to agree and disagree with posts here. Years ago, at the Ottawa location, my group of six (who had all lined up as individuals for our rostis and nasti goreng) were each charged an unadvertised surcharge of 10% at the register for service. We all challenged it, and the management corps was called out to placate us. They told us that the 10% was to pay for the water, and to pay for the dishes and the cutlery that their competition in the nearby foodcourt did not use. We protested this as false advertising in that until the invisible surcharge appeared, their prices appeared to be competitive, and they told us that we were free to eat elsewhere. So we did, but not before interviewing the various station attendents , who advised us that they had not had breaks for more than 4 hours, and that they did not participate in a tip sharing plan, and were on the minimum wage that then existed for persons in Ontario who worked in the food service industry. Even though this was years ago (16 I think), it was an odious enough experience that I have not been back to any of their locations to see if it was a universal, or even a better rationalized practice.