Fish-bone bamboozle

There has never been an occasion when the restaurant bill, which comes at the end of every hearty meal, has failed to surprise me. Almost always, it is significantly more than I expect. For an epicurean amchigaelo1 like me, plodding through all the pages of a menu is an ordeal. If anything, it only increases my hunger. So the price total at the end is as unanticipated as the sudden fish bone that pierces your upper jaw in what you would have till then considered to be the yummiest bite.

One reluctant look at the bill and things become clear. While there can’t be much debate over items prepared in the kitchens of restaurants, what always leaves me amazed is the rate of certain packaged items brought to the table – soft drinks, mineral water and finger chips to name a few. These victuals are available in the free market and their price is anyone’s knowledge. But most restaurants quote a significantly higher rate in the name of ‘service’. A litre of mineral water is always on the higher side of Rs 35. Coke, the pesticide of an option available for teetotalers like me, is corrosive on the pockets too – Rs 25 for a 200 ml bottle, to say the least.

How can these establishments flout the law that explicitly prohibits charging above the MRP, in the name of ‘service’ 2? If service is what is the real intention, then it should actually be lesser than the MRP isn’t it? If after receiving your ‘service’ I am worse off than before, how is it a service at all because by the very definition, service is a benevolent, voluntary and selfless act that benefits someone. The only possible way this can be perceived as a ‘service’ is perhaps to the owner of the restaurant himself because we as clients are unthinkingly, willingly and even happily contributing to his well-being! So it is WE who end up doing the service, not he.

I have very similar sentiments on tipping waiters at restaurants. As made known to me, you tip a waiter when you are ‘very happy’ with the ‘service’ offered. Two things to be noted – very happy and service. I have already ‘served’ enough justifiable evidence to prove the fallacy behind the ‘service’ thingy so let me not get on to that again. And hey, I for one am never very happy doling out cash to a guy who is actually helping his bosses in, shall I say, ‘serving‘ me?

Moreover, why pay someone for what he is supposed to do? A waiter is supposed to be efficient, patient and quick. He is getting his salary precisely for that. If the hotel management ever comes to know of one laggard of a waiter on their payrolls, he will undoubtedly have a long wait before he becomes a waiter again. So why tip a waiter who is actually doing exactly what he is required to? In fact, he should be the one tipping us because we are giving him a chance to prove his diligence and hence, stay employed!

Restaurants and hotels being deemed as part of the ‘service’ industry is nothing but an oxymoron. In fact, it would be appropriate to say that any one but they belong to it. Who says charity begins at home? I think it begins in a hotel!

1. Amchigaelo (noun) : Konkani for ‘Konkani guy’, usually a food lover
2. If you have liked reading my article, you will be relieved to read this latest ruling by the court: Click here

3 thoughts on “Fish-bone bamboozle

  1. hmmmmmmmmm……dude i have a similar grouse but i guess it is only fair on the part of star hotels to charge extra for the ambience and service, because otherwise any tom,dick and harry from the street will go and sit there for the full day by ordering a ten rupee bottle of water. as fae as tipping the wauiter goes ……..these guys are seriously underpaid and their salary also takes into consideration that they will be tipped

  2. “how is it a service at all because by the very definition, service is a benevolent, voluntary and selfless act that benefits someone.”

    – not really. infact, not at all 🙂

    As for ‘over-charging’, I go with the hotels on this one. You are paying for water , among other things. And you are not being forced to buy the water. Prices are to be determined by the market, not some consumer court.

    However, I think they should allow people to carry your own water if someone does not wish to buy water. That sort of solves the problem. ( at least my understanding of how the US does it )

  3. service….the service that the hotels provide definitely does not fit in this particular definition of service u have chosen here…but it could fit in other definitions. As for the waiters, I guess tips contribute to a major chunk of their salary which would otherwise be too measely an amount…

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