While vacationing in Vancouver, BC, Canada, we went for dinner at a restaurant downtown, across from the large glass BMO building. The food was mediocre, similar to many others at their price range who tries to be classy. However, when the bill arrived, we were surprised and offended by the hidden gratuity charge.

As a bunch of guys, the place looked decent enough and they have large TVs everywhere, all tuned to the sports channels. Almost all of the waitresses were dressed like prostitutes – they all looked alike with blonde hair, slender, wearing a short skirt. It is well known that many of the restaurants in Vancouver hire scantily clad waitress as servers and men are the cooks. If you have been to two different restaurants in Vancouver, you will surely agree with this observation.

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The lights inside were very dim and the prices on the menu do not include the dollar sign or the decimal point, so customers are not consciously aware of their over-priced meals. Our food arrived at a decent time frame, but because none of us ordered alcoholic beverage, so our waitress totally ignored us. The food tasted fine but nothing to brag about or recommend to others.

The shocker came, when the bill arrived showing $109.03! At first, we thought that was the wrong bill but after careful examination, we felt ripped off by this restaurant.

Here’s the breakdown of the charges for the four of us:

  • $20 – meal
  • $17 – meal
  • $18 – meal
  • $21 – meal
  • $12 – 4 glasses of watered-down sodas
  • ——————————————————
  • $88.00 – sub total
  • $15.84 – Gratuity @ 18%
  • ——————————————————
  • $103.84 sub total
  • $5.19 – GST tax @ 5%
  • ================================
  • $109.03 Grand Total

They bill also came with a nicely printed burgundy color card saying: “A Friendly Reminder…We wanted to let you know that an 18% gratuity has been added to your bill. If you fell that there was a problem with your experience please bring it to our attention and will rectify the situation. Thanks again for dining with us.”

a notice for charging high gratuity

A Friendly Reminder? When did they even notify us of the 18% gratuity and not to mention, they charged the GST tax ON TOP of the gratuity! There were no signs anywhere to warning the paying customer of their hidden fees.

We asked to speak with the manager and a slim man in his 30’s, wearing glasses, with an attitude that this is his castle, came over and identified himself as John. The man was not professional at all.

After hearing our concern, he immediately became defensive saying the restaurant have to protect their employees by getting them the tips they deserve. He brought over their menu to show us the fine print at the very bottom which only states “A service charge will be added to your bill.”

the fine print on menu for the undisclosed amount of gratuity

We confronted the manager that it doesn’t say an 18% gratuity will be added. He replied, “Now you know how much.” When asked if it is legal for them to charge the GST tax on top of the gratuity, he refused to comment. We clearly stated that we did not agree to such high hidden charges prior to dinning and will not pay for those charges. He then proudly said, “Please don’t come back here again.” Later, he sends the waitress over with another bill without the hidden 18% gratuity.

These types of restaurants are out to rip people off and must be avoided. They are simply dishonest and provide bad customer experiences. If they were transparent with their service fees, and if the customers are clearly informed prior to entering the establishment, it would be a different scenario. Sadly, this is how they cover their high over heads. They use tactics like dim lights and fine prints to trick their customers. Why not pay the waitresses a decent wage instead of having them dressed like whores and rip the customers off? If we want to eat with a bunch of whores walking around, there are other venues for that type of activity.

This restaurant simply doesn’t understand there are many other restaurants competing for the same customers. Gratuity is a courtesy, not a mandatory hidden fee. People have options. As customers, we have plenty of options these days. Customers can pick and choose where they want to spend their money. People want to feel good when they spend their money and refused to be ripped off by scams such as this.

Will we ever recommend this restaurant to anyone? We would rather give our money to the homeless people on Burrard Street than to give it to this snort nosed rip off restaurant.

Should you worry about hidden service fees at restaurants?

Should you worry about bad customer service?

Should you worry about getting ripped off by dishonest restaurants?

You decide!

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