Complaint Desk

Which Restaurant Surcharges Burn the Most?

When was the last time you decided to split an entree with your date because you weren't that hungry, only to find a split plate charge on your bill? Or how about a fee for the sauce you chose after you'd already committed to a $50 steak? CNN's Eatocracy is calling into question the potentially superfluous charges restaurants use to erode our finances. Some of them will have you looking more closely at your bill.

The split plate charge is actually a fair one, provided you're told about it in advance and the dish is actually divided between two plates. Lots of restaurants do this and then toss in more french fries or steamed vegetables to pad out each plate, so you should expect to pay more when you get more. Other charges mentioned in the list seem more dubious.

Like a fee for split checks. With the advent of modern point of sales systems, bitching about split checks should be a thing of the past. The computer takes care of all of the guess work and besides, when diners pay individually, the aggregate tip for the table tends to be higher. (We like to round up.) But apparently some restaurants take issue with the processing fees incurred from running multiple cards. Perhaps we could return to the days of wampum or bartering with mittens, instead?

That disc of melting compound butter on top of your high-priced porterhouse in New York City can carry a charge at some restaurants, too. It makes me wonder how Texans would react to a surcharge for the gravy served with their chicken-fried steak. Babe's would go down in flames.

Water is becoming a place to pad checks too. I'm still steamed about the $9 bottle of water I accidentally purchased while dining at Five Sixty. But the advent of in-house filtration systems are leading to some more dubious behaviors. Should you be charged for tap water that's run through a filtration machine? Should you be charged for water that's not?

If the cronut can make its way down to Dallas from NYC, these charges could as well. Watch your dining bills, or you could end up paying for restaurant services you incorrectly assumed you were entitled to.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz

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