HK restaurants criticised by Chinese visitor for imposing “service charge” regardless of quality

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22nd February 2024 – (Hong Kong) A mainland Chinese visitor to Hong Kong expressed his dissatisfaction on Xiaohongshu with the service at a local restaurant. Despite experiencing what he described as “nothing exceptional” in terms of service, he was surprised to find himself charged a service fee, which he deemed as one of the “four sins” committed by the restaurant. The visitor criticised the restaurant staff for their lack of proactive tea service, water stains on the floor, and their stern demeanour and loud voices. However, his main grievance was the rounding up of the bill, resulting in him being charged a few cents more. He suggested that customers should have the option to choose whether or not to pay the service fee.

The reaction from local Hong Kong netizens, however, was largely unsympathetic towards the visitor’s complaints. They argued that charging a service fee is a common practice in Hong Kong restaurants and accused the visitor of seeking attention and publicity. They emphasized that those who do not wish to pay the service fee should avoid dining at such establishments, as most restaurants in Hong Kong charge for tea service and impose a service fee.

The visitor recounted his experience of dining at a restaurant in Hong Kong during his recent trip. He mentioned that during his lunch, he and his companions had to actively request tea service as no one had offered it to them. He also observed water stains on the floor and expressed concern about the staff’s fast-paced movements, fearing they might slip. Moreover, he found the staff’s demeanor to be unusually serious, lacking smiles, and speaking loudly, all of which caught his attention.

When it came time to settle the bill, the visitor noticed that the total amount for the food was HK$387, but the service fee added up to HK$38.7. He felt that there was nothing exceptional about the service throughout his dining experience, except for the tea service he had to request. Furthermore, even if the service fee was added, the total should have been HK$425.7. However, the rounding-off calculation resulted in HK$426, which he found unusual as he had always encountered “rounding down” of the bill in the past. He believed that rounding off to the nearest whole number would be the normal procedure.

When the visitor voiced his concerns to the restaurant owner, he received a dismissive response, with the owner simply stating, “Sorry, it has always been like this.” Feeling helpless, the visitor paid the bill but suggested that customers should have the option to choose whether or not to pay the service fee.

The visitor’s post generated a range of responses from netizens, with the majority defending the practice of charging a service fee in Hong Kong restaurants. They accused the visitor of seeking attention and advised him to adapt to the local customs and practices if he chose to visit Hong Kong. They emphasised that including the service fee as part of the bill is a long-standing tradition, and it is not customary for restaurants to inquire about customers’ preferences regarding the fee.

Source: Xiaohongshu