Ways to cut restaurant bills are good to know if you like to eat out. When budgets are constricted by recession or you just don’t earn enough to afford classy eateries knowing the tricks restaurants use to get you to pay more will help you avoid them and cut restaurant bills to be more palatable and affordable. These tricks aren’t a feature of high class establishments; all types of restaurants from the chain pizzeria to the Michelin 3*, employ means to boost their profits. Follow these 7 Ways to Cut Restaurant Bills and enjoy eating out more.
1. Drink Tap Water
The mark up on bottled water in restaurants is unacceptable, for still and fizzy. You can cut restaurant bills big style if you ask for tap water instead of ordering bottled water. If you’re unsure about the quality of the tap water ask for plenty of ice and a slice of lemon. If you try it and find it unpalatable it has cost you nothing to find out and you can then always order the bottled stuff.
2. Watch out for Compulsory Service Charges
This is more a British issue than American who have a much better reward ethos. Compulsory service charges can be up to 15% and vary by individual establishment but are usually for a group booking – more than 6 people. You can cut restaurant bills by letting the manager know you would prefer to tip rather than pay the charge or simply find somewhere else to eat.
3. Check the Cover Charge
The cover charge is usually nothing more than a boost to the restaurant’s sales. If you are seated at a table set with bread and butter or maybe olives or other snackettes, don’t for one minute imagine they are free. They are hard to avoid but you can cut restaurant bills by arguing the toss over the cover charge. If you don’t eat the bread or titbits you have every right to refuse to pay the cover charge.
4. Book in Advance
Although in reputable and busy places, waiting time is acceptable, there’s a couple of ruses that could be sprung on you to make you wait at the bar until your table is ready. Restaurant drinks are always far more expensive than in the pub/bar so you could find that you have spent $20-30 before you’ve even sat down to eat. Booking in advance can help cut restaurant bills but if you are kept waiting choose the cheapest drink and not the expensive cocktails.
5. Watch for the Supplements
There is a certain appeal to set price menus when you’re watching the budget but they often contain some traps in the form of supplements. You might find that side dishes are extra to your main or that if you want a certain fish or cut of meat, then there’s an incremental price. This doesn’t just apply to set menus either. Watch out for menus where the sides aren’t part of the main dish; order a curry to find the rice is extra, for example. This way to cut restaurant bills in places who adopt these kinds of practices is to read the menu properly and know what you get before you order.
6. Take Care with the Drinks
Drinks are where there is big profit margin for the restaurant. It’s easy to avoid pricey cocktails but what about the wine. One cute trick employed by waiters is to tell you the cheap or reasonably priced wine you’ve chosen is out of stock and they then suggest a higher price alternative. Of course, you’re too embarrassed to say no but deal with it. Stand your ground and ask what they can recommend in a similar price range to your original choice.
7. It’s Your Choice
If you ask what the waiter recommends be prepared that he will push the most expensive dish or the priciest bottle of wine. Great if there’s no budget constraint but, when trying to cut restaurant bills, you have to work out what you want, for yourself. Watch out also for little tricks such as the waiter sidling up to your male dinner date asking ‘a glass of champagne for the lady, sir?’ Classic ploy. Your date doesn’t want to look cheap and you feel bad about saying no if he agrees to it. Be firm – if you don’t want it make sure your date knows.
I’m sorry if I’m painting a bad picture and suggesting that restaurants are simply trying to rip us off. Of course, they aren’t and there are plenty more reputable establishments than slippery ones. They are obviously in business to make a profit but it helps us to know the little tricks of the trade. Cut restaurant bills simply by being savvy and at the end of the day, if the place you’ve chosen is not to your liking, vote with your feet.
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