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Should Servers Notify You If an Item Will Cost Extra?

Recently, I ordered an Asian rice bowl from a casual restaurant in the neighborhood. "Do you want white rice or brown rice with that?" the server asked me when she placed my takeout order. Since I was given the option, I went for brown rice — only to find out after I'd signed the bill that I was charged extra for the option.

While I wouldn't have been bothered by an extra charge, I was unnerved that the waitstaff didn't say, "Would you like brown rice for an additional $1?" This got me thinking about all the instances where I've been unknowingly charged extra for various options, from cheese in a burrito to refills on a drink. How transparent should restaurants be about additional pricing?

Source: Flickr User avlxyz

Join The Conversation
wunami wunami 7 years
If it's clearly on the menu (not like in tiny print nowhere near the listing of the dish you are ordering), then it's acceptable that they don't mention it. However, often, the waiter asks if about various options for the dish. It's sometimes hard to tell if it's an option or an extra. In those cases, they definitely should mention it.
hibiscus96818 hibiscus96818 7 years
If something is going to cost extra, it should be printed in the menu somewhere or your waiter/waitress should inform you of the extra charge. A few weeks ago I odered lasagna at a local Italian place. There was hardly any sauce on the lasagna when my plate arrived so I asked our waiter for more sauce. When I received my bill at the end of the meal I realized he had charged me $3 for a small amount of extra sauce that should have been on the lasagna to begin with.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I think they should tell you for most things, particularly if they ask if you want it. Finzup, I have only very rarely (maybe once a year and I eat out a lot) been to a restaurant in the U.S. that charged for refills on soda, iced tea, lemonade, etc. We must be going to very different places!
juicebox07 juicebox07 7 years
My boyfriend and I went to a restaurant before where the prices weren't even printed on the menu. It probably would have been in our best interest to ask, but we didn't. When the bill came, it was $90! I couldn't believe it. My boyfriend paid and said it wasn't a big deal though, but I still felt bad. I do think you should be told if something costs extra. I also think it should be required to have prices on the menu. (Although, that was the only restaurant I had ever been to that didn't display prices).
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
snarkypants - I hope you talked to the manager and got the roll taken off. Ridiculous.
finzup finzup 7 years
If it's printed on the menu, I don't feel like the server has to mention it. Yes I know the sweet potato fries are a $1 more. It says so right on the menu, you don't have to ask me. HOWEVER on the other hand, I do understand that some people are oblivious and it could be in bold pink flashing letters on the menu and they wouldn't read/see it. So, I suppose the servers are protecting themselves by not wanting to piss off their customers. I don't think restaurants need to tell you that refills are not free. I would go into a restaurant and assume they are NOT free refills. Most places that offer free refills, it will say so on the menu. So rule of thumb, if it doesn't say free refills, don't be surprised when you get charged for them ...
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
they should, but often they don't. my favorite story is a couple of months ago i was at a very famous sushi restaurant (sorry, not naming it here), and when our sushi arrived, one of the dishes was not what i had ordered. i mentioned it to the person who brought the food (not the same person who took our orders), and he was like "it's pretty much the same thing". we were in a rush, and he was rude, so i started to eat it anyway. about 10 minutes later, our waitress came out to apologize and bring me what i had originally ordered. long story short, both entrees showed up on the bill. also, in europe, they're notorious for charging for the bread, olives, etc. that they bring before your meal. annoying, but i usually eat it/pay for it anyway :P
tinydancer85 tinydancer85 7 years
Yes! I served through undergrad, and people become so upset when you don't tell them about minor upcharges. And once they get angry, kiss your tip goodbye!
Little-Miss-Jay Little-Miss-Jay 7 years
I would want to be told if something costs extra. No one wants a surprise when they get the bill. I hate when people charge for pop refills, really people, it costs you next to nothing.
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
I think customers definitely deserve to know if something will cost extra. I also hate it when waiters announce specials that aren't on the menu and don't mention the price. It's actually prevented me from ordering specials in the past - I hate being surprised when the bill comes.
Mavs2980 Mavs2980 7 years
My local casual Asian place does charge extra for the brown rice. It is just 50 cents extra, and is printed on their menu in several places. The first time we went in our waiter made sure my friend was aware when she ordered the brown rice. Every time we have been in since, we always get the same waiter, so he doesn't bother to tell her anymore. He knows that she is fully aware of the extra charge.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
Sometimes they do, depending on the restaurant and what the item is. I don't think everything should be told, people can get mad about it and assume you're calling them cheap.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Servers generally mention when something cost extra, don't they? If no, then I think they should, as the customer may presume there is no extra charge. JMHO.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
I said no, but in cases like that, you should have been told. She should have asked "Would you like to get brown rice instead of white? It's only $1 more." Things like avocado, cheese, bacon, it's pretty obvious you're going to get charged, they're not cheap items. White and brown rice? That's a little ridiculous. It should be in the menu if it's something restaurants normally don't charge extra for (extra lettuce or tomato on a burger, side of ranch dressing, refills). Most places that don't do refills will let you know in the menu.
LaurenKU LaurenKU 7 years
When the amount is minuscule, I'm usually not bothered, but this fall on vacation, my husband and I were staying at the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai. We had breakfast on the terrace, and each sucked down a couple of TINY Diet Coke refills. They were eight bucks each.
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