Don't get taken for a ride when eating out this holiday season

By Gabisile Ngcobo
22 December 2015

If a waiter says you have to order a whole bottle instead of a glass of water due to level 4 water restrictions...

Well, they’re probably taking you for a ride.

“My husband went to a restaurant in Cape Town on Friday and was told he can't have a glass of water – he must order a bottle,” says a Capetonian, who wanted to remain anonymous.

“I told him that it’s the biggest load of hogwash I have ever heard.”

City of Cape Town spokesperson Priya Reddy told YOU that the city has implemented level 3 water restrictions.

“It’s level 3 everywhere and not level 4,” she added.

According to the CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa Wendy Alberts there are many waiters who take advantage of consumer this time of the year.

“Every year it gets progressively worse because people don’t check their bill,” she says.

She tells YOU that they often find that people get charged for things they haven’t ordered such as drinks.

“For instance, they’d charge for six cokes when people had four cokes,” she explains.

Restaurants may hire extra hands during the Christmas time because it gets busy and staffers may not always be adequately trained.

“They’ll charge for a double drink whereas they’ll bring a single whisky.”

Waiters often 'upsell' items especially with kiddies’ meals, she says.

“They’d ask if you want a toasted cheese, instead of kiddies’ toasted cheese they’ll bill you for an adult toasted cheese.”

And sometimes they’d put a whole extra meal, Wendy tells YOU.

Waiters do this to maximise the bill to get as large a tip as they can, which is generally 10 percent of the total bill.

“And most restaurant owners aren’t aware of it,” she adds.

Handbag theft is also prevalent during the time of the year and syndicates working in restaurants steal people’s purses and cellphones.

Things to look out for this festive season when you go out with your friends and family:

• Double- tipping – make sure you’re not charged for tips that are already included especially for your Christmas bookings that often already include gratuity fee.

• Credit card swapping – if you pay for your bill and punch in your PIN and a waiter may see the code. The waiter usually takes the machine back from you and they may swap the card similar to yours.

• Beware of your credit card being tapped twice if it’s small amount.

• Study your bill to make sure you’re not paying for extras.

• Check the bill that you ordered all the drinks that you’re paying especially if it’s a group table.

• Try to keep your bag between your ankles or legs under the table and make sure your zip closed.

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