• Sweden's news in English

Tourists left reeling after tipping scam

The Local/rm · 23 Sep 2011, 15:53

Published: 23 Sep 2011 15:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

”This sounds like an attempt to trick uninformed tourists into paying more,” Clemens Wantschura of the Swedish Hotels and Restaurant Association (Sveriges hotell- och restaurangföretagare -SHR) told The Local.

In June, Danish couple Paul Eller and his wife Else-Marie visited Stockholm over a long weekend. While here, they decided to take the opportunity to dine out in the restaurant Stortorgskällaren in the picturesque Gamla Stan (Old Town) district.

The visit was a success until they were presented with a bill on which a red stamp at the bottom stated that a service charge of 20 percent wasn't included. The couple decided to ask the waiter what this meant.

”The waiter said that restaurants in Sweden can choose whether or not they want to include a tip in the price,” Eller told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily.

But according to the Swedish Hotels and Restaurant Association this is not the case.

”A tip should never be anything more than a reward for good service to the serving staff – it has nothing to do with the restaurant,” said Wantschura.

Wantschura added that there is always an ongoing discussion as to how much one should leave as a tip, but he maintained that there are no stipulated rules to how much you should leave, or whether you should pay the waiting staff anything at all.

“You should keep in mind, as well, that all serving staff in Sweden are salaried, they don't have to survive on tips as the case may be in other countries," said Wantschura.

"I tell people they must decide themselves if they want to pay anything, and in that case how much, depending on how much they thought the service was worth."

The chairman of the management board responsible for running the restaurant in question, Conny Lantz, told DN that there hasn't been any instructions from the board to encourage guests to pay any extras. He said he doesn't know how the red stamp came to be on the receipt.

“We are taking this very seriously and will conduct a full investigation,” Lantz assured DN.

According to the paper, this particular method is not a scam that police in Sweden are familiar with. Neither has Clemens Wantschura heard of anything similar.

“No, this is news to me, but I am glad it has been brought up in the national media as it will be picked up on by more people that way,” he said.

In the end, Paul Eller and his wife added an extra 240 kronor ($35) on their bill after the meal in Stockholm's Gamla Stan.

Story continues below…

“To see a restaurant tricking its customers this way feels sad. I feel diddled and disappointed,” he said to DN.

Wantschura advised customers faced with a demand similar to the one the Ellers received to simply refuse to pay the extra charge.

“They should say that they are only prepared to pay for what they have ordered - the items listed on the bill. And they should stand their ground,” Wantschura told The Local.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:30 September 23, 2011 by occassional
I hope they nip this in the bud before this place becomes as ridiculous as the US of A when it comes to tipping.
16:32 September 23, 2011 by Svensksmith
Slow news day?
17:29 September 23, 2011 by soultraveler3
He felt "diddled"? Is The Local using Google Translate again lol?

Occassional is also right.

Tipping has been way out of hand for years in the US. Instead of changing the rules so that restaurants HAVE to pay their workers a decent wage they've pushed that extra burden onto the customers. It's bullsh#t. Everyone should be paid enough where they can live a decent life.

A tip is meant to be a little something extra if the service was excellent, above and beyond standard service. People should not be tipped for simply doing what's expected in their job. Most people feel sorry for wait staff that don't earn much though so tipping for standard service has unfortunately, become the norm.

Back to the article; something like this happening is a classic example of why one should read up on a country's customs before traveling there. Lonely Planet's books and their website is one of many great places to look these kinds of things up while planning a trip.
23:24 September 23, 2011 by BillyB
Anytime you go out to eat or drink in Stockholm you get ripped off so why is case so special?
00:46 September 24, 2011 by Opinionfool
Tipping is optional everywhere not just in Sweden. It's given for service above and beyond the typical mediocre. In Britain restaurants will leave the total blank in the hope that the customer will give generously to additional tax-free profits for the company. I ignore this trickery. If, and only if, the service has been exemplary then I leave a tip on the table.

Some fast-food chains have taken this idea up and put out a begging bowl by the cash register so that customers can be conned out of the change. A tip for picking up a box off the warmer behind you and shoveling a pre-determined number of fries into a too-small bag! No way.
02:37 September 24, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Tipping culture is out of control in the US. I went to Ben and Jerry's with a friend. We paid $13.50 for two ice cream cones which I think is overpriced to begin with... Then she slides back $1.50 over the counter as a tip for the girl who took our order. I asked how often she tipped people behind counters like that for doing nothing more than the bare minimum of their job description. She said she does it when she's in the mood. I'm definitely not a fan of overgenerous tipping especially when someone else does it with my money. The more people do it, the more it becomes the cultural norm and thus expected. Twenty percent tips are pretty common now in the US. It is ridiculous.
07:05 September 24, 2011 by cattie

$15 or 100 SEK for two ice creams cones in Stockholm is an average price for an average quality ice cream, so complaining about prices in US just does not get my sympathy.

I miss for the price of a restaurant meal (incliding 20% tip) in the USA. It was so very affordable.
07:22 September 24, 2011 by Rick Methven

Not google translate but an old English word that expresses exactly what happened.

diddle: to cheat someone into giving up something
08:49 September 24, 2011 by StockholmSam
Tipping in America is NOT out of control. It is an excellent way to put money in the pockets of workers while at the same time keeping the price of meals down and the quality of service up. Because the restaurants can keep costs lower by paying below minimum wage to the workers, they can keep the prices of their meals lower. In return, workers give better service and come away with a more than fair wage for their work. If tips were eliminated and service wages increased, we would wind up with what we have in Sweden: rotten service and way overpriced meals.

@Cattie, if you are paying 100sek for two ice cream cones, you are getting ripped off majorly. I never pay more than 25 sek for a scoop of ice cream and that is for two heaping flavors. Go to StikkiNikki on Götgatan between Slussen and Medborgarplatsen for awesome ice cream at a great price.
10:38 September 24, 2011 by spg
About a month ago My girlfriend and I went to a grill restaurant in Gamla Stan. Its been a while since we were last out so we splashed out on a glass of champagne to start and then had a very tasty, well cooked meal. The service was not as good as the meal, (she forgot to order our crab-cakes starter with the kitchen), and we went straight into the main course.

At the end of the meal I was presented with the bill for 1700 sek. Its a bit expensive but as I said its been a while so why not! The forgetfull waitress gave me the credit card machine and said if you want to leave a tip I should include it in the full amount that I type in. I work in the industry so I though 300 sek would be a decent enough tip

so typed in 2000 sek.

When I got home I looked at my bill again and discovered that I had miss read it and it only came to 1170 sek. Thats a 830 sek tip!!!

Now I know its my own fault as I should have been paying more attention when reading the bill but surley the waitress could have said that was quite a large tip on a relativly small bill.

One thing I will learn from this is to always read my bill more carefully in the future. I would really like to go back to this grill restaurant because I really enjoyed the food but because of the service I probably wont :o(
11:21 September 24, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
Stockholm Sam: You know the restaurant business. You forgot about horrible-tasting food made with the most poor quality ingredients and cheapest cuts of meat. Unfortunately, most others don't know the restaurant business. There wouldn't be over half the restaurants out there in the U.S. if restaurant owners had to pay their wait staff minimum wage or more. There also wouldn't be as many employees on the payroll. So we'd get far more expense added to each entree, salad, soup, drink, and dessert, and the service would be even slower and sloppier than it is now. Don't want to tip? Then don't complain about the high cost of eating out; lack of a variety of GOOD restaurants; poor quality of food with cheap ingredients; slow and sloppy service; service "with an attitude"; a skeleton crew of workers, including cooks, bus help, dishwashers, besides the wait staff; and the very high turnover of overworked and understaffed employees. Wait staff don't have the incentive to "go the extra mile" when they are salaried w/o tips than when they receive tips. And when your favourite restaurants go under due to higher operating costs. and you being a tightwad in giving waiters/waitresses a decent tip for the good service that you got, don't bitch about it, we don't want to hear it.
12:22 September 24, 2011 by climbaholic
It´s ridiculous to call this a scam.. at worst they´ve encouraged a good tip - and it´s no shock or horror that a waitress would want to encourage a tip. I personally prefer it when the restaurant make it clear if a tip is included or not, obviously they don´t have to include 20% in the sign but if i receive great service i wouldn´t call 20% a crazy amount to suggest. Yes in sweden you get paid a union wage and can get by without your tips, but the pay´s not excellent, as is very similar for a 25year old who´s been in the industry for 9years compared to a 19 year old on their 1st day.

If you have good service you should tip for the simple reason that you want to continue receiving good service: if tipping decreases then so does the motivation to give good service - sad but true. Plus many many people in the industry would leave if they couldn´t receive tips because of the long hours and low pay compared to other "unskilled" industries.
15:00 September 24, 2011 by soultraveler3
@ Rick

Lol, duh, most people know what the word means.

That's what was funny about it, how often to people old English on informal internet forums? It's also what made me suspect that the author may have used Google Translate. That program has a tendency to pull up weird words at times and this article isn't the first example of that.
18:06 September 24, 2011 by Opinionfool

"Diddled" is the exact word I as a native-English speaker (Swedish second language speaker) would have used in this context. The word/phrase "diddled" or "diddled out of" fit exactly what happened in the situation described. With the exception of spg's 830SEK tip the amounts are small and diddled expressed the mild sense of paying too much. Cheated, which I think would be the youth expression, is too strong a term for this. (Though in spg's case I think it exactly the right word to use.)

Whether Google translate would have made that lexical choice or not I, as a native English speaker, don't care. Here it is appropriate. However, in a couple of other news items here The Local have used careen and in one of them it was the wrong choice. The lexical choices are just as likely to show the writers age or literary preference as they are to indicate the use of Google Translate.
23:56 September 24, 2011 by Tanskalainen
The Danish couple can go to an elk park, say the elk are small and get their money back that way. Problem solved.
03:29 September 25, 2011 by Raggare
I live in Canada and work mostly in the US, eat out a lot, and I am all for tipping!

Tipping makes for not only better service but also better food, since tips are shared with the kitchen staff.

Last night I had good food but the worst service so far this year, at a franchise chain restaurant. Tip: $1, for two of us. And some comments to the "greeting" girl at the front. (ALWAYS tip, to show that you are aware of the custom of tipping.)

Tonight I had great food and outstanding service. Tip: $10 for a (very reasonably priced) $19 meal.

The tipping system is great, it makes for a better restaurant visit, and without tipping the restaurant staff don't have any incentive to "go above and beyond" what is expected.
08:54 September 25, 2011 by fikatid
@ sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset: Well said.

The service in Stockholm restaurants are lousy and slow. The variety offered here is.... quite sad. I never hesitate not to leave any tip if the service is lousy in the US. If the waiter asks me, I say as it is.

Tipping is a good thing. Get those lazy asses to work harder and give better service.
23:13 September 25, 2011 by Opinionfool

I disagree. It doesn't matter it the action of tipping is customary or not. One should only tip if the service is exemplary. Tipping bad service (even with a single dollar) reinforces bad service. TIpping prefunctory, mediocre or average service similarly should not be done.
04:58 September 26, 2011 by Raggare

Maybe I should have explained myself better, sorry.

What I meant was that if you don't tip at all, the waiter/waitress may get the impression that you are not aware of the practise of tipping, and they simply don't understand that the meal and/or service was bad.

My tip of $1 was on a $50 meal/service.

On a bad $10 meal/service I would tip 25 cents.

By the way, my advise is specifically for US and Canada.

I don't tip in countries where it's not customary to do so.
14:48 September 26, 2011 by Opinionfool
@Raggars, may be the answer is to leave them a tip "here's your tip: 'you're service was rubbish'". That solves both the leaving of the customary tip, gets their attention, and tells them why no money has been left.
17:31 September 26, 2011 by Raggare

You're absolutely right! And you also have humour! Thanks!
Today's headlines
Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available