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Stockholm pub 'tipping scam' widens

The Local/jl · 18 Oct 2011, 16:48

Published: 18 Oct 2011 16:48 GMT+02:00

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In September daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported that a Danish couple holidaying in Sweden had been tricked into paying an extra 20 percent tip on their dinner.

When Paul Eller and his wife Else-Marie were presented with a bill on which a red stamp at the bottom stated that a service charge of 20 percent wasn't included, they decided to ask the waiter at the Stockholm restaurant what this meant.

”He said that restaurants in Sweden can choose whether or not they want to include a tip in the price,” Eller told DN at the time.

After running the story, DN has received calls from other customers who have experienced similar treatment at other Stockholm eateries.

As in the case with the Danes, some bars have printed on their bill, in several languages, that a tip was not included.

Recep Celik, head of marketing at Belgobaren, in central Stockholm, told the paper that there’s nothing in Swedish marketing law that says restaurants aren’t allowed to do this.

But at the Swedish Hotels and Restaurant Association (Sveriges hotell-och-restaurangföretagare -SHR) disagrees, saying it plans to contact the restaurants mentioned in the DN article.

“This is a bad trend we’re seeing and we can’t let it spread within the trade," Clemens Wantschura of Hotels and Restaurant Association told DN after the news of more examples of the tipping scam.

Belgobaren, however, sees the practice more as a service to their customers.

“The reason we’ve printed this message on our bills is because many foreign costumers have inquired about Swedish tipping customs. It’s to clarify that tips aren’t included in the price,” he told DN.

“We didn’t start this custom. It’s being done at most Stockholm bars.”

Speaking to The Local in the wake of the case of the Danes who had been duped, Clemens Wantschura of Hotels and Restaurant Association nevertheless said he was worried that Stockholm eateries are trying to take advantage of foreign visitors to the Swedish capital.

”This sounds like an attempt to trick uninformed tourists into paying more," he said.

According to Wantschura, restaurants should not get involved with customers tipping the staff at all.

Story continues below…

”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,” he told The Local in September.

He also added that there is an ongoing discussion as to how much a customer ought to leave as a tip, but he maintained that there are no stipulated rules as to percentage, or whether you should pay the wait 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 Local/jl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:35 October 18, 2011 by Imperor
Service IS included, tips is not, though tips by their very definition are voluntary.

Of course it's a crime if they state that you must leave 20%, giving some info, which is correct (round up to closest even sum, 10, 50, 100, 500 or 1000 depending on size of bill) should be ok though, but this is surely not the case as nobody would object to it!
21:16 October 18, 2011 by occassional
Carpet selling cheap tricks by the Turk managing the Belgian bar in Sweden. Grow up and be honest in your business.
06:46 October 19, 2011 by StockholmSam
' "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. '

Right. The so-called 'salaries' are minimum wages and in the 'other countries' where waitstaff 'survive on tips' waiters and waitresses take home much, much more money than Swedish waiters/waitresses. In decent restaurants a good server can walk away with several hundred dollars in tips alone on a good Friday night. Maybe if tipping became a cultural norm here then the service would rise to a level of minimum acceptability.
09:13 October 19, 2011 by Russ Cobleigh
to begin with...tip is not a word.It means to insure proper service. I have been a bartender for a very long time. If someone doesn't tip, it usually means the service was bad.I know that it is different here than in the states, but; it still means the same thing.
09:45 October 19, 2011 by Streja
Russ, I'm not a waitress but should I be able to not give good service in my job because no one tipped me? I suppose so. I won't give your children any grades unless you tip me.
11:55 October 19, 2011 by Rossminster
("Tip" is not a word? Umm...how do you figure that!?)

Anyway, it's hardly surprising that tips are less common in Sweden, when a modest dinner for two with a bottle of wine can easily cost 1,000 SEK.

I don't think that Swedes really grasp just how stunningly expensive Stockholm is to visitors, when the SEK is comparatively strong. A round of drinks in a city pub costs roughly three times what it does in, say, London.

So requests to pay an additional 20 per cent will very likely be met with a "no thanks, I think I've paid quite enough."
12:00 October 19, 2011 by Åskar
@Russ Cobleigh: ".It means to insure proper service"

Rubbish and folk etymology of the worst kind.

10:03 October 20, 2011 by eppie
The problem with tipping is that people tip not only because of the good or bad service. Some people always tip (I most of the time do) and some people never tip, or give only small amounts.

So in the US, if you are working on minimum wage (and that is much lower than in Sweden) and you are unlucky with the people you have to serve you'll get poor.

If the cook screws up....you will get poor etc.

Theoretically the tipping business is good for getting better service, but it is also a type of slavery.

Anyway for the Danes....when we (foreigners without a dankort) go out for dinner in CPH we pay 5 % extra on top of the bill. Now that is extortion.
16:30 October 23, 2011 by shinnam
Tipping is an awful system, that allows places to pay employees less than they should. In the US an employeer with tippped employees can, and do pay as little as two dollars and 13 cents per hour. Yes, most of the time servers earn more that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but , it is not dependable or consistant. salary. If it's a slow nght, or a poorly managed kitchen one goes home with a lot less. If an establishment doesn't have to pay real wage they tend to over staff, and make the empolyess do prep and clean up work, that doesn't earn them tips.

I've worked as a "tipped" employee, The system often made me feel like I was begging and having to ignore sexual harassement to get the tip, so I could pay my rent. Sweden is better than this.
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