Charging more than you can swallow
WE ASKED last month for stories of the dubious methods some restaurants use to extract service charges. Letters have flooded in. Diners' vitriol is drawn by the 'double tipping' practice - the 12.5 per cent service charge tacked on to the bill, with the credit card slip left open, as happens at Langan's Brasserie, Michael Caine and Richard Shepherd's West End posing place. Shepherd defends the system: 'Regular customers often want to give more.' At Joe's Cafe, in Draycott Avenue, which does the same, a manager stresses that 'people do not have to pay it'. Sale e Pepe, an Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge, likewise accused, denies the charge, albeit indecisively: 'We leave it open sometimes . . . er, no, never. We never leave it open.' More than one reader pointed a finger at Cafe du Jardin, in Covent Garden; they said it 'must have been a mistake'. There is also 'double-tipping' at the very expensive Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, near Oxford. Tim Brocklebank, a manager, explains: 'People often have such a wonderful experience here and they are so happy and enthralled that they often want to add more. For as many people who would like the slip closed there are those who would like it left open.' Some restaurants oppose the practice. Peter Nottage, of Les Amis du Vin, says: 'It gives all of us a bad name. Restaurants should have a voluntary code of practice that outlaws it.' Caspar Firth, a waiter, writes that 'It's very unusual for the waiter to see more than 2 per cent of the 12.5.' When he dines out he 'ignores the charge and tips in cash'. Can we hear of more malefactors? Do, please, include evidence in the form of bill and credit card receipt.
AFTER his reception (bottles and boos), at the Madness bash in Finsbury Park, London, last Saturday, the lugubrious Mancunian rock star Morrissey pulled out of the Sunday concert. This news was posted at entrances, but, according to the organisers, only four of the 33,000 crowd asked for their money back. It's enough to make you stick daffodils in your back pocket.
In the cream AS 300lb of explosives is discovered in London, police in Kensington and Chelsea kick off an undercover operation of singular importance - Operation Cornetto. Twelve plain-clothes policemen are at work targeting ice-cream vans in areas where 'street vending' is illegal. 'We're determined to crack it. They all have mobile phones - it's an organised operation,' says a spokeswoman. Hot work for our boys: let's hope they can dispose of the ice-cream.
A BIG hand, please, for the Franciscan friar from Medjugorje, Bosnia, whose visit here is advertised in the Catholic Herald. That's Fr Slavko Barbaric.
Not bloody Nike NIKE had a poor Olympics - all the athletes bullishly featured in its pre-Games advertising flopped. Michael Johnson failed to reach the 200m final. Then the Ukranian pole-vaulter Sergei Bubka and the Algerian Noureddine Morceli did equally dismally. Nike replied this week with an ad saying, 'If you're going to put your foot in it, do it in a pair of Nikes.' So what's this got to do with the gloomy faces to be seen on Arsenal fans? Well, Nike's ad for the new football season features Arsenal's Ian Wright, who was the First Division's top goal- scorer. Last season.
A DAY LIKE THIS
14 August 1922 Lydia Lopokova, a ballerina with Diaghilev, writes from Manchester to her lover, John Maynard Keynes: 'Damnation: three performances today. I write between performances in the dressing room. Do you feel the scent of it? Massine's mouth full of sugar for me. Oh, he is foxy. It is worth listening to. He wants to take a big house in Bloomsbury, too big for him, he offers part to me and also, as the sum is pounds 1,400 to pay advance, he wants not me but my friends to help him and as garantie he will stage things for me what I require. I told him for present I did put him out of my head, then he asked me to think, I said 'very well' not to be rude. He wants to rebambuzle me, but I am not tipsy at all with him. I put my mental and organic feelings on you. Lydia.'
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