Is a service charge really discretionary?

Its Friday and someone in the office has been promoted and is moving up to our other office. So we decided to descend on the local Chinese/Japanese restaurant we frequent for a spot of lunch.

When we arrived it was quite busy and there was about 20 of us so we weren't expecting a fast service.

We were split on two tables and table 1 had their order taken before us on table 2. 10 minutes after table 1 had their order taken, our order was taken. The guy rushed round taking our order. Our food arrived before table 1 but their drinks arrived before our. Half our table didn't get their drinks until after they had finished their meal and one guy didn't get any food as the guy had forgotten it.

As we finished, table 1 got their food.

Now, I don't normally kick up a fuss in relation to things like this, I just won't leave a tip. So what do you do when the tip is included as a discretionary service charge?

Following a programme I saw on the BBC I realised that it is a 'discretionary' charge therefore I have a right not to pay it. So some of us decided not to pay our service charge. When the first person brought it up, the guy complained and said that we should have rung ahead to let them know that we were coming down. Our argument was that they have lots of tables and therefore they should be able to accommodate that many people. After all, we knew we were going to have to wait, that wasn't the problem. It was just that some people were forgotten and the drinks didn't arrive until after the meal. We got away with not paying the service charge but why should people feel obliged for paying for bad service? You wouldn't leave a tip in a restaurant if you got poor service. Therefore I call on everyone who in future goes into a restaurant that has a discretionary service charge included not to pay for it unless you would normally tip the service.

Rant over. Have a good weekend everyone!!

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