Would you pay a mandatory 20% service fee for counter food?

I would like people's opinions.  Am I being cheap?  Or being taken advantage of?

Went to a well-known Berkeley sandwich shop to buy a sandwich for lunch.  This is not a sit-down restaurant, but an order at the counter to-go type of eatery.  I ordered two sandwiches which were $15.00 each.  This is not a fancy place and $15Seemed like a lot, but in this time era of COVID and wanting to support small business, okay I'll do it.  When I was presented with the bill I was expecting $30 but it was $36 before tax.  When I looked at the bill I noticed the person taking my order added a 20% service fee and was expecting a TIP.  There was no mention or sign saying there would be a service fee.  And what the heck is a service fee at a sandwich shop anyway?  It just appeared on the bill.  I would not have minded if the sandwich prices weren't so high in the first place.  

Anyone else finding local eateries are adding a mandatory service fee for to-go orders?

Do you think I should have just paid the 20% service fee and another 15-20% as tip for an over-priced sandwich?

Would you pay a mandatory service fee for counter food?
Would you then add a tip to the food and service fee?

I didn't think this was fair or ethical and left.

Just wondering if I'm being cheap and unreasonable?  Or If "we" are being taken advantage of?


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No, you're not being cheap/unreasonable; I'd mind any "service fee" that appeared without having been clearly stated on the menu. (And while I'd expect a hearty take-away sandwich for $15, I am also happy to support local businesses, and I tip at least 20%.) You were quite right to leave without the sandwiches.

You are not cheap. I would be upset as well. Is the sandwich worth $15? $15 for a sandwich is expensive. If your answer is no….don’t go back. I have never seen service fee charged on take out. Maybe it is a new thing and I should pay more attention to my receipt. 

I just wish that businesses would price their products and food to pay a living wage.  Then no service fee would be required. 

I do think adding 20% as a mandatory service fee for To Go is bit to much. Seems like there is no service over their paid job being done.  I get giving an option to tip, but mandatory is too much for me. 

HAD they been transparent with signage that announced the 20% fee you would have  had the option of making an informed decision, but to stick it on the bill and expect customers to just 'go along' is not kosher.  This reminds me of Bank practices, and I don't agree with those either.  Businesses are struggling right now and I understand the desire for them to not only recoup from 2020, but to pay their employees a fair wage. Nonetheless, they should be upfront.

Food has dramatically jumped in price because of the pandemic and restaurants are really struggling with food costs/their margin/not outraging their customers by raising prices. I would personally pay the 20% service fee for a $15 sandwich, but I likely wouldn't add a tip on top. I don't think customers are being taken advantage of, I think restaurants are trying to stay afloat.

Regarding tipping: I've seen a lot of counter-service food places who now have a whole screen during the check-out process dedicated to tipping. (Like, tick which box: 20%, 25%, 30%, etc.) It's usually part of the "Square" payment platform (or similar) and it gives me pause! I think we all tried to chip in extra during the darkest days of Covid, when service industry folks were just trying to keep the lights on, but lately I have gone back to my pre-pandemic practice of not tipping for "To-Go" orders. I just can't - I need all the cash I can keep too! Not sure about the "Service Fee" you referenced either - did you ask them what that was all about? Agree it seems aggressive.

I've never heard of service fee at a takeout restaurant.  Did you ask why they charge a service fee? Also, paying a tip for takeout is completely up to you.  If you already pay 20% service fee, no need to pay any tip. BTW, you should post your experience on Yelp, so others would know this ripoff. 

I think you should read this article and consider what restaurants are going through, especially now. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sfchronicle.com/food/amp/restaurant-fee....   Many places charge $10, $15 or more for sandwiches and burgers. If that had been me, I would have paid the money, enjoyed my pricey yet most likely delicious sandwich, and then chosen not to go back if I decided it really wasn't worth it....my 2 cents

If the sandwich is made from fresh ingredients and it’s a decent size, I don’t think $15 is too much to pay, though it is on the high side. As for the “service fee“ does it go to the servers? It does seem a little strange to me to dictate the percentage, but I would just count it as a tip and not bother to tip an additional amount. I might ask who gets the service fee. hopefully it’s the people actually doing the serving. In which case, a tip would be redundant. I will be interested to hear other responses since my assumptions might be totally wrong.

If they are charging a service fee, that is the tip and you should not have to or be expected to tip additionally. There should definitely be a notification somewhere if they are charging a service fee in lieu of a tip. Sometimes the way the receipts print out, the additional tip line is automatic and can't be adjusted (or maybe they *are* hoping you won't notice and will tip anyway). I would just review the bill carefully before signing, and zero out the tip line. And naturally I am curious about which well-known sandwich shop in Berkeley is doing this, I can think of at least two off the top of my head that charge $15 for a sandwich...