”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.
“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.