Consumers can refuse to pay tea fees in China, says committee

“Tea drinking” has always been the culture and habit of the dining in Guangzhou. Have you used to the “Tea seating fee” as it is normal? Are you willing to pay for it? Yesterday, the Consumer Committee of Guangzhou has released the “Poll report on the charge of tea seating fee in the restaurants in Guangzhou” (report). It suggests that the restaurant need to acknowledge the customer about the charges of tea seating fee. Without previous acknowledge of such cost, the consumer has the reason to refuse the payment.

Over 70% of the consumer thinks the tea seating fee is not reasonable.

The report shows, among the 705 consumers that accepted the survey online, there are over 99% of consumer has been charged with “tea seating fee”, 68% has been charged with “sterilization fee for the utensil”, 39% has been charged with “seating fee”.

Nowadays, the tea seating fee has become the normal phenomena in the restaurant industry. This business model has spread from Guangzhou to the cities in China with the development.

In the survey, 77% of consumers think the charge for the tea seating is “unreasonable”. From the visiting, the majority of the restaurants think “drinking tea should be charged”, “even if you don’t drink tea, by providing utensil, arranging the seats, and others are included in the tea seating fee”. However, most of the consumer don’t understand it and do not accept the charge for such reason. Because they think “this expense should not be paid by the consumer”.

80% of the consumers support for the canceling of tea seating fee.

The report also shows, approximately 80% of the consumer “support canceling” of the tea seating fee. Among the supporters, 86% think “restaurants should provide quality and hygiene utensils for free”, followed by 74% of the consumers, who think it belongs the mandatory fees that violate the rights of the consumer. Even 67% of the consumers think it is a disguised fee.

However, there are 8% of people who do not support the canceling of the tea seating fee. Over 60% of the consumers who is against the canceling suggest that the restaurant should mark the price clearly and allow the consumer to choose. They worry that if they cancel the tea seating fee, the quality of the service will decrease, or the price of the dishes will increase, losing the characteristics of the tea drinking culture in Guangzhou.

60% of the restaurants charges 1 to 5 yuan for the tea seating fees.

The Consumer Committee sent volunteers to visitor 52 restaurants, they find most of the restaurants do mark the price clearly and inform the consumer about the tea seating fee ahead of time.

The Consumer Committee of Guangzou thinks, generally, the restaurants in Guangzhou do quite good in the price transparency. 83% of the restaurants have mark the price clearly, only 17% of the restaurants did not mark the price. 60% of the waiters will inform the consumer the charge of the basic tea seating fees. However, there are still 40% of the restaurants fail to tell the consumers about this charge.

However, the tea seating charges are mandatory in most of the restaurants. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enter the restaurant to consume.

Among the different types of the restaurants, 65% of the restaurants charge 1 to 5 yuan per person for the basic tea seating fee. 18% of the restaurant charges 6 to 10 yuan per person. The star level hotel, college restaurants, Japanese restaurants also charge different standards tea seating fee.

The restaurants should inform the consumer orally

“The restaurants should provide free utensils that meet the quality standard and hygiene condition, and clearly provide the price of the food and service in prominent position. There should be no minimal consumption requirement, no charge or disguised charge of seating fee, sterilization fee, corkage fees or other fees that do not meet the requirement.” The people in charge of the Consumer Committee says, about “tea seating fee”, if the tea is not provided for free, they should inform the consumers and let them choose. “If the consumption fee occurred without previous knowledge, the consumers have the right to refuse the payment.”

How do you tell acknowledge or not?” it is suggested to inform orally. “The Catering Management Rules (Trial)” has been executed for over a year. However, the rules are just a basic requirement, lacking of detailed standards. “The related law and regulations should be launched as soon as possible, so the related government department can take action to the chaos charges. For example, it should state clearly that the utensils should be provided to the customer for free; drinking water should be provided for free; or pricing the tea seating fee based on the type of the tea.”