Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Paying for water at restaurants, would you?

Do you have a concern paying for drinking water when dining at restaurants or cafes? I find it a disturbing trend.

It is almost ubiquitous for restaurants to charge customers drinking water. And most times, they serve water from tap which doesn't quite make sense to me. Maybe it makes a little more sense now due to the water hike.

When restaurants don't serve or charge for water, I deem them as being unfriendly to our little diners and elderly grandparents who do prefer a healthier drink option. How inconvenient is it to serve water in a restaurant, one that taxes and imposes service charge especially?

For this, I'm quite certain the number of non-water option have risen among diners. Did we just hear about a healthier drink option at the National Day Rally?


Recently, I was out lunching with Jazz when it was one of the rare incident that we left our water bottle home. We requested for water and was turned down. I was so dumbfounded that I didn't bother asking if there was even an option to purchase bottled water. If there are options, I am not inclined to purchasing bottled water. It's totally environmental unfriendly. So then, when I requested for a cup of ice, they gave! On a wise note, we can simply wait for the ice to melt at the expense of hoarding onto their seats. That was however not my intention. I had Juboy's hot water in a vacuum flask and I thought I could cool it with ice for Jazz.

Water is the best and healthiest option, isn't it? That's what Health Promotion Board tells us! Alright, I know I'm sounding sore and whiny, but I just can't make sense out of this, especially when:
  1. I have ordered a good spread of food and will be paying for my fancy drink. I just need water for the kids.
  2. food is overly dry that I need water to wash it down my throat. In case I create a choking saga at the restaurant. Which means, food is bad tasting! 
  3.  our tap water, which is also our pride, is safe for drinking.
  4.  served water is not boiled or filtered, but off the tap.
  5. I need to help the planet by not purchasing bottled water.
  6. we want to promote healthy drink choice among the kids.
  7. service charge is levied.
  8. food is msg laden,
  9. overly spicy and
  10. overly sweet
Yes, 10 solid reasons that consumers should not pay for water when dining at restaurants.

FOC Iced Water. Menu from Sinpopo

It is embarrassing that charging water or choosing not to serve water has become a dominant trend. How did our cost of living get this calculative?!! With that ability to set up cafes, restaurants and even mega chain of restaurants, what is the cost of serving water from Public Utilities Board? If I can request for additional plates and cutlery without the restaurant being mindful about the cost of washing them, why not serving water? It's probably about the same amount of water used to wash another plate.

Coming to dessert joints, it is absolutely unkind that water comes at a cost. How often have you encountered being desperately in thirst after sinking your teeth into sweet tasting dessert? Water should be freely available! And I've one kind soul in mind. Kudos to Udders who offers free flow water from its cooler and even with tissues available conveniently! Though it's self help, it's highly appreciated. Shall leave you the brain work of listing the misers.

I cope being a whiner by bringing our water along for meals. There are just some days when our water runs dry after a long day out. So yes, I do give in to purchasing water. Most importantly, I want to advocate the kids that water is always the best option.

Dear Consumer Association of Singapore, I think this is worth a serious thought. Even though Singaporeans love eating out, our interest and trade should be considerately protected.

And since I am on this, may I add that food or items that require a charge shouldn't be left on consumer's table for double guess if they are complimentary or not. Talking about nuts, crackers and wet towels that you have to reject upfront, if not it goes into the bill. Automatically. Such can be a rude shock to tourists.

To the minority of restaurants with that gesture of serving free flow water, Thank You for breeding such good will among customers. Much is appreciated from families with kids and elderly.

But seriously, can we impose some regulation on this? Like if you want to run a restaurant or cafe with service charge, especially if selling alcohol, serve complimentary drinking water!

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