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What is the difference - cover charge vs. service charge

What is the difference - cover charge vs. service charge

Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 07:38 AM
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What is the difference - cover charge vs. service charge

I see an Italian restaurant that I am interested in says their fixed price includes the "cover charge"..I'm a little unclear on what this is and would we include a "tip" on top or would there be a service charge on top of the cover charge???
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 07:53 AM
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Yes, a service charge is different to a cover charge. Typically a cover charge is for bread and water, and is a fixed amount per head at the table.<BR><BR>The service charge is paid usually as a percentage of the total bill
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 07:56 AM
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You have to remember that italians are very unique! The cover charge is usually abou 2 to 4 thousand lira and it covers the cutler, the tableclothes and paper things that you put under your plate. It does not cover what you americans call service charge. It is not common to leave a tip here, it is more the exeption than the rule, or at least I have never heard of it very often. They are both seperate things the cover charge and the service charge.<BR>
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 08:02 AM
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So does this mean that you would pay the cover charge, then they add on the service charge which is the same as us adding on a tip in the U.S.? So if I've got this right, a cover charge, a service charge and THEN a tip if service is great??!!
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 08:40 AM
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Correct, but sometimes one or the other won't even be listed separately. Sometimes both will be listed.
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 09:52 AM
Brian in Atlanta
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I've never encountered a separate service charge in Italy - service has always been included in the prices on the menu.<BR><BR>The cover charge, or coperto, is always added to the bill.<BR><BR>I usually leave about 5% extra in cash if I'm happy with the service.
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 11:20 AM
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My experience is the same as Brian's.<BR><BR>A "tip" is separate from service. It's fairly customary, given satisfactory service, to "round up" the payment ... never more than 5%.<BR><BR>By the way, I sense in one or more postings the hint of a question as to whether Italian restaurant prices are exorbitant. I've always found them relatively reasonable, especially given that you're not stuck with food you don't want. I find it particularly sensible and economical to be able to order precisely as many or as few courses as I feel like at the time.<BR><BR>twenj
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 08:12 PM
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Having just returned last week from Italy, I would offer one caution - if the sign on the window says 'no cover charge' be aware that that 'fee' is probably buried in something else. Example: In Venice we selected the No cover restaurant to discover that we had been charged $15 for a bottle of house wine that in every other restaurant was no more than $7. Ask first about the price of house wine.

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