Nobody served me: More customers ask for review of service tax with automation of restaurants

As more restaurants start to automate their processes, services provided by personnel seem to be on the decline, leading consumers to voice out, “Since we’re doing everything by ourselves, why do we still need to pay the 10% service tax?”

Recently, readers of The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao pointed out many food and beverage (F&B) establishments have started adopting technology to tackle the problem of manpower shortage and cut costs.

This has in turn, prompted the discussion of whether the 10% service charge should still apply. 

A writer in a Lianhe Zaobao forum pointed out that the services at these joints were not as thorough as those offered at coffeeshops, yet consumers still have to bear the service charges, which may be unfair.

She wrote:

“Customer has to order the meals themselves, while service staff only move the food and beverages.

“There are almost no other services provided.

“Even when making payment, customers have to go to the counter to pay by themselves.”

This comes in light of an incident which happened on May 14, 2017, in which a customer had refused to pay the service tax after having to go to the counter to foot the bill himself. 

The customer even said that ‘service charge is not mandatory’ before leaving. 

When asked on the topic, the Assistant Honorary Secretary of the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Wei Chan said that local F&B establishments face tremendous stress from the high rental fees and it is difficult to operate without the service charge, reports Lianhe Wanbao via Lianhe Zaobao

Said Mr Khoo:

“From the perspective of the restaurant operators, profit margins usually range between 5% to 10%.

“Without the service charge, it becomes difficult to continue operating.”

He added that stripping the service charge and adding it directly to the prices of the items on the menu may scare away customers.