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Old 08.10.2009, 14:11
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Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

Hey everyone, so a while back my German language teacher claimed it was "illegal" for restaurants to not serve you tap water or to charge you for tap water if you requested it in Zurich. Last night another friend of mine claimed this to be true as well. I find this hard to believe since most restaurants I go to in Zurich often refuse to serve tap water if you don't order another drink, or try to charge you for it. Does anyone know if there is really a law surrounding the serving of tap water in restaurants and if it's "illegal" for you to be refused free tap water in a restaurant? I searched the other posts about tap water but didn't find any discussion of a law.

Thanks, just curious!
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Old 08.10.2009, 14:49
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

even worse.... when you order a mineral water they get you a glass of tap water and they charge you 5CHF for it.
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Old 08.10.2009, 17:43
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

Some do, some don't, if you take another drink such as wine, it is very unusal to charge for tap water, but it has to be another drink, not a plate of the day or whatever. The reason goes is that you are paying for the service as part of the Sfr 5.-- price of mineral water and various costs.

If they want to charge you they must tell you specificaly at the time of the order or it must be very clearly indicated. If they say only at the time of the bill, it's too late, you just refuse to pay.

That's the law !
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Old 08.10.2009, 17:46
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

The only rule I have heard of is:
The cheapest non-alcoholic drink must be priced below the cheapest alcoholic drink.
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Old 08.10.2009, 17:57
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

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The only rule I have heard of is:
The cheapest non-alcoholic drink must be priced below the cheapest alcoholic drink.
That's for drinks that are sold and the law actualy states 3 non alcoholic drinks must be priced below the cheapest alcoholic drink. This law is rarely enforced or adhered too !

The actual tap water is not sold, what is sold is the service of tap water, they can charge whatever they like, it's up to you to say yes or no. As i said before, if you ask for tap water and there is a charge, then it must be clearly stated at the time of the order.
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Old 09.10.2009, 10:53
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

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The only rule I have heard of is:
The cheapest non-alcoholic drink must be priced below the cheapest alcoholic drink.
Well I know many many places where that isn't the case.
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Old 12.10.2009, 21:55
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

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The actual tap water is not sold, what is sold is the service of tap water, they can charge whatever they like, it's up to you to say yes or no.
Well, according to this logic, I should be fine if I bring my own bottle of water, right?

Regarding the original question. I think that in at least at some cantons there were laws on the books which required restaurants to provide the "Amtsblatt" (official gazette) and a glass of water for free. I don't know whether these laws still exist today.

As far as restaurants are concerned, I consider it incredibly cheap and greedy to charge for tap water. I try not to give my business to such places.

Last edited by Mark75; 12.10.2009 at 22:22.
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Old 12.10.2009, 22:20
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

I think it's ghetto charging for tap water.
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Old 12.10.2009, 23:10
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

I read on SwissInfo that Ticino is the only canton where restaurants are required to provide tap water free of charge if requested.
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Old 12.10.2009, 23:43
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

My first job in Switzerland was as a Waiter 15 years ago.

Water was free, as long as they ordered any liquid other than Soup from the menu card. I dont remember a single customer, who wanted food and tap water only, so imho, it is a hypotethical discussion.

If all guests shall receive a reasonable service, you are occupied constantly with 4 tables. you need to run to bring cards, take order, bring drinks, (bring starters), bring food, (ask if they are happy), (bring dessert), run again to ask if they want more or signal they want to pay, bring bill, get money, (return change), and clear the table.

Not only is bringing water = missed sale of Beer/wine/soda, it is also "wasted" time for the restaurant. Fair enough when a customer wants a glass of water to supplement the wine. And bringing a jug of water together with the wine is not estra work, while a run for tap water is.


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Last edited by Doctor; 12.10.2009 at 23:52. Reason: .
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Old 13.10.2009, 08:18
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

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Not only is bringing water = missed sale of Beer/wine/soda, it is also "wasted" time for the restaurant. Fair enough when a customer wants a glass of water to supplement the wine. And bringing a jug of water together with the wine is not estra work, while a run for tap water is.


Doc.
The customer is in there eating a menu with significant markup on what it cost to source and cook the ingredients... how is it "wasted time". That customer may have paid 30 CHF for food and had tapwater, whereas he may only have had a coke anyway... so thats only 4 CHF extra on top of a lot of money paid for food.
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Old 13.10.2009, 09:07
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

I think anyone who goes into a bar or restaurant and orders a glass of tap water and nothing else deserves to be charged for it for being a total tightwad.

Think about it - you take up space at the bar or at a table, the waitress has to fetch your water then your glass has to be washed in the same manner as if you had drunk a beer or a soft drink.

Ordering a couple of other drinks and/or a meal should mean that your tap water comes free of charge and, in my experience, it does.

Having said all that (and I think I already posted this on a similar thread about tap water) I was once given a (free) glass of tap water in a restaurant after coming over all queer when I was heavily pregnant. So, if you want free water, either get pregnant or make use of one of the zillion water fountains around the city.
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Old 13.10.2009, 11:16
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

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The customer is in there eating a menu with significant markup on what it cost to source and cook the ingredients... how is it "wasted time". That customer may have paid 30 CHF for food and had tapwater, whereas he may only have had a coke anyway... so thats only 4 CHF extra on top of a lot of money paid for food.
Many restaurants actually more or less break even on the food but make the real dosh with drinks.
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Old 13.10.2009, 12:09
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

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even worse.... when you order a mineral water they get you a glass of tap water and they charge you 5CHF for it.
At least they should bring the bottle on the table !
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Old 13.10.2009, 12:36
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Re: Law about serving tap water in restaurants?

A town in Australia has banned bottled water so that might catch on here too.... Any of the pubs & restaurants I have worked in always gave free tap water - and I've never been charged for tap water when I've been here - though I do tend to always order wine so that may be why....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8141569.stm
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Old 17.03.2010, 15:25
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Should tap water be free in Swiss restaurants?

Today’s newspaper, 20 Minutes, says that there is pressure on Swiss restaurants to follow the example of restaurants in Tessin, where pitchers of water are served to clients free of charge. Some restaurant owners say that they make their profits from drinks and feel that clients should pay for a pitcher of tap water if they don’t order another beverage. Should there be an obligatory surcharge of Sfr. 3-5 that includes free water, bread, and the cover charge, or should restaurant owners be allowed to decide if they want to give their clients free water?

The winds of change are blowing in Switzerland – free water would have been unthinkable when I first came here many years ago!

My vote goes for free water.

Last edited by sojoh; 17.03.2010 at 15:41.
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Old 17.03.2010, 15:30
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Re: Should tap water be free in Swiss restaurants?

Restaurants should make money off the food. And alcohol as well.

To charge for public water is just plain horrible to me.
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Old 17.03.2010, 15:31
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Re: Should tap water be free in Swiss restaurants?

Personally I think it should be free and given that restaurants use tonnes of salt in their food, it annoys me that I have to pay for water.

In the UK (I know, I know, we're not there) and in other countries, water is free. Should be the same here.

Last edited by Carlos R; 17.03.2010 at 15:49.
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Old 17.03.2010, 15:48
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Re: Should tap water be free in Swiss restaurants?

I'm for a minimum surcharge. The staff has to work just as much for a glass of tap water as for a glass of sprite. However, tap water should be cheaper than other drinks.
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Old 17.03.2010, 15:50
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Re: Should tap water be free in Swiss restaurants?

Tap water should definitely be free. If I were really thirsty, having rushed to the restaurant or something, I would appreciate free water - but would always order something else to drink as well. I like spring water - if I wanted to drink water all night, I would be more likely to order sparkling water anyway. Some food is very salty - and also very sweet food - and you need water. It's just rude to charge for tap water.
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