English Corner

In Andalusia, restaurant guests must expect to pay a surcharge at the most popular tables. Image: Adobe Stock

New rip-off scam in Spanish restaurants

Restaurant operators in Spain are trying to earn extra money with an absurd rule. They charge guests who have a special seating request a surcharge.

In the Spanish region of Andalusia, visitors to restaurants should pay close attention to where they sit. Restaurant owners have started asking guests to pay for the most desirable seats. For example, if you really want to sit in the sun, you pay a surcharge.

«Although we had a reservation for two people on the terrace, they sat us at a table inside the restaurant», a restaurant customer told the Spanish newspaper «El Correo». She then tried to change tables. «When we asked for a table in the sun, the waitress told us that these seats were reserved and that there would be an extra charge of ten euros.» The tables on the terrace were not even occupied.

Meanwhile, the seats in the sun are so-called premium tables—because they are the most popular seats, higher prices apply. «We point these out both on the website and on the menu,» the owner explains.

Different prices are legal

The practice is legal - as long as the restaurant owners adhere to certain guidelines. A controversial law allows restaurant owners to increase prices at selected tables.

Consumer advocate Rubén Sánchez from the Facua association clarifies the regulation. He says: «Restaurants are not allowed to simply charge ten euros more for a table on the terrace than for a seat inside the restaurant.»

However, it is permissible to increase the price for all dishes served on the terrace. However, the price increase must be clearly recognisable to guests, for example by stating it on the menu.

Tourists in Andalusia would therefore be well advised to find out the specific prices for food and drinks when ordering. Otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise when you get the bill, which could really spoil your holiday mood.