YOU know what really irritates me? Well, quite a lot actually, but this week, I am mostly annoyed about being forced to pay for nothing.

This isn’t just a random rant, no, this one, this week, has context.

Last week my other half and I took our two boys out for lunch to one of Ayrshire’s ‘top’ eateries.

The restaurant in question is part of a local family-run business who have a number of establishments in the area.

Now, we are fans of this particular ‘chain’, in fact, so much so that we are loyalty card holders (I know, we eat out way too much). So when it came to choosing a lunch venue, for us, it was a no-brainer.

This was actually our first time in this particular restaurant, but both the food and service were impeccable.

As anyone with young children will know, you only have a certain amount of time to eat, pay and leave before your little people start acting like deranged criminals.

If you miss that window, the consequences are calamitous.

With that in mind as John went to pay the bill, I headed to the door with Harrison and Sonny, with the promise of chocolate treats in return for good behaviour.

Twenty minutes later, as we drove home John revealed that lunch had cost a little more than £25. “Not bad for a lunch for four really,” he said, “Although I don’t appreciate being charged £1 for the boys’ water.” Wait, what?

Yes, apparently this very popular, very successful, and I’d imagine, very profitable business deemed it okay to charge £1 for a plastic beaker containing 100ml of tap water. Don’t get me wrong, it came with a colourful straw, but £1? Each? Really?


How is it okay to charge customers – regular customers, no, loyalty card holder customers – for tap water? Is £25 for lunch not enough so they had to add a supplementary tap water tax?

How do these insanely lucrative businesses justify charging for these things? Like the ‘optional service charge’ which some restaurants (sneakily) add on to your bill. Not strictly ‘optional’ when it’s added to the end of your bill alongside the desserts, is it?

Oh sure you can ‘opt out’ but that means bringing it to their attention and having them remove it, which causes a huge fuss and alerts the entire restaurant to the fact that you take exception to being forced to tip, ergo, making you look like you’re tighter than a duck’s backside. For the customer, it’s lose-lose.

But restaurants aren’t the only ones at it. Hotels are also alumni from the University of More-Neck-Than-A-Giraffe.

Despite having bedded down at a fair few hotels in my time, it never ceases to amaze me how incensed I get when, despite having paid upwards of £150 for one night, they see fit to charge you £15 to park your car in their shoddy basement. Shameless.

And don’t get me started on Wi-Fi. While a lot of hotels offer free Wi-Fi these days, there are still a huge number who don’t. The cost often ranges in price and can see guests paying anything from £5 per hour to upwards of £20 for a full day, depending on the calibre of the hotel.

In December a hotel in Cannes charged one guest 300 Euros for 24 hours – but, conveniently failed to inform her of the absurdly astronomical charge until after she had logged in. That’s a mighty big bill just for updating your Facebook status.

Closer to home there are others charging pointless prices for silly things and I can think of no charge more preposterous than having to pay to use the toilets at Glasgow Central Station.

An utterly archaic service charge that is so outdated that the idiom used to describe it was created almost 200 years ago.

The only difference is that now, in 2015, if you want to ‘spend a penny’ it’s going to cost you 40p.