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Just to let all you fellow travellers know. Service charges are added to resturant bills but are actually now illegla. The staff are not allowed to say where this service charge goes but what you will find it that it goes to the mangement. Always check your bill, if there is a service charge or a gratuity on it and you would rather not pay it you have the right to ask for it to be taken off. I always do and generaly leave a cash tip, this way I know that the server gets the money. On the od occassion they have queried why I dont want to pay it and have been rude about this they dont get a tip.
If you put tips onto your card the staff usually dont get these either.
They will not tell you whether there is a service charge but it should say on the menu if they do add it. Be careful you dont pay it if you dont want to and also that you dont pay twice by givign a tip as well.
Written Nov 20, 2011
Although not really an England tourist trap tip it is worth noting that we face the same problem as others when travelling overseas. How do we avoid getting ripped off by the banks when all we want to do is withdraw our hard earned cash and have some fun.
Unique Suggestions: In my opinion ,by far the best deal for Brits travelling abroad and wanting to use ATMs is to get a Nationwide Flex Account and use their debit card. Although there may be a fee charged by the local bank there are no transaction fees charged by Nationwide and they use better exchange rates than most other banks, who both charge a fee and load the rate to make even more money out of us. The Nationwide account is easy to open over the Internet and you can transfer money in and out of your main bank account. They also have an e-Savings Account that pays reasonable rates so you could use that to help save for that trip of a lifetime and switch it across to the Flex Account online just before you go.
Fun Alternatives: I usually also take credit cards, one Visa one Mastercard one Amex, for peace of mind, and usually a small amount of local currency for convenience on arrival. When buying currency don’t forget to ask for some small notes, you don’t want to arrive at your destination and face an annoyed cashier as you try to pay for a coffee with the equivalent of a £20 note.
Updated Oct 26, 2008
It’s always difficult to know what the best deal is with ATM cards and probably the best advice is to check with your own bank before you travel. However I can tell you a bit about ATM’s over here, firstly that you’ll find them everywhere, and secondly that they are mostly free to use. However be careful about using ATM’s in shops and public houses as there is often a fee charged for using these. We are also seeing more and more standalone machines in the streets that also make a charge. The fee is generally around £1.50 - £2.50 and, thanks to legislation, is prominently displayed so it should be obvious that the particular ATM charges a fee. A credit card used in any ATM will almost always attract a fee.
Unique Suggestions: Look for ATM's located outside banks or a Post Office in main streets, some banks will also have one inside that you can use during opening hours.
Written Oct 26, 2008
Want to drive here? Will, it’s going to be expensive. Let’s just start with the fact that fuel can be as much as $8.60 a gallon (US). That’s enough to put you off drive thrus at MacDonald’s for life right there. It gets much worse. Then there’s traffic. Roads designed for 200,000 people with horses are now 55 million with vehicles. Then you try and park. Wrong place – wrong time - $60-$200! I once got a ticket at 9:58 pm! 2 minutes to freedom! So what’s wrong? The Parking Attendants get paid by private companies for PRODUCTIVITY. That means they get paid for inflicting more misery on you. The worse you holiday here – the bigger their bonus and pension fund. The Spanish Inquisition never had productivity payments. Oh, and the attendants hide and wait. Try and talk to them and they become deaf, blind, stupid and start grunting. Hell, I would too if you paid me to ruin your day. This isn’t the law – it’s blood sport.
Unique Suggestions: Most towns will let you pay the fine today by telephone with a credit card. You only pay $30-100 you lucky bastard. Then dispute the charges when you get home.
Fun Alternatives: Public transport is much cheaper. Alternatively let someone else drive and run away and catch a bus if they get fined.
Also, you could just agree to get the first round in down the pub.
Written May 3, 2008
YOU ARE A TERRORIST.Oops! I meant ‘You are a Tourist'! See how easy that mistake was to make. Well the Metropolitan Police in their infinite wisdom have decided that you may want to report ‘Odd picture taking’. Let’s see. You see someone taking pictures of their food, bus stops, train stations and major landmarks. It’s a Virtual Tourist Member working on their tips! Or is it? Consider yourself a suspect.
I have included 2 pictures that I have been warned verbally about.
Picture 1) The Police Poster and telephone number
Picture 2) People making Sushi. A policeman made me show him my pictures and warned me not to do in anymore. This is a Sushi place inside Victoria Station in London
Picture 3) A poster in a HSBC bank in London. An employee came running out and said I could not take this photo. The poster says ‘Welcome to the UK’. Hardly.
I am all for vigilance and security. I am against stupidity. See what you think.
BBC NEWS STORY
Unique Suggestions: Carry your new VT cards and practice this phrase: “I know my rights and I want to telephone my Mum”.
Updated Apr 18, 2008
We don’t tip in Britain. Get over it. There is a reason there is no place to leave a ‘gratuity’ on credit card bills or your server tells you not to bother. In the UK service workers are paid full wages unlike restaurant waiters in North America. I should know; I was a waiter! Tipping can be severely counterproductive here. Also, if you do tip, especially by card, the tip is kept by the owners! The staff will never see that. There are also a lot of establishments that put a 10% ‘Service’ charge on already. So you could end up ‘tipping’ the owners twice! Do not do it.
Fun Alternatives: At Least Do This: If you really feel the need, slip 5-10% in cash. By the way, don’t expect good or fast service. Welcome to queuing.
Written Mar 31, 2008
“You are not welcome here Johnny Foreigner”! Well, they might as well put up a sign in the baggage claim area at Gatwick. I just recently returned to Gatwick from outside the EU and went to go use one of the free baggage trolleys for the bags in the baggage claim area. Problem is, they are not quite free anymore. In fact, it’s worse than that. You have to have a British One Pound Coin to free the chained trolleys. What do you mean you don’t have British One Pound coins in your pocket you Tourist from abroad? Oh well, you can use a 1 Euro Coin or a 25 Cent US Coin. Rest of the world – tough. Of course there is NO way to get said coins in this secure area. So you are stuffed. Welcome to Britain, go get some coins. Of course you cannot return to this area once you leave!
What genius thought this was a good idea? Did this person or person work on Heathrow Terminal 5 as well?
Well, if you do have a one pound coin, you can return the trolley somewhere and get your pound back. I have this feeling that it is not even remotely near your car.
Fun Alternatives: Get baggage that rolls easily and practice pulling it for huge distances to toughen up your muscles. It’s a good idea in general. Alternatively get someone who lives in the UK to send you a coin. Do not ask me for one either any freeloaders out there. I bet you didn’t even rate this tip yet.
Updated Mar 31, 2008
Need a telephone number in Britain? That’s going to cost you! A few years ago the Directory Enquiries number ‘192’ was privatised and now there are over 100 options. Some will cost you more than £1 for a phone number! I recommend not using 118 118. They do the most marketing, but they certainly are not cheap. They charge you 49p for answering the phone and 9 pence a minute to actually talk to you.
Unique Suggestions: Try 118 848. They charge a flat 27 pence and will give you 3 numbers.
Look here to compare tariffs:
Written Feb 9, 2008
There such a good place to visit. *The ferry is huge.*
The Water, is according the brochure, crystal blue and quite transparent.
Unique Suggestions: - Garlic Farm
- Amazon Zoo
- Sandown (we rent a hotel at here for 2 night.) (we enjoy eating fish & chip at there.)
- Yarmouth (view/ scene)
Fun Alternatives: - Garlic farm--> remember to buy a garlic ice-cream.
Updated Oct 24, 2007
but don't pay for viewing this up close, please! It's a waste of your precious pounds! Just look at my pics and you'll see that it is possible to get good shots of the landmark even behind the fence. Honestly, Stonehedge is something to see once, if that. It is out of the way from perspectives of common tourists.
Unique Suggestions: Eat the ice cream offered where food and beverages are sold. Or, try soup when it is cold and rainy!
Written Aug 21, 2007
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