After a long hike on a hot day there is nothing better than a large cold drink. So when we recently finished a wonderful walk in the Yorkshire Dales and sat down in the garden of the attractive looking Cottage Tea Room in Kettlewell.
No tap water is served at this restaurant
Tap water not seved here
We were ready for lunch and a chance to cool down with a glass of water. It was to our surprise that we saw written on the menu “Please kindly note tap water is not served”. Not to worry I thought; they want to avoid people passing through and just sitting down asking for a free glass of water.
We were still confident that having ordered a meal for four and a round of drinks this denial of water would not apply to us; particularly when we asked the waitress and mentioned our thirst and need for simple and rapid replenishment.
The legalities of not serving water
But no; she repeated the line that we had already heard her give to other guests, “sorry, we don’t serve tap water”. I have a problem with this on many levels. Firstly, I don’t know if it’s legally allowed to refuse to serve water: perhaps someone can clarify here?
Lost business for a cup of water
Secondly, it may stem from a wish to prevent people spending next to nothing and hogging the small number of tables, it was self-defeating as we chose to go elsewhere for our desserts, purely down to this point. A couple of glasses of tap water would have probably increased our bill by another £15.
More basic than this however is the simple principle of good customer service. Keep your customers happy and they will go away and sing your praises. What could possibly be gained from annoying people by this refusal?
Petty, short sighted or unfriendly
We saw others ask and be disappointed by the inability to get a humble glass of water. The impression that is given, rightly or wrongly, is of a business that is short-sighted, petty and more bothered about enforcing unfriendly rules than about providing their customers with a decent service.
I have no doubt that the decision to refuse to serve tap water is based on financial grounds. I hope that those owners who continue this unreasonable practice eventually realise that the denial of this basic request by their customers is perhaps one of the single most harmful actions they can do to those finances that they are trying to protect.
Andy Jarosz owns and edits the popular travel blog 501 Places, featuring stories from travels around the world and comments on travel related issues. He also writes regularly for BP in several of their corporate publications and is a freelance copywriter. You can follow Andy on Twitter and read his blog.