• Spain's news in English

Revealed: Eight dirty tricks Spanish restaurants use to overcharge you

Jessica Jones · 14 Sep 2015, 12:16

Published: 01 Sep 2015 16:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 Sep 2015 12:16 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

While the majority of Spanish bars and restaurants are known for being welcoming and sociable places, a few are trying their best to give the food industry a bad name.

Consumer rights body Facua published a blog post detailing some of the sneaky ways in which Spanish bars and restaurants are trying to trick their customers. The post was accompanied by the hashtag #BaresParaNoVolver (#BarsNotToReturnTo).

From not including VAT on the menu prices to charging for cutlery, The Local counts down some of the worst ways in which Spanish bars and restaurants are trying to con you.


Prices are 10 percent more expensive on your bill than on the menu because the menu prices did not include VAT. This practice is actually illegal in Spain, even if menus include the phrase "VAT not included".


Photo: Bruno Raymond/Flickr

You dig into the bread basket then realize the cost was added to your bill at the end. If bread costs extra, why not add it to the menu?

Supplement for well-done meat

This may seem ridiculous, but some Spanish restaurants actually charge customers more if they want their meat well done. This place charged 30 cents extra – was it the extra use of electricity or maybe the extra time the chef spent over the grill? Who knows…

Supplement for ice

Photo: Ginny/Flickr

A nice refreshing soft drink might be soured by the fact that some bars charge their customers for ice cubes, some even putting a price on each cube!

Paying for tap water

Photo: Jenny Dowling/Flickr

Some bars actually charge customers for tap water, a practice that is not actually illegal, as long as they include the price on the menu, which most conveniently forget to do…

Charging you to use the bathroom

Some bars have even been known to charge for soap and paper towels.

The secret menu del día

Story continues below…

Photo: CPGXK/Flickr

Some bars have a menu del dia, the cheap three course lunch beloved of Spaniards, but neglect to publicize the fact. Some try to hide their menus because of the belief that a law from 1965 – which stipulated that all bars should offer a menu del dia consisting of a starter, main course, bread, wine and dessert – still exists. They think they are being clever and getting around the law – which no longer exists – by hiding their menu del dia or making it prohibitively expensive.

Charging for cutlery

Amazingly this restaurant mentioned in the tweet below charged customers €1.50 per knife and fork. This is just as illegal as charging patrons for cleaning the table or the table cloth. Under Spanish law it is illegal for restaurants to charge customers for anything that is considered necessary for the provision of service.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Ceuta
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was due to dock in Ceuta

Russia has withdrawn a request for its aircraft carrier group to be refuelled at the Spanish port of Ceuta, authorities confirmed.

Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available