Revealed: Eight dirty tricks Spanish restaurants use to overcharge you

The Spanish consumer rights organization has warned of the multiple different ways Spanish establishments try to trick their customers into spending more money than they intended. Want to avoid being conned? Read on!

Revealed: Eight dirty tricks Spanish restaurants use to overcharge you
A Spanish consumer body has warned of some of the most common restaurant tricks. Photo: Paul Rysz/Flickr

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

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.

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Spanish bar bill goes viral after waitress turns tables on ‘annoying’ customer

It’s the sort of thing one might expect from Manuel, the hapless Catalan waiter in Fawlty Towers.

Spanish bar bill goes viral after waitress turns tables on 'annoying' customer
The waitress charged extra for being annoying. Photo: Taberna Equzki / Twitter

But in this case, it’s a waitress in the Basque Country who has gained notoriety after slapping a customer with an extra charge for being bothersome.

Using the most typical of Spanish swear words – cojones (meaning testicles) – the phrase ‘tocar los cojones’ – literally means “touching the testicles” and is used to describe behaviour that is persistently annoying.

After a round of drinks at Taberna Eguzki, which comprised of four glasses of verdejo, a crianza, a Viña Real and a glass of champagne, all for a very reasonable €12.50, the customer was presented with a bill with an extra €10 added: “Por tocar los cojones”.




The bar/restaurant in the Basque coastal town of Bermeo in the Vizcaya province, shared the joke on social media and it soon went viral.

It turns out the addition  to the bill was a joke thought up by waitress  Anka on her boss, Fernando, who spends every Thursday afternoon in the establishment drinking with a group of friends while playing the Spanish card game Mus.

“Yes, he paid the extra!” confirmed Anka to Publico newspaper. “It was the most well-spent money of his life”.

READ ALSO: Eight of the most outrageous rude expressions to learn in Spanish