Charging customers at eateries for ‘heating’ triggers debate

Charging customers at eateries for ‘heating’ triggers debate

Charging customers at eateries for ‘heating’ triggers debate

Some restaurants apparently began charging customers for heating in the face of rising electricity prices and other costs, triggering a debate and criticism among people, but representatives from the sector say this is not a widespread policy.

Social media users have posted bills they were handed at restaurants showing that they were charged for heating, while others have said some eateries introduced new rules such as requiring orders to be at least 30 liras ($2.20) or customers can occupy a table for 30 minutes at most.

People from the industry admit that costs have risen, but a majority of restaurants do not to resort to extra charges, such as billing customers for heating.

Some restaurants charge an extra 10 liras ($0,70) to 70 liras ($4,90) to the checks just for occupying a table, but those venues constitute only a fraction of the businesses in the sector, said Ramazan Bingöl, head of the Association of All Restaurants and Restaurant Suppliers (TÜRES).

“Restaurants and other venues generally increase the prices of the items on their menus to cover for the additional costs. This will probably be the case again, and most of the businesses will not charge for heating or occupying the table,” Bingöl said.

He added that restaurants have already started to hike the prices of dishes or other items they offer by 10 percent to 40 percent, because of the higher energy costs, and more price increases in the coming days seem to be likely.

Businesses in the eatery industry are indeed facing larger electricity bills, as their electricity cost rose by 120 percent in the December-January compared with September-October 2021, said Kaya Demirer, head of the Tourism Restaurant Investors and Gastronomy Enterprises Association (TURYİD).

Demirer also agreed that most businesses will not resort to extra charges and said that currently only a handful of businesses are doing this. He echoed Bingöl that restaurants will increase their overall prices to cope with the rising costs.

Demirer, however, warned that the burden from electricity costs is building up on the businesses.

“A businessowner, who used to pay 10,000 liras ($700) a month for electricity, is now paying 20,000 liras ($1,400) to 25,000 liras ($1,750). They are likely to wait for one or two months before passing on those additional cost to customers to see whether the government would provide any support,” he said, predicting a 20 percent increase in restaurant prices.

Officials are currently working on different options to lower the electricity costs of households and businesses.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said earlier this week that his ministry and the energy market regulator EPDK are assessing demands from the public regarding the electricity prices but no concrete decision has been made yet.