Are diners ready to get their own water?

Cut out the 10 per cent service charge and diners say they are willing to help themselves to water, order, pay at the counter and even collect their own food, they told SundayLife!

Straits Times readers who responded to a call for views on the subject, posted on the paper's Facebook page, agreed, with most saying they were happy with self-service.

But this applies only to casual restaurants, they added, saying that the more expensive the bill, the more they expect from wait staff.

Mr Andrew Lau, 40, a senior engineer, said: "It depends on where I'm dining at. I have no issue collecting drinks or food in a casual cafe.

"But I definitely expect full service at a fine-dining restaurant. The experience of eating at posh restaurants is what I'm paying for too. I expect servers to be polite and have good knowledge of the menu."

Helping herself to water has never been an issue for sales assistant Janice Yeo, 25. "I'm perfectly fine pouring my own water. In fact, it's easier for me when I'm eating out with my friends, instead of having to constantly ask a waiter for service. It's best if they just put a jug in front of us and we can help ourselves," she said.

But freelance designer Agnes Ong, 32, draws the line at collecting her own food.

She said: "I don't mind pouring my own water and paying at the cashier's counter. But I'm not too keen on collecting my own food, even if I'm not paying service charge. It feels like I'm at a fast-food restaurant or school canteen."

Using iPads to order food may not be a hit with diners either.

Housewife Celine Lim, 54, said: "I'm not sure if using iPads for ordering is the best idea for customers. It helps the waiter process the orders quickly, but sometimes, I'm not sure how to use the system.

"I'll end up having to call the waiter to help me anyway and that probably wastes more time for them. I also prefer to ask the waiters to recommend dishes."

However, retired taxi driver David Tan, 63, said he has learnt to adjust his expectations.

"In the past, I used to get frustrated when I didn't get proper service from waiters who were too slow," he said. "But over the years, I've realised that there needs to be a compromise. It won't kill me to take my own water. It makes the waiter happy and I also don't ruin my own dining experience."

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