Bulgarian tavern in hot water over illegal charge for patrons

A Bulgarian tavern in the northern Black Sea coastal resort village of Kranevo could face a large fine after being caught charging an illicit fee for “complying with clients’ wishes”.

Without telling patrons, the tavern was adding a charge of two leva – about one euro – if clients had certain requirements for the preparation of the food.

In other words, for example, asking them to hold the bacon or to serve you your tarator (cold yoghurt soup) without nuts and dill meant a special fee. But this is against the law, carrying a fine of 500 to 3000 leva, authorities say.

Itemised on the receipt as “at the wish of the client”, the two leva hit the headlines after a patron noticed it and complained. She had neither ordered anything not on the menu nor called for any other service for which she had agreed to pay extra.

But the manager of the tavern told local media that the fee was long-standing practice. The client in question had wanted her onions fried longer than the restaurant normally did, and so the fee had been levied.

The restaurant admitted that the client had not been told about the fee.

Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency said that, from a tax law point of view, there was nothing illegal.

But the head of Bulgaria’s Consumer Protection Commission, Dimitar Margaritov, said that the tavern was now subject to an official investigation and if the breach of the law was established, ti would face a fine of 500 to 3000 leva.

The tavern manager defended the practice, saying that the fee was for “additional work”. This included further frying of onions. “It takes gas, electricity, a man’s work, and all that is taken into account”.

Margaritov said that cases like this were rare, “but it is good that people pay attention and such cases get publicity”.

Earlier in the 2017 summer holiday season in Bulgaria, there was a controversy about a place in Sozopol, on the southern Black Sea coast, charging an “empty chair” fee. Should three people be seated at a table for four, they were being charged a fee for the vacant spot. This too caused the authorities to descend on the restaurant, investigating whether indeed patrons were charged illicitly.

(Photo: Irina Ignatova)



The Sofia Globe staff

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