A traveler in Italy took to the internet to vent after noticing he’d been slapped with a surprise 2 euro surcharge at a restaurant in the upscale Lake Como region — for having his sandwich cut in half.
The unnamed man, visiting from nearby Milan, had ordered a vegetarian sandwich — with french fries stuffed inside — at Bar Pace in Gera Lario, at the lake’s northern end.
After munching on the meatless snack, which he shared with a friend, he was shocked to find the unwanted upcharge on his bill.
He coughed up without complaining, but later posted a negative review to TripAdvisor.
The disgruntled diner explained that they ordered the sandwich to split with their friend — but never asked for it to be cut into halves.
“Unbelievable but true,” the man captioned a photo of the receipt on TripAdvisor.
The receipt lists the sandwich for 7.50, Coca Cola for 3.50, water for 1.50 and espresso for 1.20, along with the debated “diviso da meta”, or “cutting in half” fee, amounting to 2 euros, or $2.20.
The confused customer gave the restaurant one star on TripAdvisor — far below the average of four and a half stars, based on over 100 reviews.
The restaurant’s owner has defended the fee.
“Additional requests have a cost,” owner Cristina Biacchi told La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper.
“We had to use two plates instead of one and the time to wash them is doubled, and then two placemats. It wasn’t a simple toasted sandwich, there were also French fries inside. It took us time to cut it in two.”
She also noted that the customer did not complain or question the charge and clarified that she would have removed the charge from the bill, if someone had raised a stink.
The practice is not unheard of in expensive cities and popular tourist destinations in the United States, where frugal eaters (and those with small appetites) are sometimes hit with a share charge, or a split plate charge, to make up for the lower check average at a table. Some NYC eateries even ban the practice of sharing, period.
Since the story of the surprise service fee went viral, TripAdvisor has been forced to pause reviews for the spot, which has come under fire from angry armchair opinionistas.
“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing,” the website stated.
This isn’t the first time a tourist has taken to TripAdvisor to share how they felt cheated by a restaurant. In May of 2022, a furious couple traveling from Montana to Greece claimed they were stuck with an $860 bill, after being forced to order light bites and drinks at a Mykonos restaurant notorious for scamming tourists.