Charging for ice from the bar, a legal practice if notified but minority: "I would drop my face in shame"

Although inflation is widespread this year, a certain modesty invades bars when it comes to charging customers for a basic product of any establishment: ice cubes. The practice of including them separately on the invoice, which has begun to extend this summer of heat waves and supply shortages –manufacturers did not store in winter due to energy costs and now supplier prices have tripled– it is not widespread among hoteliers because, some allege, it cuts them off. Others, in coastal areas, justify that if they do not charge it, the accounts do not come out.

"I would drop my face with shame," says David, from Casa Paco, a traditional bar in the center of Madrid, near the Plaza Mayor, who nevertheless warns that the price of ice "has gone up an egg." Of 89 cents that he paid in the supermarket in a normal situation, he paid three euros per bag in the first two weeks of August. Now, he says, there is less shortage and the situation is normalizing. “This is still Madrid”, responds almost indignantly Andrés, from the Sabatini brewery, next to the Royal Palace, who has had to resort to the neighborhood 'Chinese' to get ice when it was lacking. It does not occur to him to charge a supplement per cube, despite the fact that the bag was in the 'Chinese' at 2.45 euros, the last time they went to buy. Ignacio, a waiter at La Latina, says that he paid five euros in a store on a visit to Mallorca. Here he says that the boss has bought a machine and the customers are not charged.

The question is complicated as the tourist pressure is greater. In Madrid, despite the tourism, August continues to be a quiet month, for vacations, at least within the M-30. On the coast, the landing of tourists has meant more demand and some establishments that did not charge have decided that there was no other choice. “If not, we would spend a lot of money”, excuses the manager of a central hotel in Tarragona with a cafeteria open to the public. “Last week the distributor would bring you a sack of five bags for eight euros. This one, at 12”, she protests. The voice of her husband is heard in the background, adding that it is being sold at the gas station for 20 euros. “And we are rationing it like gold, because you ask for five bags and they bring you two,” she adds.

The establishment had a brief moment of fame on Twitter last week, after a customer uploaded a photo of the invoice in which the ice supplement was charged at one euro. It turned out to be a mistake, says the owner. "That's the ice cube trays for the rooms, which we didn't charge for before." It was the fault of a beginner waiter, who got the wrong button on the cash register. The usual supplement is 20 cents, and the hotelier opposes that the competition is charging 50. She clarifies that the extra is only added with the coffees; With drinks and mixed drinks, it is understood that the profit margin is higher and there is no need to pass on the increase. "I ask that they notify the customer, I don't want any fuss," says the owner.

Notifying the innocent consumer is mandatory, explains Miryam Vivar, from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU). Charging for ice, he explains, "is legal as long as three requirements are met: that we have been previously informed [en la carta o de viva voz]. that the consumer has requested it or gives his consent, as with bread or an appetizer, and that corresponds to an additional service. It fits very 'a capón', but you can understand that ice can be an extra benefit, ”he says.

This is how they see it in the Bertal cafes in Valencia, which add the ice to the bills from before. “We have been charging it practically forever. And even more so today, with how difficult it is to rise in light and all the expenses that the hotel industry is suffering. We see it more than justified ”, he defends. In this, the freedom of each bar is complete, but here the employer advises caution. In an interview on RNE last week, the president of the Spanish Hospitality Business Confederation, José Luis Yzuel, advocated not unnerving consumers, but giving one of sand. "I don't see it clear to charge the ice […]but if you have to raise the soda or coffee, then it goes up”.

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