Restaurant goers boycott London chain after it bans tipping by card in favour of 'brand charge'

Ping Pong/Someone paying on card

Ping Pong is banning card tipping in favour of a 'brand change'

Google Street View/Getty
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 05/04/2024

- 20:32

The move comes just months before the introduction of new law which will make it compulsory to give staff tips

Restaurant goers are threatening to boycott a trendy London restaurant chain after it has abolished card tipping in favour of a “brand charge”.

Ping Pong, which serves dim sum dishes at five outlets across the capital, said the charge of 15 per cent will be optional.

The move comes just months before a new law making it compulsory to give staff tips is introduced.

The chain said that the charge would go towards “franchise fees and other brand-related expenditure”.

The Soho branch

The restaurant chain has five branches across the capital

Google Street View

A note at the bottom of its menu reads: “This fee covers the costs associated with managing and supporting the restaurants, as well as maintaining the brand experience to our company standards.”

The change was done in order to make it “fairer” to staff in light of the new law which will come into effect in July, the company said.

The fee would replace a 12.5 per cent service charge, 90 per cent of which went to staff.

Ping Pong’s parent company, AJT Dimsum, said it had increased staff wages by 19 per cent from £10.42 to a minimum of £12.44 an hour – £1 above the new legal minimum – as a means of compensation.


They said it would “match earnings they would have received with service charge distribution”.

Cash tips will be accepted, however, many customers no longer carry paper money.

Marc Gander, from the Consumer Action Group, described the move as “outrageous” and said that all discretionary charges are a type of “moral blackmail”.

Angered restaurantgoers rocked by the news took to social media to complain.

One wrote: “The final nail in the coffin. I worked as a waiter from 16 until 20. My daughter now works in a pub as a waitress. We understand tipping. But I will never tip again.”

A second added: “More exploitation of an already underpaid workforce.

“In France, for example, being a waiter/waitress is considered a respected career and paid accordingly.

Someone paying their bill at a restaurant

Cash tips will be accepted, however, many customers no longer carry paper money


“I would be boycotting any establishment that did this,” a third said, whilst a fourth chimed in: “Another restaurant I will now avoid going to in future”.

“Very cheeky to introduce a 'brand fee' for customers. I know the incoming tips legislation is going to throw a major spanner in the works, but this feels sneaky and if I'm gonna be taxed I'd be happier knowing it's going to staff,” a fifth said.

A spokesman for the company said: “Ping Pong wanted to create a fairer and more reliable system for their staff. As such, staff wages have been increased with the entry-level salary being £12.44 per hour for all staff.

“The benefit to our employees will be stability of wages throughout the year, reducing the impact of seasonality.”

GB News has approached the restaurant chain for comment

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