Monday, August 19, 2013
Help Me Howard: Thirsty
A nice cold glass of water we take it for granted and when we walk into a restaurant we expect water. But can a restaurant say, we don't give tap water away, you have to buy water? One South Florida man wanted an answer and so he called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser to get it.
Carlos Delgado: "The waitress asked me if there was something I wanted to drink and I said just a glass of water."
Carlos Delgado: "And at that point she informed me that tap water was not given for free at that restaurant you have to buy bottled water if you want to drink water here."
But Carlos doesn't drink bottled water.
Carlos Delgado: "First of all health issues, I think most people are aware that bottled water has some contaminants because of the chemicals that are in the plastic in the container itself."
Being told he could not have a glass of plain old tap water was a first for Carlos.
Carlos Delgado: "I've never been in a restaurant ever in my life that denies its customers water. As a matter of fact, the first thing they do it pour some water most of them."
Carlos isn't cheap. He didn't want a soda. He doesn't drink bottled water. He just wanted good old Miami-Dade County tap water with his lunch and couldn't have it.
Carlos Delgado: "Which again made me think if number one, is it legal you deny water if you are licensed to sell food in Florida. And number two, is that the right thing to do if that is legal that you deny water to someone who just want to drink municipal."
Well Howard, most places give you tap water for free with your meal, but can a restaurant refuse to give you tap water?
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally there is no law that requires a restaurant to give a customer a free glass of tap water, so they can refuse to do it. But the law requires hot and cold running water in the bathroom sink and nothing can stop a customer from taking a glass and filling it with that tap water."
We spoke to the owner of the restaurant. She told us that they do give tap water for free. When we told her two separate employees told Carlos it was the restaurants policy not to give tap water to customers, to only sell water she said she would have a staff meeting to straighten things out so customers will get free tap water for free.
And that's how most restaurants treat customers, not just inside but many Cuban cafes have a container outside filled with water for customers or any person just walking by to drink from.
Howard Finkelstein: "Most restaurants give water away because its so cheap. But people in the restaurant business say it not free because of the labor costs of cleaning the glasses, making the ice, things like that. However, they continue to do it because its always been done that way and it makes customers happy."
Carlos is glad the restaurant will now give him tap water because as a business owner he know you don't want to upset your customers.
Carlos Delgado: "That is one of the most important things in business we believe or I believe to make sure the clients are happy."
Patrick Fraser: "Howard says there is no law regarding a glass of water and there is a good reason for that, you cant force a business to give something away but the law does force a business to provide bathrooms for its customers, and legally you cannot force someone to pay to use the bathroom. That's a good thing."
Problems left you soaked? Ready to wash them away? Contact us, we wont leave you high and dry cause we have a thirst to help.
Contact Help Me Howard:
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Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org