Most diners would not pay for tap water at a restaurant, Straits Times online poll shows

Over 85 per cent of 1,700 people who took part in a Straits Times online poll said they would not pay for tap water while eating out at a restaurant. -- ST FILE PHOTO 
Over 85 per cent of 1,700 people who took part in a Straits Times online poll said they would not pay for tap water while eating out at a restaurant. -- ST FILE PHOTO 

SINGAPORE - Would you pay for a glass of water when you are dining out?

Most diners say no, according to some 1,700 readers who responded to a Straits Times online poll.

About 85 per cent, or close to 1,500 respondents, said they would not pay for tap water at a restaurant. Only 15 per cent said otherwise.

This is despite more dining establishments charging for tap water because of rising costs, such as having service crew on standby to refill the glasses, and to make up for the loss in drink sales.

Around one in 10 restaurants now charge for water, at least twice the number from just two years ago. They typically charge between 30 cents and 80 cents.

Mr Jeremiah Ee, 25, is among those who do not mind paying.

"I don't have a choice, I need to drink something," said the collection officer, who added that he would pay up to 50 cents for a glass of water. "If it's more than that I'll get a proper drink."

Of the 1,150 respondents who responded to a second question on how much they would pay for a glass of water, 85 per cent said they would fork out no more than 30 cents.

About 11 per cent said they would pay up to 50 cents. Only 2 per cent said they would fork out up to $1, while 1 per cent of respondents were generous enough to part with $1 or more.

Mr Joseph Tan, 50, who is the vice-president of an IT company, said he would pay up to 50 cents. "If I have to pay a few cents, it's okay, because I need to drink. I don't drink a lot of things they serve. But if it costs a dollar or two, I won't drink. Maybe that's my threshold," he said.

Those who refused to budge argued that a glass of tap water should not cost anything.

"Water is free; even if it contributes to their water bill, it's negligible. If I'm sitting at a restaurant, I'm going to be paying a decent price for a meal, so I shouldn't be charged for water," said undergraduate Rachel Chia, 22. "I would probably kick up a fuss and I won't go back to the restaurant again."

Ms Jessie Chew, a 51-year-old homemaker, said she would rather pay more for a drink. "I think they shouldn't charge. Water should be free because you can get it from the tap."

dshea@sph.com.sg