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Want Tap Water? There's A Fee For That

November 28, 2011 at 4:57 PM | by | Comments (15)

We've grown accustom to fees being attached to almost everything in Vegas. Resort fees are now the norm when booking a room (sans Caesars properties). We've even come across "Additional Person Fees" but last week our jaw hit the ground when we saw that Border Grill at Mandalay Bay was charging a "Water Fee" of .50 per glass when a friend was brunching.

Adding to the annoyance of a surcharge for water is the fact that this added charge was not on the menu. Since this was first mentioned, we've come to realize that Border Grill doesn't monitor their Las Vegas twitter account and they haven't responded to the initial call out. This morning, we asked the general Border Grill twitter account if they are still doing this and have not responded yet.

This is appalling and it's less about the money than it's about disclosure. Unfortunately, we're used to hotels and airlines adding on fees and charging for whatever they can, but we're not used to it at restaurants and we'd at least like to know about it in advance. We haven't been to Border Grill in a while and this doesn't make us want to return, no matter how good the food is.

Update: Please scroll down for a response from Border Grill's Public Relations team.

[Photo: CrossFit Maximus]

Comments (15)

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Did they at least

not automatically bringing the water but only delivering a glass once "ordered"?

I agree that a fee should be disclosed either upon ordering or on the menu itself, but if they are automatically bringing water and charging for it, that's even more appalling.

That being said, I'd still pay 50 cents more for that brunch.

From Ricci Rivera on Facebook

"They pulled that on me too. Claim it is some special filtration process. Charged me despite the fact it was poured WITHOUT my request. I ordered pricey cocktails as well. Shame on them! It's the DESERT, water should be FREE. Are they hurting that much? I thought this was an upscale place.Clearly if water is a "menu" item it should be clearly stated."

From Nikki Mondella Medaugh on Facebook

"I had drinks at MIX and we asked for a GLASS of ice water with our martinis. She brought a $20.00 bottle of Voss and with no shame poured it and I called he manager over. There is no way in hell I will pay $20.00 for freaakin'water! I happen to be a water NON-Snob. I like tap water, the idea of a bottle is more about convenience than taste. I addressed it with the manager and they comped it. That is shameful!"

From Dwarfer69 on Twitter

"At the center bar in Mandalay I was charged $4 for "rocks"... a little excessive don't you think"

should be free

Water should be free unless you request bottled water. This is the distinction and that should be honored.


They've done this before and haven't disclosed the charge? That's awful. Disclosure is my #1 issue. Ultimately it's up to the restaurant if they want to charge for water just like it's up to customers to dine there.

Like Mr. P, I don't imagine I would throw a fit over .50 at brunch but I'd still like to know. If they're listing other drinks with prices, they should do the same with water.

Setting the record straight

My name is Ken Langdon and my agency handles the PR for Border Grill Las Vegas. Border Grill definitely does monitor their general Twitter account @BorderGrill and I'm sure management will be in touch soon, but when this initial Tweet was sent the wrong Twitter handle was used.  @BorderGrillLV isn't an active account and its homepage asks followers to go to @BorderGrill instead.  More importantly though, the water charge is printed on the Border Grill menu.  Here is a link and the menu's excerpt:

<a href="http://www.bordergrill.com/PDF/BGLV_Lunch_2010.pdf">http://www.bordergrill.com/PDF/BGLV_Lunch_2010.pdf</a>

"Border Grill uses the Natura water purification system, instead of bottled water transported from around the world. The reusable glass bottles provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to the waste associated with the manufacture, transport, and disposal of conventional bottled water. Unless you request no water, we will pour unlimited still or sparkling water for every guest at .50 per person."

While the brunch menu alone doesn't have this information printed on it (no room with all the food options and limited space), when guests arrive to brunch, they are verbally informed of the restaurant's water program and provided with both the lunch and brunch menus.  Border Grill has been providing Natura water for nearly two years now and the vast majority of guests appreciate both the taste of the water and the eco-friendly initiative the restaurant has taken.  


Thanks for the information.

Call it an "ecology surcharge"

In the middle of a desert, I am surprised that more places do not charge for a dwindling resource like H20.

Anyone notice Lake Mead's water level? It keeps getting lower.

With everyone further up the Colorado River taking more water, and with Vegas' population growing every year, there is not going to be enough water left for everyone downstream.

Maybe they should just call it an ecology surcharge and charge every table $2 bucks.


I don't tend to look at any menu overly much, usually relying on the wait staff to tell me what's good/popular/interesting so if they neglect to mention it (and I don't see how you can remember to do it all the time), it sucks that it's an automatic opt-in.

And, wouldn't it be more environmentally friendly not to automatically poor "unless you request no water"?


I spoke with the GM of Border Grill last night (coincidentally his name is Kent also) and will have a little more on the subject in the future. While it looks as if they are going to fix the menu to reflect the charge, it seems as is 702Becca won't be helped unless they tell her that she's going to pay for water (which the staff is supposed to do).

ken langdon i beg to differ

I've eaten BG several times. Not once have I been told of the water charge. Not once have I noticed the water charge either, which says a lot for me.

Yes - it's only 50c but it's the principle. If they want to use a posh filtration system, they need to give me the option of either charging me 50c for the posh water, or letting me choose normal tap water instead.

I wonder what would happen if you just asked for straight tap water? Apart from anything else, isn't it illegal to deny it if requested with food?

Really lovely place, but this is shitty. And, sorry, but claiming they issue a verbal warning is absolute bollocks.

water should be free

I agree with @juliab. Tap water is and should always be free. I like tap water. If you want to use some special system, go ahead but I should be able to opt-out.

@kentblack, municipal water systems are paid for with municipal funds (your taxes). As for the actual water, yes the restaurant pays for this but that glass of tap water costs PENNIES. That's why you don't get charged for tap water, $2 is beyond outrageous.

A profit center

This is merely a profit center for this chain of restaurants. It costs them pennies for water and it reimburses them for the cost of cleaning the glasses. They are in it to make money. There is nothing wrong with that. There are a thousand places to eat in Las Vegas (I am a local) and you can go elsewhere if you want.

It's the desert, & $0.50, get over it

Seriously people, this is the middle of the desert, water is a luxury here. If they were charging $2-$3 I would understand getting pissed off, its $0.50, let it go.

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