Charging for tap water: is it acceptable?

18 Jul 2013
< 1 min read
Vienna’s most renowned coffee houses and pubs have started charging for tap water this week, causing an outcry among the health-conscious population and those that see water as a basic human right

According to ORF (Austrian Public Broadcasting), prominent coffee houses such as Café Mozart and Café Landtmann have started charging around €2.50 for half a litre of tap water.

The owners of these cafes argue that, as more and more people get into the habit of ordering tap water instead of alcoholic beverages, this trend has a negative effect on the revenue when considering the service costs, staff and rent.

The move has caused an outcry in Austria, seeing as 1,000 litres of Viennese spring water cost a mere €1.73. But it is not illegal to charge for a glass of water. Legally these establishments are allowed to charge for any service, a service including cleaning the glass, serving it and clearing it away.

Historically, Viennese coffee houses serve a glass of water with their coffees, a custom that will remain free of charge.