Getting scammed in a Vienna cafè – Cafe Westend

Vienna, city of coffee shops where spy’s once traded their secrets over an espresso and cigarette.

Vienna was known as the espionage capital during the cold war, with state secrets going in and out of the East and West in one of the many smokey cafés. We had gotten in the night before and were out for a day adventure on the town when we walked by the Cafe Westend. The menu posted outside looked good, with bacon and eggs, orange juice and coffee available. Dee and I walked in and were sat in the corner by a waiter who spoke great english. He asked if we wanted anything to drink, and I ordered us two coffee’s and an orange juice. Minutes later they were there and I ordered a bacon and egg dish while Dee ordered a European breakfast. About 5 minutes later the waiter came by and dropped off a bowl of pretzels and 6 croissants in front of us.

We had ridden into Prague with a lady from Vienna who had warned us about the cafe’s, that they bring you random food and if you eat it, you pay for it. I hadn’t paid it much thought since she said it but when he dropped off the bowl small alarms started going off. We were going to order a couple of croissants earlier but they were 3.25 each which is pretty steep and I was hungry enough to eat 3 of them. So before diving into this bowl of croissants I thought to clarify this and called the waiter over. It went:

me: Is this part of our meal?

Waiter: Yes, they’re for your breakfast. : and walks away

I sat there for a moment thinking and looked over at Dee. We agreed it was not a very clear answer and it would be best to confirm before racking up at 24 charge of croissants. I waited for him to come by which took another 5 minutes and the conversation went:

me: Are these included in our breakfast?

Waiter: They’re for your breakfast

me: So part of the breakfast, right?

Waiter: Yes

me: Free? Gratis?

Waiter  – No, not free. You eat what you want and we charge you what you take.

Not wanting to pay the big euros for overpriced pastries, I sent the trays back and minutes later our food came out. We ate our food and asked for the bill to come, and I should have known that something else would go wrong. On our bill was a charge for 2 “pots” of coffee for 6.25 each and seeing as a regular coffee is 2.50 it was a blatant rip off. To call our coffee “pots” of coffee would be like saying that Alex can grow facial hair. It’s just so far from the truth, it’s impossible to take. Our coffee “pot” was a tea pot that filled up 1 cup of coffee. As I tried explaining this to the waiter, he all of the sudden started saying he couldn’t speak English even though he had spoke fine with us and other tables. After some argument and talking to the manager, the price was set to the regular cup.

I have to say it’s a pretty weak scam that they’re trying on tourists. I’m positive no Austrian would get this pulled on them, and I’m sure they do this because they’re right across from the Westbanhoff train station. In some Vienna cafès you’ll only get grumpy attitudes and great coffee, this one also attempts to lighten your  wallet unfairly.

Has anyone else had a similar experience or was this just a random encounter?

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