back to article Layoff-happy Capita charges staff to use cutlery in canteens

Times are tough for Capita, or so it seems. The outsourcing giant is squeezing extra margin from its employees by charging them to use cutlery, cups and trays in the canteen. Our insiders tell us that call centre workers in Bury and Glasgow who decide to eat their own food in the canteen are forced to pay to consume their …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd rather you didn't publish this sort of news

    Not so much because it isn't newsworthy (it is, and is absolutely disgraceful) but more because you might give them ideas where I work...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd rather you didn't publish this sort of news

      Really I've been nicking plates and bowls from mine, almost got a full set. They should pay me more.

  2. JP19

    Sounds like

    a fork cup, not very knife, bet they plate it and will spoon be looking for new jobs.

    1. Iarampatta

      Re: Sounds like

      I can't believe you didn't receive more kudos for this back when you wrote it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    BYOD -> BYOC ?

    1. JoshOvki

      Re: Evolution

      BYOD - Bring Your Own Dish?

      1. The Godfather

        Re: Evolution

        BYOB... bring your own bog

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Evolution

          Just use your desk drawer. Works for many Capita employees

          1. macjules

            Re: Evolution

            Hence the phrase 'Crapita" ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the problem is?

    Who should pay for the use of disposable items?

    1. Spleen

      Re: And the problem is?

      It's a trivial cost and the business should simply absorb it, to avoid looking like it's run by miserly cretins.

      I think your question was meant to be rhetorical but I'm afraid it was just stupid.

      1. JohnMurray

        Re: And the problem is?

        Crapita IS run by miserly cretins.

    2. kain preacher

      Re: And the problem is?

      Did you miss the part were it said they could not bring their on forks and knifes?

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: And the problem is?

        The valuie of a company absorbing small things like this is in staff goodwill, it can often cover itself with happier staff being more productive or giving you a bit of leeway when you need someone to help out and stay a extra few minutes.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: And the problem is?

        "Did you miss the part were it said they could not bring their on forks and knifes?"

        Would you want to work somewhere where the employees routinely bring knives to work?

        1. Danny 14

          Re: And the problem is?

          to the OP, I sincerely hope you don't run your own business, 'cause if you do then tell us the name so we can steer the hell away from it. Seriously, they are charging people for plastic disposable cutlery. What next? Toilet roll? Water fountain? Air con?

          When I used to work at Time computers even THEY weren't this miserly.

    3. Tom 7

      Re: And the problem is?

      One part of the problem would be that the cost of managing the sale of crap cutlery to the staff and the discussion of same in meetings would far exceed the cost of giving the cutlery away for free.

      Crapita are so used to charging their customers for badly miss-micro-managing their work they've now started to eat their own shit.

  5. Scott Broukell

    Irony (or stainless steelery in this case perhaps)

    Meanwhile the bosses and upper echelons continue to just stuff their snouts at will into troughs that seemingly never empty, funny that.

  6. Roo

    Spare a thought....

    ... for those of us who don't have a canteen at all ...

    It does seem petty to charge for cutlery, but most canteens these days seem to be run by catering firms. If that is the case with the canteens on those sites then it's hardly surprising that the firm(s) decided to stop giving cutlery away.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Spare a thought....

      Canteens can be run by catering firm and still subsidised, was working on a site last year, full english about £1.20 for breakfast, a big lunch was about the same and used to visit it for dinner as well, my food bills were quiet low for a coupla months. Food was adequate - occasionally pretty good, they had a load of warehouse workers emptying loads into cold storage, so getting them well fed probably was a bonus because thats a calorie using job. Unsuprisingly the canteen was well used.

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    "value-added solutions?"

    Is that how Capita refer to as basic canteen accoutrements?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "value-added solutions?"

      Well, a spoon really does add value to scalding hot bowl of soup.

      Although I'd personally prefer to introduce that PR person to some e-re-training, via a multi-disciplinary agricultural/business crossover methodology - utilising a bovine stimulation prod device.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably they can bring their own cutlery?

    Without penalty. I'm glad I don't work in a call centre.

    1. joeldillon

      Re: Presumably they can bring their own cutlery?

      '“If you bring food into canteen then they SELL you plastic cutlery, napkins and cups,” said an outraged worker. “You cannot pick up your own cutlery.”' - plus the health and safety comment, suggests that no you cannot.

      1. Hollerith 1

        Re: Presumably they can bring their own cutlery?

        What would they do if you whipped out your own fork? Escort you off the premises?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, health and safety

    It would indeed be most unfortunate if a call centre worker accidentally brutally disemboweled himself with his own fork.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah, health and safety

      Or decapitatated her boss with a spoon

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah, health and safety

        Or decapitatated her boss with a spoon

        And no evidence to be found - we know there is no spoon :).

  10. Chris Miller


    Was use of cutlery clearly stated in the contract you signed? No? Oh dear, that will have to be charged at our daily rate, then.

    [Not sure whether there should be a joke icon or not, TBH]

  11. Erik4872

    New MBA textbook case coming...

    This definitely sounds like something cooked up by an accountant who was asked to squeeze a few extra cents out of the catering company contract, and was told that the catering company wouldn't budge unless they started charging for staff to use their stuff. Some things look great on spreadsheets but don't play out in the real world. See offshoring, sneaking in reduction of a product's package size instead of raising the price, and many others.

    I imagine this kind of thing is felt more in Europe than in the US. I work for a European company in the US, so I have a lot of experience with lunchtime in both places. The US lunch is either a hurried affair squeezed in between meetings, nonexistent, or involves driving somewhere. Most European workplaces I've been to treat lunch as a shared meal among the staff, and the food in the canteen is actually decent. But, telling someone they can't have a plastic fork without paying is the literal definition of nickel-and-diming them.

    1. IT Hack

      Re: New MBA textbook case coming...

      Crapita....synergising value through nutritional delivery systems for all individual contributors, ensuring exceptional customer experiences

      I will now kill myself.

  12. IT Hack

    There is a reason!

    They are known as Crapita.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: There is a reason!

      Why, do they charge for toilet paper by the square too?

      I'll get my own cutlery and toilet paper from my coat.

      1. BlartVersenwaldIII

        Re: There is a reason!

        Their policy on toilet paper usage is replicated here:

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    But then this is the same company that bought the largest and reputedly most litigious private parking outfit in the country, notorious for suing their customers en masse when they don't pay up for disputed "parking charges". Why would you expect them to be all cuddly towards their own call centre staff?

    1. KA1AXY
      Thumb Up

      Re: Classy

      Sounds like Capita is competing hard to be "first against the wall, when the revolution comes", to quote a favorite sci-fi novel.

      1. TitterYeNot

        Re: Classy

        "Sounds like Capita is competing hard to be "first against the wall, when the revolution comes", to quote a favorite sci-fi novel."

        Funny you should mention that - according to my copy of the Encyclopedia Galactica they were first against the wall when the revolution came...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha ya trid spekin ta a india cal center ?

    Rab C. Nesbit

  15. Little Mouse

    Worked for Capita myself once

    Wankers - the lot of them.

    The only consolation was the fact that when the unnamed local council in question had had enough of being butt-fucked at every turn and finally pulled the plug on Capita's IT services contract, all those ruthless wanker Capita managers we had had to deal with suddenly found themselves adrift and at the mercy of even bigger, more ruthless, and wankier Capita managers higher up the chain than them.

    Those that live by the sword....

    (and did I mention that they are all wankers?)

  16. a pressbutton

    Capita is doomed

    You have an organisation that has (hopefully) a non-core process.

    Capita is an organisation that takes an existing process and does it cheaper using knowledge you have and it's own knowledge.

    This will work just fine for a while, but inevitably costs can be cut further by moving the job to $cheaper_country, or innovation.

    The thing is that Capita is uk based and so a company based in $cheaper_country can undercut them and capita does not innovate - it is a process based organisation.

    Inevitably it will fall behind, one symptom of that is this, as margins get tighter the managers look to get the money back _somewhere_

    The trouble here is that the company is - along with many others - overmanaged.

    Those who do work on assigned tasks 100% of the time. There are a few people who have the job of mining innovation.

    The thing is this is not generally the best way of working. those paid to innovate will not see the small opportunities those at the coal face see - the bread and butter of Capitas existence.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Capita is doomed

      "The trouble here is that the company is - along with many others - overmanaged."

      POTD. I see this everywhere.

  17. Dan Watson

    Not at all surprising. If that's how they treat their staff, imagine what they're screwing the tax payer for? This is the company who tried to make a profit out of Free School Meals, after all.

  18. JohnMurray

    Just when you thought things could get no worse!

  19. kain preacher

    You know if I worked f for a company that did this I would be looking for a new job/ To me this signals that they are in financial distress.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Exactly. I've been in somewhat similar situations and left as fast as I could.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >To me this signals that they are in financial distress.

      Or that they simply hate their employees and spend time and money dreaming up new ways of annoying them - it is capita

      1. JohnMurray

        Not new to Crapita. After all, the company does not allow part-time employees to park in the company carpark. Howls of rage when the local council made the roads outside no parking.

  20. skeptical i
    Thumb Down

    And not smart enough to green-wash it as "helping the environment", tsk tsk.

    Some c-stores and coffeeshops here in Amurka will knock a nickel or dime off your beverage price if you bring your own refillable cup (reduce landfill, save trees, yadda yadda yadda), and these C[r]apita folks couldn't even pretend to have a better motive than parsimony? Yeesh. Hope the employees are able to find new jobs at better companies.

  21. Christian Berger

    Hmm, the logical consequence is...

    ... that the first people to do will be the people who are the first to get a job elsewhere... which usually are the people who actually know what to do.

    So essentially what Capita is doing is to start a program to lower the quality of their services. This may sound bad, but effectively is what outsourcing is all about anyhow.

    BTW we are talking about the sort of call-centre job that can be outsourced. Those typically are just data entry jobs. If web developers would be a bit smarter, there would be simple and secure ways to just make the internal interfaces available to the user so there wouldn't be a need for such people.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Hmm, the logical consequence is...

      >So essentially what Capita is doing is to start a program to lower the quality of their services.

      At what point does the limbo factor become negative?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They also do this at preston, but it's run by initial-rentokil, but has a capita office.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this called "doing a catbert"?

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. fLaMePrOoF

    Virgin Media have been doing this for 2-3 years...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Virgin Media...

      But if you take a knife, fork and spoon all together, you get a 4p discount, which makes it great value to take all three. If you just take a knife and fork, however, you can add on a cup for a small extra charge as an existing customer...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's also applicable in the Carphone Warehouse/Capita Tulketh Mill office in Preston.

    You can't get any cutlery unless you buy something.

  27. TRT Silver badge

    From the HSE guidance booklet on the 1992 workplace regulations...

    "Where workers regularly eat meals at work, suitable and sufficient facilities should be provided for the purpose. Such facilities should also be provided where food would otherwise be likely to be contaminated. Work areas can be counted as rest areas and as eating facilities, provided they are adequately clean and there is a suitable surface on which to place food. Where provided, eating facilities should include a facility for preparing or obtaining a hot drink. Where hot food cannot be obtained in or reasonably near to the workplace, workers may need to be provided with a means for heating their own food (eg microwave oven). Canteens or restaurants may be used as rest facilities provided there is no obligation to purchase food."


    "An adequate supply of high-quality drinking water, with an upward drinking jet or suitable cups, should be provided. Water should only be provided in refillable enclosed containers where it cannot be obtained directly from a mains supply."

    So... the cup thing is bang out of order unless they have fountains. At first, I thought "fair enough; if they only have plastic cutlery, which is shitty anyway, in the canteen what's the problem charging if people are using it for home cooked meals - bit mean, but able to be reasoned". Then I thought about it a bit more, and yeah, bunch of tossers.

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