It is unfair and confusing to charge consumers for something which many could easily avoid if they were given the option.!
Currently we are all paying Vat on zero-rated items purchased at Motorway Services (the cafe sections) If you are prepared to eat your cake ,purchased with your coffee ,away from the seating area then you should be entitled to receive the assumed 17.5% vat paid on these items as a refund.
The question at each of these venues should be asked are you sitting in or are you eating out . Many customers are completely unaware that they are paying Vat on certain items in these outlets because they are simply sitting eating at the venue .If you took your cake etc. and ate it in the car or outside then Vat should not be charged. It should be a compulsary question 'sit in or eating out?' and the appropriate pricing regime applied according to the answer given.This would save the consumers money,probably more product would be sold (as the products would be cheaper) and probably more seats would be freed up at the venues.Details of the answer would have to be recorded as HMRC would require this as proof.(surely a minor software tweek)
Doubtless ,the Motorway Services owners are actually not gaining from the current situation as the extra Vat will be getting paid the HMRC ,Hopefully? and as they are dedicated catering outlets they are probably forced to charge Vat on thes items by HMRC but clearly if you are unaware of this as a consumer why ,if you intend eating in the car ,would you pay more at the cafe than say WH smith next door for the same snack!