/ Travel & Leisure

Is it fair to deduct money for bad behaviour?

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A few months ago I went to a festival in Devon. Keeping with the festival spirit, we decided to camp in a picturesque campsite with reasonable rates. But there was a £200 ‘good behaviour bond’… are such bonds fair?

Being a well-behaved bunch, we didn’t have any money swiped from our credit cards come the end of our stay. But I was curious as to what would’ve constituted a break of the good behaviour bond. Would we really have had £200 taken from us if we’d broken it?

When I phoned the campsite, they told me that £200 was the ceiling amount that would have ever been taken. Examples given for deductions included damage to their property or excessive noise. They told me taking any money would have been a last resort and they’d never taken any money from anyone before.

Bountiful examples of behaviour bonds

A little bit more digging around showed good behaviour bonds being used elsewhere. A couple of hotels in the West Country include bonds for ‘single sex groups’ on their websites (perhaps to protect against rowdy stag dos or hen parties).

Comedy bars also use them. One London club says ‘groups of 10 or more (or smaller groups at the management’s discretion) will need to sign a behaviour bond and pay a £40 deposit, which will be refunded at the end of the night as long as the terms and conditions of the bond are followed’. Another comedy club goes into further detail, citing persistent talking, texting or tedious heckling as reasons for bond breakage.

Bound by your behaviour?

So, can establishments actually take money from you with good behaviour bonds? Well, for any money to be taken from you, said company would need to show that they had suffered financial loss as a result of your actions.

Taking money off for noise or drunkenness could be difficult to justify, as what’s too loud or too drunk can be subjective. It would certainly be reasonable to be ejected from a venue for anti-social behaviour, but it could be tricky to take money from them.

I’m personally not sure what to think about good behaviour bonds. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any club or accommodation should have to put up with bad behaviour. If people act anti-socially I think they should be told to leave the premises, but I’m not sure what I think about docking money. What about you? Do you think good behaviour bonds are a reasonable way to make clientele behave well? Have you ever been asked for a good behaviour bond?


I’m not sure – I think if people seriously misbehave, then they should just be asked to leave the place they are causing a nuisance in. You frequently encounter people being selfish and inconsiderate in cinemas, for example, and in extreme instances, the cinema staff do actually eject people.

If asking for a bond makes people conscious of bad or ill-considered behaviour then it has achieved something. It also probably is something that quieter campers feel grateful for.

Whether in law this is going to wash I know not but I am OK with the concept if it encourages less loutish behaviour.

It think it is fair to take, and retain, a deposit for some events where rowdy, inconsiderate or carless behaviour can result in damage or loss of custom. Simple anti-social behaviour should be dealt with by removal. Where venues sell alcohol and “encourage” a boisterous atmosphere then ejection is the best method if any customers get really out-of-hand, but not by retaining money – the venue owners are contributing to the problem.

The only time I met this was many years ago when a friend hired a boat for an all-male group that had been at university together. When they learned that some members of the party were experienced boaters, we were excused paying a deposit.

It is certainly an interesting concept I would like to see applied in hotels.

If I’m paying £100 per night for a room, I don’t expect to be woken up at 3am by drunken louts shouting in the corridors or setting off the fire alarm. Regretfully, these are not made up incidents. 🙁 But, other than transferring these guests to a room at the local nick, I cannot see how a hotel could eject them onto the street at that time in the morning.

However, if the hotel has a policy of holding a good behaviour bond, I could at least receive a deduction off my bill courtesy of the offending guests, rather than a grudging apology from some Teflon-coated hotel manager who should probably have closed the bar before things got out of hand. 🙂

It would also be good if the principle could be extended to allow the police and fire services to recover some of the money from the venue that was spent on attending incidents resulting from idiotic behaviour.

I can certainly see why they’re doing it, as I’ve been to a fair few comedy clubs that have problems with rowdy groups (sadly it is usually stag and hen dos, although I’ve seen some that are pretty well behaved). However, I think the best course of action in these instances is to just throw the group out of the club – everyone else has paid to be there, and wants to enjoy the evening rather than listening to a rabble.

I wonder if there’s any kind of behaviour contract at theatres for large groups? I went to see a play a year or so ago, and there were lots of large school parties in. They giggled, whispered and sometimes chatted full-volume while the play was on. We asked the theatre staff during the interval to keep them quiet but they couldn’t, with the result that at one point the actors on stage actually stopped the performance and waited until the children had quietened down – it was awful. I wrote to the theatre about it afterwards and they said there was nothing they could do, but I think that in a situation like that it’d be good to have a bond which, if broken, means the party has to leave.

Is this a sign that teachers, presumably accompanying the pupils, have lost the power to control them? If so, then it is time some disciplinary powers were restored. In this case I would simply ban the school(s) from future events until they regain control. I cannot imagine that this is a widespread problem – please tell me that’s correct!

I think that’s exactly the problem, Malcolm – the teachers weren’t able to control the students who were clearly overexcited. I’m sure when I went on school trips we weren’t all model pupils, but the teachers were at least able to stop students from talking throughout a play! I don’t think it’s a widespread problem, but it’s certainly worth bearing in mind if you’re going to see a play that’s on a syllabus – you may well have school groups to contend with.

James says:
11 July 2015

As someone who works in comedy I can tell you Behaviour Bonds are widespread and in fact are recommended in the industry code of best practice. Although it is correct that in extreme cases people could simply be physically ejected from the venue this would only come after some of the performance had already been ruined for other audience members. The biggest benefit of behaviour bonds is that they discourage unruly groups from booking in the first place – someone who thinks it’s okay using their phone in the middle of a play / comedy show / film or other such anti-social behaviour is not going to be willing to make such a cash deposit specifically prohibiting such actions. Therefore they will not book in the first place. The venue would have the right to keep such a deposit since there would have been specific documentation consenting to that signed by the group. However as I say I work in comedy and the only instance I can think of where that happened was when a particularly anti-social group were not put off booking by the bond as one would expect, and were disruptive to the extent of drink being thrown at another customer! In that case not only were the group in question ejected, but their deposit money was used to pay for dry cleaning for the customer affected.