Going out for a meal is one of my favourite things to do, either to meet friends, to celebrate or when I’m too lazy to restock my cupboards. But what happens when the restaurant serves up disappointment?
A few weeks ago, I was having lunch in a restaurant near my office. I placed my order and took a seat. A while later, the waitress came up to tell me her colleague had actually sold all the orders of that meal and I would need to pick an alternative. It was a simple mistake and I didn’t mind at all – but she insisted on giving me a free drink and dessert. That gesture made my lunch break.
But a straw poll of my colleagues revealed the restaurant horrors that left a bad taste in their mouths. One went out with a group of her friends where the restaurant got orders wrong, forgot some people completely, and there was more than half an hour between the first and last people getting their meals.
Another booked a table, only to turn up and be told there would be a half hour wait, as there was a surge of people coming in and the staff had given their table away.
Dishing up disappointment
If you’ve visited a restaurant where the food on the menu isn’t as described, they haven’t kept your booking, or the service resembles something out of Fawlty Towers it can be tricky to know what your rights are. If just one meal is bad, can you refuse to pay for the whole meal? Can you ask for a service charge to be removed? Our video shows you what not to do:
Your restaurant rights
When you book a table in a restaurant, you are effectively entering into a contract with the provider of the service. That may sound a little formal, but it means you have the right to expect food of satisfactory quality and ‘as described’ on the menu.
So if, like the hapless couple in the video, you’ve ordered a beef ragu only to be served something that resembles spaghetti bolognese out of a tin, you have grounds to complain. But not to put the waiter’s face in it, as our rather hot-headed actor did. You might find yourself in trouble if you do that.
Be sure to digest our guides on how to get money off your restaurant bill for poor quality food before you go out to eat this weekend.
Have you ever been caught up in a restaurant nightmare that was difficult to resolve? Did you know your rights?