Have you ever had a romantic meal turn sour? What would you do if your table was given away? Or what if you were forced to tip even though the service wasn’t up to scratch?
St Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. And every restaurant, bistro, café and gastro pub across the country will be fully- booked for the entire evening.
My first question is, why not have a night in away from the crowds and try your hand at cooking a romantic meal?
But if you are one of the culinary incapable, or you just prefer to swerve the washing up, you should definitely make sure you know what your rights are when dining out at a restaurant.
What if they give away my table?
Nightmare scenario – you arrive with your date, on time, only to find the restaurant has given away your table. With everywhere else in town booked up, your only option is heading back to yours with a bottle of red and a tin of ravioli.
In this situation you may be entitled to claim reasonable compensation as it’s a breach of contract. As long as you weren’t late and you couldn’t have had a comparable meal elsewhere, you could claim back any expenses you may have incurred.
And be warned, if you fail to turn up to a booking then the restaurant has the right to claim compensation from you for loss of profit.
Do I have to tip if the service is rubbish?
You have to remember, Valentine’s is one of the busiest nights of the year, so make sure your expectations of service are reasonable.
Regardless of whether the service charge is compulsory or discretionary, you still have the right to refuse to pay a tip in either circumstance if the service falls below a reasonable standard. Plus if the service charge is compulsory, the restaurant must make this clear to you before you eat.
If you feel that the level of service falls below what is reasonable, we have produced a step by step guide on what to do if you don’t want to pay the service charge.
The food wasn’t great… do I have to pay?
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 you have a right to expect food of satisfactory quality and ‘as described’ on the menu. If it isn’t, the restaurant is in breach of contract and you don’t have to pay for it. In this instance you may even wish to report them to Trading Standards. Here’s a handy video to help you deal with the tricky situation of poor food:
Fingers crossed love is in the air tonight, and you don’t have to use any of this advice. Oh, some last final pearls of wisdom from my grandmother:
‘Watch your date’s reaction when things go wrong at a restaurant – if they are rude now, imagine what they’ll be like in five years when the spark has fizzled out and nappies need changing.’