Restaurant Rips Off Customers with Overcharges

February 14, 2012

in Odds & Ends Stories

I had my 30th birthday in November 2000 and arranged to go out for a meal with friends and colleagues. We booked an Italian restaurant I had been to before and liked. There were 21 of us.

The starters were fine, the main courses were fine. Service was very slow, but we were a big party and we were in a function room downstairs from the main restaurant, and everyone was having a good time, so I didn’t worry too much about that. Some of us ordered desserts, which didn’t come, although the waiting staff were very quick to bring more wine. Thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure they were deliberately slow with the service to encourage us to order more wine. 

Eventually it was time to get the bill. The total was just under £700, which for 2 courses for 21 people, a few deserts, and I have no idea how much wine, was an AWFUL lot of money in 2000. £500 would have been more like it. When I looked at the bill more closely, they had charged us for 25 starters and 43 main courses, even though there were only 21 of us. We pointed this out to the staff and they came back with a revised bill, with a lump sum knocked off the previous £700. We asked them to go away, find the order slip on which our original order was written, and work the bill out from there. They said they couldn’t do that as they didn’t have the order slip anymore.

Now, I have been a waitress in the past and I know fine well that once the order slip has been to the kitchen, it’s passed to the till to assist in cashing up at the end of the night. To suggest that they didn’t have it any more is just nonsense.

So, they wouldn’t give us a correct bill, and as people had already started to leave, we couldn’t work out properly what we owed. But we did know that 21 people hadn’t ordered 25 starters and 43 main courses. So we worked out what we thought a fair price would be (£525) and gave them that. They refused to accept it and threatened us with the police, so a colleague of mine gave them another £60 to shut them up. I didn’t know about that at the time or I wouldn’t have let him do it. I’d have told them to call the police and show them the bill for meals for double the number of people in the party.

I’ve told this story to several people, and been surprised by the number of people who’ve said to me, “Oh, you know, I was in there and they tried to charge us for bottles of wine we hadn’t had” or, “They tried to say we had dessert when we hadn’t.” I think it’s a regular scam they try – add a few bottles of wine to the bill for a big party and they won’t notice. They got greedy though – did they really think we wouldn’t notice a bill for meals for 43 people when there were only 21 of us?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Aliss February 15, 2012 at 12:06 am

This is a ridiculous story.. yes, perhaps they 'over charged' you at first, but then when you raised your concerns you admit that your bill was adjusted accordingly.. Don't you think it possible that you spent more than you expected? It's an easy thing to do, especially when large with a large party.
As for your comment 'Now, I have been a waitress in the past and I know fine well that once the order slip has been to the kitchen, it’s passed to the till to assist in cashing up at the end of the night,' do you realise that not all restaurants function the same way? Just because the place that you were employed worked this way does not mean that the restaurant you dined at followed the same procedure. Really, this story sound like:
A. an exaggeration of the restaurant's faults (43 mains for 21 people? NO restaurant would try to get away with that!)
and B. You spend more than you had intended to and tried to blame it on the restaurant.

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The Jaded Waiter February 15, 2012 at 2:59 am

That was t w e l v e years ago.
It's time to get over it.

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Ray June 23, 2013 at 2:41 am

i agree

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OriginalPoster February 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Aliss, you're absolutely wrong. This story is the truth. I was inspired to send it in when I was having a clear out the other day and found a copy of the complaint letter I sent to them afterwards.There were 21 of us there and they tried to charge us for 25 starters and 43 main courses, and then tried to say they didn't have a record of what we had actually ordered. We'd have been more than happy to pay for what we'd had, including all the alcohol but there's no way we were going to stand for being ripped off like that. They obviously thought we wouldn't notice.

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steph November 2, 2015 at 10:18 am

fyi that comes to 33 a person, which is pretty cheap for 2 courses and tons of wine! I cant believe your complaining about that!!

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Sarah L January 2, 2017 at 10:37 am

If you convert that to dollars and adjust for inflation, that actually comes to about $56 per person, not $33. Also, you don't know what kind of restaurant the original poster went to. If it's a place with $10 burgers and $7 appetizers, $56 per person is ridiculous.

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Sharon February 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I always check my bill before I pay up. Regardless of whether the charges were accidental or not – I’m sure most if not all of them were – I don’t want to pay for something that I didn’t order.

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Christian March 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Are you sure that the 43 main courses was what they charged you for a multiple course meal?
I see the part about starters….but nothing about salad/soup course or even desert course. It could also have been the price of reserving the banquet room. I know when we had large parties reserving the banquet room; we would have a negotiated price first. Then we'd add it up the way management told us. They were the ones who negotiated the payment.

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flossiesdoll October 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

There was no salad or soup course, and only three or four people had dessert. There were 21 of us, and they tried to charge us for 25 starters and 43 main courses.

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Jack March 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Why do people make up these wild stories? Do they think we, the readers, are so dumb we can't figure out "creative writing" when we see it? If you're going to make this kind of crap up, at least try to make it sound reasonable.

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flossiesdoll October 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

It's the truth and you can shove your disbelief up your jacksie.

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Ottawan March 27, 2012 at 2:43 am

I have worked in restaurants which have been known to add drinks on to group meals. For example a group who had ordered 10 bottles of red wine with one on each table. If someone asked for another glass they would open a new bottle from the cellar before seeing if any other table had any left (they usually did) and sometimes the manager simply said, add 6/7 more bottles on the price list and if they say anything bring them empties from other tables.

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Aure August 3, 2012 at 5:02 am

Where on this site did it say that there was an age limit on complaints about hellish dining? So what if it was from twelve years ago? It still happened and it was still a dreadful experience that should be shared. Seriously, the way I’ve seen some of the posters ganged up on this place is shocking. Just because something sounds made up to you, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Of course being charged 43 mains is ridiculous and you shouldn’t have paid for it all. But you should have called the police. With enough formal complaints, the place would have been shut down.

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ahandro39 December 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Shudda just left and not paid anything, if they declined your money offer then you're not obligated to them a dime. Plus they were trying to scam you… fuckers.

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Sergio July 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

Please tell you are not serious!!

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Sergio July 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

Thank god for the newer computerized systems that we have today! Because I had guests like the OP who can spend the whole evening at a place and then get angry when the check comes . At least now I can print the table statistics in seconds and show them what and when they ordered.

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flossiesdoll October 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

And that would have shown that we ordered 21 starters, 21 main courses, and three or four desserts, plus drinks. Why would 21 people order 43 main courses?

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