Unsatisfactory meals and compensation claims falls within the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You have a right for meals to be prepared with due skill and care. You also have a right for the food to be satisfactory, fit for purpose and as described.
The scenario we are looking at in this instance is a 3 course Christmas Day dinner that was priced at over £50 for a starter, main course and a dessert. You would expect something decent at that price, although this appears not to be the case.
The common theme was summed up as being outrageously priced. Starters comprised of a prawn cocktail consisting of a few prawns with tails left on in a bit of sauce on limp lettuce and the soup being very salty.
The main course was simply a carvery with hard sprouts and roast potatoes, roughly chopped uncooked vegetables and gravy like glue. It was also noted that the turkey was pink with customers suffering food poisoning as a result.
Desserts had to be asked for and was simply coffee and mince pies or frozen profiteroles that appeared to have come from Iceland by all accounts. There was not even a complimentary glass of sherry or anything on arrival.
Understaffed, over-priced, chaotic and underwhelming in a nutshell. Complaints on TripAdvisor were dismissed in a cavalier fashion by the PR Manager with a copy and paste response that did not address the issues raised or settle the legitimate complaints.
Now if this was me, I would have complained at the time to seek redress. This could be resolved by a discount to reflect the complaints raised, a complimentary voucher for a return visit or a full refund.
If the establishment was not prepared to accommodate any reasonable requests in that vein, I would have paid ‘under protest’ and made it clear that was the case.
I would have followed it up in writing afterwards to give them one final chance to remedy the situation and put them on 7 days notice that I would proceed with legal action without further recourse.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
A complaint can be filed via the Small Claims Court online under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as the meal and overall experience was not satisfactory, as described or fit for purpose for the price paid. The food was clearly not prepared with due skill or care by the staff.
This can be evidenced by other experiences listed on TripAdvisor or Facebook, photos taken, a Doctor’s medical note evidencing food poisoning or a receipt from a pharmacy for medicine to allay food poisoning symptoms.
It is worth noting at this point that taking an establishment to Court is the last resort, and you ought to give the establishment the opportunity to settle any claim beforehand in writing with the proviso that (you) shall proceed with Court action within 7 days. This is known as ‘pre-action protocol and conduct’ and includes Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’).
Any decent establishment worth its salt would settle any claim out of Court to avoid any reputational damage, although this isn’t always the case so be prepared to follow through and deliver on any promises.
What are your experiences with unsatisfactory meals? Have you had to take a restaurant to Court?