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Complain About Your Meal

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 2 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
Consumer Rights Meal Restaurant Food

When we go out to eat, we hope everything will be perfect - nice surroundings, good food and good service. Sadly, that's not always the case. There may be a problem with the food, the service might be awful, or something else goes wrong in the restaurant. When that happens, what can you do about it?

Your Meal

You might not realise it, but your meal is actually a contract between you and the restaurant. In return for your payment, you have the right to expect certain things - to enjoy a meal in comfort, a certain level of service, and food cooked to appropriate standards, in the portions advertised. If the restaurant fails to deliver that, it's in breach of its contract with you.

Waiting Staff

You have the right to expect waiting staff to be courteous and to have a reasonable amount of care in the handling of your meal. If this isn't the case - say, for example, a waiter is surly or abusive - you should complain to the manager. Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act, you have the right to expect reasonable care and service. The best course of action after complaining is to take your business elsewhere or refuse to pay for the meal. If you've paid, complain to the restaurant owners. You're eligible for compensation up to the amount you paid for your meal.

Your Food

You should always pay attention to menus. When you order a meal in a restaurant you're agreeing to pay for the food, drink and service. If a service price isn't stated in advance (i.e. no prices on the menu), then you leaving a reasonable sum for the service you recieved is at your discretion. If a price is shown (e.g. a ten per cent service charge), then you must pay, unless there is any reason, you can reasonably criticise the standard of service (if meals for your party arrived at drastically different times, or hot dishes came to the table cold or undercooked). It's even reasonable for a restaurant to charge if you ask for tap water, as an element of service is involved.

A meal should comply with its description, both in terms of ingredients and size. If it's advertised as a big meal, for instance, it should be larger than an average standard meal. If a meal doesn't match its description, complain to the manager. If that brings no resolution, write a letter of complaint to the general manager. You should also report the restaurant to your local trading standards department because it may have committed an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

On occasion, a vegetarian might find meat in his meal. This breaches the contract between you and the restaurant if they claim the dish is vegetarian. Complain to the manager. Also write to the head office of the restaurant chain, telling them where and when it happened and the details. If you're a vegetarian and discover you're eating meat you will eligible a small amount of compensation for distress.

In the event your food is badly cooked, or undercooked, the restaurant is in breach of the law for failing to provide food of a satisfactory quality. For such something like this you would be entitled to some form of compensation. This would cover the cost of the particular dish and arguably a sum to cover the disappointment and distress it caused. However it wouldn't extend to the full cost of the meal. If the rest of the meal is fine you're not entitled to walk out without paying. Complain to the manager; if that doesn't help, complain to the owner and also Trading Standards (www.tradingstandards.gov.uk)

Food Causing Illness

If there's a problem with the food and it makes you ill - food poisoning, for instance - then you'd be eligible for compensation. However, you must be able to prove that it was the actual meal you had at the restaurant that caused your illness. For example, did any other member of your party have the same food and experience the same problem? You won't be able to establish a claim against the restuarant unless you can prove your illness was because of eating their food. But a restaurant with a good reputation might offer you some compensation without actual proof of causation (for example, a free meal). Write to the restaurant in any event and explain the circumstances.

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[Add a Comment]
@miagrace. Did you complain at the time? If you'd asked, they may have explained the pricing and the sourcing of the ingredients etc.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 5-Jun-15 @ 11:12 AM
Had a meal that was £11.95 and not worth the money it was gammon served with chips mine had pineapple and my partner had and egg but it didn't come with anything else and it wasn't worth the price especially when they were serving salmon with a choice of chips, potatoes and vegetables at £8.95 how do they warrant selling the gammon at £11.95 ! !
Miagrace - 2-Jun-15 @ 7:51 PM
ordered a chinese from chinese and indian takeaway limited cardiff and the whole meal was tipped out in the bag with very little response from the manager andwould have to wait another hour and a half for a new meal have a very disappointed little girl as she now has no tea iam one angry person !! what i can i do have taken photos
abi99 - 28-May-13 @ 8:44 PM
I don't normal have a take out meal. But i though i treat myself. I order a Kentucky meal.Off the Hertford road, enfield. Which cost £5.59. The lady that served me said if i would like a large drink it will cost me another 50p extra. when i arrived home and opened the huge box. The portion was small. Your KFC advertisement does not live up to expertation as a customer. Seriously you management
maxine - 7-Aug-12 @ 7:00 PM
A steak and kidney pie is expected to be a pie that consists of the ingredients encased in a pastry base and crusty pastry top. This would be cooked in a pie dish and served in segments. A lot of public house that serve food these days are opting for a bought in tasteless flaky pastry crust that is plonked on top of a mini dish containing what in effect is casserole. The pastry crust. It is my contention that this is not a pie in the real sense of the word, and therefore could contravene the 'Trades Description Act' There is definately no satisfactory substitute for the real thing!
PubDiner - 15-Dec-11 @ 1:21 PM
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