Today in the Bummer Report: A battle is raging in the tiniest town in Britain over a £660 restaurant tab. Okay, they’re English, so it’s probably more of a hubbub than an all-out battle. The patron, Martin O’Grady, took to Facebook to document his attempt to cancel his New Year’s Eve reservation at the Fordwich Arms because his father had been fatally injured. The Michelin-starred pub couldn’t find a replacement for O’Grady’s reservation, and stuck the grieving son with the tab—which comes out to about $862 USD.
O’Grady had put his credit card down with the reservation in case he was a no-show. According to chef Dan Smith, they take prepayments to protect their business. This seems genuinely necessary for an independent business in the country’s smallest town; Ben McCormack, the editor of squaremeal.co.uk, told The Guardian that no-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £16 billion annually. Smith said the O’Grady party had first made contact to cancel New Year’s Eve dinner on December 28. They called diners on their waitlist to fill the table, with no luck. They also offered to refund O’Grady and his dining partner (but not the whole reservation, it seems, which was for six total), or have their portion go to drinks. But apparently the whole party wasn’t going to show, and now O’Grady is left with the £660 check.
Ticketed restaurant experiences aren’t uncommon in fine dining. Especially on a night like New Year’s Eve, where special menus might mean purchasing unique ingredients to be used for just one dinner. What’s weird, though, is their apparent lack of cancelation policy. Even most U.S. airlines refund otherwise non-refundable tickets in the case of a death or serious illness in the immediate family. And if the airline industry is doing literally anything better than you are, well, yikes.