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Cafe responds to woman’s damning TripAdvisor review with one of their own

Most of us have had at least one terrible restaurant experience. The great thing about social media is that we are able to share our feedback with other potential customers — although it doesn’t always work in our favour.

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In a post that appears to have since been deleted (but a copy of which can be found via The Independent), a woman identified as Hannah C from North Yorkshire took to Tripadvisor in December to share her less-than-pleasant experience at Bennett’s Cafe and Bistro in High Petergate, which she had visited for “afternoon tea.”

Although Hannah did not actually order any tea. What she did order was hot water and a slice of lemon, as she explains she was on a “tight budget.” However her friend ordered cake and drinks and it turns out that a slice of chocolate cake actually came with a lower price tag (£1.90) than what Hannah was charged for her hot water and lemon drink (£2).

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But rather than making an apology to Hannah for what she described as an “absolutely awful” experience (as most companies usually do) the manager of Bennett’s Cafe decided to take a very different stance and explained to Hannah exactly why she was charged.

The message was part snark, part statistics and began, “I’m sorry that you feel that you were ‘ripped off’ and I’ll try to explain why you weren’t.”

The manager went on to detail how the waiter spent “2-3 minutes” on Hannah’s order as he processed it, cut the lemon, got the hot water, washed the cup and saucer when she was done, etc… And then came the statistics part.

“The cost of overheads for the business, i.e rent, business rates, electricity costs, bank charges, etc works out at £27.50 per hour of trading,” the manager wrote. “I pay my colleagues a decent living wage and after taking into account holiday pay, national insurance and non-productive time prior to opening and after closing, the waiter who served you costs me £12.50 per hour.

“Therefore, together the cost is £40 per hour or 67p per minute, meaning that the cost of providing you with 2-3 minutes of service was £1.34 – £2.00.

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“Then the government add on VAT at 20% which takes the cost of that cup of fruit infusion to between £1.60 and £2.40 irrespective of whether you had a teabag costing one and a half pence or a slice of lemon costing five pence. (sic)”

While this interaction may be amusing it also raises an interesting question about whether it is fair to go to a restaurant and order hot water and lemon and expect not to pay for it when other (paying) customers could have your table? At the same time Hannah was not alone and her friend was a paying customer; should the restaurant really have charged her? And is that a reasonable price for hot water and a slice of lemon?

We’d love to know your thoughts. Do you think Hannah was right to complain? Or is the manager of the cafe completely justified in charging her?

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