Refusing to Pay Dining Out
You might not think it, but when you order food in a restaurant you are creating a contract of sorts. An agreement is created between the customer and the restaurant. The restaurant agrees to supply you with good food and the customer agrees to pay their bill and not refusing to pay dining out.
There are certain laws which exist to protect consumers when they visit restaurants, one of which is that a restaurant has a legal obligation to ensure that they serve good food that is safe to eat and it is as advertised or printed on promotional material. When a customer orders the food they are confirming that they have the means to pay for their order and the prices are acceptable to them.
There are many reasons when a customer may be Refusing to Pay Dining Out. Some of these reasons may be perfectly legitimate and they fall within the law while others can be unlawful and treated as theft. The majority of restaurants will exercise a certain amount of discretion when it comes to dealing with customers who refuse to pay the bill, mainly because they don’t want the bad publicity.
Customer Cannot Pay
The first issue that this guide will explore is if the customer doesn’t have the means to pay. This could be deliberate or unintentional. For example, the customer may have lost their cards, purse or wallet. In this case, many restaurants will have a set protocol when this happens. If you are known to the restaurant owner as a regular customer you will probably be asked to settle the bill at a later date if you provide your contact details.
If you are unknown or new to the restaurant you may be asked to leave something of value which would act as security until you return to settle the bill. Some restaurants may simply ask you to leave your personal details or ask you to sign something to say that you will return to pay the bill.
The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
There may be some cases when a customer is just not happy with the meal that they have received and as a result refuse to pay. This is a contentious area and is dealt with under the Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982. If the customer strongly believes that the restaurant did not fulfil their part of the contract to supply good food, the diner can release themselves from the contract.
Alternatively, if the customer thinks that the food was unsafe or contaminated in some way they should take a sample and present this to a regulatory authority such as environmental health to substantiate their claim.
Restaurants and the Law
When there is a dispute about paying a bill and a customer is refusing to pay dining out, the restaurant and the customer can make a case. Customers can state that the food was sub-standard or that the ingredients were of a poor quality but this is unlikely to result in a lengthy legal battle because both parties would prefer a quicker and more amicable settlement.
Failure to Pay and Theft
Technically, if you leave a restaurant refusing to pay dining out, even if you are disgruntled with the food you have received it could be classed as theft. If you are unhappy it is vital that you let the restaurant know while you are there. This is because if you leave without paying and fail to notify the restaurant of your complaint it could be argued that there was an intention to deceive.
If the food was below the standard expected you do not have to pay and you may even be entitled to compensation if you suffer any ill effects from consuming the food served to you at the restaurant. If it’s simply a case of you didn’t like what was served you may be asked to pay part of the bill.
When you eat out at any restaurant remember that you have rights that are defined in legislation. You must be able to differentiate between what is a failure to comply with a contract and a misunderstanding about how the food is to be presented.
owners should understand that consumers have rights and they are expected to provide what they promise. Diners have the right to challenge false advertising which can render any contract between the restaurant and consumer as invalid.
Legislation is in place to protect both consumers and businesses. Restaurants should receive the payment that they are owed for the food they serve while customers should receive food that meets their expectations and that meets quality and safety standards.
Consumers and business owners should be familiar with the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. Then, there is no ambiguity as to what their rights and obligations are to ensure that food products and services that are delivered are of the highest quality.
About the Author
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers team and posted by Lloyd Barrett, Admin & Customer Services Manager for online advice service Expert Answers. Expert Answers provides legal advice to users in the UK who post a question on their secure platform.