Outraged Pub landlady chooses Lucky dip wine then freezes Chablis for regular customer who absconds without paying..

Really old picture of a very nice bottle of wine

There are certain aspects of the hospitality industry that I really don't like.In fact at times certain practices can be downright unpleasant.
I heard of a practice other day that I hadn't come across in all my years in catering.
There's an independently run restaurant that serves really nice food and has quite a decent wine list.
Within the wine list there's a certain wine which although cheap at wholesale price(around £4) has been marked up to in excess of £30.
Its known as their 'lucky dip' wine.Though not lucky for the unsuspecting customer who inadvertently orders this particular slurp.
Now I know how difficult it is to make a food business profitable and I know lots of restaurants rely on wine sales,furthermore its obvious lots of restaurants sell the all wines on their list at grossly inflated prices right across the board.
The thing is people know about these places and they know wines at 'such and such a place' are a rip off.
The point is the wines are all rip off's, there's no cheating,no hidden agenda-these are our prices its up to you if you pay them..
However,to surreptitiously hide a single wine within a list at a massively inflated price amongst other fairly priced bottles smacks of trickery and deceit.It shows a complete lack of respect for the customer and in fact takes delight in their ignorance.Its left a very sour taste in my mouth I can tell you.I can imagine the sniggering behind the scenes when this item is ordered.
I've eaten in this establishment a few times and I have no idea which Bin is the offending bogey prize.
I wont be eating there again.

In other news,following the usual post Christmas recovery period, I've wasted too much negative energy chasing up an unpaid food account.
To be honest I'd forgotten about it until someone decided to have the periodical clear out of all the assorted messages and notes that systemically get stuck to our check board.
The bill goes back to last July.
The chap who owes us the money likes to think of himself as a regular.Visiting perhaps once a month,bringing various business colleagues for lunch, one of those particularly discerning diners who commands utmost respect due to his forethought in taking time to ring ahead  instructing us to 'put a couple of bottles of your finest Chablis in the freezer'.
On the day in question ,he was overheard mentioning to his companion that he'd forgotten his wallet.
'No matter I'm a regular here-my credits good'.
The conversation was relayed back to kitchen.
Chef tutted,'there's three of them there,one of his friends can pay'
After a leisurely lunch following which Cognacs and coffee were consumed in the garden,the usual 'gambling for the tip' charade was played out,which involves a member of staff calling heads or tails,at which point Mr Big Shot tosses a one pound coin,which you then scrabble around on the ground to pick up,if you win you get *drum roll* £20 tip.If you lose you get whatever coppers he has in his pocket.Without fail,EVERY member of staff despises this game.It makes them feel like they're begging for a Good Boy Chocolate Drop like some obedient little pet pooch and lets be honest,none of them is really feeling the need to acquire a wet nose and glossy coat.
By the time came for the bill to be paid,the afternoon shift change meant that different staff were in place.Mr Big Shot informed the member of staff who presented the bill that he had arranged with the lunchtime girl that he could come back with his credit card tomorrow to settle up.
Which was actually untrue but in theory would have been OK.

There's a  couple of good reasons why one should never give credit on food.
1.Food is a perishable item,so it goes without saying that once its been served/consumed there's no option to repossess the goods.
2.Running a restaurant is essentially a cash business.Dealing with small suppliers we don't ask for extended credit terms therefore by the time your meal is served we've more or less paid for the ingredients and will be out of pocket if you decide not to pay.
3.There comes a point after someone has consumed a meal,no matter how delicious it is,that the urge to go back for a repeat performance becomes less appealing than the call to pay the bill for a meal so long back that the memory of it is hazy at best.

Its no great surprise that we've never seen him since.Which actually in my opinion is tantamount to theft.

As it happens one of the girls had observantly spied Big Shot and his compadres departing in a van conveniently emblazoned with livery advertising a certain local business,which she duly noted.
Tip:If you plan to do a runner,its a good idea to either
a.use anonymous transport
b.park up around the corner out of sight..

I'm currently ringing the business daily in an attempt to solicit payment for the now outrageously overdue bill.

Chef summed up with usual brevity:

'If I'd have known he wasn't going to pay I'd have made him drink house wine NOT farking Chablis..'

Its a shame the diner/restaurateur  restaurateur/diner relationship isn't always equally respectful.Certain parties are giving all of us a bad name.


Wally B said…
It is also Fraud. I'm sure he won't appreciate a call from the local constabulary. Slimy Bastard
I had no idea about the practice of bunging cheap wine in amongst expensive stuff hoping people will order it but it doesn't surprise me.

Cannot believe the arrogance of your absconding customer though I like to think revenge is a dish best served cold... what goes around comes around...
Perdita said…
Bilking IS theft. It's one thing if you are a total regular and the owner offers credit (I've had that one time when I went in for a swift half but not my usual wine and food- but I didn't order the food 1st, they said 'don't worry, pay us next time') but just going off and not paying- outrageous and illegal!
Young at Heart said…
I hate this man and desperately won't you to get him....do you have any legal-ish friends who could write him one of those descreatly threatening letters.....or send the staff to stand outside his business with placards declaring him a blaggard and a thief....or something!!
You're all on my side.Great.
I don't think the wine thing is common practice BTW I hadn't heard of it before.
I've never actualy seen that wine scam before but sadly, I'm not surprised.

I don't mind paying a bit extra to help keep up a good wine cellar, but last week on holiday in Hawke's Bay, we went to a local vinyard and bought 4 bottles of a (too me) fairly expensive wine at $25 each. We went back the next day to have a nice lunch. and I noticed that they were charging $45 for the same bottle at the table. $20 for providing 2 glasses? Seems a bit much.

That skyving bastard need a visit from a 7.62mm messenger of death (or at least a missing kneecap)or I've still got contacts in the Artillery; if you could give me his GPS co-ordinates I could arrange a little visit from a 155mm VT fuzed shell.

The bit that really incenced me wasthe way the bastard jokes and plays with the tips.

Hanging over a trough of flaming shit would be to good for this condescending dork.

Have a nice New Year.

TSB:Yes the tip thing annoys the hell out of me too. I've told everyone if he comes back and tries it again they're to say:
'No keep it you obviously need it more than me'
I shall then provide the £20 tip.
Vivianne said…
Not heard of that wine thing before. But,people who are Winies will generally have a good idea of what price is fair for a given wine/vintage etc, so what is this wine that they will pay £30 and think it's worth it ? Or has it been 'misdescribed' ?
Viv-The wine hasn't been 'misdescribed' its just listed with a price.I have no idea which it is (and Ive done a couple of wine qualifications though wouldn't claim to be an expert).So what about the people who don't know much about wines?Is it ok for them to inadvertently buy it because they don't know any better?
Lots of people drink wine with meals but don't have an in depth knowledge of every wine and vintage.
Grazing Kate said…
surely you could tell the police? am I being naive?
Grazing Kate said…
btw - trying to find where your pub is located...I know you told me once but me being a southerner, forgot. Might be heading north for half term and wondering if I might be passing by.
Kate:Yes the police in theory but an unpaid bill is a civil matter I think,though not sure.
Leave your email and Ill send deets:)

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