Restaurants and takeaways – your rights

2 min read
September 15, 2017
buying food

15/09/2017 A good meal often comes down to the individual taste and preference of each diner. What works for some doesn’t work for others as any restaurant review will tell you.

There’s nothing wrong with preferring a full English or a Cordon Bleu experience – regardless, you have minimum expectations and you want them to be met. But you can’t have your cake and eat it, so to speak. If you’ve eaten the meal, you won’t get far complaining that it wasn’t what you wanted afterwards!

When it comes to your rights, restaurants, and takeaways fall under the category of service-based industries, which is a pretty broad definition and covers a diverse range of businesses. The law that is generally considered to be the one that gives you most rights is the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. The act states that you should expect the ‘services’ to be carried out with reasonable care and skill within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. That’s a lot of ‘reasonableness!’

We’re not fans of the word reasonable when it comes to law. It’s too bland and broad, and it’s hard to define what is reasonable. But, the important thing is, if you feel you’ve not got the service, food, or anything else the restaurant  led you to believe you would get, then in theory you can complain.

It makes sense to make your complaint at the venue and to tell the manager at the soonest opportunity that you’re not happy and why. Take a photo – you can escalate the complaint to head office if it’s a chain. But be reasonable about what you want to resolve the matter. If you just want to cut your losses and leave, then as long as you haven’t racked up a massive bar bill it’s reasonable to expect some or all drinks to be comped. If the meal is a big event for you then let the restaurant know how this has impacted on you – they may be able to come up with a solution that compensates for the event being spoiled. You can complain about restaurants and takeouts through Resolver for free.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent Government department that deals with all things food related. You can complain to them about:

•        Poor food hygiene
•        A foreign object in your food (surprisingly common in the complaints we see)
•        Cleanliness of facilities

The FSA will look at the wider issues rather than individual complaints, but they have a number of powers for persistent offenders, as to Trading Standards.

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