A Derbyshire chef and restaurant owner has opened up about an incident in which a couple refused to pay for over £100 worth of food, despite having eaten most of it.
Luke Payne has owned and run The Pack Horse in Hayfield with his partner Emma for the last five years. and the pair pride themselves on serving “upmarket” contemporary food.
According to Luke, a couple who dined at the restaurant on Saturday night would not pay their bill as they felt the meal was not up to standard.
Luke has since spoken out about the incident, saying the couple were simply “opportunists” looking for a free meal.
Speaking to Proper Manchester , he explained how despite the couple being checked on by his waiting team several times throughout their meal, they never once complained about their food until they’d eaten “around 70% of it”.
He explained: “Despite having being checked back by our waiting team to see if everything was okay, the woman brought her pork chop up to the bar and compared it to ‘fatty bacon’, saying ‘this isn’t what I expected, I don’t really like it, I’d like another meal to replace it for free.’
“She had the opportunity to say if something was wrong or not to her liking, and in that scenario, we would have absolutely done everything we could to have made their evening better.
“She wanted a replacement for free, but she’d already eaten her meal essentially.
“So I said no, and informed her that if she wanted anything else she’d have to pay for it.”
At this, the woman’s husband allegedly became aggressive and claimed to be ‘in the right, as the customer’.
The couple then refused point blank to pay any of their bill, which amounted to £106, before leaving the premises.
Luke said: “Obviously we don’t live or die by £100, but it’s still a lot of money. That’s a young waitress’ wage for the day.”
Luke ended up charging the couple using the card details they had submitted when securing their reservation online – however, they threatened to get their card insurers involved so whether or not the money will actually come through will only be determined in the next couple of days.
The incident has understandably left Luke and his team disheartened and frustrated, with him noting: “When it’s your business and your livelihood and your passion, you want to make sure that everyone leaves having had a great time. So these kind of things do stick, and it is really frustrating.
“I take stuff like this really personally, because this is all we know, it’s all we do and we do it for love. The backbone of what we do is making people happy, so this kind of stuff brings out a certain level of upset.”
And sadly, this isn’t Luke’s first experience with customers attempting to get their meals for free; he told us that since restaurants have reopened after the lockdowns, he’s noticed a rise in diners complaining about food to avoid paying their bill.
“The customer always thinks they’re right, even when they’re not. We’re professionals at the end of the day, if something is wrong with the food and drink and the service that we’re providing, we’ll know about it. So people should be a little more respectful of what we do.
“Everyone’s after something for free at the moment, which perhaps comes from their lack of respect for the industry and the hard work and the graft and the love that goes into it… People only see the end product, they don’t understand why things cost as much as they do and why they take as long to prepare as they do.”
Since sharing his experience on Twitter, Luke and the Pack Horse team have been flooded with messages of support from adoring customers. One person wrote: “Cor, I wish I was having that pork chop for lunch. I love The Packhorse. These miserly chancers do not deserve your incredible food.”
Another noted: “We came in last week and 2 of our party had the Pork and absolutely loved it. Urrrgghh chancers trying to pull a fast one on a local business – hate it!”
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