A U.K. cafe owner is being applauded after responding to one TripAdvisor reviewer who was on a “tight budget” and left a not-so-nice review after she was charged £2, about $2.88, for a slice of lemon and some hot water.
The woman, known as Hannah C., went out for tea with some friends at Bennett’s Cafe & Bistro in York. As Hannah was on a tight budget, she ordered a hot water and a lemon while her friends ordered tea and cake. When the check came, she was shocked to see she was charged at all and complained to the staff, who she alleges became rude over the matter.
After her experience, she took to TripAdvisor to complain about the service in a review that has since been taken down but cached:
When the owner of Bennett’s saw the review, he took it upon himself to respond to her complaint and explain why she wasn’t, as she thinks, ripped off. The response has so far been widely applauded.
“I’m sorry that you feel that you were ‘ripped off’ and I’ll try to explain why you weren’t.
You entered the cafe and the waiter showed you to your seat, gave you a menu, waited for a time and then took your order. He entered it into the till, collected a cup, saucer and spoon and took them into the kitchen. There, he selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup. Then, he returned to the dining room, drew off the necessary hot water and carried the cup to your table. When you were leaving, he printed off your bill, took it to you, processed your credit card payment and cashed off the till. After you left, he cleared away your cup, saucer and spoon, took them into the kitchen, washed and dried them, along with the chopping board and knife and put away the lemon. Then, returning to the dining room he restacked the cup, saucer and spoon, wiped down your table and replaced the menu, awaiting the next customer.
That’s at least 2-3 minutes work for the waiter.
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. 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. 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. I have to pay my suppliers otherwise the facilities won’t be available to other people who use them in the future. I accept that it makes the price of a cuppa in a city centre cafe look expensive compared to the one you make at home but unfortunately that’s the cruel reality of life. It’s actually the facilities that cost the money, far more so than the ingredients.
Perhaps, the rudeness that you perceived in me was triggered by the disrespect that I perceived in you by your presumption that you could use our facilities and be waited on for free.”
With many supporting the fact that the cafe owner stood up for his establishment against a seemingly entitled reviewer, Bennett’s took to their facebook to thank everyone for their kind words.
Restaurant replies to selfish reviewers (especially on Yelp) are a dime a dozen, but it’s a good reminder to always be a respectful guest and an overall decent human being wherever you eat. It might also be a lesson for others one a “tight budget” — it might be smarter to just stay home and save your money.