A small independent café ended up losing £100 after a group of customers failed to show up for a booking and then cancelled their credit card. The owner of the venue said the party failed to respond to phone calls and then made sure the cost of the wasted food could not be clawed back.
The group had booked a chocolate afternoon tea priced from £25. These have to be arranged in advance as they are made specially to order, and feature layers of home-made chocolate cakes, pastries and scones as well as a range of savouries too.
The café – Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury, Manchester – takes credit card details to secure bookings. This is only charged if a party fails to honour their booking or cancel within a reasonable time.
The Manchester Evening News reports that Cocoa Cabana’s boss Sarah Gallacher shared details of the incident on social media. She wrote: “We had a table of 4 booked for today, we only have 3 tables. We made their afternoon teas which we then had to throw away.
“They didn’t show up, they didn’t call, they didn’t answer our call and they cancelled their card.”
Sarah told the MEN: “We used to take deposits, but we found that put people off booking, so we changed it to taking card details instead. It explains when you book that we need 48 hours to cancel otherwise you will be charged.
“But I think this is what people do now, they either put fake details in when they book, or they cancel their card. We knew it was a valid card when they made the booking, so we know they must have then cancelled it.
“It’s just the fact you’re phoning people and they don’t answer. Most people are reasonable, and we’ve had people who have had to cancel who say they’ll come and pick up the afternoon teas instead as they know the costs involved in making it all.”
Sarah added that the issue of customers cancelling their cards appears to be an industry-wide problem. She said: “I’m sure lots of hospitality businesses are having similar issues to this right now.”
Sarah wrote her original social media post response to a tweet by Loose Women star Denise Welch earlier this month. Denise shared her frustration over the amount of detail now required to make a restaurant reservation.
Denise had written: “Do you remember the days when you could make a restaurant reservation without having to basically give your financial history, bank details and the day your grandmother entered menopause!!! FFS.”
But hospitality businesses replied to Denise on Twitter to explain exactly why so many details are now needed.
Others included the owner of Tatton Park café in Knutsford who wrote: “Do you remember when the public were polite enough to honour a booking and not dump the restaurant owners with empty tables? A culture of disregard has taken hold in our country.
“Taking your details is surely a way to protect small businesses from being left out of pocket.”
Award-winning Lancashire pub Parkers Arms tweeted to Denise: “Oh the romantic notion that is. Sadly no longer a viable option for restaurants these days.”
While Tony Rodd wrote: “Can you go to any other hospitality/entertainment setting without paying for a ticket in advance? Theatre? Hotel? Festival? But at a restaurant you can turn up and pay at the end. Leaving card details so the restaurant is protected if you don’t turn up seems pretty relaxed to me.”