Saturday, 23 July 2016

Food for thought

I was reading an article on the Morning Advertiser website about a problem for some food-based pubs: people booking a table and not showing up. One phrase struck me about 'some customers allegedly booking four or more restaurants or pubs for the same time slot and infuriating all but one.' A licensee in the article said that he didn't think people were acting maliciously, and that it was simply because they didn't understand the implications of not turning up when they've booked a table.

I think he's being too kind. I was talking to a private hire driver recently and he told me that a significant cause of delays, especially at busy times, was the fact that some people phoned several taxi firms and took whichever came first. All the other taxis then had a fruitless journey and wasted their time hanging around for customers who had already gone, burning fuel and losing income into the bargain. I suspect multiple simultaneous bookings of tables are made so that the diners can leave deciding where to go until the last minute.

Such behaviour may not actually be malicious, but it is selfish in the extreme to book a service from someone whose livelihood it is and then not turn up. If you've made that commitment as a customer, you should honour it or phone to cancel, but I get the general impression that some people believe their own personal convenience takes absolute priority over all other concerns. After all, they think, I'm the one spending the money. The flaw in this attitude is that if you're a no-show, that's exactly what you're not doing.  Apparently 20% of diners fail to turn up for their reservations in big cities, so it's not a small problem: too many no-shows can render a whole evening's hard work unprofitable.

I've noticed that some people treat anyone whose job it is to provide a public service as servants. I've seen it in places such as shops, pubs and hospitals and occasionally experienced it myself in the DSS when my work involved direct contact with the public. Most people I dealt with were fine, but the arrogant few could really be irritating, especially those who didn't turn up for booked appointments. From that experience, I can understand some of the frustrations felt by licensees of food-led pubs and, of course, taxi drivers.


  1. If you're a pub, of course, you can avoid the problem simply by not taking advance bookings and operating on a first come, first served basis.

    Not so easy for full-service restaurants, but if it is a major issue then why not insist on credit card details and take a deposit that won't be refunded if you don't specifically ring in advance to cancel.

  2. The Morning Advertiser article, to which I inserted a link, addresses these points.


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