Poll respondents claim restaurants overcharge

How often do you tally if all the numbers on your final bill add up in direct proportion to your meal order?
 
If there have been incidences of discrepancies than according to the 'Emirates24|7' recent poll, you aren’t alone.

From a poll of 397 people, a 30 per cent of respondents complained that were forced to check their restaurant bill every time because they had been victims of being overcharged too often for comfort.

An additional 27 per cent complained that, although they don’t check their bill often, a random check has thrown up extra charges on the bill at least once.

“With me, it’s almost always been the addition of bottled water that I have not utilised,” complained Jagjeet Thaapad, a logistics manager in Dubai.
 
“What usually happens in restaurants here is that many keep a bottle ready on the table for use; if you don’t make a hue and cry that you will not be drinking that water, you will get charged for it, even if the seal hasn’t been broken and the waiter can clearly see that.”

Other common complaints that have come to light are additional charges of food items that several have merely enquired about and servers who don’t bother writing the order down.

“There have been occasions where we merely ask what the soup of the day is, or if the shwarama is lamb or chicken; we ultimately may not order those dishes if the choices aren’t to our liking, but these dishes more often than not, wind their way onto our final bill,” said Bassa’m Saleh, a regional director.

Shivali Goyal, a mother of two, says mistakes with her food bill almost always crops up when the server fails to write the order down.

“It is a practice in many eateries here, where the serves attempt to memorise your order in a bid to show professionalism, I reckon,” she said. “But whatever the reasoning, for me it almost always turns into a comedy of errors, because not only does my meal order go wrong, but I end up being charged for dishes that never found their way to my table.

“So, I may sound rude, but after four incidences, I now make it a point to force the server to write down my final order, read it back to me and then cross check the final bill to ensure it is correct.

“Who knows if it’s a genuine mistake or one that is being made on purpose.”

However, not everyone practices vigilance such as Goyal. According to the poll, only nine per cent make a half-hearted effort to check their bills, depending on the restaurant they are dining in, while a staggering 17 per cent don’t even bother checking at all.

“I don’t understand what the fuss is about,” stated Mrinali Pathak, a college student. “If we trust the restaurant enough to serve us with a meal that won’t poison us, then surely we can have a little faith that we are not being ripped off by them.

“And if sometimes a mistake does happen, big deal. It’s only ever small change.

Why lose sleep over that?”

But there is a light, it seems, at the end of this tunnel. Because not everyone has been victimised by wrongful billing at a local restaurant; in fact, the poll indicated that a 17 per cent that practiced vigilance in checking their final tally often have yet to be overcharged even once.
 
Said schoolteacher, Salma Khan: “I think it’s a case of hit and miss really. I make it a habit to check my bills, and thus so far have not been overcharged even once. But, people make mistakes; some are not as straight forward. It depends ultimately on the luck of the draw.” 
 
The other side of the story…

Restaurants say that prices discrepancies usually occur due to human error, be it the server or the customers themselves.

Said Geetika Marya, Marketing Director at Soy to Chutney, an Indo-Chinese restaurant in the Greece cluster of International City: “We personally haven’t had many problems in this matter, but I can see such problems arising when a restaurant gets busy and errors can occur in the KOT system.”

KOT is a process where a printed order is handed to the kitchen, which is based on table numbers.

“Sometimes servers can punch in a wrong table number and orders can go wrong then,” she explained.
 
Marya further said that such problems arise with smaller items, such as water and juices.

“People sometimes order a bottle of water with one server and if it takes a while to arrive to the table, they catch another passing server to ask again. What can then happen is these different servers look at it as two different orders and punch it again,” she added.

When quizzed, Marya said that usually people are very polite about these mix-ups and mistakes can happen when it is a big table and many different people ordering.

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