My wife and I went to a Brewers Fayre pub in Aberdeen for breakfast. I ordered a cooked option whilst my wife ordered a continental.
My wife had some of my breakfast and when the bill arrived we found the pub had charged us for two cooked courses at a couple of pounds extra.
The staff were apologetic but explained that it’s company policy and any hot food eaten will equal a cooked breakfast being charged.
Surely this isn’t allowed and customers can share their food however they please?
Customers at a Brewers Fayre pub were told they would have to pay more to share their food
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: I can imagine your shock when you received the bill suggesting that you both pay for a cooked breakfast after only having one.
As a couple out for breakfast, you would assume it is your right to share food when seated together.
In such a large chain restaurant – there are 161 locations across the UK – you were also surprised this was not a rule you had heard of before.
However, the main issue here is whether the meal counted as a buffet option.
Although both the cooked and continental option are classed as all you can eat, technically it is not a buffet. Usually it would be but it is now not available due to new Covid regulations.
This means you can only order what you wish to eat from a waitress who delivers it to the table.
Therefore, a customer cannot pick up cooked food from a buffet if they have only paid for a continental.
The cost at all Brewers Fayre outlets is £6.99 for continental breakfast or £8.99 for the full cooked option which also includes the continental selection.
You left a complaint for the manager who was currently absent at the time.
Later that day, you say he refunded the cost of one of the breakfasts but he was still adamant this was Brewers Fayres pricing policy.
Brewers Fayre is a chain of 161 pub restaurants across the UK, owned by the firm Whitbread
This is something you took umbrage with as you couldn’t find it written down anywhere on the menu or in the restaurant that customers should not be able share food.
When you contacted the head office, Alison Brittain, the Executive Office of Whitbread CEO said: ‘This policy had to be implemented due to the misuse of the choice of hot foods being utilised within the Continental breakfast option.’
You were frustrated with the response and suggested that it should not be possible for restaurants to dictate to customers who eats what.
More to the point, you wanted to know whether this fine would extend to customers at dinner.
For example, it is likely that someone in a couple may order a steak, which is often one of the most expensive items on a menu, whilst their partner may just order a pasta dish but want to try the meat course.
You pointed out to Brewers Fayre that the pricing policy is not on display and therefore contrary to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 under its unfair contract terms section but got no further.
Some examples of terms that may be unfair under the Consumer Rights Act include fees and charges hidden in the small print, something that tries to limit your legal rights, disproportionate default charges and excessive early termination charges.
The charges hidden in the small print is the section that is most relevant to you. But as you have taken it to the trader and resolved the issue, there is no point taking it any further – especially over a couple of pounds.
A Whitbread spokesperson replies: Our breakfasts are still an all you can eat offer, instead of a buffet guests can order as much as they would like from the hot breakfast selection and it is cooked and served to order.
We regret that in Mr and Mrs M’s case this was not fully explained to them, and as such have apologised and as a gesture of goodwill have refunded them the cost of one of their breakfasts.
We apologise for the confusion in this instance, but if a guest chooses to eat from the hot selection we are required to charge the full price, this is to ensure all guests are treated fairly.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: There has often been difficulties with restaurants who offer unlimited food or drink options as they must ensure that those taking part are paying the full amount as opposed to one member paying and sharing between the others.
Therefore, it seems the Brewers Fayre pub thought you were trying to take advantage of the system by sharing breakfasts without paying in full for both.
It admits that this wasn’t fully explained to you and offered a refund which was fair enough.
In future, it may be worth checking at such all you can eat places exactly what the rules are, just in case you are caught out with a higher fee.