Is it reasonable for an all-you-can-eat restaurant to fine customers for not finishing their food? One consumer surnamed Lin in New Taipei City was recently asked by an all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant that he was eating at to pay an extra fee for unfinished food, which could have been taken home, according to the restaurant. The customer, however, felt that so much food was leftover because the restaurant was too slow in bringing out the food and had restrictions on dining time. Lin filed a complaint with the local consumer ombudsman officer in New Taipei City. The restaurant decided to settle things amicably and agreed to refund the customer’s money after the two parties had reached a settlement.
Lin filed his complaint with local consumer ombudsman officer Chen Shih-chin, saying that at the end of last year he and four friends went to a Japanese-style barbecue restaurant in Banciao District, ordering all-you-can-eat meals that cost NT$799 per person. A lot of food was left on the table after they had finished eating. The eatery said that it clearly indicates not to waste food and that there is an extra fee for leftover food. The restaurant initially said the extra fee for Lin’s party was more than NT$1,700. After some bargaining, however, the fee was lowered to NT$1,278. The more Lin thought about it after he got home, the more dissatisfied he became, and eventually he filed a complaint with the local consumer ombudsman.
Chen invited both parties to have a discussion. The restaurant said that Lin and his friends’ dining time at the restaurant exceeded by 20 minutes the stipulated time limit of two hours. When Lin went to pay the bill at closing time, the table was covered with leftover food, which was why the restaurant charged him in accordance with the rules for leftover food. The eatery also told him that he could take the food home, further emphasizing that they were never out to get consumers.
Lin complained about the restaurant’s limits on eating time, food being served too slowly and only one tiny grill being provided for everyone, which was not big enough for five people cooking food at the same time, he says. This is why so much food was left on the table at closing time, Lin says. The restaurant, however, says that a lot of food was left on the table despite being cooked already, which the restaurant could not bear to see, and therefore decided to fine the customer according to its rules.
Chen looked at the pictures and explanations provided by the restaurant, and although he agreed that it was reasonable to charge an extra fee, he did not think that the punitive pricing was proportional to reality. The company eventually admitted defeat and decided to refund the customer the entire amount of the extra charges.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)