Poll finds unfriendly policies at several popular restaurants

CUSTOMER FIRST?:Many restaurants impose a time limit on dining, a basic charge per head and do not accept reservations, a consumers’ watchdog said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 - Page 3

While more people are dining out to celebrate the holidays, the Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said that a survey of 20 famous restaurants showed that many of them have policies that are unfriendly to customers.

Foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said the group randomly selected 20 popular restaurants across the nation — including 15 in Taipei — and evaluated them based on their reservation and waiting policy, time limits on dining and minimum charges.

The survey showed that half of the restaurants do not accept reservations, only two accepted reservations on working days and 11 demanded that wait-listed customers wait at the door or forfeit their place if they did not show up when their names are called.

“With these restaurants unwilling to accept reservations, the long waiting lines at peak hours often become traffic obstacles, causing trouble for nearby residents, pedestrians and other stores,” Chang said.

He added that a few of the restaurants surveyed do not even give number cards to customers waiting for a place, giving rise to disputes at times when other people try to cut in.

In addition, the survey showed that nine of the surveyed restaurants have a time limit on dining — most of which are set at one-and-a-half hours.

Nine restaurants also impose a minimum charge per head and six restaurants require that all people in the group be present before they are allowed to enter.

Although these rules are not illegal, they often upset customers, especially when customers are not told about the rules before they sit down at tables, Chang said.

Restaurants should provide more customer-friendly services to avoid disputes and provide a more amiable dining atmosphere, he said.

Chang also urged consumers to fight for their rights by using their mobiles phones or cameras to record unreasonable encounters at restaurants, which they can use as evidence for filing complaints with the Consumers’ Foundation or the government’s Consumer Protection Committee.