I had poor quality food at a restaurant, should I have paid?

Under the Consumer Rights Act you have a right to expect to be given food that is of satisfactory quality and 'as described' on the menu.

When not to pay

When you book a table in a restaurant, or sit down to eat, you enter a contract with the provider of the service.

Under the Consumer Rights Act you have a right to expect food of satisfactory quality and 'as described' on the menu. If it is not, the restaurant is in breach of contract and you shouldn't have to pay for it. 

You are not entitled to get your whole meal for free if only one dish is below standard, although of course a restaurant may offer this as a goodwill gesture.

What constitutes poor quality food

If you get served something of a poor standard, for example, food that is frozen in the middle or burnt to a crisp, you have the right to reject it and deduct the cost of the dish from the bill, or order something else and pay only for the replacement.

Equally if the food is not as described, such as a vegetarian dish which when it arrives contains meat, you should not have to pay for it. 

Misleading claims 

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices Regulations 2008 prohibit traders from misleading consumers over the main characteristics of the product or its price.

So if you were tempted into the restaurant by the sound of 'freshly-caught mackerel' or 'home-made soup' and then get served something frozen or out of a tin, you are entitled to refuse to pay for it. You should also consider reporting the restaurant to trading standards.

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