#39 How to avoid payment disputes at the end of a meal

How many times have you been to a brunch, or group get-together involving the use of vouchers, and when it comes to payment, end up in an unhappy dispute with the restaurant staff?

“Can you please call your manager?” A lot of hand waving, you’re half-drunk after having 6 bottles of Stella, trying to argue your way around “But it was a 2 for 1”, “There was only 10 of us”,  “I thought it was inclusive of drinks” “Why is it not valid today?” “There’s service charge?”

Photo not mine, taken from http://imgkid.com/angry-woman.shtml
Photo not mine, taken from http://imgkid.com/angry-woman.shtml

I’ve personally been to too many of these. And as the event organiser, I’m usually THAT person doing the hand waving. 

I guess I learn from it and go through precautions to avoid it from happening again.

So here’s my tip, to everyone who organises brunches and get-togethers for friends, and especially to hotels and restaurants alike because trust me, you don’t want your staff to be screamed at by a red-faced expat who has had a few too many 😉 

Pre-brunch confirmation for organisers :

a) Check what the voucher is valid for :

If it’s a 2 for 1, sometimes it’s only for the ‘non-alcoholic package’, or ‘food only’. This is usually very clearly stated on the voucher or app. Please read it, and if unsure, double check with the Entertainer (or similar), as well as the restaurant.

b) Check when the voucher is valid :

I’ve personally organised a trip to Yas Waterworld with a group of friends, after having bought Cobone vouchers, driven all the way there from Dubai and then realised it was for ‘weekdays’ So please, check. Read all the terms and conditions, when it’s going to expire, when you can use it. 

Sometimes the voucher may say expiring in May 2015 for example, but on the site itself it says valid for 3 months upon first use. Again, personal experience at a certain new gym in Al Barsha, which didn’t end very well (due to a very very rude receptionist). I could literally do an entire post on this but let’s move on …. 🙁

c) Find out how many people will be attending, and which deal they are availing for :

It’s a big task organising brunches for a large group, and in Dubai you’ll always get last-min cancellation from friends which can be a bit of a nightmare. If you can, find out how many people are attending, if they will be doing the alcoholic or non-alcoholic deal, do it.

Ask them if they have their own vouchers as well so you won’t have to go through the ‘Oh, I thought you were preparing the voucher for me?’ awkward conversation.

The correspondence

a) Email confirmation, always 

You’ve done your homework with your friends, you got the numbers Now the phone call. Always, always, always, send an email as well or ask for an email confirmation. And in it, other than the standard date,time info, you’ll have

  • Number of people attending
  • Number of people availing to alcoholic package  ( using voucher from XX)
  • Number of people availing to non-alcoholic package ( using voucher from XX)
  • Total expected bill

b) Bring this confirmation with you

If you don’t do old-fashioned paper print out (save the trees), just make sure you access it on the phone so you can show it to the staff when you’re there.

On the day itself

Call before you leave your house, to reconfirm. Last thing you want is turning up for a table of 12 and then realising uh oh, you’ve booked it for the wrong weekend! 😀

At the brunch

Everyone’s in their best dresses and shoes. It’s a happy day. Someone’s birthday, someone’s leaving, someone’s having a baby. Or just another good day to have a feast with friends. Whatever it is, it is supposed to be an afternoon of fun 🙂

Now, this is my personal opinion, and advice to restaurants and hotels alike. 

(a) Prepayment

If it’s a brunch, and it involves drinks, I suggest you do prepayment. That way you avoid, if any, disputes at the end of the night. And the last thing you want your staff to go through is to be arguing with someone who has a few too many.

That way the vouchers are all given, everyone’s paid, their wristbands given (if any). Done deal. Happy days.

(b) Make sure your staff is very clear if anything they serve is extra

You get the bill at the end of the night, and they’ve charged you extra for the 5 fresh juices you’ve ordered (again, personal experience). Please make sure all your staff let the patrons know, if anything they serve, is not included in what they have paid (or will be paying). It’s a tough one, but this is very very important.

Waiter comes over, what drink would you like? Your answer is usually, ‘what is included in the package’ – and then it goes from there. Safe.

Now what usually happens is halfway through brunch the odd staff comes over with sparkly and asks if you would like some and after a few wines of course you will say yes. And then you get billed for that ‘special bubbly package’ and you go ‘But I told you I wanted the standard drinks package’ and then the staff goes ‘I served you bubbly’ and you go ‘You didn’t tell me that was not included’. Fight fight fight. Hahahaha. You’ve been there. You know what I’m talking about.

So please, hotels and restaurants, please go through this with all staff. Be clear. Be very very clear. Everything, anything.

(c) Take out that email confirmation

This is for us. Now if they don’t do prepayment, and you’re sorting out the bill at the end of the night and then the staff goes ‘Oh, but we only accept 4 vouchers’, you can take out that written confirmation that confirms otherwise.

I’ve personally done this in Ocacti, and went through hell for it. Never going back.

So that’s it from me 🙂 It sounds like a lot of work, I personally quite enjoy organising events and get-togethers and trust me, it’s not as easy as it seems.  If you have any other tips, let me know !!!

Posted by

Dubai resident. Stays most of the time in the marina as she can't be bothered going anywhere else after work and in the weekends. Originally from the land of the orang utans, spent the latter half of her life in the land down under. Always on the look out for deals, loves organising get-togethers, and occasionally steals some time for a sip of wine or four at ladies nights.

5 thoughts on “#39 How to avoid payment disputes at the end of a meal

  1. My problem is with the ones which says “main course” well if the menu does not say main menu, what shall I order. The safest way we ask to the waiter, which one is included with the voucher 🙂

    1. Yeah, good point highlighted actually. Everytime we go to a restaurant if it’s just 2 for 1 for mains, we’ll ask them what in the menu it’s valid for. The good thing is some restaurants actually accept it for the breakfast deals as well! 🙂

  2. Clearly, I should’ve read this first! This is a wonderful approach so that neither party would be disappointed. Thank you for writing this advice.

Leave a Reply