Chef Paulo Airaudo was taken to court after charging a customer €510 for failing to turn up for their booking at two Michelin Star restaurant Amelia in San Sebastián.
Airaudo’s restaurant has a policy of charging those who fail to turn up to reservations €170 per person. The no-show diner in question made an online dinner booking for three for 16 July 2021, but did not turn up.
In a subsequent court case in December last year, the no-show diner claimed, according to Euro Weekly News, that he had postponed his stay at the Hotel Villa Favorita by 24 hours and, as Amelia is located in the same building (but a separate company), incorrectly assumed that the hotel staff would notify the restaurant.
He then tried to re-assign his booking for 17 July, but Airaudo stated that Amelia was full both then and the following day. After discovering that his card had been charged for the three no-shows, the client then said that he would take the matter to court.
Last month, sentence was handed down and the customer’s claim was dismissed.
Restaurants charge for no-shows as a means both of deterring the practice of unscrupulous bookings, and to make up for the lost revenue from a lost table. Typically, failing to show up for a reservations at more expensive establishments will incur heftier fines.
In 2015, it was reported that no-shows cost the UK hospitality industry £16 billion a year. Given the difficulties faced by the sector, including staff shortages and energy bills, that dent can only become a greater issue, making taking card details with bookings even more necessary.
The court’s verdict could well set the precedent for customers who attempt to challenge no-show charges.
Reservations at top restaurants, especially in New York and London, are so sought after that a black/grey market (depending on who you ask) has developed around them. Last year, WLC investigated this phenomenon, and asked whether bidding for bookings is really the future.
This article was originally published by the drinks business and has been shared with permission.