It was one of those reviews to make any café owner’s heart sink.
Titled ‘Over-priced and very rude staff’, Hannah C’s post on TripAdvisor gave Bennett’s Café & Bistro a one out of five score.
But owner Mike Fisher was not about to take her criticism lying down. And his passionate response has gone viral, and seen him hailed a hero by others on social media.
Hannah C, from North Yorkshire, posted that she was on a “tight budget” and was not happy to be charged £2 for hot water and a slice of lemon.
She said the waiter went on to say that “‘a pot of tea for one’ (which is what I was charged for) is the same price as a lemon”.
Hannah completed her roasting with the words, “Dreadful place, would definitely not recommend, and the rude waiter that served me should be sacked.’
Job done, she left it at that. But Hannah had not bargained for Mike’s response.
His reply began “I’m sorry that you feel that you feel that you were “ripped off” and I’ll try to explain why you weren’t.”
And it finished…
“Perhaps, the rudeness that you perceived in me was triggered by the disrespect that I perceived in you by your presumption that you could use our facilities and be waited on for free.”
But you have to read the whole thing to enjoy the full effect of Mike’s magnificent counterblast.
‘The cruel reality of life’
I’m sorry that you feel that you were ‘ripped off’ and I’ll try to explain why you weren’t.
You entered the cafe and the waiter showed you to your seat, gave you a menu, waited for a time and then took your order. He entered it into the till, collected a cup, saucer and spoon and took them into the kitchen.
There, he selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup. Then, he returned to the dining room, drew off the necessary hot water and carried the cup to your table.
When you were leaving, he printed off your bill, took it to you, processed your credit card payment and cashed off the till.
After you left, he cleared away your cup. saucer and spoon, took them into the kitchen, washed and dried them, along with the chopping board and knife and put away the lemon.
Then, returning to the dining room he restacked the cup. saucer and spoon, wiped down your table and replaced the menu, awaiting the next customer.
That’s at least 2-3 minutes work for the waiter.
The cost of overheads for the business, i.e rent business rates, electricity costs, bank charges, etc works out at £27.50 per hour of trading.
I pay my colleagues a decent living wage and after taking into account holiday pay, national insurance and non-productive time prior to opening and after closing, the waiter who served you costs me £12.50 per hour. Therefore, together the cost is £40 per hour or 67p per minute, meaning that the cost of providing you with 2-3 minutes of service was £1.34 – £2.00.
Then the government add on VAT at 20% which takes the cost of that cup of fruit infusion to between £1,60 and £2.40 irrespective of whether you had a teabag costing one and a half pence or a slice of lemon costing five pence.
I have to pay my suppliers otherwise the facilities won’t be available to other people who use them in the future. I accept that it makes the price of a cuppa in a city centre cafe look expensive compared to the one you make at home but unfortunately that’s the cruel reality of life.
It’s actually the facilities that cost the money, far more so than the ingredients.
Perhaps, the rudeness that you perceived in me was triggered by the disrespect that I perceived in you by your presumption that you could use our facilities and be waited on for free.
‘Something for nothing’
Mike told YorkMix that he employs ten staff in the business and works hard to provide great food and service for his customers.
But he said:
I even got three terrible TripAdvisor reviews for being closed!
His response has now gone viral, and has even been featured on some national newspaper websites.
Mike should be buoyed by the support of people on TripAdvisor flocking to his defence…
I am staggered that this silly bint thinks she can take up space in a commercial enterprise, order a specific beverage and not have pay for it. There should be a register for idiot customers whereby if they are banned from one premises they be banned from all
– Mitch1946, Noosa, Australia
The café was closed on Thursday and Friday for cleaning (January 14 and 15) but will be open again from Saturday (January 16). The bistro is closed till Friday, January 22.
My partner and I had dinner in Bennetts in January. We really enjoyed it. The food, service and ambience were spot on. I’m in the restaurant business, and sadly there are far too many Hannah C’s out there expecting something for nothing. There are definitely customers who are determined to find something wrong before they even enter the establishment. Well done Mike.
As a coffee shop owner in Carluke, South Lanarkshire, I can relate to Mike’s response. I had a lady today, who asked for hot water with lemon. We charged 80p and she was unhappy. Mike – thank you.
A very well put response and I wish that this will be a lesson to those guests who show no respect to our hard working staff .The Catering industry is a tough business with most of us working every day of the year. Also when the turnover is not as good, bills and fixed costs won’t have a break. Trip advisor should introduce a banned client section as this has become a way of let me see what I can gain rather then, I chose this place, I did not like something but want them to fix it and get better. Maybe this is also one of the reasons why who employs in the Hospitality industry is nowadays struggling to find passionate staff with carisma as certain guests divert them completely to different trades.
She sounds like a tight arse, who the hell goes into a cafe and orders hot water and lemon anyway! Also she moaned about her friend paying £1.95 for a slice of cake sounds like a bargain to me. The hipster cafes charge you £3.50, now thats a rip off lol
My wife and I have visited Bennett’s a number of times. Always the service has been exceptionally friendly and there’s a wonderful array of food, hot and cold, to choose from. If you get a window seat you are have the most marvellous view across a pedestrian area to York Minster. It is altogether a top class cafe/bistro.
I know Mike and his staff work damned hard to make Bennet’s the amazing place it is, and it must be very aggravating to receive such a negative comment, based on ignorance. More than that, one misguided comment can not only adversely affect the team’s morale, but hurt the business.
I hope the lady who complained will not be offended by the many jibes aimed at her, and that she will in due course (when her purse is not so empty) return to Bennett’s and enjoy the brilliant service, food and drinks,and ambience. And then recommend it to all her friends. Cheers.
I am surprised that the young lady could not work the costings out for herself. I know when I go in for a coffee, tea or whatever that the ingredients are a very small part of the cost. I accept that and know that when I visit such places I’m helping keep someone employed.
The businessman has very prudently disguised his overpriced offering. The lady as a consumer, has full right to talk about being looted. In india, even small food joints in places like kerala, warm water is served for free as it helps in digestion and slices of lemon are given in fingerbowls to wash the hands after having meals. The cafe owner or any business owner should first think business as a medium to serve people rather than ripping profits in every single transaction. People in Uk/Usa are only business-minded, the cafe owner is clear example of that. People supporting him might have deep pockets, else they would understand what value should money have..
They may be given free but again the cost must be covered by the charge made for the rest of the items bought, otherwise the shop/cafe would make a loss and go out of business.
Maybe pay in Rupees then ,Clown
Where in her review does she say she expected it for nothing? She doesn’t does she so maybe all the people who have jumped on the “what a hero the cafe owner is” bandwagon should get there facts right – also the customer shouldn’t have to cover the service charge – if a manager in a supermarket spends 15 minutes sorting a problem out for you do you pay them? No you don’t.
Yes you do, his wages comes from the profit margin of the good you are buying.
So shop assistants are paid on a percentage from the profit margin? So if he makes more money will he pay his hard working waiter a higher wage? and I repeat – where, as everyone keeps intimating , did she say she wanted it for free?
Anyone remember when ‘Cover charges’ were common in cafes/eateries. They were used by places like this precisely to safeguard against people coming in and monopolising your means to make a living whilst asking for a glass of tap water in the expectation of getting it for free. Those days thankfully are gone but apparently it doesn’t stop punters from trying it on. If this woman had sat down and ordered a meal I doubt she would have been charged £2 two pounds for her home made lemonade. But she didn’t and therefore did not get away with summat for nought. Had this been fifteen years ago at a peak trading time she would have been charged (quite correctly) a fiver to sit and read a newspaper. I would consider making the 160mile round trip to have a brew in this establishment I like his trading ethos.
Since offering My previous comment I had another look at the costings provided by the proprietor of Bennetts and he is actually a little bit off track. His premises overheads that he applied to the cost of the transaction were wildly inaccurate. If it cost him £27.50 per hour to service a customer he is obviously dead in the water. Given say that a customer spends a whole hour over lunch the first item on the bill would have to be £27.50 before starting to feed anyone. In reality that figure has to be divided over the number of covers he has available to service in the whole restaurant. If say 10 tables of 4 persons (An absolute minimum to survive in a city centre) we have a cost of 27.50/40 = 0.69per hour + .62 (3mins of waiter) total (if 1hr consumed) = £1.31. Using his method he couldn’t make a profit on a cup of tea. However all this is irrelevant. If you take an acceptable city centre price for a cup of lemon tea as say 2.00 remove the cost of a tea bag 1.5p A cup of lemon tealess tea comes out at £1.85. Sir, You owe her an apology or a tea bag.
There many more ways of saying that £2 was perfectly reasonable.
I am going to visit this place and order a brew and leave a big tip for being a legend. Good work fella
This establishment accepted a Credit Card for a £2 bill?? I’m amazed! Here is another overhead which he hasn’t mentioned.
As someone who ran a very busy and successful cafe for many years I thoroughly commend this owner’s comments. Customers like this woman were the bane of my life and I have reiterated with very similar comments and explanations many times when I was expected to provide free food and drink and services. Anything from free bowls of water and food for dogs, to ice and lemon in a free glass of water or even someone demanded free cheese to go with the bread she had with the soup as she thought we gave too much bread!!! I’m afraid I was nowhere as polite as this guy and regularly kicked people out of my cafe and told them never to come back!!
in the nicest way possible…. This women’s a muppet! I only drink hot water and think £2 for this service is very cheap!
If I am ever in York and fancy a brew I will defo pop into this place.
If ten people went out for a 3 course dinner, with wine, sodas and found £20 added to their bill for a jug of tap water for ten, then his principle and argument would lose him custom.
£2 for water vs £1.80 for cake is bound to raise some questions. His point about his overheads is valid, especially for someone who expects something for nothing…but he should perhaps state on the menu that there is a minimum ‘cover/table charge as they do in some European cafes.
Her naivety has given him an opportunity to express his issue, and hopefully more people will be more considerate from seeing his perspective.
Whilst he didn’t expect it, this public airing sounds like it’s been good for business… I’d like to see him invite her in for a free meal.
The point the reviewer made was how overprice the hot water and a slice of lemon as compared to slice of cake. The explanation about the overhead cost does not answer the original question. Adding insult to injury, this response implies the owner got upset with this customer that occuipied the table for the extended period yet ordered mere hot water and hoped it will cost pennies. It seems to me that the reviewer was actually ripped off
I wonder how Hannah would feel if someone expected her to give away anything for free. There is nothing for free in this life so why oh why do some people expect it. You used the facilities of the place if you couldn’t have afforded to order even a cup of tea you should not have gone out !!! why should hard working people have to put up with stupid people like this . Well done Bennetts next time I am in York I will be more than happy to visit and eat there.
Well said Mike Fisher – and all true. Hope the offender feels well put in her place!
Going out costs money. If cannot afford to go out, stay at home and go out when you have “saved up”.
How absolutely awful to demand someone have their livelihood taken from them for something so trivial. Says so much about Hannah C.
Mike has made me so proud to be a Yorkshireman.
You don’t get ought for nought!
Topman tops silly tight arsed brainless girl
I’m on the side of the owner although his cost calculations and justifications are wrong. The £27.50 per hour should be amortised over all customers not just one but countering this the cost of staff ‘idle’ time has to be covered by all those customers. Strangely enough employees still have to be paid their hourly rate even during quiet periods when there are no customers and that money has to come from somewhere.
Very well put Mr Fisher! If the lady was not only occupying a seat that could have been used by a paying customer, but also served a beverage, then she should be charged. Mr Fisher is also an employer, with 10 staff relying on him for their wages. What if a party of 8 people had turned up at peak time, all wanting fruit infusions? I’ve never worked in a cafe, but you don’t have to to see the point he is making. Wishing you every success in 2016 Mr Fisher, you earn it. 🙂
Absolutely priceless reply to someone who thinks they have the right to publicaly assassinate a hard working business owner who is desperately trying to make a living in a very competitive market. I would have done exactly the same. What gives her the right to demand his services for free? Nothing gives her or anybody else the right to. The fact she felt compelled to wash her laundry in public is wrong. The fact she assumed that the water would be free is also wrong. I for one would be interested in knowing what course or courses she is taking to qualify her as a student. Perhaps she should take a course in manners. Business owners don’t often take a stand against customers like her but on this occasion I am sure you will all agree that the right course of action was taken.
You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. Come back when you’re worthy.
£1.90 for a piece of cake in a City centre café? How reasonable is THAT? I will most definitely be visiting Bennetts! Some people seem to think it is their right to display unacceptable behaviour towards service people, why? This type of customer this should be asked to leave.
The cafe owner has explained this well, and clearly. It’s certainly detail I hadn’t calculated on myself, having occasionally baulked at what seemed to be an expensive cup of tea here and there, but Mr Fisher’s breakdown is unarguable, and expressed with remarkable calm. I think if ‘Hannah C’ were simply to update her review and acknowledge that it was tactless and hasty, that would reflect well on her and defuse much of the scorn going her way. I hope she does.
If this woman was on a tight budget and strapped for cash she should have filled a thermos flask before she left home and saved herself £2 and a load of grief.
Having grown up in pubs and with parents who have always worked in the pub/hospitality industry, my dad will simply not allow me to go into a pub and order nothing or ask for a glass of tap water. Even if I don’t want a drink he will order me a Coke or something. As he says, you are not just paying for a drink, you are paying for the right and ability to use those facilities. It is hard enough for small business owners these days having to compete with large chains who are more able to absorb costly overheads without also having to fight the expectations of customers who want something for nothing. If I had been in the owner’s position however, what I might have done is ensure that the hot water and lemon was at least the cheapest item on the bill to acknowledge the low cost of ingredients. The reviewer says that one of her friends ordered chocolate cake for £1.90 – ignoring the fact that they probably had a drink as well, it does seem slightly ridiculous to charge more than that for a slice of lemon and hot water, I may be wrong!! Sometimes a small gesture of goodwill can go a long way and may have encouraged the reviewer to come back another day when she’s not so skint and spend some more money at the cafe
First class my man ! Take a bow…i live a couple of miles out of york and regularly frequent the city centres bars and restaurants but have never come accross or thought of paying bennets a visit,but after seeing this inspired response to that rediculous free loaders trip advisors review my wife and i wil certainly be making a bee line for your cafe! And i may even push the boat out and have a latte? I’ll start saving now !This woman has done you a great service me thinks?
I guess like many she just didn’t think and is now sincerely regretting – I hope? Highlights the serious shortcomings of such sites as much as anything else. They can be an utter liability to many ‘innocents’ whilst being irresponsible and totally un-accountable themselves. York guest house owner unable to get an innacutate review removed a few years back? Trip Advisor voted worst website etc…etc.., Say no more.
I think perhaps Hannah C if you are reading this, you ought to revisit this cafe with flowers and a card and express your apologies!!
Well done mike for taking this on board with such pleasant converse, I’ve no doubt you were very disappointed to read her hideously silly comments.
Good luck, next time in York I’ll pop in for lemon infused hot water!!
Going to York soon will be visiting Bennetts
Hanna C gives North Yorkshire people a bad name
I am a Lancastrian and married a Yorkshire lass who is the most generous person ever. To all those tight chuffs out there. ” Get a life”
To be honest I , in sometime in our life, we feel may feel we have been ripped off on overpriced drinks, however it is refreshing ( no pun intended!) to have a courteous explanation as to why such prices are levied.
Hopefully the lady in question will revisit the cafe , shake hands with the owner, and leave on amicable terms!
Well done Mike Carry on your professional service
In my cafeteria, a cuppa costs less than $2 USD whether it be a teabag or frest mint cut from the garden.. I work for myself front of house and my wife works in the kitchen. That $2 we feel is pretty reasonable seeing as we don’t have to pay rent and our city taxes and GST are pretty low. I do give free water from the cooler to anybody who orders anything though.
Am I the only one that, while detesting this type of review and reviewer on TripAdvisor, thinks the girl is right?
Running a business is about creating value for customers and therefore repeat custom. A customer is does not care about a business’ overheads, nor should they. The bottom line is 2 pounds for a lemon water is a scandalous rip off regardless of how much it has cost the business. That is not value to the customer. You don’t see West End London supermarkets charging 10p for a carrier bag as opposed to 5p just because their facilities cost more
The answer is, depends on Mike’said business model. He can either let his charges fall where they occur or he can under charge some folk and share the costs between the other customers. There is no ‘one answer fits all’ solution. The costs, and his profit, have to be met.
I’m with the owner….when I use someones facilities I expect to pay for the privilege what I don’t expect to pay for is some freeloader who thinks its okay to go use the seat that a paying customer could use. Really sorry that this person was on a tight budget but if times are so hard maybe next time they can take a flask of water with a slice of lemon in and sit on a bench somewhere which will save them at least half of the cost of the £2. Why do people think its okay to get something for nothing
I don’t think he charged her £27.50 . So he wasn’t asking her to” bear the brunt” ! If that’s his price, then that’s his price .. And basically that’s the end of it. There really is no more to it than that. And as she marked the food with a score when she clearly never ate there, her review is actually invalid /fraudulent..
If it costs him 27.50 per hour of trading for rent business rates, electricity costs, bank charges, why should one single customer bear the brunt of this ?
Dan – Which single customer did he charge £27.50 per hour? From what I read he charged £2.00 for an hour which included hot water, lemon, service etc etc, …Bargain!!
No Dan, all the customers that pay for their food & drink bear the cost.
Well done Mr. Bennett. Everything you say is quite correct. My son also has a Bistro/Cafe in York and with all the large companies opening cafes/restaurants it is so difficult for an individual trader to make money and compete and it certainly doesn’t help when customers come in for a small bowl of soup costing £3/£4 with crusty bread and a glass of water – how can you make any money to pay the staff for the work/food involved. Do York Council want all the sole traders to disappear and York to be left with just the large group coffee houses/restaurants.
How much is hot water with lemon when you order a meal tho? If it’s £2 then that is steep. Also I think it’s nice to be nice, let her have one for free – she was there with her friends after all, maybe then she’ll come back when she’s flush. Sorry but I’m siding with the customer on this one.
I don’t live in York but when ever I do go, I go to Bennett’s. This is because they are fantastic, it’s clean, it’s warm and friendly, it’s very reasonable considering the quality- especially the cake and its beautifully placed. They didn’t mind on my first visit 4 years ago that I breastfed my baby, they don’t mind now that I take my 2 young son’s in for afternoon tea. All the staff there are lovely and just need to ignore this idiot who doesn’t appreciate something good when it’s right there. A shame because there are so many other horrible things in this world to complain about.
100% behind the owner.
She should be ashamed of herself.
Congratuations to you. Having run our own business for two years i can so see were you are coming from. I worked out that in any one week we gave away 50 glasses of water for nothing. At £2.00 a time we may still even be trading. 100% support .
in the philippines you can eat for free if you agree to be the dishwasher for a lunch or dinner shift
R.M, did you even read the guy’s response? He acknowledges that the water and lemon cost pennies. Could you please let me know when I can come to your house, help myself to a glass of water from the tap and sit in your lounge, for free. Thanks!
I do take the retaurant owner’s point and the lady was taking uo space, warmth and service happily hat another customer could have more profitably used. On the other hand when I go to the City screen cafe I can help myself to as much free water – with lemon slices – as I like, admittedly not hot or served to me but poured from a jug on the counter. This seemingly small gesture, where drinks and snacks bought for watching a film are an expensive addition, mean a lot ti me. As a result I am happy to eat and drink in their cafe on a r3gular basis. Sometimes it can “pay” to appear generous. A cup of water and a lemin slice costs very little and the return custom and recommendation would surely override the loss of an 8th of a lemon.
Absolutely brilliant, I have worked I a busy establishment myself. Nobody has the right to treat people like rubbish and think that they can get away with it. Good on u mate.
Wow! I work in a restaurant in New York where this type of douchy entitlement is rife. I’m sad that it happens back home in Yorkshire but wish this fantastic proprietor would come over here and tell these folk a few good honest home truths! Good for you, Mike!!
Well put Mr Fisher. Maybe next time she should sit on a park bench with a flask of hot water and a lemon for company the tight cow!! ????