York café owner’s stupendous response to a diner’s complaint goes viral

14 Jan 2016 @ 12.20 pm
| Business, Food & drink

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.’

Not happy… the original post
Not happy… the original post

Job done, she left it at that. But Hannah had not bargained for Mike’s response.

Magnificent counterblast

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.

Touché – Mike's response on TripAdvisor
Touché – Mike’s response on TripAdvisor
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.

Bennett's on High Petergate
Bennett’s on High Petergate

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 outside his business
Mike outside his business

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:

There’s a small percentage of customers who want something for nothing.

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…

This restaurant operator is my new hero!

– GrayGGGow

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.