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Booking issues
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Booking a restaurant table

When you book a table in a restaurant or sit down to eat, you enter a contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 or the Consumer Rights Act 2015 with the restaurant or food provider.

But problems with restaurant table bookings are common. You may arrive at the restaurant only to be told there’s no record of your booking, or your table may have been given to someone else.

In this case, the restaurant would be in breach of contract and you may be able to claim back any losses you face as a result.

Knowing what to do if you book a table that the restaurant then refuses to provide can help save an otherwise ruined evening or special occasion.

Your consumer rights when eating out

Dining at a restaurant should be relaxing and pleasurable, but if you face a dining disaster such as poor quality food or a lost booking, it's essential that you know your consumer rights.

Booking a table creates a contract between you and the restaurant. You have a right to expect restaurant food to be of satisfactory quality and ‘as described on the menu, and for the restaurant to provide an acceptable level of service.

But, what if things are less than perfect? For example, your fish pie is frozen in the middle, or the restaurant has double-booked your table.

Knowing your consumer rights when eating out can help you make a successful complaint about poor restaurant food and service, get your money back, or even get compensation from the restaurant.

Which? Legal can help

Our specialist advisers can help if a cancelled restaurant booking has caused you problems. We can guide you through the process of making a complaint and seeking compensation for expenses incurred as a result. This includes guidance on:

  • how to claim compensation for any extra expense incurred should you choose to eat at an alternative restaurant as a result of the failed booking
  • the level of compensation that’s considered acceptable
  • a restaurant’s legal right to seek compensation from you should you fail to turn up for a booking

As a Which? Legal member, you get unlimited expert legal advice on a wide range of issues. Whether you want to complain because your table was overbooked or a special occasion was ruined, our team of advisers are here to help you.

Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 - applies to contracts entered into prior to 1st October 2015

Consumer Rights Act - applies to contracts entered into on or after 1st October 2015 

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Meet your experts
Ian Hawkins Ian began advising in the legal expenses industry and joined the Which? Legal team in 2016. See profile
Evgeni Hristov Evgeni joined Which? Legal in December 2017 as a consumer law adviser. Evgeni graduated law at the University of the West of England in 2014. See profile
Sanchia Pereira Sanchia joined Which? Legal in 2018 and is a qualified solicitor. Sanchia has worked in private practice, specialising in criminal litigation. See profile