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Poor quality food

Your rights when served poor-quality food

We’ve all been to a restaurant that’s failed to live up to expectations but what are your consumer rights if you’re served food that’s uncooked, inedible or simply not what was on the menu?

Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982[1] or the Consumer Rights Act 2015[2] , you’ve a right to expect restaurant food to be of satisfactory quality and ‘as described’ on the menu. If it’s not, the restaurant is in breach of contract.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices Regulations 2008 prohibit traders from misleading consumers, for example, over ‘the main characteristics of the product’ or its price.

That means if you were tempted into the restaurant by the sound of ‘freshly caught mackerel’ or ‘home-made soup’ and then get served something frozen or out of a tin, you have a right to reject that item. You should also report the establishment to your local Trading Standards office.

Knowing your consumer rights when eating out can give you the confidence to complain about poor quality food or food that isn’t as described on the menu.

Which? Legal can help

Our specialist advisers can answer all your legal queries regarding paying for poor-quality food in restaurants. We’ll give you confidence with the knowledge that you can make a claim for compensation or achieve a reduction in your bill.

For example, you’re not entitled to get your whole meal for free if only one dish is below standard. You must still pay for any food you did eat and any drinks that were consumed. And, it’s important to act quickly and let the restaurant know straight away if there’s a problem rather than waiting until the end of the meal. The restaurant is less likely to entertain a claim where a complaint is only made when the bill is received.

At Which? Legal, we believe that legal advice isn’t reserved for problems with major purchases. To us, no issue or question is too small. You can get advice from our team of legal experts on disappointing meals and other everyday legal problems that end up losing you money. 

[1] Applies to contracts entered into prior to 1st October 2015

[2] Applies to contracts entered into on or after 1st October 2015