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Pub landlord left frustrated after group refuses to pay for meal after eating it

The Pack Horse, in the Peak District village of Hayfield, was visited by a group who left without paying despite staff checking on them when they first got their food

By Daisy Jackson & Alahna Kindred News Reporter

17:13, 19 Oct 2021

A pub landlord has shamed a group of customers for refusing to pay for a meal they had already eaten.  The Pack Horse, which is in the Peak District village of Hayfield, was visited by a group who didn't complain when staff came and checked on them after they got their food.  Staff say that the group chose to complain once they'd eaten most of the meal.  The group allegedly tried to ask for a new dish, which was refused, and eventually left without paying the bill, Manchester Evening News reports.  Owner and chef Luke Payne said that one member of the group then had the nerve to wink at him as they left.  The pub takes card details at the time of booking in case of no-shows or walk-outs, but the group reportedly said they would cancel their cards.  Luke said the ordeal was "immensely frustrating" for him and his staff.  He said: "They were perfectly pleasant to begin with and then everything just changed.  After they'd eaten about 70 per cent of the food, a lady brought her plate up to the bar and said it wasn't to her liking, wasn't what she expected, and could she swap to another meal for free?  To which I said 'No', because she'd eaten most of it and we can't give food away for free when it's just personal preference. That's not really how it works."

Luke said his small team had already checked in with the group of customers and there were no complaints made about their food.  When the group threatened to not pay their bill, Luke said he told them: "'That's not really acceptable, you've eaten most it, and you were given the opportunity to say there was something wrong with it.'"

He added: "If they'd flagged it up in the check-back we could have done something to rectify it.  We don't actively like making people unhappy, it's our job for people to have a really good night.  We love people leaving with a buzz and knowing they've had a great time with us, and 99 per cent of the people we have in are absolutely lovely and have a great time.  We put in so much effort and passion and love, so every negative comment is taken personally.  We will always do our utmost to fix a problem if something is wrong - if we've made a mistake we'll hold our hands up and we'll own it.  So in an instance where absolutely nothing is wrong and people have kicked off, it hurts."

The Pack Horse is one of the North West's leading and most respected gastropubs, earning itself a place in the Estrella Dam Gastropubs list.  Luke says that business has been great since they were able to reopen their doors after lockdown, but he says the post-pandemic kindness is fading.  He said: "I feel like there was a point in the pandemic where everyone was like 'Be kind, be nice.  But I've certainly noticed over the last couple of weeks that there's been more stressed-out people with shorter tempers, and I know that there's a lot of hard times for people at the moment, but it doesn't take much to be nice to others.  It was such a great opportunity to have that societal reset but I think some people have slipped back into their old ways.  Business has been great, we've been so thankful for all the support we've had and we've been practically full every single weekend."