From BBC News 03/03/13:
A woman has been arrested after four champagne diners failed to pay for their £520 meal at a restaurant in Essex.
Three men and a woman drank two £150 bottles of champagne and ate steak and lamb at Milsoms, in Dedham, before leaving on 16 February.
A 46-year-old woman from Colchester was arrested on Friday on suspicion of making off without payment.
She has been released on bail until April pending further inquiries.
This gem reminded me of the time when, in one of my holiday jobs as a student, I was asked to give ‘legal advice’ to a colleague who was a co-owner in a local restaurant.
The restaurant had experienced a spate of customers leaving without paying that summer, using a variety of techniques. Some would just ‘do a runner’, but it typically involved diners who’d kick up a fuss and feign horror at the food, but only after they’d eaten 80%+ of it. (If I’m honest, though, I’m not entirely sure all of the disgruntled customers were bogus!).
As I recall, my colleague had extreme difficulty getting his head around the fact the relevant offence wasn’t theft but making off without payment. Whilst we got there in the end, it was hard work. It didn’t bode well that the first stumbling block came so early in the conversation.
I didn’t know it then, but I’ve come to realise that some ‘clients’ are just like that.