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Forty Maidstone customers refuse to pay in protest over 'slow service and poor food' at Laughing Buddha Chinese restaurant

09 March 2014
by James Walker

Would you pay if you felt you had received poor food and service from a restaurant?

A Maidstone restaurant owner lost more than £1,000 when over 40 customers decided the answer is no.

Jin Cheng is furious at the huge loss following customer complaints about slow service and unsatisfactory food at the Laughing Buddha.

He said the mass walkout - said to have included an off-duty policeman - has left him struggling for business, with only one table so far booked for the weekend.

Would you pay for bad food or service at a restaurant?

He said: "I am very angry and worried about how this is going to affect my business. My takings have been down since and one member of staff resigned after what happened.

"I took over the restaurant three years ago and spent that time building my reputation on TripAdvisor – now all you can see is these complaints.

"I did have a bit of a breakdown on the night. I was very angry and told customers if they didn't want to pay, they should leave..." - restaurant owner Jin Cheng

"If I'm honest, I did have a bit of a breakdown on the night. I was very angry and told customers if they didn't want to pay, they should leave.

"On top of this, a table of seven snuck out while I was talking to the large table.

"The thing is, the group of 36 people who took the offer and left had arrived late. If there was a delay, that's why.

"Even if you don't like the food, you can at the very least pay for the drinks."

The Chinese restaurant, in Lower Stone Street, received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor last year and has 111 five-star reviews out of 169 posts.

Sign on the door of the Laughing Buddha restaurant

Sign on the door of the Laughing Buddha restaurant

Mr Cheng said an off-duty police officer, who was among those who walked out, told him there was nothing he could do because it was a civil matter.

He later checked with police who confirmed no criminal act had been committed during the walkout on Saturday, February 22.

Mr Cheng has since been in contact with the group that booked the table, but said they are refusing to pay the £1,128.72 bill.

He is now considering swallowing the loss because he fears taking them to court will cost him more than the loss of earnings. 

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