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Family from Lydd win claim against the Ritz

A top hotel has been ordered to refund a customer before Christmas, after being taken to court for its service.

Janet Wilson, 59, her husband Roger, 73, a retired British Telecom worker, and their daughters Karina, 17, and Adele, 20, went to the Ritz in Piccadilly on May 24 to celebrate Adele achieving her gold Duke of Edinburgh award.

The family, from Lydd-on-Sea, paid £216 for an afternoon tea at the Ritz for a family celebration, where they had a range of sandwiches, with scones and a choice of 18 varieties of tea with cakes.

Stock image. The scones were 'rock hard'.
Stock image. The scones were 'rock hard'.

However, instead of being an ‘exquisitely presented’ and ‘finest slice of life’ treat that the company advertises, the family were served ‘rock hard’ scones and had their tea spilt as staff failed to present the tea ‘properly’, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

Mrs Wilson said: "It was a special day for us all and we were really looking forward to it, the girls love afternoon tea and they were really excited.

"We thought that the Ritz epitomised the highest standard for British afternoon tea, but we couldn’t have been more wrong.

"The scones were really hard. I’ve made better scones than that, there was no way they were fresh.

"The sandwiches tasted like they had just been brought out of the fridge and the tea was not served properly. It was served over us, not to the side of us."

Mrs Wilson, a former private detective, also complained that their teapot was not refilled until they asked and that the staff serving them ‘didn’t look very happy’ about their request.

The Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly
The Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly

She continued: "They put the bill on the table before we had even finished and when we put the card down they removed the food before we were finished.

"It was very much get in, sit down, food put in front of you, and then out for the next people."

Mrs Wilson said they did not complain at the time because they didn’t want to spoil the occasion, but she complained the next day.

Four days later the assistant manager apologised by email for the ‘very rare lapse in our usually high standards’ but later refused compensation.

After a series of emails Mrs Wilson asked for a 50 per cent refund in June but the Ritz offered a ‘gift package’ in return which she refused.

Instead she lodged her claim to Canterbury County Court.

"I didn’t think it would get as far as court, but I’m pleased with the outcome," - Mrs Wilson

The Ritz filed a defence which claimed the scones were fresh and that the 398 other people who ate there that day didn’t complain.

Mrs Wilson added: "They put the bill on the table before we had even finished and when we put the card down they removed the food before we were finished."

Food and beverage manager Nick Bromhead said CCTV didn’t show any tea spillages and said tea is topped up on request.

He added: "Mrs Wilson experienced our usual standard of tea service.

"From reviewing the CCTV footage and personally investigating the matter I feel that Mrs Wilson had experienced the Ritz Afternoon Tea as advertised and booked."

However, the judge deemed it was not a ‘properly pleaded defence’ and ordered the Ritz to pay Mrs Wilson £108 plus £35 costs.

The company has until just before Christmas to pay up – or Mrs Wilson will be within her rights to instruct bailiffs.

Mrs Wilson said: "If they don’t pay it can go back to court or we can instruct bailiffs. It won’t come to that, but I won’t drop it.

"I complained and they didn’t want to know. I didn’t think it would get as far as court, but I’m pleased with the outcome. I just didn’t think they should get away with it.’

She insisted her claim was not about the money, adding: "I wasn’t greedy – we weren’t happy with the food but we stayed to eat, so feel 50 per cent was adequate."

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