Customers' revenge

A few weeks ago this column featured some of the typical complaints that restaurants make regarding their customers. No surprise that at the top of the list came the old chestnuts of leaving without paying and not turning up after making a reservation.

Now it is the customers' opportunity to give their side of the story, many comments having been made direct to the author, and many more via social media. There is no question that the mobile phone has tipped the balance in favour of the paying customer, and photos of inflated bills and tiny portions populate the Web - for posterity to see.

Hopefully the days are gone when we were charged for so many 'cubiertos', the now illegal cover charge that has almost fallen into complete disuse. Or 'pan y mantequilla' when this was never ordered, much less eaten. The kind waiter brings some tempting-looking tapas to the table that we assume to be on the house, but later find we are charged for them, but the most expensive trap is when it is announced there are certain items not on the menu, ergo 'specials'. Always sounding delicious and of course they must be fresher than the menu fare, we order like lambs to the slaughter without ever asking the price, which is usually more expensive relative to the menu items.

A restaurant can charge what it likes, and what we eat has to be paid for. Spaniards secretly envy foreigners who ask the price of everything, even the tap water, before they order. They would never do that. This week a Spanish daily paper published the names of the beach bars that overcharge the most, the vast majority in Baleares and the Costa del Sol. The Ibiza chiringuito, Ibizeta Sol Sun, charges 13 euros for a Coca Cola or a Sprite, although Da Paolo in Puerto Banús 'only' charges 7. Café del Mar in Ibiza sells Coronita for 8.50, but Pedro's Beach (Marbella) is fairly reasonable in comparison so long as we don't order a glass of Rueda wine - 13 euros.