Michelin-starred restaurant refuses to refund family £660 for table after Dad dies

The family asked to postpone the New Year's Eve dinner following father's death

Updated on 20 January 2020 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Michelin-starred restaurant refuses to refund family £660 for table after Dad dies

Michelin-starred restaurant The Fordwich Arms refused to refund a £660 reservation after a diner requested to move the booking due to the sudden death of their father.

Martin O'Grady had booked a table for six people to try the tasting menu at The Fordwich Arms on New Year’s Eve, an event which had sold out a month in advance. The dinner had been arranged both to celebrate New Year's Eve and to mark O’Grady’s birthday, which falls on the same night.

However, O’Grady’s father suffered an accident on 27 December and died on the night of the planned dinner. O’Grady's party rang the restaurant in advance to try and move the booking or get a refund, but claims that the restaurant refused to do either.

O’Grady has described the restaurant’s treatment of his family as “utterly inhumane”. Speaking out on Facebook, he wrote: “One of our party called the restaurant on December 27 in advance to make the manager aware of what had happened and to request a postponement of our dinner date.”

"He received a recital of nonsense about terms and conditions and that our dinner date could neither be refunded nor changed to a later date. We were not seeking a refund. We were simply requesting a goodwill gesture to allow us to change our reservation to a later date once I had a chance to return to the UK.”

He concluded: “We are utterly disgusted by this experience, not to mention £660 worse off, and just feel compelled to share this horrifying story with anyone ever considering making a reservation at this establishment.”

Replying to O’Grady’s online review, The Fordwich Arms defended its decision, pointing out that it is “a small, independent” restaurant and that the £660 charge was actually a pre-payment for the tasting menu, rather than a deposit: “The reason we charge a pre-payment for these events is that all the food is bought in especially for the menus we offer which allows us to purchase exactly what we are going to use in the evening.”

The restaurant also claims it offered to refund the tickets of the couple who had suffered the loss (but not that of the entire party) as well as the chance to transfer the tickets to other family or friends.

In other news, this Michelin-starred chef refuses to serve a vegan menu for this reason.