Sunday, January 06, 2008

Can I rip you off, Sir?

Yes, please.

I often wonder why people choose an expensive restautant
to eat in, especially in a place like London, and then
feel shocked by the size of the bill at the end of the

I've been reading Alan Giles Coren's eating out column in
yesterday's Times. He complained about being overcharged
at two posh restaurants in London recently. One was a
Japanese restaurant, where the bill for two people came to
£200, for very little food and two alcoholic drinks each.
One of the drinks was champagne, however. In another, he
and a friend had breakfast and were charged £18 for four
boiled (organic) eggs. What crazy prices!

But then I reckon London restaurants have to charge a lot
in order to stay in business... very expensive premises
and high staffing costs.

I remember the late Bob Monkhouse making a joke about a posh
hotel in Leeds, saying that he walked up to the barman and
asked for an estimate for a whisky and soda. I should have
done the same when I ordered a large glass of Australian red
wine for Mrs C and myself in a Nottingham restaurant recently.
We were given huge glasses with 750ml of wine in each glass
(half a bottle), and were charged accordingly. The wine was
not the best quality but somehow we managed to drink it all
(well I did).

Mrs C and I had a lovely vegetarian meal out last night at
our favourite local restaurant, which serves Moroccan food...
beautifully flavoured and lots of it. We shared a mushroom
pate with rosemary crackers for a starter, and then we had
different nut roasts with sweet & sour sauces plus a bean
salad and lots of veg. It's one of those restaurants where
you can take in your own wine .. so we had some lovely red
wine with the meal too. All the food is home-prepared.
We were both full after eating all that ... and the bill
came to £20.50 (we paid extra for the service). Oh, the name
of the restaurant: Cafe Nomad.

In another Times article, the columnist was putting a
postive spin on various mishaps that had occurred to her
recently, on the basis that thinking positive is good for
your morale / feeling good about yourself. Well some of
what she'd writen was "tongue-in-cheek"... as a Xmas
pressie for her husband, she'd paid £55 for him to have
colonic irrigation (to alleviate his flatulence). This
worked very well, but after 3 days the problem came back.
Surprise, surprise!

On thinking positive instead of negative, I recall listening
to an Australian self-help expert some years ago, who gave up
a well paid accountancy job, and took up counselling people
and giving talks on self-help instead. (I'll post up his name
in due course when I remember it). One of the things he
encouraged people to do when say they had something stolen
from them (or lost something valuable), was not to fret about
it or repeat the story about the loss ad infinitum to friends
and family (that just makes you feel worse)... but instead
to think about how much pleasure someone else will get from
owning your item / spending your money. Sounds odd, doesn't
it? But putting a positive spin on your loss could make you
feel better.

Similarly when paying bills - this guru advised members of
his audience to pay them straightaway and put in a thank-you
note if they've had good service ... to make both you and the
recipient feel good. He said that money can be looked at as a
form of energy -- pay your bills early, if you can afford to
do so, and spread a bit of happiness around.

"Justin Case Towers,
5 January 2008

Dear British Gas,

May I call you British as I reckon we've been corresponding
for many years now?

I enclose a cheque for your bill which arrived this morning,
and I wish to thank you for all the years you've been keeping
our house lovely and warm, for your unstinting service and for
for such a good value product.

Yours sincerely,


Blogger Dumdad said...

I really don't see why Alan Coren should be bothered about how much things cost as he has been dead since October last year! Still, you have to admire his dedication to journalistic duty despite the passing away setback.

(I enjoyed the post incidentally).

1:34 PM  
Blogger justin said...

Thanks, DD ... yes, you're right. I meant to say Giles Coren.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Hey, Justin.

I once bought a Black Russian in the '80s for £1.86. I was gobsmacked! I thought the bastard - sorry, bar steward - said eighty-six p.

* * *

Why don't you pay your bills online? It's easy, convenient and fun.

I can't remember the last time I'd written a cheque.

1:04 AM  
Blogger justin said...

Hi Max ... it's galling when you get ripped off by these folk ... once they've poured & mixed the drink, you can't refuse to pay, can you?
I pay all our utility/regular bills by direct debit. The letter to British was just a bit of fun.

9:38 AM  
Blogger angel said...

oh my word... your letter made me think of the current electricity crisis and i cannot imagine saying thank you to eskom!!!

8:37 PM  
Blogger justin said...

Hi Angel ... sorry this comment to yours is so late, but I've just been reading about the power cuts you've been having in S.A. Not much fun (unless you have to go straight to bed with your new fella).

12:22 AM  

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