Restaurant chain Wahaca ‘forced waiters to pay the bills of runaway diners’
- Sarah Hayward tweeted about incident at north London branch on Saturday
- Wahaca said waiter was told to pay £3, as happened in cases of ‘negligence’
- Following online outcry, Mexican chain later said it would no longer do this
Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca has changed its policy of forcing waiters to pay part of the bills dodged by runaway diners after it provoked an outcry on social media.
Sarah Hayward tweeted on Saturday that a waiter had been told to foot the bill for a table whose customers had left without paying at a branch in north London, a decision she called ‘utterly shameful’.
Responding to the former Camden Council leader, Wahaca admitted it had made the waiter pay £3 towards the £40 unpaid bill, but said it would no longer require this in future.
Sarah Hayward tweeted on Saturday that a waiter had been told to foot the bill for a table that left without paying at a branch in north London, a decision she called ‘utterly shameful’
Wahaca’s previous policy required the waiter to contribute towards the bill for runaway diners in cases of ‘total negligence’.
Ms Hayward had tweeted: ‘Hi, Wahaca, just eaten in your Kentish Town restaurant for the last time.
‘Ppl next to us left without paying and their server is made to foot the bill from his wages. Apparently company policy. Utterly shameful employment practice.
‘Food’s great, company is crap.’
The company’s co-founder, Thomasina Miers, responded: ‘Guys, It is absolutely not standard policy for waiters to be deducted, only in cases of total negligence which this certainly does not seem to be.
‘We are a company that looks after our staff and I am very proud of this. This waiter has unfortunately not understood the policy.’
Wahaca admitted it had made the waiter at the Kentish Town branch (pictured) pay £3 towards the £40 unpaid bill, but said it would no longer require this in future
Ms Miers later admitted Saturday’s incident did not fit this definition, but added that the policy would be abandoned anyway and the waiter would not have to pay up.
Previously, waiters whose tables left without paying had been asked to pay tenth of the net bill minus VAT, or 30% of the food bill, the BBC reported.
They will now only face action if they are ‘complicit’ in the walkout, which will be at the discretion of the operations manager.
The firm said this was in line with industry standards.
Dave Turnbull, from Unite, told MailOnline: ‘We know this has been going on in a lot of restaurants. These stories have come up frequently over the years
‘Whenever restaurants are caught out in scandals like this they always claim it is industry practice.
‘That just proves that standards in the industry are so low and are leaving people vulnerable to exploitation.’
Co-founder Thomasina Miers said the waiter had been charged £3, but later said this was a ‘mistake’
Ms Miers later complained that her company had been ‘hung out’ over the incident
Wahaca allows diners to pay for their meal via a mobile phone app, which might have added to the confusion on Saturday.
The British restaurant group has 27 branches across the country.
A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘This has been an internal communications issue, which we’ve now dealt with and resolved. In no way would an individual be responsible for covering the bill in a situation they had no control over.
‘As a business, we prioritise our staff and do everything we can to ensure our teams are well looked after at work.’