Restaurant dupes happy hour patrons

Know what I love more than nachos? Cheap nachos! Know what I hate? A restaurant who abuses my trust and tries to overcharge me.

This week, I went to happy hour at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant. Like lots of establishments, they offer discounted drinks and appetizers in the early evening hours. Well, after enjoying my end of day respite, the server hands me the bill. I plop down my credit card and look at the bill quickly before setting it on the table. However, once it's down, I realize something isn't right. I pick it back and notice I've been charged full price for everything. Full price nachos! Can you believe it?

The server comes to collect my moola and I point out to her that I've been charged full price for everything. She asks if I'm here for happy hour, to which I respond, "I'm sitting in the bar (which is where you have to be to get happy hour deals) and I'm here during happy hour hours. Yes, I came here for happy hour." She explains that customers are charged full price if they don't say they've come for happy hour. What the heck?

I've gone to many happy hours over the years and countless ones at Acapulco. Never have I had to state the obvious and say I came during happy hour for happy hour.

Frankly, I think this is one of the most unethical practices I've seen from a restaurant. How frequently do people just trustingly toss down their credit cards without analyzing the bill? I'd say a lot. Ever go to happy hour with a large group of friends or coworkers? Usually, one guy grabs the bill and says how much everyone owes, right? Does he usually double check the prices against the menu? Nope.

This having to say, "I'm here for happy hour and want the happy hour pricing" thing is ridiculous. I think Acapulco is taking advantage of people's trust and scamming those who are not paying full attention. Sure, as consumers we should always know what we're paying for, but let's be real. Are most people putting on their accountant hats after throwing back margaritas for two hours? Me thinks not.

This practice stinks! And I think the folks at Acapulco should be ashamed of themselves. Want to know how to build a business and prosper? Offer a good product at a fair price, create loyalty amongst your customers, and inspire positive word of mouth. Well, this mouth says those nachos will be her last at Acapulco. I have no desire to do business with anyone who tries to dupe me. Adiós señors!

21 comments:

  1. wait, did you fight it or actually pay full price? Were there signs posted or something on the menu saying you have to declare "Happy Hour!!? I've never heard of a restaurant doing that before, but you can bet I'll be on the lookout. I'm gonna look closer at the bills in general, because recently at a comedy show we paid the bill plus tip (in the pitch dark club) and looked at the receipt in the light after and noticed that they had already added on a gratuity - there were just four of us! Scammed!

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  2. That sounds like a classic ripoff. Restaurants are not the only ones who do that..

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  3. I dont like that place either...for an almost similar reasoning.

    Seriously...that was a dumb mistake. Don't they know who you are? Ah which brings me to the point...they don't know who anyone is.
    Service orientated businesses to step up their game, monitor what people are saying about them and make adjustments or Adios Amigos!Great stuff as always Amber!

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  4. Hey Trish. It's me we're talking about. Of course I made a stink. I have nothing if not my principles! The waitress made the appropriate deductions after that.

    And, nope, no declarations anywhere. Just the same as it always was. I think your comedy club story is sketchy, too. Taking advantage of happy, oblivious people in the dark, no less! What is this world coming to?????

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  5. I know, right? It's like going into Target because they have an advertised sale price and then the cashier ringing up your order at full price because you didn't declare you had sale items in your purchases. Outrageous!

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  6. Is it just me who remembers there's a recession going on. Businesses should be using this chance to win back customers and keep the ones they have happy!

    Oh, by the way, thanks for reading my post. You owe me $5. Oh, the insanity of it all!!!!! Pure craziness, is it not????

    Thanks for the comment, Jessica ;-)

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  7. I went to happy hour once; it was fun. I don't think I had to pay.........

    Arrggghhh; I would never go back............unless their nachos, drinks and social crowd were pretty good...........:).

    That is just plain stupid if this is the way they are being trained.

    Unfortunately I have to deal with this sometimes in my world of insurance. We will sell a policy and the insurance company tells us the premium is $10,000 so this is what we sell. We get the policy in and it's $10,536.......and you're like WTH? They come back and say "well, that fees and taxes, not the cost of insurance". C'mon man, put yourself in the customer's shoes and just tell me what they have to pay. You can call it anything you want. I hate that I have to go back and ask them 'does this include fees and taxes'. 

    I assure you, people DO NOT like surprises like that.

    Thanks for sharing; I would have paid it w/out looking, my wife would have been over that bill 10 ways from Sunday; nothing gets by her............:)

    I hope you have a great weekend.

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  8. Great story, Bill. Yeah, no one likes to be surprised with a higher bill no matter what it's for.

    And, see, you're the kind of guy I'm talking about. In fact, lots of people pay without looking. It's not that anyone is dumb, it's that we trust the establishment to charge us correctly for what we ordered. Well, that time of blind trust is dead apparently. Consumer beware!

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  9. Since living in Spain, I always check my bill. This is quite common practise in Spain especially if you look foreign (which I clearly do!).  You're right, this kind of behaviour in any establishment stinks!!

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  10. Really? That's interesting. Do you think it's because they think they can pull something over on tourists?

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  11. In the past 17 years we've only had two problems with bills and the restaurants were happy to resolve them, we even got a free dessert to apologize in one of them.  In one restaurant in NYC we threatened to phone the police from our mobile because they wouldn't adjust the bill or accept the money we owed for the food we ordered.  My partner and his family owned a series of restaurants in the bay area and would never consider any kind of dodgy practices, and even though there was no such thing as social media and review websites back then word does get out and they couldn't afford to loose their loyal customer base which they worked so hard at establishing.

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  12. Two in 17 years is a pretty good record! Wow, that must have been some altercation to consider calling the police. I guess you'd have no choice, though. If you left without paying the full amount, they would have called the police on you!

    Yeah, as I always say, reputation is everything. In the case of your partner and the family restaurant, they totally got that. It shouldn't take social media to keep people honest. It's a matter of being respectable and doing the right thing. Is that really so hard?

    Thanks for sharing the stories, Steven. Good stuff ;-)

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  13. Interesting post, Amber. I've never experienced this, but if I did I would not be a happy camper. Sounds like a bait and switch tactic which is obviously not something a company who values their customers would practice.

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  14. I couldn't agree more, Karen. I guess a quick buck is worth more to them than a long term customer. It amazes me that businesses can be so shortsighted.

    Thanks so much for the comment, Karen!

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  15. OMG. Why would any business operate this way and hope to stay in business? This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. As Karen says, it is bait and switch. I think I would have told the waitstaff that she was mistaken and didn't hear me when I said, "I'm here for Happy Hour."  

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  16. Pretty shocking, huh? Well, after I made a stink, the server gave me the happy hour pricing. But is that how a business really wants to end the experience? With an avoidable disagreement? How short-sighted is that?

    This is at the top of my list of unethical practices. It's like going into any place for a sale and getting charged full price because I didn't say I came for the sale. Ridiculous!

    Thanks for sharing my shock, Jean! You can't make this stuff up!

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  17. Wow, I've never heard of that before and absolutely agree with you. I go to places specifically for the happy hour deals all the time and would probably fall victim to the accidentally throwing down my credit card without actually analyzing the check first. I think you should link them to this post -- you make a lot of great and valid points, and peoples' agreement in comments should illustrate to the restaurant that they are at risk of losing business if they continue behaving this way.

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  18. Hey Debbie! I do see you tweet from a lot of happy hours, don't I? ;-)

    Unfortunately, so many business make decisions based on immediate cash flow, discounting the long term ramifications. I think this is just such an example. Talk about creating ill will.

    I made my disgust pretty clear while I was there. And, as such, got them to give me the appropriate pricing after I made a stink. Pity, too, because up until then it had been a good experience. Great server, too. But then to throw all that away by charging full price? What a waste. Whoever thought of this scam should be fired. And today!

    Thanks for chiming in, my foodie friend!

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  19. This actually happened to me at an Elephant Bar once. A group of us specifically came in for happy hour. We indicated that when we first came in and were seated in the appropriate area.  Then, we were asked again by the waitress and once again explained that we were there for happy hour. She said people were being seated in her area because the main restaurant was full so she had to be sure. We ordered from the separate happy hour menu and imagine our surprise when we're charged full price! It's really hard to not lose your cool when you've explained you're there for "happy hour" to least every staff member at the restaurant and still get charged full price. 

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  20. Good story, Sukhraj. Thanks for sharing.

    Yeah, you'd think saying it two times should be enough. And a bill dispute at the end of a fun outing is a lousy way to end the evening. Takes that warm and fuzzy feeling from a good experience in their restaurant and taints it. You'd think they'd realize you have to close strong. Lasting impressions, and all.

    Sigh...

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