The owners of a high-end Melbourne restaurant have shut down a woman's claims their business was making a "money-hungry grab" by charging her $1,020 to cancel a dinner reservation scheduled for this weekend.
Lorida Quiambao had reserved a table for six to celebrate her birthday at Navi, an upscale eatery in Yarraville, but claims she was feeling too unwell to attend so cancelled the Saturday evening booking with more than 48 hours notice.
Upon receiving an email detailing the seriously hefty cancellation fee, the former hospitality worker took to social media to express her outrage. Lashing out, she criticised the restaurant for allegedly charging fees without any prior communication, and complaining that she'd been charged $170 per head – amounting to the most expensive set menu on offer.
"So, let's talk about ridiculous hospitality policies," Ms Quiambao began her Facebook tirade, before describing Navi's cancellation policy as "almost extortion" and arguing that she shouldn't have been charged a fee because she'd given enough notice and couldn't plan for suddenly falling ill.
"This restaurant is basically trying to charge the max amount they could and they will probably book that table and make the money, so this is just a money hungry grab by a pretentious restaurant," she wrote.
"No restaurant or business should be allowed to charge these kind of cancellation fees as an off-handed thing. It's disgusting and not OK especially in times like this."
Restaurant hits back
In an Instagram post firing back at criticism of their cancellation policy, Navi's owners clarified that they require a minimum of five days' notice to cancel bookings of five or more people. They also denied exploiting cancellations for financial gain, outlining the process they follow to avoid charging fees, which includes refunding a patron if their cancelled booking is later filled by another party.
Navi's owners have attempted to fill Ms Quiambao's cancelled booking via social media, and said they made their best efforts to discuss their cancellation policy with her when she pulled out of her reservation, but "she refused to speak with our team".
Cancellations 'hugely impactful' on restaurant
Offering a final word on the matter, Navi's owners said that cancellations are "hugely impactful" on the restaurant as a small business with labour-intensive operations. "A cancellation of five or more people can mean we lose a quarter of our patronage for an evening and for a restaurant like ours, this is heavy," the statement reads. "We always work hard to fill your spots and avoid you having to pay any fees - we’d always prefer to have faces enjoying the effort we put into our food than an empty table!"
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