Pub’s extra ‘late-night pricing’ is ‘sheer profiteering’

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

Price hike: a customer has complained of an extra ‘late-night fee’ that was not made clear to him before ordering
Price hike: a customer has complained of an extra ‘late-night fee’ that was not made clear to him before ordering

Related tags: Poppleston allen, Pub, Late night levy

A customer and his friends have vowed not to return to a pub after being charged an extra fee for ‘late-night pricing’ when ordering a round at 10pm.

Matt Broad attended the Ten Bells pub, East London, on 16 January but was jolted to see he had been charged an extra 65p on each of the three pints he ordered, pushing the normal pint price from £6.40 to £7.05.

However, Broad claimed it was not made clear in the pub before he paid.

Broad told The Morning Advertiser:​ “I just ordered three pints of a 4.4% beer that I hadn’t heard of before and next thing I knew, I was being charged £21.15.”

He continued: “I would have expected the barman to give me a heads up that the price of the pint was £6.40 ordinarily, although they informed me it was on a price list somewhere – I have never noticed the price list in six years of going there, but I am willing to believe it is there somewhere.

“I suppose my point is that it is not detailed on a large ‘beer board’, as you see in some establishments.”

Not be misled

However, Poppleston Allen, a licensing solicitor, told The Morning Advertiser​ that while licensed premises is entitled to set its own rates for drinks, this must be made explicit to the customer.

Poppleston Allen licensing solicitor Suraj Desor said: “Operators of licensed premises are permitted to set their own rates for drinks (subject to the minimum price condition), including any fees.

“Notwithstanding this, under consumer protection regulations, they are required to provide customers with accurate and sufficient information so that customers can make an informed choice and are not misled.”

The Ten Bells refused to comment and give reason as to why it has implemented the charge. However, a source told The Telegraph​ it may be a result of the pub’s local council – Tower Hamlets – involvement with the late-night levy.

The council implemented the levy in January 2018. It is a discretionary power, which the council adopts. The purpose of the levy is to assist local authorities and the police to manage and improve the night-time economy.

It allows the council to charge a fee to businesses that are licensed to sell/supply alcohol between midnight and 6am. This charge applies whether these licensed (permitted) hours are used or not.

Looking elsewhere

However, after Broad spoke with a manager, he was informed that the extra fee comes into effect from 9pm.

He said: “I could possibly understand if there was an additional charge applied outside of traditional licensing hours, but for there to be an additional charge between say 9pm and 11pm or 12midnight is unacceptable and is just sheer profiteering.”

As a result, Broad said he does not plan on setting foot in the establishment again.

He said: “There is a large group of us who go for a curry and a few beers once a month. We always go to the Pride of Spitalfields beforehand for a few beers, then usually head to the Monsoon on Brick Lane for curry and, until now, we have always gone to the Ten Bells afterwards for a pint or two to finish.

“We have all vowed to no longer frequent the Ten Bells though, so we are now discussing where to drink after curry going forward.”

Related topics: Licensing law

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