“Waiter, this ice is too cold!”

-6 in 10 Brit’s have made a complaint in a restaurant and over half expect
money off their bill-


  • 6 in 10 Brit’s admit they will make a complaint if needed in restaurants
  • Those in the South of the UK are more likely to complain than those in the North
  • Almost half (48%) of Brit’s admit they feel uncomfortable when other diners complain
  • Almost half (44%) of Brit’s admit they sometimes shy away from complaining for fear their food will be tampered with
  • Over half (51%) of diners expect money off their bill should they have to complain, while almost a quarter (22%) would be happy with an apology
  • OpenTable reveals some of the most outrageous complaints received by restaurants

 London, 6 February 2017… Brit’s love to complain and UK restaurants can often be on the receiving end of these grumbles. OpenTable, the world’s leading online restaurant booking platform, is releasing brand new research on the complaining culture of Great Britain.

6 in 10 Brit’s admit they have made a complaint in a restaurant, though interestingly almost half (44%) confess they sometimes shy away from complaining, for fear their food may be tampered with. In addition, while seemingly happy to complain themselves, almost half (48%) confess they actually feel uncomfortable when other members of their dining party complain.

UK diners believe raising any issue they experience with a waiter/waitress is the most effective way to complain; more effective than social media. They feel the most ineffective way is shouting at the staff. Research also showed that on average, Brit’s are spending on average 7 minutes complaining about any bad dining experience – to either the wait staff, family or friends.

A survey of restaurateurs revealed that diners’ complaints cover a wide and varied number of topics from the music (or lack thereof) to the restaurant layout and noisy neighbours on nearby tables. When quizzed about the most entertaining grumbles responses included the ice being too cold, champagne being too fizzy and chips tasting like potato, proving the UK to be a nation of pernickety patrons.

So what do British diners expect when they complain? Well, over half (51%) expect money off their bill should they have to complain, while almost a quarter (22%) are happy with a simple apology.

 It seems diners in the South (64%) have a tendency to complain more than those in the North (56%). However, when looking more closely at the city divide, Coventry folk are the UK’s biggest complainers, with 76% admitting they complain. York complains the least (44%). The older generation complain more than the younger, with 69% of over 55’s admitting they complain, compared to 53% of 18-24’s.

Restaurant critic Giles Coren comments, “As someone who has made his opinions about food loudly known over the years, it comes as no surprise to me to learn than 6 in 10 Brits are not afraid to complain in restaurants. From ice cream that is too cold to interior décor that doesn’t look quite right in our Instagram shots, we all know that things can go wrong when we eat out. It is very important when complaining, however, to be polite and friendly to waiting staff at all times. After all, it is not their fault if there wasn’t enough jam in your donut or – horror of horrors – your salad was too green.”

Adrian Valeriano, Vice President, Europe, OpenTable, comments, “The majority of restaurants deliver high quality hospitality day after day, but on some occasion the experience may not be to everyone’s taste. Receiving feedback from patrons is paramount to any business within the hospitality sector as this feedback is vital in maintaining a high standard of service. Our advice to any diners that have feedback on their experience would be to express it at the time to the wait team or management as most incidents can be sorted quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction. Although we would ask diners to think about their complaints, as the wait staff cannot be responsible for the temperature of ice or the fizziness of the Champagne!”

 Top 10 list of complaining cities:

    1. Coventry – 76%
    2. Portsmouth – 74%
    3. Leeds – 71%
    4. Swansea – 71%
    5. Sheffield – 69%
    6. Cambridge – 68%
    7. Plymouth – 67%
    8. London – 66%
    9. Edinburgh – 65%
    10. Southampton – 65%