Beds, Herts & Bucks

'Free meal' garage customer's £700 bill at top London restaurant

Image caption Siobhan Yap spent more than £700 on a meal for two

A woman who was offered a free meal by an Audi garage which damaged her car ran up a £700 bill at a celebrated Michelin-starred London restaurant.

Siobhan Yap, 27, from Hertfordshire, treated her mother to dinner after her Audi A3 convertible was hit while parked on Watford Audi's forecourt.

Watford Audi agreed to pay for a meal for two, so Ms Yap headed to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Covent Garden.

Watford Audi said the £714.61 bill was "excessive", and offered to pay half.

In response, Ms Yap said that Audi should have "specified a price limit".

The garage repaired Ms Yap's car - which she had bought second-hand for £20,000 - after it was damaged by a delivery vehicle before she could pick it up from the forecourt.

Audi gave her a courtesy car and offered to cover the cost of a meal for two "for the inconvenience caused".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Ms Yap and her mother dined at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Covent Garden

While at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Ms Yap and her mother enjoyed four glasses of champagne, two bottles of wine costing £69 each, six cocktails totalling £86 and a sloe gin.

The "small tasting dishes" they tried included one La Truffe Noire at £35, two St Jacques scallop dishes costing £29 each and two La Volatille risottos totalling £42.

Ms Yap told the JVS show on BBC Three Counties Radio that Audi should pay the whole bill because she had to send the car back for further repairs, and the cost was "relative to what they put me through and their customer service levels".

"They put me through a lot of stress and it was a really nice restaurant," Ms Yap said. "They should have specified a limit."

A Watford Audi spokesman said it was "excessive expenditure for two diners", but as it was "keen to make amends for the incident" it agreed to cover half the bill, equating to £357.

"We believe this is a fair and reasonable amount given the circumstances, and we stand by the decision taken," said the spokesman.

Etiquette expert William Hanson said the garage should have set an upper limit and should "learn a lesson" and "absorb the cost". But he said that "you don't need to perhaps drink that much if someone else is paying".

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

  • Joel Robuchon was named Chef of the Century by the Gault Millau guide
  • He operates a dozen restaurants worldwide which have gained a total of 25 Michelin stars
  • The London restaurant, which opened in 2006, offers an eight-course French tasting menu for £214 per person
  • An entree of caviar from Sologne, served with blinis and condiments, costs £270

Source: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon website

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