Man charged £55k for a single beer in Manchester hotel

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Peter LalorImage source, Peter Lalor
Image caption,
Peter Lalor said he believes he has drunk the most expensive beer in history

An Australian cricket journalist was mistakenly charged £55,000 for a single bottle of beer in a Manchester hotel.

Peter Lalor ordered the £5.50 Deuchers IPA at the city's Malmaison hotel before being stunned to discover he had been charged £55,315.12 (A$99,983.64).

Mr Lalor, who was in the city to cover the Ashes series, now believes he drank "the most expensive beer in history".

A spokesman for the hotel apologised and said an investigation had been launched.

However, the money left Mr Lalor's bank account and he says he was told it would take 10 business days for the refund to be processed.

The journalist, who writes for The Australian newspaper, said he had alerted the barmaid after having a "sixth sense that something had gone wrong".

"Australians find England pretty expensive usually, but this takes the cake," he said.

"That's a lot of money. I'm just a cricket writer, I don't earn big bucks and it's costing me in interest."

Image source, Peter Lalor
Image caption,
The Deuchers IPA carried the advertised price of £5.50

Writing on Twitter, he said: "I didn't have my reading glasses when she presented me with a bill. I said I didn't want a receipt and she went to leave.

"Something, however, made me ask: 'How much did I just pay for that beer?' She checked, covered her mouth, started to giggle and refused to tell me, saying only there had been a mistake and she would fix it.

"She kept giggling. I told her it needed to be fixed and fixed right now.

"She ran to get her manager who took the situation far more seriously and went about attempting to arrange a refund. She told me somebody would be in contact."

Two mornings later, Mr Lalor says he took a call from his wife to say the money had indeed left their account.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The Malmaison hotel apologised and said an investigation was under way

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Mr Lalor, who also writes about beer for his newspaper, said: "To add insult to injury they charged a £1,000 transaction fee. Until the money comes back I won't rest easy."

A hotel spokesman said: "We are currently carrying out an investigation into what took place. We have been in contact with Peter to apologise and ensure this has been resolved as quickly as possible."

As for the beer itself, Mr Lalor said that at least was a success.

"It's a good beer," he later tweeted. "The original version of it won a heap of awards, including the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain, but if you are thinking that no beer is worth the best part of 100,000 dollars, then I am inclined to agree with you."

A spokesman for Visa said the "unusual" case shows how important it is to always check details of payments and receipts.

He added: "Visa does not make decisions to authorise payments. It is the responsibility of a cardholder's bank who will make a decision based on a number of factors including the funds available.

"We will work with both the cardholder's and merchant's banks to help resolve this error."