As reported by The Age on 6th October 2013, several Southbank Restaurants have been hit by scam artists who demand compensation after claiming to have suffered an allergic reaction to one of their meals.
One female fraudster has duped several riverfront eateries over the past month, while at least two restaurateurs called the young woman’s bluff and refused to pay.
”She was quite well presented, spoke with a slight American accent and was very convincing,” said Pure South Manager Philip Kennedy.
The woman introduced herself as ”Jessica Harris” and claimed to have experienced a severe anaphylactic reaction to a dish that contained chestnuts, after warning waiters of her nut allergy.
The scam fell apart when Mr Kennedy tried to corroborate her story. ”She couldn’t have been sitting at the table she said, and we only served one dish with chestnuts that day, which was at lunch, but she said she’d been here for dinner,” he said. The woman gave a fake mobile phone number before leaving, but tried the Japanese restaurant Sake a few days later, where she pulled off the same scam and was compensated by an unsuspecting Manager.
Unfortunately as you would all be aware, these types of stories are not uncommon in the hospitality industry and because of the serious nature of the claims they cannot be disregarded. Any Allergen related complaints from customers MUST be taken seriously but you should also take the appropriate steps before handing over any form of compensation:
- Ask the customer if they have a medical certificate
- Ask for proof of identification (drivers license) to ensure who they claim to be is who they actually are
- Always ensure kitchen records are filled in and up to date
- Ask them to fill in a complaint form which may cover the list below, which will ensure you can do an investigation of your records to make sure their story checks out:
- Which meal they ate
- Date of incident
- Name of the waiter or staff
- Which service they ate during
- Reaction experienced
To ensure the risk of having a real Allergen complaint from a customer is at the minimalist you should ensure all staff have the appropriate Allergen Awareness Training and that accurate information is provided for meals including what ingredients they contain.
You can view a free sample of the online Food Allergen Training that we can offer to you and your staff.
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