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From: [an eater]
Date: Thursday, March 19th
To: eater complaints dept.
Subject: Questionable Cakeage Experience
I am writing to tell you about a horrible experience I had this past weekend at The Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica. I am still shocked thinking back at the course of events. My family had made reservations a couple of weeks ago for a birthday dinner for 8 people on Saturday, March 14th. We forewarned the hostess that we would be bringing in our own cake. They made no attempt to explain any kind of fee for this. About two weeks later, we arrived at the restaurant with our cake in hand, handed the hostess our cake and again they did not mention any kind of fee for having our own cake. After we finished a barely mediocre meal (definitely not worthy of a #14 ranking on LA Mag’s “Top 75 Restaurants in LA”), we were brought the check and were appalled to find a $64 charge for cutting our cake!
They had the audacity to charge us $8 a slice for the cake. The restaurant had not 1, not 2, but 3 chances to warn us about this charge, but at no point felt obligated to tell us. We did not ask the restaurant to cut our cake, nor did we expect them to do so. It was simply whisked away as soon as the candles were blown out. One of our party members kindly asked for the charge to be taken off of our bill. Our waitress told her that she would need the General Manager to do that. She then brought out [the GM], who then proceeded to defensively and condescendingly explain to his female dining guest that she was stupidly assumptive that The Wilshire had to disclose of this fee. He explained that it was her responsibility to ask and had three different opportunities to do so, but since she neglected to ask, she was responsible for the charge. He then asked her if she expected the cake to be cut for free, did she also expect her food to be free? Two more members of our party went up to explain that if you plan on charging someone a fee (i.e. a corkage fee) it needs to be disclosed. They were both lawyers and said it was illegal to charge a fee without properly displaying it (again, like a corkage fee). [The GM] still would not back down and repeatedly blamed us for the misunderstanding. He finally said that he would gladly reduce the fee to $25, but for no apparent reason. Especially during such a terrible recession, I am shocked that [the GM] was so adamant about the cake cutting fee.
Who's right? Who's wrong? We're pretty sure that cakeage fees are pretty much a given these days, but should the restaurant have put forth some warnings? Your thoughts, in the comments.