Here’s a story that could have happened to any food blogger or restaurant reviewer who receives email invitations to restaurants.
A restaurant p.r. person invited a food blogger to a “food tasting session,” where she said the restaurant would host him for lunch.
The food blogger couldn’t make it at the suggested time, and later sent an email saying he’d be in the following Sunday for brunch, not lunch. He did not confirm that he expected it would still be a “food tasting session” where he would be hosted.
Lesson #1: If you’re changing the game plan, seek confirmation that you can still be hosted. Just because a restaurant invited you to a specific event doesn’t mean you can show up any time for a free meal.
The p.r. person asked if he would be bringing a guest to brunch. He replied that he’d be bringing 3 friends!
Lesson #2: If you’re going to a “food tasting session,” you are working. Do not bring extra people as though you are out socializing. If the restaurant says you can bring a guest, that means 1 person.
That Sunday, the food blogger and his pals enjoyed a fine brunch over several hours, including champagne. At the end of the meal, the restaurant presented the blogger with a bill for about $320 US. Needless to say, he hadn’t seen that coming. After much discussion, the restaurant reduced the amount to $117 US. The blogger paid, but he was furious and stormed out.
Somehow the story got into the press, and then a second story followed quoting outraged food bloggers who made some good points, but did not have all the information.
Then the blogger tried to explain it all on his blog, and he apologized for being rude. But sorry, he fell short because he failed to observe Lessons #1 and # 2. He also said he assumes everyone knows that food bloggers don’t pay for their meals. You know what they say about assuming: it makes an ASS out of U and ME.)
And then the restaurant put out a press release suggesting “a possible formation of … an association/society, which cultivates and promotes the appropriate manner of blogging and blogger’s etiquette. There should be some guidelines and policies implemented to avoid any similar incidents from occurring again.” Good idea.
So what should Lesson #3 be? I’d say “Don’t take or expect free meals,” but I’m old fashioned.
Thanks to Nathan Lau for alerting me to this story.
For more on freebies, see this post on guidelines on taking freebies.