Customers at KFC and Pret A Manger have complained staff don’t understand the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out Scheme.
Some irate patrons said one manager claimed the Monday to Wednesday discount only applied in the afternoon while some staff enforced a £10 minimum spend or asked to see a voucher.
It comes as thousands of diners made the most of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s scheme that slashed food prices in half for eat-in customers throughout August.
More than 72,000 venues now offer a discount of 50 per cent, up to £10 per person.
But fast-food chicken restaurant KFC and sandwich chain Pret have since come under fire for allegedly misinterpreting the rules.
Government guidance says the discount must be applied all day Monday to Wednesday throughout August without a minimum spend requirement.
But some customers were told the scheme wasn’t in force in KFC restaurants yet.
One wrote: ‘Hi @KFC_UKI I had a boneless feast today but was told the eat out to help out scheme was not valid today bcos kfc did not yet have a licence? Your twitter account says throughout August….’
Another said: ‘You are advertising Whitstable being part of the Eat out to help out scheme but it’s not being offered in store.’
One said: ‘I ordered some food in the Bexhill on Sea branch for dine-in today and was charged full price. Staff said that the website is incorrect and that you’re not taking part in Eat Out to Help Out….is this correct? I can DM details.’
‘Can you advise why you’re showing Altrincham retail park participating in the eat out to help out scheme yet when you turn up get told they haven’t registered with the government so aren’t doing it. No signs up to state otherwise and advertised online,’ said another.
One said: ‘Very disappointed. I went over to your Bristol, Avonmeads Retail Park branch yesterday with 3 colleagues.. But your staff told us they aren’t doing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme but your website says different yet they wouldn’t honour it..’
Another claimed a restaurant had closed its seating area to stop people taking advantage of the scheme.
They wrote: ‘Eat out to help out. Turn up at your ilford branch at 10.15pm and they have closed the dining in area and won’t allow us to eat in and hence we can’t help out! #disappinting #dontneedhelp’
Some said the branch they bought a meal from had a £10 minimum spend.
They said: ‘Disappointed with your stance on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Seems you are taking advantage of the Gvment and customers with your minimum spend policy.’
Another added: ‘£10 minimum spend for Eat Out To Help out scheme? Dissapoiting.’
Another said staff told her KFC had pulled out of the scheme. She said: ‘Just been to the Tunbridge Wells store, ordered, paid, pointed out they’d forgotten to apply the ‘eat out’ discount, to be told KFC have pulled out, around 600 branches.
‘Amazed nobody’s been told other than staff and customers who complain.’
Pret customers faced similar problems. One was told the 50 per cent discount only applied in the afternoons.
They wrote: ‘Bad start @Pret Finchley Road. Staff know nothing about Eat Out to Help Out except manager who says they are only doing it in afternoons. Three customers paying full price. No the government guidance is that if you’re in the scheme, you need to offer it all day. Naughty.’
A KFC spokesperson said the popular chain is offering 50 per cent discount ‘across the board, up to £10 per person with no minimum spend’.
‘As per the government intentions for the scheme, it’s available on food ordered to eat in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays throughout August,’ they added.
‘We currently have 580 restaurants participating, which you can find on our website. For those worrying they’ll miss out, we’re also adding even more over the next couple of days to bring this up to around 700 of our restaurants’
A Pret spokesperson said the coffee chain was ‘working hard to make sure it’s properly implemented in all eligible shops’.
‘We’re reviewing the roll-out of the programme each day and are making sure all Team Members understand how it works.
‘If customers are experiencing any problems, please contact our customer service team and we will resolve the issue as quickly as possible.’
Elsewhere, the scheme has been hailed a success as customers enjoyed money off meals from their favourite eateries.
The aim of the £500million enterprise is to drive footfall into income-starved restaurants which were forced to shutter during lockdown and jump-start the economic recovery.
London’s vibrant West End has been packed with diners sitting al freso at socially distanced tables on the road while eating and drinking – although the government is not covering the cost of alcohol.
It followed huge queues throughout the day outside participating restaurants, which can be pinpointed by a useful government search tool.
Restaurateurs lined up to praise the scheme after burning through funds during the three-month lockdown.
Mark Selby, the chief executive and co-founder of Mexican chain Wahaca, hailed the ‘shot of adrenaline’ for the restaurant industry.
‘It’s certainly not returning to pre-Covid levels but it’s definitely looking up from the last couple of weeks we’ve seen,’ he told Sky News.
Will Beckett, co-founder of the Hawksmoor group of steakhouses, said his London restaurants were fully booked on the days of the offer and has had to open another.
He told the Evening Standard: ‘We have had 15,000 bookings for the 13 days. We weren’t planning to open Air Street [near Piccadilly Circus] on Mondays and Tuesdays, but we changed our minds and now we have 300 covers a night booked in.’