Threat to Charge Extra for ‘Eating Too Much’ at Buffet Goes Viral

Nutmethee Tankitwuttikul talks to the press Sept. 10, 2020, left. Right: Shabu Shabu Nang Nai Rama 3 Branch / Facebook

BANGKOK — A threat by an all-you-can-eat shabu shabu shop to charge a customer extra for eating “too much” meat and shrimp led to a complaint filed at a state agency.

The customer, Nutmethee Tankitwuttikul, told reporters on Thursday that the Office of the Consumer Protection Board is reviewing the complaint he filed. Nutmethee said the Rama 9 Road Soi 43 branch of the franchise Shabu Shabu Nang Nai tried to increase his bill from 200 baht to 549 baht. 

“I don’t think a buffet should stare at which customers eat a lot and try to get more money from them,” Nutmethee said. “Will you refund some money for customers who eat only a little bit?” 

Nutmethee said he was a regular who dined at the branch several times a month. 

In his latest visit on that fateful day, Nutmethee said he was eating six plates of meat, two of shrimp, glass noodles, a plate of mushrooms, and an egg when the unnamed owner approached him.

“I asked her for another plate of mushrooms. She said that I cannot just order meat and shrimp, because I need to order more vegetables,” he said. “When I asked why, she raised her voice and said I was running her out of business and wasn’t making profit off of my order.”

After the encounter, Nutmethee unliked the shop’s now-deleted Facebook page and gave a negative review, which soon became viral: “Bad experience. I’ve never had a buffet threaten to charge me more money for eating. They said I ate so much they didn’t make any profit. If you have this kind of thinking, just close up shop.”

The restaurant responded with a threat of legal action. 

“Eating a buffet means eating various dishes, not just meat and shrimp. That’s not shabu shabu, that’s just eating boiled pork and shrimp. Why don’t you open a business and get a customer like you, who always eats for unlimited periods of time, eating six to 12 12-inch plates of meat? How is that fair to us as a business owner? I’ll use the law against you since you posted defaming us.” 

Nutmethee said the response prompted him to file a complaint to the consumer protection agency. He has not been contacted by the shop owner since. 

“As consumers, if we don’t protect our rights , it will create a bad standard among businesses,” he said. “I don’t think you should talk about profit and losses with customers, and have a better policy of replying on social media.”

Nutmethee pledged to never eat at the Rama 9 Road Soi 43 branch again. 

The franchise owner also distanced himself from the restaurant’s action.

“We have no policy of charging people more if they eat a lot,” Shabu Nang Nai founder Wanlerd Puangpayom, 72, told reporters. “Because if we do, we would have to decrease the price for people who eat only a little so that it would be fair. If they eat a lot, we have no right, and should not try to charge more.”

Wanlerd added that he would welcome Nutmethee to eat to his heart’s content at the restaurant he managed.