Cheated While Dining in Venice?

Dec 25th, 2006, 01:42 PM
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Cheated While Dining in Venice?

Had dinner with my wife at a pizzeria/restaurant in Venice a few days ago. We had an expensive lunch and wanted a cheaper dinner. The place seemed moderately priced - primi at 7-10 euro, secondi at 12-18 euro.

We each ordered a pasta and branzino and shared a bottle of wine. The fish was listed on the menu at $5/100g, which seemed reasonable, thinking a portion size would average 350g (we thought it tacky to ask the size, but knew from reading various guides). Well the fish dishes came out and looked huge. Again, I was unsure what to do, not wanting to appear tacky by questioning. I assumed it was more than 350g (I had no idea what 350g was and had never ordered by the gram). Nevertheless, I assumed it would be 400, 450g maybe. We ate maybe half of our dish as it was way too big.

Well the check came, and apparently we were each given a 700g portion of branzino. What was to be a moderately priced meal at an unimpressive pizzeria, turned into a $165 meal after mandatory service was added. I feel cheated. I could have gone to quite a fancy place and gotten entrees for cheaper than $100 for two. I would like to dispute the extra $50 + service with my credit card. What do you think?
JamesBBB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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By $5, I meant 5 euro.
JamesBBB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 01:47 PM
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Forget it and move on.
Cato is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:06 PM
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I would guess that you were being charged for a whole fish. You would normally be shown the whole raw fish and if you approve it would be cooked for you. If you ask for it fileted, much of what you are paying for is being tossed out or saved for stock..the same as is you would buy a whole fish at a fish market in the US. So you were paying for 1400 grams, which is about one and a half kilos or very loosely a 3 pound-plus branzino, which I guess would be a normal size for two considering the waste generated by the fileting procedure. Learn from the experience and next time ask them to show you the fish and do not be afraid of being tacky.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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I agree..just move on. Something similar probably would have happened to me beacause I probably wouldn't have said anything either, but it would have been my fault for not speaking up about the portion size etc. So, just figure live and learn.
crefloors is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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if it were whole fish, that is not an excessive size at all. if it was in filet, it was on the larger side for two people.

one should always specify the size of the portion you want when it is charged by the gram (i'm sure this is obvious to you now). it is not tacky to ask the default size (but this is meaningless - you are the customer and normally the restaurant will just tell you the minimum order size and you specify what you want...they should not tell you what you want). if you can't visualise by weight then you can ask the 'recommended' size and decide from there.

no big cato says, just forget it. every traveler is taken advantage of (not sure you were but anyway) at some point or another.
walkinaround is online now  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:23 PM
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I don't think you will get anywhere if you dispute the charge.. as you say, you were ordering based on "assuming" certain things which turned out not to be true. I also doubt if you could have gone to a "fancy" place in Venice and had a full meal for much less than $100 USD, which is about 75 Euro. The upscale places in Venice cost a lot more than 37 Euro per person. Venice is expensive and with two pastas, two orders of branzino and a bottle of wine, you may have been charged more than you wanted to pay for a meal you did not feel was worth the money but I do not think you were cheated.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:26 PM
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The waiter asked if I would like a filet at ordering. I said yes.
JamesBBB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:29 PM
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EKS, for $100, certainly not. But, this meal was $165 at an unassuming pizzeria. The fish alone was $110 with service charge. The following night I had a great meal for $140 at a nice osteria.
JamesBBB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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We had the same experience at a restaurant near the port in Marseille...a very large whole fish cooked over a wood fire came to around $200--and a great shock that was.
Underhill is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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sorry, i misread your post. 700g EACH and 1400 total i now understand. but my answer does not change. move on and learn for next time. if you are asked if you want it fileted, this means that the price is for whole fish (you pay for it all). if it is priced as a filet, you would not be asked this. best to clarify if there is any doubt as to the pricing.

nothing to be ashamed of though. i think pricing this way is common and necessary for a place selling good can, however, be confusing to the customer (e.g. is it for a whole fish,etc). if a restaurant makes you feel bad for clarifying what you are getting for your money, choose another restaurant. i don't think many restaurants would treat you badly for asking, however. if they do, it's not a good sign.
walkinaround is online now  
Dec 25th, 2006, 02:56 PM
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"I would like to dispute the extra $50 + service with my credit card. What do you think?"

I think 100% not. You ate the meal and now want the CC company to give you credit because the serving was too large?? Much the same as going to a restaurant and ordering something new, not liking it much and disputing the cc charge cuz it wasn't to your liking . . .

janisj is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 03:00 PM
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Yup JamesBBB, you were skee-rooed. Learn by it.

A waiter in Madrid tried to con me but I refused to pay the exhorbitant bill he presented after dinner. Several of the staff came over to my table. I stood my ground and we finally settled at the price on the menu. A similar thing happened at a restaurant in the Plaka of Athens. Ask for the price of everything they bring to the table.

hopscotch is offline  
Dec 25th, 2006, 10:32 PM
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Just a quick question. I understand, if I was not cheated, then fine. I learn from it and ask next time. But, if I was cheated, in the age of credit cards, with companies offering such protection, why not take advantage of it. If many similar travelers like me report such experiences, it might cause the credit card to think twice about doing business with the establishment.
JamesBBB is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 12:13 AM
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I think you are going to have a hard time proving you were cheated:

Your words include "...thinking a portion size would average 350g"

"...I had no idea waht 350g was and never ordered by the gram."

"...not wanting to appear tacky by questioning...."

They gave you a huge portion; you didn't ever say "this is too big" or anything else in protest.

Would you have felt better if you had ordered this in some sort of NON "unassuming" restaurant?

IMO you need to chalk it up to experience and I still don't think you were cheated.
Dukey is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 12:48 AM
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Sometimes such things leave a bitter taste in your mouth ;-)

However I think you should do one of 2 things.
1. Move on. Put it down to experience
2. Set fire to the restaurant, steal the wheels off the owners car leaving it on bricks and kidnap his dog.

Now; you will have thought that item 2 would make you feel better, and it probably has, so with that in mind just do item 1.

Good luck and a happy new year


Mucky is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 01:15 AM
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They also serve fish this way in Marseille as another poster mentioned. It is a luxury dish despite its simple preparation. You are paying for the quality and freshness of the fish. I always ask the general weight. After eating a specific fish a couple of times you have a general idea of how much it will cost.

I dont think you were deceived. You pay for the fish by weight including bones etc. As ekscrunchy mentions, it seems like a reasonable weight for 2 people.

Perhaps it could be categorized as mislead. I do not know where you ate but i have noticed in Marseille, the tourist restaurants on the Vieux Port are only a hair cheaper for whole fish than the finer restaurants in the city. You certainly get a better dining experience at a finer restaurant for only a small amount more on the bill.
MorganB is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 02:41 AM
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I think the route mucky proposes is too good for such felons, I think that instead of taking the wheels off the owners car and setting it on bricks you should have tied the bricks around their feet and tossed them into the Grand Canal (or employ my pal 'Mugsy' to do the job, he'd come cheaper than the fish...)

Seriously, I agree with others - I think the place exploited you but when you ate the meal, or even only part of it, you were in essence accepting the deal and it is now too late to complain to the CC (but see below).

For the record: our local fisheries department (province of Nova Scotia) gives the following info: whole fish just as it comes from the water yields 2 to 4 servings per kilogram, which of course is 1000 gm (just over 2 pounds.)

Reading your post, I recalled an organization I heard of called "Venice No Problem" or something like, which deals with tourists who feel they've been exploited by local merchants. You can read about it here:

Note the author does mention the ordering of fish by weight "which isn't necessarily dishonest."
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 02:48 AM
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I think the mistake was in ordering 2 Branzino .. a branzino weighs about 2 pounds and will adequately feed 2 people. When the waiter asked if you wanted it fileted, he was asking if you wanted him to take it off the bone for you after it was cooked.
jody is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 03:22 AM
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this is a good lesson for everyone to understand how some thngs are done differently, AND to not be embarrassed to say something on the order..."Do you have a small one?" and let the waiter know you are preferring he look for one of the smaller fish.

in fact, you can even tell them not to go over a certain weight and they wll converse with you on what is back in the kitchen as far as size goes.

i do not understand where you think you can get a CC refund for a fish you ordered and partially ate.

perhaps you should have contested it at the restaurant, but.. i agree with the others to move on.. learn a lesson and stay away from "weighted" foods unless you are willing to pay for it.

it is a very common practice for fresh fish ,seafood, even specialty steaks..

lincasanova is offline  

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