Bourbon Street Shrimp Complaint - Misrepresentation, Fraud & Vulgarity
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- On or about January 13, 2001, I visited Bourbon Street Shrimp and Grill (“Bourbon Street”) located at 10928 W. Pico Blvd., in the City of Los Angeles. During this dining experience, I noticed an advertisement on my table called “Fat Tuesdays” which claimed that all entrees are half-priced every Tuesday between the hours of 4:00pm and 7:00pm.
On Tuesday, January 23, 2001, I revisited Bourbon Street with a guest at 6:45pm. On the restaurant front was a large banner advertisement that stated “Fat Tuesdays. Half-Prices Entrees from 4:00 to 7:00.” My party ordered two appetizers and two entrees with full reliance on the advertisement that the entrees would be half-priced.
After our meal, the check was presented to us. The total cost of the meal, less the discounted entrees was approximately $30.00. When my party presented a credit card to pay, we were directed to a small paper taped up which read “Cash Only or Debit Cards from 5-7.” At the time we attempted to pay with a credit card, it was a few minutes before 8:00pm. I told the server that the sign posted set forth 5:00-7:00 as the applicable time for “cash only.” The server said that there was nothing she could do.
I asked to speak to the manager and was informed that Bourbon Street did not have a manager. However, I was told that the owner was present at the bar. I asked to speak to the owner regarding this issue twice within the fifteen minutes I sat waiting for resolution of this matter. The owner, later identified by a restaurant employee as Al Watkins, refused to visit our table. Instead, he sent a bus boy with limited English language skills to our table to inform us that he would only accept cash or we would be charged the full price of the meal and the half-priced entrees discount would be rescinded.
After another request that the owner visit our table to address this issue was ignored by Mr. Watkins, I left our table and visited him at the bar where he stood. I expressed the following to him: The “Fat Tuesday” advertisement on the tables induced me to visit the restaurant on Tuesday. The advertisement did not qualify the offer by saying that the offer was only valid for those customers paying in cash or debit cards. My party ordered entrees with the reasonable expectation that they be half-priced pursuant to the abundant advertisements. The taped-up “Cash Only” sign referred to at the end of the meal limited the “cash only” time to between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00pm. My party attempted to pay by credit card close to 8:00pm, therefore the sign should not apply.
Mr. Watkins addressed my arguments by saying “It doesn’t matter what you thought, I’m the owner.” Mr. Watkins informed my party that we had two options. Either pay in cash at the advertised rate, or pay by credit card at the full rate. My party did not have enough cash to settle the bill, so we felt forced to pay by credit card at the full rate. Consequently, we were not given the benefit of the advertised prices upon which we relied at time of ordering and which induced our visit to Bourbon Street.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Watkins said “You’re just like Bill Clinton. You want to get a blow job for free without having to pay for it.” As a respectable professional African-American woman, I was deeply offended by this vulgar and misplaced analogy. I have never been so ill-treated by the proprietor of a restaurant in Los Angeles, and hope that no future customers are so abused.
I allege and believe that Bourbon Street, located at 10928 W. Pico Blvd., maintains false and misleading advertisements. The “Fat Tuesday” advertisement fails to disclose information regarding the “cash only” policy, and is therefore unlawful because the public is likely to be deceived by it. Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code §17500.
I allege and believe that Bourbon Street committed a fraud against the public by deliberately misleading consumers into believing that they would be given the benefit of the advertised discount and then rescinding the offer after the entrees have been ordered. This deliberate misrepresentation effectively cancels the benefit of the advertisement and defrauds the consumer.
My party has been damaged monetarily and publicly humiliated by the owner of Bourbon Street. This establishment must be held accountable for the aforementioned false-advertising, misrepresentation, fraud and unfair business practices. It is my hope that consumer protection agencies can properly correct the “I’m the owner… what I say goes” mentality which has caused me injury and which injures the buying public in general.