A New Jersey man experienced what most consumers would consider a restaurant nightmare: He ordered a bottle of wine he thought cost $37.50, when its real price tag didn’t have a decimal point. That’s right — he says he accidentally ordered a $3,750 bottle of wine for a dinner he wasn’t paying for.
The details of this debacle are in dispute, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which reported the fiasco in its “Bamboozled” series. Joe Lentini was dining at Bobby Flay Steak at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City with a party of 10, and he and some others decided to split a bottle of wine. Lentini says he asked the server for a recommendation — he’s not a big drinker, he told the Star-Ledger — and she pointed one out. He asked for the price and said the server replied, “Thirty-seven fifty.”
The group ate. Lentini and some others drank the wine. The bill came, and even at a pricey restaurant, the total was way more than expected: $4,700.61, including tax. The restaurant and diners have their own sides of the story — Lentini and those sitting near him said the server should have clearly said “three-thousand seven-hundred-fifty,” which they claim she did not, and a vice president of the restaurant says he believes the server and sommelier followed proper practices.
In the end, the restaurant said $2,200 was the least amount of money it could accept for the wine (Screaming Eagle, Oakville 2011), so Lentini and two others paid the bill so they could leave.
Lentini will certainly have a new mindset with ordering wine in the future. Let his experience sit in the back of your mind when you go to a restaurant, as well.
We hope that you’ll never have to deal with something like this, but it’s not uncommon to be surprised by a price tag after you’ve already committed to a purchase. Obviously, you want to avoid incurring the cost in the first place, but you can also make unexpected bills more manageable by putting them on a credit card. Also, if there’s a dispute over the price you were charged for an item, a credit card has certain protections that may help you sort out the issue with the weight of your credit card issuer on your side.
An emergency is an emergency, but keep in mind that maxing out a credit card to cover an unexpected $4,000 purchase can have a negative impact on your credit scores in the long term. In fact, if you’re spending more than 30% of your credit card’s limit, you may already be doing damage. You can see how your credit card balance is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
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