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Tourists’ Receipts Go Viral After Rome Restaurant Allegedly Scams Them Out of Nearly 500 Euros

Plus, not a single onion is leaving India amid an onion shortage, and more news to start your day

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A plate of spaghetti with clams and other seafood in it.
Seafood spaghetti NOT from Antico Caffè di Marte.
Photo: svariophoto / Shutterstock

What happens when you don’t read the fine print…

A restaurant in Rome, Antico Caffè di Marte (located just across the river from the fortress and museum Castel Sant’Angelo), is drawing ire from travelers for allegedly overcharging tourists, including a pair of Japanese diners who claimed their bill for water and two plates of spaghetti and fish ran them 429.80 euros ($470.20), complete with a compulsory 80-euro service fee.

Reading through the restaurant’s TripAdvisor largely negative reviews — which are currently locked due to an influx of media attention — the contours of a what appears to be a well-practiced scheme start to take shape. The main issue in many of these cases appears to be the fish, which several reviews claim is listed on the menu with the price of 6.50 euros … per 100 grams. Missing the fine print, clueless diners — most of them tourists — order the fish and are presented with a heaping platter of seafood that ends up costing hundreds of euros.

Minh Ngoc Bui, a Vietnamese woman who lives in Germany, shared photos of the receipt for a 476.40-euro meal on TripAdvisor. She told CNN that her party had ordered the fish per a server’s recommendation and were surprised to receive around two kilograms of seafood. But upon receiving the bill, she said they were even more surprised to see a charge for 4.8 kilograms, bringing the cost to 315 euros for the fish alone. Later returning to the restaurant to dispute the charge, she told CNN, “I asked the man who served us to put 4.8 kg of mixed seafood on that plate. Because I firmly believe that it is impossible and they cannot do it. And just like I thought, they couldn’t do it and refused to do it with the excuse that they didn’t have time.”

Meanwhile, the restaurant owner disputes accusations that his establishment is scamming tourists, telling Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “Our menu is clear, to pay that amount they did not just order spaghetti, but also fresh fish; the customer chooses it at the counter.”

And in other news…

  • Don’t expect to see plant-based fake meat at Chipotle any soon. [The Takeout]
  • An appeals court in California upheld an earlier ruling that determined McDonald’s was not responsible as a joint-employer for labor violations — including a reported denial of overtime premiums, as well as legally required meal and rest breaks — committed by a franchisee. [NRN]
  • Amazon is making progress on its plan to open a chain of grocery stores across the country, starting with Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. [WSJ]
  • India is experiencing an onion shortage that is wreaking havoc on cooking around the country. In response, the government is cracking down on onion hoarding and all exports of the produce. [NYT]
  • According to a new survey by QSR, Dunkin’ has the fastest average drive-thru speed of service, while Chick-fil-A’s is the slowest. [QSR Magazine]
  • A YouTuber built an air-powered, motorized couch vehicle to take on a test drive through a McDonald’s drive-thru. [Mashable]
  • Say hello to something called the “hack a pumpkin” challenge??

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