Can A Restaurant Refuse A Refund? Your Rights & What To Do

As a chef, a food lover, someone who truly appreciates a good meal, I’ve found my mouth waters in anticipation as you place your order. And then…BOOM! The food’s cold, it’s late, or even worse, it’s not what you ordered!

Yup, it’s like expecting a pony and getting a donkey. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe it, right? In the midst of this culinary catastrophe, you naturally start to think…. can I get my money back?

In this guide, I’ll go over your rights as a customer and to find out what you can do if a restaurant decides it doesn’t want to give you a refund.

What Are Your Rights As A Customer?

Restaurant dining seating area.
Restaurant dining seating area.

According to US law, restaurants are not required to provide refunds to customers.

However, they must ensure that the food they serve is of a satisfactory quality, and the customer receives what they have ordered.

If you receive food that is not what you ordered, or it is not up to standard, you can send it back to the restaurant and request a new order or a refund.

If the restaurant refuses to provide this, you may be entitled to take legal action against them.

Common Refund Policies At Restaurants

It’s quite common to see refund policies displayed at a retail store, but things are different when it comes to restaurants.

Some restaurants may offer refunds, while others may not. It’s worth noting that restaurants are not legally required to provide refunds.

This means that if you are unsatisfied with your meal or the service provided, the restaurant staff is not obligated to issue you a refund.

Why Do Restaurants Refuse Refunds?

Restaurants have their reasons for refusing refunds. One of the main reasons is that food is a perishable item.

Once the food is served, the kitchen has no control over what happens to it, and there is a risk of contamination or spoilage.

Refunding unused food items may not be feasible for restaurants from a financial perspective, as it may not be safe to serve the returned food to other customers.

Additionally, some restaurants may have a strict policy not to give refunds, and customers are usually informed of this policy while placing their orders.

How To Request A Refund

The first step to take when you encounter a problem with a restaurant is to contact customer service.

Most restaurants have a customer service line, email address, or social media page where you can lodge a complaint.

When you do so, make sure to provide a detailed description of the problem you experienced, including the time and date of your order, your order number, and a description of the food.

It is also important to retain all relevant information and records, such as receipts, order confirmations, and any communication with the restaurant.

This information will be necessary if you need to escalate the issue further.

What If The Restaurant Refuses To Give A Refund?

If a restaurant refuses to provide a refund, there are a few steps you may consider taking:

  • Try to resolve the issue directly with the restaurant: It may be helpful to explain your complaint in detail to the restaurant manager and try to come to a resolution. It could be that you’re able to reach a compromise or negotiate a partial refund.
  • Seek assistance from a third-party intermediary: If you ordered your food through a delivery service like Grubhub or Seamless, you could reach out to their customer service team. They may be able to advocate for you and assist you in obtaining a refund.
  • File a dispute with your credit card company: If you paid for your meal with a credit card, you may be able to file a dispute with your credit card company. Provide them with your receipts, order confirmations, and other relevant information, and they may be able to reverse the charge.
  • Take legal action: If all else fails, you may need to look into legal action. You may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in consumer law to discuss your options.


While you’re not guaranteed a refund from a restaurant if you’re dissatisfied, you do have some options to dispute a charge if it’s warranted.

Remember to keep any receipts of orders and communication with the restaurant, try to resolve the issue with the restaurant manager, and feel free to escalate your complaint to a third party or file a dispute with your credit card company or legal system if you’re not satisfied with the restaurant’s decision.

By being prudent about your records and communication, you’ll greatly improve your chances of getting a fair resolution to any refund disputes.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.