Leader comment: A lesson in keeping your word

It is a sad state of affairs that a top restaurant is being forced to introduce a deposit scheme.

Chef Mark Greenaway is having to introduce a deposit scheme for bookings because diners have been failing to show up

Booking a table for a meal may seem like a small thing, but it is not.

It essentially involves giving your word that you are going to show up at the appointed hour and buy some food. Failing to do so, without calling to let staff know, means you have broken this agreement, broken a promise, and done so in a rude way that shows scant regard for the people running the restaurant. For them, bookings are, fairly obviously, crucial.

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But to make multiple bookings simply to give yourself the flexibility to eat wherever you like at a moment’s notice seems particularly dishonest; it means that you are telling lies to a number of restaurants, for no other reason than your own convenience.

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Unkept appointments also cause problems for GPs’ surgeries, dentists, physiotherapists, hairdressers and a host of other businesses. It wastes their time and costs them money, while inconveniencing other customers and clients who have to wait longer.

So no one should criticise chef Mark Greenaway for introducing a deposit scheme at his eponymous restaurant in Edinburgh, so that people who do not keep their bookings can still be charged a fee. Mr Greenaway said he was forced into the move to “safeguard the future of the restaurant” after persistent problems. Other restaurants have taken similar steps and it is a fairly common practice among hairdressers; this is a trend that is growing.

There have even been calls for a £10 fee to be charged to see a GP, partly to cut the number of missed appointments.

But all this is a rather sad state of affairs. If people were more honest and more considerate towards their fellow humans, none of this would be necessary.

It is rather unfashionable these days to talk honour; it almost seems as though it has become an outdated concept.

But if there was greater social pressure to act honourably, society would benefit immeasurably – and things like deposits to book a restaurant table would not be necessary, with occasional lapses going unpunished.

So the next time you are booking a table, make sure to keep the number on your mobile phone just in case you discover you are unable to go.

A quick call is all it takes to let them know you will not be able to make it and that someone else will potentially be able to enjoy a night out in your place.