Families sold short in Chinese meal deals for children -- watchdog
A CONSUMER watchdog has hit out at a Chinese restaurant which is offering half-price child meals only to those who fall under their tiny height restriction.
All children availing of the offer at China King Buffet in Dundrum Town Centre must be under 4ft 5in, according to the restaurant's rules.
But children aged nine years average 4ft 5in, while children aged 11 years are around 5ft 6in, according to research cited for the Herald by Professor Gerard Loftus.
And Dermot Jewell of the National Consumers Association of Ireland said: "In light of the fact that some of the younger population falls foul of that height limitation, the offer as it appears now is not fair. They need to review it and they need to approach this in a pragmatic way that doesn't alienate customers.
"It's not suitable in the recession. Restaurants looking at putting this restriction in place need to apply it reasonably and realistically."
He stressed: "Whatever it's based on, they need to review it for the very fact that there are getting complaints about it."
Meanwhile, parents whose young children would be disqualified from the children's menu because of their height are also objecting to the rule.
Stephen O'Sullivan (10) from Kerry is 4ft 6in, and his dad admitted that he would be put off going to the restaurant, because it excludes his son, who is legally a child.
Leonard said: "I think it's ridiculous. Kids are kids. He's a kid, and he should be charged for kids' prices."
Molly Walters (9) from Dublin, edges above the 4ft 5in mark even though she's younger, and her dad David said he would object to the height restriction if it is enforced.
"I wouldn't go in and eat there. We're waiting for her to spurt, and there are people in her class that are taller than her. It's a pretty unfair way to judge the system."
Max Dunne (7) from Carrickmines is 4ft 4in, and his mum Tracey was shocked to think that soon he will not be able to qualify for the cheaper meal.
"It's ridiculous if the children are under 10 but the restaurant is going by the height restrictions," she said.
"It would put me off. I'd certainly have to think about it in case I went and was turned away."
However, the restaurant manager insisted that the height restriction is there for the restaurant's own protection, and it does not actively enforce the rule.
Mae Law said: "If children are under 12, we charge the child price. We have some leeway even though we have the policy.
"Maybe our limit is too low, so maybe we have to change it. But we haven't had any complaints."
"We put it down as our policy but we don't use it. But we have a lot of children coming in and sometimes they say they're 12 when they're not, and we cannot ask for proof or ID."