Peak District restaurant faces losing over £4,000 after cruel pranksters booked nearly every table for Sunday lunch

A Peak District restaurant may miss out on thousands of pounds after realising that a busy weekend schedule was actually filled with fake bookings.

Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:22 pm

Alistair Myers is the co-director of Rafters at Riverside House in Ashford-in-the-Water, near Bakewell. He said he first realised something was wrong when his staff began ringing customers who had booked for this weekend to check the details of any dietary requirements and allergies.

Alistair said: “As we were doing these, there were a couple that had wrong phone numbers, so we sent them an email to follow up, which bounced back.

“And as we started going down, it became a handful of wrong phone numbers, so we became suspicious.

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Rafters are now imposing a £10 deposit per person to stop similar incidents in the future.

“We contacted our booking provider, who told us they had all been made on the same day, January 3, from virtually the same IP address and with very similar emails. We had 23 bookings in total for Sunday, which equated to 109 people, that weren’t actually booked.”

Alistair said he believed his business was being targeted, and that the team at Rafters was trying to stay positive despite the blow to their confidence.

“This cyber-attack has been damaging as Sunday is one of busiest days of the week. It’s horrendous, it’s upsetting, and it’s definitely a targeted attack.

“I don’t believe I have any enemies in the hotel, I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s pathetic more than anything. We’re grown people, with a reputable, amazing business, and to have it done to us, it’s knocked our confidence.

“It’s not a very nice thing, and you start questioning yourself. It does make you really nervous and anxious, but we’ve just tried to be positive and say that we can't control the negativity that is brought to the door, but we’ll try and fill the restaurant again.”

Staff at Rafters are now trying to re-book the restaurant ahead of the weekend, and Alistair has introduced a deposit of £10 per person following the spate of fake bookings.

He said: “£4,000 is the minimum figure we could’ve missed out on, if everybody spent £40 a head. If we went at £50 per head, it’s £5,000- that could’ve been massive.

“The deposit will mitigate for someone booking 20 reservations - with this new system, the person would have had to spend £1,090 to book our 109 covers.

“That old school, gentleman thing is disappearing, the trust level. We’re having to make sure people are genuine who are coming to what should just be a nice experience.

“Sadly, the minority are ruining it for the majority again.”

Alistair also said that an IT company is looking into the incident, and that any information they gather would be handed over to the police.