British Tourists Angry At £54 Ice Cream Bill

Nick Pisa, Sky News Reporter
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British Tourists Angry At £54 Ice Cream Bill

Consumer chiefs have ordered an investigation after four British tourists were left with a bitter taste in their mouth when they paid 64 euro (£50) for four ice cream cones.

Roger Bannister and his wife Wendy were with his brother Steve and his wife Joyce when they stopped off for a relaxing cone on their short break to the Italian capital of Rome.

The city is well known for its rip-off taxi drivers, bars and cafes, where customers are often served food at inflated prices as they know many visitors, particularly Britons, are too embarrassed to complain.

But tourist chiefs have been left red-faced about the incident after it was highlighted in local media.

Mr Bannister and his party were hit with the eye-watering bill after they stopped at the Antica Roma ice cream parlour and bar close to the famous Spanish Steps in the city centre.

They were aware that prices jump if they sit down so ordered the four cones standing up, intending to take them away.

Mr Bannister, a company executive from Dudley, in the West Midlands, said: ''They didn't even say thank you when we paid. I'm not surprised. How can they get away with charging £50 for four ice cream cones?

"The cones had three flavours and a couple of wafers but if we wanted whipped cream that was another three euro on top each.

"We knew prices were expensive if you sat down but we took the ice creams away - how much would it have cost us if we had sat down?'"

The group were on a six-day holiday to Rome and the incident happened on the final day of their break.

Mr Bannister added: ''It's incredible. How can they get away with charging that much? It's just not nornal. It's left a really bad taste to what was up until then a lovely holiday.''

Details of what happened to the group only emerged after a passing councillor, Matteo Costantini, stopped to talk to them after spotting them discussing the price they had been charged.

He said: ''They were justifiably outraged at what they had been asked to pay. It's scandalous and should not be allowed to happen.

"This is not the first time tourists have been caught out like this and it sadly won't be the last. 'There needs to be a clamp down on places like this that charge extortionate prices to unsuspecting tourists.

"It does nothing for the image of the city and will probably put people off coming here which in the long run will affect the tourist industry.

"Stories such as this just don't do the city any favours. We get this with cafes and bars all the time and taxis, as well as guides and there needs to be tough action against these people."

Mr Costantini said that he had personally offered to refund the money to the group but they had said to donate it to a charity instead.

The bar in question was unrepentant.

A staff member, who refused to give her name, said: ''The prices are clearly on display. They got what they asked for - four ice creams.

"It's not even our cheapest cone, our most expensive is 25 euro but they could have picked a smaller one for two or three euro. They got 16 euro worth of ice cream each - almost a kilo. What more did they want?

"We get this all the time - we had a similar incident last week with a group of Spanish tourists but the prices are there in black and white. If they don't want the ice cream they can go somewhere else."

Carlo Rienzi, president of consumer group Codacons, said: ''This is a true scandal which not only affects the tourist industry but the image of the city.

"We have lodged an official complaint asking for an immediate investigation. We would advise other tourists or Italians who feel that they have been ripped off to contact us.''

In 2009, a restaurant near Piazza Navona, one of the city's most popular areas with tourists, charged a Japanese couple 695 euro for dinner.

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