Money Wellness
Illustrated image of three glasses of wine. Brits being short measured on drinks. What are your rights if you're short measured on drinks
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calendar icon24 May 2024

Brits being short changed on drinks

More than two-thirds of beer and wine served in pubs and bars across the UK is being short-measured, according to a report. 

Trading Standards visited 7 pubs and bars to conduct the overcover research and were served 96 short measures out of 137 orders. This means around 70% of drinks were not up to the legal requirements. What's more, 41 of these short measures were 5% or more below what they should be.

The research showed beer drinkers were most likely to be served in short measures (86%) compared to 43% of wine connoisseurs.

On average, the beer deficit was 4%, while for wine it was 5% - equating to a loss of around £1.70 per week for the average beer drinker, and £2.20 for the typical wine drinker.

The largest short measure was 15% under what it should be on a 175ml glass of wine in Walsall, costing £3.20. Other significant shortfalls included 13.4% in Belfast on a £7.20 glass of wine, and 12% on a £5.75 glass in Havering.

CTSI Chief Executive John Herriman said the findings suggest "the need for more comprehensive research to better understand the impact of short measures, not just for alcoholic drinks but across a broader spectrum of consumer goods." He called on the hospitality sector to ensure customers get full value for money.

The research also highlighted a generational divide, with three times as many under-45s supporting pubs being able to pour spirits without using a measure, compared to over-45s.

There was further debate around whether the head on a pint of beer should be included in the measure - a third of Brits felt it shouldn't, higher than the 23% who believed it should.

Labour MP Jess Phillips, a CTSI Vice President, said the revelations were "concerning", especially given the current cost-of-living pressures. "Being able to afford to go out for a drink is not easy and you should get what you pay for," she commented.

Know your rights. What should you do if you receive a short measure?

Nik Antona, chairman of The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), says drinkers should ask for an immediate top-up if they receive a short measure. They should also report any issues to Trading Standards.

Is it illegal to serve short measures?

It is an offence to serve a short measure and refuse a top-up. Drinks must be measured correctly.

Spirits such as gin, vodka, rum, and whisky are required to be served as either 25ml or 35ml – they can also be served in multiple quantities. Wine by the glass should be sold in units of 125ml or 175ml. And beer, lager, and cider must come in a third, half, two-thirds, or a pint. The third of a pint is often used to let drinkers sample a beer before buying.

Pubs and bars found guilty of breaching the Weights and Measures Act face being fined and in extreme cases can be taken to court.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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