Essex news: Briton left stunned by tiny £9.60 fish and chips portion


A British retiree was left stunned after he was served a tiny portion of fish and chips.

Stephen Varley, 65, originally from St Helen’s in Merseyside, went into his local fish and chip shop in South Ockendon, Essex, at around 4.25pm on May 23.


Varley, who said he entered Fish n Chickn’s Daiglen Drive outlet in a “snap decision” following a visit to Lakeside shopping centre, paid £9.60 for his order.

But images shared with GB News showed the fish was no more than 4.5inches long and came in minimal packaging.

A British pensioner was left stunned after he was served a tiny portion of fish and chips

A British pensioner was left stunned after he was served a tiny portion of fish and chips

Stephen Varley/GB News

He said: “I just went in and when she started dishing up I just thought ‘hang on a minute, I’m not a four-year-old’. I paid for it first and it was £9.60, so I thought ‘you’re kidding’ and then I questioned it.”

Varley added: “I was really laughing inside at the insult but my face was stone.”

Detailing the exchange in the shop, he said: “I asked ‘is that it?’ She replied: ‘Well, if you don’t like it, you can always speak to my manager who is here today. He’s out the back.’

“As I was about to speak this man appeared and said ‘what’s the matter?’ I, under my breath, replied ‘it’s the man who makes mats’.”

Varley then left the shop and was shaking his head in “disbelief”.

Another image of Varley's meal

Varley did not eat the meal and instead made himself a tuna mayonnaise sandwich on sourdough bread

Stephen Varley/GB News

He said: “In all honesty, in a moment’s thought, I decided to take the meal rather than hand it back and to also ask for my card payment to be refunded. I was laughing internally, yet displayed a stone face.”

Varley did not eat the meal and instead made himself a tuna mayonnaise sandwich on sourdough bread.

He took two snaps of the meal and pulled out a tape measure to highlight how small the portion of fish was.

“I got their contact details, phoned them up but there was no reply,” Varley said.

“It was just ring, ring, ring. So I thought ‘sod it I’ll just put it in an email’.”

An image of a portion of fish and chips on Fish n Chickn's website

An image of a portion of fish and chips on Fish n Chickn’s website

Fish n Chickn

In his complaint, Varley said: “Your franchise outlet at South Ockendon is nonchalantly and with the most cavalier attitude ripping people off in the most troubling way ‘financially’.

“Myself, family, friends, colleagues and associates have used that establishment for over 35 years, even before it was renamed. Never in all that elapsed time have I ever had to complain.

“However, over the last few months, the insulting portions have taken more than a foothold. It seems they are now firmly established as the norm.”

In response to Varley’s complaint, Fish n Chickn said: “I would like to apologise that you were disappointed with the fish and chips that you received recently. We spend a lot of time with our passionate teams training them on our strict fish preparation, cooking procedures and quality control measures.

“To hear that we have let you down on this occasion is so frustrating. We do cut our fish based upon weight rather than the size/length of the fish so on occasion it may appear smaller/shorter but will in fact be thicker and vice versa.

The takeaway outlet is located on Daiglen Drive in South Ockendon

The takeaway outlet is located on Daiglen Drive in South Ockendon

Google Street View

”I will be speaking to the Operations Manager for the store so they can work with the team to provide further coaching on the importance of ensuring that they are following all of our policies and procedures and consistently serving only the high quality fish and chips that we pride ourselves on.”

The former engineer, who was forced to retire due to asbestosis, said the response given by the fast-food chain was “absolutely unbelievable”.

Varley told GB News: “If I had a suitable reply we wouldn’t be talking about it today. I just wanted an explanation as to why and some decent management training.”

Fish and chips are a staple British takeaway and can be traced back to Portuguese Jewish immigrants arriving on UK shores from as early as the 16th century.

The first fish and chip shop opened in the UK was created by Ashkenezi immigrant Joseph Malin in the East End in 1860.

An image from inside the Fish n Chickn shop

An image from inside the Fish n Chickn shop

Fish n Chickn

The shop remained in business until the 1970s.

Fish and chips are traditionally eaten on Fridays and the meal ranks as the third most popular takeaway in the UK, trailing behind Chinese and Indian cuisine.

There are around 10,500 specialist fish and chip shops open in the UK and British consumers eat approximately 167million portions every year, the Federation of Fish Friers has revealed.

Annual spending on fish and chips in the UK totals a staggering £1.2billion and around one-in-five Britons visit fish and chip shops every week.

GB News has also approached Fish n Chickn for comment.



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