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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


Fiddling in the pubs'.

In the NEWS 1976...

Troubled Brewers....

Private clubs are threatened with bankruptcy, pub owners and brewers have to hire men to watch the men who watch the staff... surprise checks on stock are regarded as normal, dishonesty is accepted without surprise.

These are the shocking results of the high incidence of bar fiddles which are draining the hospitality business of thousands of pounds every week.

A crook barman can con his unsuspecting customers for a few pounds; but if he is really clever he can take thousands off his employers, and if not discovered early enough he can send a business down the drain.

One private club in Glasgow sacked its chargehand after years of service; since then profits have shot up.

The accountants' arithmetic now shows that if the chargehand had been caught at the beginning the club would have gained 310,000 extra income. The same happened in a Dunbartonshire club. The entire bar staff were sacked after auditors found the club was running at a loss in July. Now the club is once more making a profit.

Managers running pubs, clubs or restaurants for big companies or slack owners find themselves issued with a licence to print money. As long as they keep their stock right and their fingers out of the till there is virtually nothing to prevent them stealing £100 a week, or more.

What these clever fiddlers do is buy in their own stock at cut-rate prices and sell it across the counter for their own benefit, while the brewers or owners pay for staff, lighting, rates, and all the other running costs.


"This crime, and crime it is, is virtually undetectable," said a senior executive in one of Glasgow's top brewery companies. "If a pub sells, for example, VAT 69 whisky, all the crooked manager has to do is buy VAT 69 at a cut-rate off-sales, perhaps even his own, and sell it over the counter in place of the company's stock.

"A bottle of whisky bought under the odds at an off-sales will realise almost 38 when sold in measures across the bar. And the brewers is paying all the expenses.

"About the only way we can latch on to what is happening is when there is a change in managers, and pub takings alter dramatically. But all too often an outgoing manager will tip the wink to his successor, and the fiddle carries on as before."

Private clubs, usually run with considerable inefficiency by committees, lend to take managers' word for what is happening, with only auditors to run a watchful eye over the books.

Any kind of slack management is a magnet for the fiddler. A dryman with an extra barrel left over from a short delivery will always know of an assured market for his stolen goods, a 36 gallon barrel of beer is worth £80 in illicit profit.

Stupid bar staff who steal from the till help themselves to a bottle of whisky or packets of cigarettes rarely realise how dim they are, a fiddling bar manager will happily report his amateur thieving staff to the proprietor in order to keep his own profitable scheme undetected.


I have personally seen bar staff fiddling. When I discovered the staff has their fingers in the till, I was sure the manager was also in on it too. A short time afterwards I was right, the manager was not putting sales through the till, he brought his own drink into the pub, he gave away free drink to his friends, when you have the skill to do so, you make many friends in the pub.

All the staff were at it, the stock-taker, an ex-brewery staff must have been at it too, as when he counted the stock everything was OK. Maybe he was just turning a blind eye or he was not that skilled.

After a short time, when I was one-hundred per cent sure, I approached the licensee, the first thing he said to me was that he was positively sure the staff were clean. The second thing he asked me was "Are you sure". After telling him about it, he did nothing to sort the trouble out. With this I left the pub and never went back.

After a few months, I heard for a very good source that the manager was sacked for fiddling, he did not only steal from the pub but had taken the owners credit card details which the manager paid for his rented accommodation, Sky TV, and many other luxuries. But still the bad apple was still working in the pub and so was the fiddling staff.

What I can't understand is that the pub I am talking about is a chain of free houses in and around Glasgow with at least five licensed premises, in the town centre. And the owners are still getting fiddled, possibly of thousands of pounds a week.


You know what to do to get the answer... contact me....


In the NEWS 1976...

Toast the bride and roast whoever's paying.

"Nothing but the best for my girl!" That's what a wealthy Glasgow businessman decided when his daughter announced she was getting married.

The best suite is an exclusive hotel was booked, complete with an eight-piece band. The 100 guests toasted the bride and groom with what they thought was the best champagne.

The empty bottles which stood on the table were, in fact, labelled as being the product of the best vineyards in France. What was in the glasses was a different matter, cut-rate champers from a city off-sales. The "posh" bottles are brought out and dusted-off for almost every function.

"Wedding parties like everything to be organised," said a waiter. "They prefer that the champagne should be in the glasses, ready to hand out. There aren't many Glaswegians who can tell good champagne from bad."

During the evening of that wedding, the businessman instructed the wine waiter to add his orders to the overall bill. Despite his extravagance the businessman looked a bit sick when the bill came in. Little wonder. It was for £1514. But a cheque was sent to the hotel and another fiddle had gone unnoticed.

If Mr Mug had sent his accountants to the hotel to demand a breakdown they would have found that meals, band, and rent of the suite cost £1125. That means £389 was spent on drinks, remember this is 1976.


"There are two ways of doing this," said a former hotel manager. "For 100 guests, two toasts, you need about 34 bottles of champagne. Bill your victim for 40, because he won't have counted. Or bill him for champers at £8.60 a bottle, and dish up stuff that costs less than half.

"And if he's been ordering drinks all round, probably with cigars too, you can easily stick another 315 on his bill. He can't prove otherwise, and he can't keep count at the time without looking a cheapskate in front of his friends.

"It's the same for company functions. Even accountants don't like to be seen checking up on what they're buying their friends."


On a lower level the staff at functions can be at the fiddle too... "People let their hair down at weddings," said one part-time waiter, who makes a little out of working at functions, and a lot at fiddling.

"After a few drinks the guests get more and more car less about their money. You hand someone change of a pound instead of a fiver, and there's a good chance they won't even notice. And if they do you say the barman has gone to get more change.

"And wedding guests often aren't at all used to drinking, I once served one four glasses of lemonade instead of vodka and lemonade and she never noticed."


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