Humpit Leeds – thumbs up for the hummus, but not for charging extra for gluten free

I’ve been wanting to try the Humpit in the Corn Exchange for ages, having heard the rave reviews from work colleagues and on Facebook.

On Thursday, I finally got to give it a go, as I had to be in the city centre for a meeting, so I was able to stop in to get lunch on my way back to work.

I’d checked beforehand via the Humpit’s Facebook page that they could cater for gluten free, and was impressed when told that everything was GF except the pita bread, but they could provide an alternative. However, when I got there, I was informed that I’d have to pay 25p extra for gluten free bread, which turned out to be one of the Warburtons’ Newburn Bakehouse wraps.

I know it’s only 25p, but I’m afraid there’s a principle at stake here.

I think I’d have objected less if I’d known upfront that there was an extra charge, but I didn’t see it on the board, and it wasn’t mentioned when I initially enquired about gluten free via Facebook, so to be told about it at the till when I’d already placed my order and was about to pay was not good customer service.

I don’t want to unfairly single out the Humpit, as I know they are not the only ones who put on a gluten free surcharge, but  I’m sick of paying the “coeliac premium”. I know that gluten free foods are more expensive – I live this every day, but I don’t have a choice! I know there are some people who eat gluten free out of choice, or because they think it will help them lose weight or something, but really, those people are few and far between, and frankly have more money than sense. Who the heck would want to pay three times the price for a loaf of bread if you didn’t have to! Most customers asking for gluten free foods are the real deal, and we don’t earn extra wages to cover the extra cost of our food.

If you’re going to put a surcharge on for gluten free foods, then I want to know about it upfront, and then I have a choice about whether I eat at your establishment or not. To be fair to the Humpit staff, when I challenged the extra charge, they did take it off and offered an apology, but I’d like to see them either being upfront about the prices, or removing the surcharge altogether.

I’m sympathetic to small businesses, as I run one myself (albeit just me sat at a computer) but I don’t charge extra for proofreading or editing services to someone with dyslexia, for example. I know it will take me more time, and therefore eat into my profit margin a bit, but it’s not that person’s fault they have that condition, so I accept that there will be some jobs that are more profitable than others. You don’t get to demand from me that you pay less because you are not dyslexic, either.

Either you cater for coeliacs or you don’t, and if you do cater for us (which I wholeheartedly encourage, by the way!) then you work the extra cost into your whole pricing structure. Or you find ways not to have to use those more expensive gluten free products – the Humpit special, which I had, could easily have been done with some extra salad rather than the gluten free wrap. The Warburtons wraps are something I don’t buy myself unless they are on offer, either, because I do think they are overpriced, so I’m sure a cheaper product could be found. Plain gluten free pittas are available, freeze well, and are around £1 cheaper per pack in the supermarkets.

Pricing problems aside, the food from the Humpit is fantastic – the hummus has a ton of flavour, a real garlicky hit, and was lovely served with the warm chickpeas and spices and drizzle of oil. It’s hard to find vegan and vegetarian food that’s also gluten free, so I’ll give them full marks for also making their falafels gluten free, as that’s a dish that’s often off-limits to coeliacs.

I’d definitely recommend the Humpit for tasty and reasonably priced vegan food that will fill you up til tea time, but I’m disappointed that it didn’t turn out to be as coeliac-friendly as it first seemed.

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