29 January 2009

[talk: A Wee Bit of Ranting ...]

Ok. So - I've come home from a meant-to-be-a-nice-dinner-out-with-the-family and am still a bit peeved about the way the restaurant managed themselves.

We got there, along with my parents, at 5:20pm. Multiple, and I mean at LEAST a dozen other GROUPS came in after us, and were seated before us. Now, of course I can do the math. Not enough seats for six bums, and enough seats for four. But they actually sat a party of TWO at a booth for six ... that's just poor business sense during the dinner hour. And we were left waiting with a 4 and 2 year old who were grumpy and hungry.

We could've left ... but were never given a definite time on how long the wait would be. So we just stuck it out.

So, we were seated at 5:55pm. Our two boys were already restless, and as we already knew what we wanted, we ordered immediately - with a rush on the boy's food. Their food came within about 15 minutes. Not bad - I guess. Not really a rush, but no complaint as they were busy.

Our food? Another 30 minutes AFTER the boys got their food. We had been in the restaurant for 90 minutes and still hadn't eaten anything. Our waitress, bless her heart, got some of our orders wrong - so even when the food came (and most of it was cold, of course) we had to send stuff BACK to get it right. Then she told my mom that she was waiting on my mom's salad. SALAD. Like our 45 minute wait was due to lettuce. *grin*.

We got the manager to come over, and said, "Hey, just to let you know - this has been a less than satisfying experience tonight and we've seen how all the other tables have been served in due time. We're not happy." And she turned and said, "Well, all I can do is apologise." And walked away. No, "the beverages are on us" (which was one glass of milk and a lemonade). No, "perhaps a dessert would help?". Not a "here's a coupon for a complimentary appi the next time you come in." Nothing.

My dad graciously paid for the meal, and if ANY of you know him - he is a grand tipper. Always upwards of 20%. Not tonight. For the first time, because he felt it was the only way to express his disappointment, he didn't.

I have had friends in the food-industry explain to me about "tipping out". That the waitress has to share her tips with those behind the scenes and if the customer doesn't tip well, it can come out of her own pocket. Obviously, this is far from fair. But tonight the whole lot of them weren't up-to-par.

So, I'm curious - what would you have done?


alisa said...

You were gracious. I would've done the exact same thing. And I would probably tell people which restaurant it was & NOT go there again.

Shawna said...

I'm sorry I totally understand your frustration!

I probably would have spoken to him a second time, alone on the way out of the restaurant away from other guests to relay the unsatisfactory service/food.

Then I would ask that the head manager (more than likely you were speaking to the floor manager for the night) would call us and I would have filled out a complaint form.

I would still call this morning and ask for the head manager and submit a verbal complaint. If you know your servers name & the manager you spoke with that would be helpful for him/her too.

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Shawna.

Years ago we got horrible service and horrible food (my lettuce on the bottom of my salad plate was rotten...I didn't discover this until I had eaten my way down to it. Oh dear.) at a favourite place of ours. The response by the "manager" was that she couldn't control mother nature. That was it. I called in for the actual manager's name and wrote a letter the next day. I am sure e-mail could be used now! Anyway, we recieved an apology, an offer to come in and receive an apology from that evening "manager" and gift cert. for what an average meal would've cost us. We were also thanked for bringing it to their attention as they were able to re-visit customer satisfaction issues. Well, you are welcome Restaurant. We were more than happy with that response and continued to eat there. (We didn't come in and demand an apology from the poorly behaved manager...eeeek. Uncomfortable - no thanks.)Because they corrected the issue, I will share that this was an Earl's - and like I said, we still eat there!

Tipping is something I also do regularly, I think we did that night too. However, there was another bad experience where the owners were also the servers and no tip was given. If I recall, when we asked for the cheese that was supposed to come with our fajitas...the waitress/owner slapped the bowl down on our table and asked "Are you HAPPY NOW?" Oddly enough, I was less happy after the missing dairy product actually arrived at the table. Charming.

So Bob did good, you all did good by not being rude and someone should follow up. You may end up feeling a whole lot better about a less than satisfactory dinner! J

Candice said...

Don't know where to start ...AND, I'm just being the "devils advocate" here.

If this is a restaurant that you go to often then it's safe to say that they are going to have "one of those nights" at some point.

It doesn't excuse the managers response, BUT that manager may have been told (in these tougher economic times) that he/she is not allowed to just give the food away. There should have been something offered in lieu of the inconvenience of having to wait, BUT, it also sounds like maybe you had a new waitress that night as you said she got your orders wrong.

The wait on the salad is probably because the person making the salads was "on the ball" and had it ready before the other food was ready. SO, they probably had to re-make the salad because it was wilted by this point.

The no tipping thing is totally up to your dad's judgement of how things went, BUT it's true that the money will end up coming out of your waitress pocket at the end of the night. She will have to "tip out" anywhere between 2-5% (sometimes more, depending on the restaurant) of the food sales throughout her shift. SO, if she doesn't receive anything from your table,then she will have to pay it at the end of the night. It's one of those things that irked me when in that industry because even though the hostesses, cooks and manager messed up that night as well, SHE is the one left paying for it.
Everyone deals with these mishaps differently and I guess because I've done that kind of job, I'm able to see the "big picture". Not to toot my own horn, but it does give me a bit more compassion towards restaurants...especially when it's busy !

If it really was terrible and has left that bad of a taste in your mouth, give them a call and let them know you weren't happy. They don't know unless they're told :)

Canadian Kristin said...

I have lots of thoughts, here are my top 3 or 4! :-)

If this is a restaurant you frequent, they should DEFINITELY be extra courteous to you. Core customers can keep a restaurant going through tough times!

As a gal who waitressed my way through college, my favourite customers were the ones who went straight to the Manager and let him have it. A good Manager should notice that one of his staff (new waitress, salad guy, whoever) was not up to par and should jump in to help that person so as to keep the entire dining experience up to par for the guests.

I remember one instance where the kitchen and I were not in sync and a customer noticed when I was running ragged...and bought ME dessert in lieu of a tip. I still had to tip out, but I felt valued for my efforts and understood that the customer was making his point.

As a customer now....I complain almost EVERY SINGLE TIME I experience back service or poor quality. I go through the chain of command: comment politely to the server/salesclerk, ask for the Manager, phone/email the company.

Economic times are tough, they should be working harder to keep me spending ENTERTAINMENT money which will be the first in my budget to tighten!

susan said...

I sent an email to a restaurant that we had HORRIBLE service at and within 15 minutes of sending the email one of the owners of the place called me to chat about my experience. He told me that there are usually 2 reasons why people complain...
1. They want something...like a free meal.
and 2. They genuinely want management to know so they can improve their service.
I told him I had no desire to return but he sent us a $100 Gift Cert anyways. We did end up returning and had a much better experience.

I think as consumers we have every right to complain. It is important to not do in anger though, even if we are livid at the time. There is a way to handle the situation without coming across rude. I think I'd be sending an email, if they have one.

devan said...

You handled this well.