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Thread: Complaining about a lousy meal

  1. #16
    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    It's always good to be "in the know" about the people who run these establishments.. it comes in handy when we go out to eat and my mom happens to know the owner or even the person serving us. Kind, courteous service should be the default.. but sometimes it pays to know who the person in charge is that way you can get your opinions to them in a less direct but--hopefully--equally effective way.

  2. #17
    A*O
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty View Post
    To A*O,

    In America the prevailing principle of customer service is that the customer is always right. If you don't like the meal - even if it's the wrong color - a restaurant that wants your continued business will replace the meal or comp you. Unfortunately, this general policy gets abused at times by customers. I worked in food service during school years ago - it's outrageous what customers said and did to get free food. I hated having to smile and keep my mouth shut when they were clearly in the wrong.

    If the food is not good, let the server and if necessary, manager know. If you are treated in a hostile manner, let them know that you will not be patronizing their establishment any more and will be sure to let your friends and family know about the shoddy treatment you received there. The profit margin in food service is paper thin - they want your business.
    Erm, I think that's what I said? It's OK to complain if you have a genuine gripe but there are ways of doing it that don't antagonise everyone. Unless you are really unlucky I doubt that any restaurant would deliberately serve undercooked or otherwise inedible food so by all means bring it to their attention but don't be an asshole about it. I've seen plenty of people kicking up a HUGE drama over something that could be fixed very simply by a quiet, polite word with the waitress. People who complain about non-existant "problems" in the hope of a free meal - and have you noticed how they are always rude and aggressive about it - should be thrown out a la Gordon Ramsay
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  3. #18
    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    Where I come from, the customer is always wrong. Even if you don't complain, you're nothing but a nuisance. If you do complain, you can be sure they will spit in your food/ drink.

    I have seen foreigners break down and cry in German restaurants. It really is that bad.

    My mother knows how to deal with those bitches, she makes them cry. It's a special talent, which I and most others don't have.
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  4. #19
    czb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shinola View Post
    So what's your response to being served a bad--as in, improperly made--restaurant meal?

    When I lived in the South, if your food wasn't right, you were expected to say something about it, and the establishment took care of it, usually in a friendly way.

    In the area of California where I currently live, if I dare to say anything about inedible food, I'm usually treated in a very hostile manner.

    What's the norm where you live? How bad does it have to be before you complain? What do you say?
    i'm curious where you are. i'm in the sf bay area and the culture is very food-oriented. the restaurants know there is a lot of competition and are typically sensitive to customer complaints. i rarely complain about a meal, but if i do, it's because my hamburger is raw or i was given the wrong meal. and it is usually taken care of right away. sometimes they comp but that certainly isn't what i was looking for.

  5. #20
    Elite Member qwerty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chilly Willy View Post
    Where I come from, the customer is always wrong. Even if you don't complain, you're nothing but a nuisance. If you do complain, you can be sure they will spit in your food/ drink.

    I have seen foreigners break down and cry in German restaurants. It really is that bad.

    My mother knows how to deal with those bitches, she makes them cry. It's a special talent, which I and most others don't have.
    Yeah, I've seen firsthand how poor customer service is throughout Europe. I thought the British and French were particularly rude. Perhaps, if European servers were dependent on tips for the bulk of their income, things would be different.

  6. #21
    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    i'm curious where you are. i'm in the sf bay area and the culture is very food-oriented. the restaurants know there is a lot of competition and are typically sensitive to customer complaints. i rarely complain about a meal, but if i do, it's because my hamburger is raw or i was given the wrong meal. and it is usually taken care of right away. sometimes they comp but that certainly isn't what i was looking for.
    [Deleted.]

    I may come back and delete that later to preserve my anonymity.

    Mr. S and his family are all from or in the Bay Area, and yes, that's a different world. Good food, good service. I cherish incredible memories of certain Bay Area restaurants. One amazing meal down there can sustain me through months of lame local food.

    I do cook (have to!), but I love restaurants. Real ones.
    Last edited by Shinola; August 24th, 2009 at 12:39 PM.
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  7. #22
    czb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shinola View Post
    . . .

    I may come back and delete that later to preserve my anonymity.

    Mr. S and his family are all from or in the Bay Area, and yes, that's a different world. Good food, good service. I cherish incredible memories of certain Bay Area restaurants. One amazing meal down there can sustain me through months of lame local food.

    I do cook (have to!), but I love restaurants. Real ones.
    i deleted the city in the quoted post to help you.

    i'm not familiar with that area at all. i've definitely visited places where food quality isn't valued and i probably wouldn't complain about a meal in those places, i would be afraid of how my food would be tainted. that sux though. i don't know what you can do. i'm assuming that most of the restaurants have been there for years and patrons either don't care or they suck it up??

  8. #23
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    We've been lucky. when mishaps with meals have occured the establishments have been happy to rectify the situation. on occasion they have not wanted to admit guilt (how a hair got into the food) but have always compensated the situation in a timely manner and offered some sort of financial remedy, whether it be 1/2 off or a free dessert to a free meal. we have always been gracious in accepting their offers (and receiving a replacement for the food - making sure it could not be the same one).

    I've even had instances when hash browns were too burnt and had them readily replaced.

    In retrospect, i do recall a situation as a very young woman, getting a rubber band in an open roast beef sandwich and the restaurant doing nothing. inexperienced as i was at that time, i did not pursue the situation as i should have. i do remember telling everyone i knew what occured.

  9. #24
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    I have never complained about the taste or quality of the food. If I don't like it, I'll just eat a couple of bites and give the rest to my fiance. I think I've only had the experience of finding something I ordered inedible once. It helps that I basically order the same thing at all restaurants.

    I was genuinely shocked the first time I saw someone exchange food at a restaurant because they didn't like it. I was celebrating a friend's birthday at a Greek/Indian restaurant and one of her friends ordered the Chicken Korma and hated it so she exchanged it for lasagna, I think. Lucky for me, I also ordered the Chicken Korma and the waitress said that I could have her order if I wanted. So I got two for the price of one. :-)

    I will, however, bring it to their attention if they get my order wrong. For instance, I hate condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, whatever). If I order a burger and I ask for it plain and specifically say that I don't want any of that crap on it, you bet your ass it will be going back if I find anything on it. It drives my fiance crazy because he doesn't understand why I won't "just wipe it off." I paid them for a plain burger not a burger that I find disgusting and I'm not going to suffer through it because they made a mistake. We usually end up in a fight about it with him pissed at me for embarrassing him and me pissed at him for him being pissed at me. In the end he always apologizes, though. And I always end up with the burger that I ordered.

    I do think you have to be sugary nice when asking to return food. Otherwise, you risk your food being "tampered" with. I don't know how often that really happens in restaurants but I live in constant fear of it.
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  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by suede View Post
    I was served a stuffed pork chop that was raw inside (not rare I mean raw) at a party 10 or so people. I very nicely showed the waiter who snagged my plate in a huff - he didn't return my plate until everyone else's dinner plates were cleared. This was the first and only time I have ever said anything about poorly made meal (mainly because I wasn't going to eat raw pork).

    Unfortunately, I was a guest and had zero control of showing the waiter how I felt by not giving him a tip, the host didn't notice and I didn't want to make a scene (in retrospect maybe I should have).

    In this case i would have spoken up even if it meant making a scene (or at least spoken to someone upper quietly if possible). it sounds like you were purposely detained in receiving your meal and not able to enjoy it with your party. in any case if this happened i would have spoken to someone and let them know my dissatisfaction, naming the waiter and what occured with the porkchop (that being the cook at fault), very clearly, possibly before ordering coffee and dessert and no tip for the waiter.

    Most restaurants are happy to accommodate their patrons to keep you coming back. that has been our experience.

  11. #26
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    As an afterthought, i do find in Asian restaurants, including any Chinese, Thai, Japanese, where the staff may tend to speak in broken English or with their accents it can often be difficult to understand them - it is good to know what you want and not ask too many questions as it can get very confusing. in cases like that it may be easy to get something you don't like or mix up your order. we always try to give the menu # if there is one as a back up. however the better restaurants always make an effort to please the customer.

    this is off topic but i found going to salons with English speaking manicurists were much easier as there are many now with Asian speaking owners and staff, however i could not understand them when i had questions on their services. i may have to pay a little more than the in and out, no appointment salons but i try to go at off-peak times and clip coupons.

  12. #27
    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    i deleted the city in the quoted post to help you.

    i'm not familiar with that area at all. i've definitely visited places where food quality isn't valued and i probably wouldn't complain about a meal in those places, i would be afraid of how my food would be tainted. that sux though. i don't know what you can do. i'm assuming that most of the restaurants have been there for years and patrons either don't care or they suck it up??
    What I find strange about this place is that many locals will say and believe a restaurant is good, but objectively speaking, the restaurant is only mediocre and may even be plain old bad. Many of these people are not even from here originally and surely have had many superior meals in the cities I know they come from. So why the ongoing delusion?

    If I were just visiting an area and I got a messed-up meal (wrong item, completely improperly cooked, etc.), I'd possibly just chalk it up to a loss. And I can think of many times over the past few years here when my food wasn't as I ordered it or wasn't quite right, but I just let it go.

    Regarding majorly effed-up food, though, I still feel like I have to communicate the problem and suffer the indignity of being treated like a troublemaker. It happens really rarely that something is that bad. But now it's happened twice in the same local restaurant (once at each of two different locations), leading to two humiliating experiences. But I guess I'd rather stand on principle and be unhappy than abandon my principles and be unhappy. ??

    Ooh, but let me give an anecdote from another local cafe. I'm a regular there--I take my kid in for lunch. For a long time, this young woman worked the counter who was just a sweetheart. She was one of the main reasons I kept going back. Now there's someone new. And ... not so friendly, to say the least.

    Now, please keep in mind that I am fairly soft-spoken, I am from the South, and I was raised to be polite. I do not approach people in a hostile manner.

    A couple of weeks ago in this restaurant, I ordered my son a little cheeseburger. I asked for a "kid's cheeseburger, dry"--no toppings. (He's horribly picky.) Once it was served, my son pointed out that there was no cheese on it. So I took it back to ask if they could just add some cheese. The woman said to me, very aggressively, "You said you didn't want cheese."

    I politely said that actually, I asked "for a cheeseburger." In a huff, she took it to have a piece of cheese put on.

    Such a small thing, why does it have to be difficult?

    And I went back a couple of weeks later. (I'm tapering off--we used to go there weekly, and it's looking like now we'll just never go.) I ordered a "kid's cheeseburger, dry," and she repeated back, "hamburger, nothing on it," and I said, "Well, a cheeseburger. With ... cheese?" Then she tried to charge me a total of eight dollars for our two meals and our two drinks. Although half price is nice, I knew we were being way undercharged, so I braced myself and politely said, "You know, I'm wondering if that's the right amount. It doesn't seem like enough."

    She, rudely, blustering: "Oh, it's right. I got it right."

    Me: "Well, okay."

    She, angry: "I'll look at your ticket again."

    She, after much studying of ticket: "It looks like I didn't charge you for your entree. Thank you for noticing that. I would have gotten yelled at later."

    Me: "You're welcome. I wouldn't want you to get yelled at."

    Sigh. At least she thanked me at the end. But since I correctly pointed out an error, she'll probably resent me now. The truth is, I finally realized she's probably just not very bright, or she's poorly educated; also not motivated. A lot of people here aren't motivated at all--there's not a lot to aspire to, I guess. I still give off a city vibe (educated, professional) to some local people, I'm sure. Not as much as when I first came here, but I bet I rub some of them the wrong way just by existing.
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    Elite Member Laxmobster's Avatar
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    Like Penny said, if there is something I can fix on it myself then I probably won't bother. I too fear what they might do to my plate otherwise. I've only had one really bad experience when I was at an Outback of all places. I ordered a side salad with my dinner and while I'm munching away on some salad, I bite down on a piece of glass (that may have also been a clear rock lol). I literally thought I chipped my tooth, but when the waiter came he was apologetic and brought me back a new salad. He explained that sometimes the lettuce doesn't get rinsed thoroughly and it may have been a small rock or piece of debris...Seriously you don't rinse the lettuce properly?

    I chose not the eat the new salad and when the manager came by after hearing what happened he took my info and comped my meal. A week later I received a $50 gift certificate for any other their other chains.
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  14. #29
    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    ^^ Yeah, that's more like it, Lax. Scary (unwashed lettuce?), but at least they took care of you.

    One time when I was a kid, I started to take a bite of restaurant pizza and saw part of a pizza cutter blade sticking up from the cheese! Our meal was comped, but looking back on it, if I were working in that place, I would've been thinking of what huge thing I could do for the customers to compensate for endangering them.

    When you look at it like that, $50 could be a pittance compared to the outcome of a customer swallowing glass.
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  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shinola View Post
    What I find strange about this place is that many locals will say and believe a restaurant is good, but objectively speaking, the restaurant is only mediocre and may even be plain old bad. Many of these people are not even from here originally and surely have had many superior meals in the cities I know they come from. So why the ongoing delusion?
    . . . .
    now that is interesting. i used to spend a lot of time in LA and would hear locals brag about how great the food is at different restaurants. we would go and the food was really mediocre, sometimes bad. and other times we would go to whatever restaurant was branded the IT place by the press as well as different people, and those were really mediocre, too. i think i was spoiled because the food in the bay area is so good, you can spend a little or a lot on a meal and get good food. in LA, the food was so-so regardless of how much we spent. so maybe you are spoiled because the food in the places you used to live or have visited are so much better?

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