Bad Customer Service: Your Response?

Author: DavidJones  //  Category: Ethics

I went to eat at a restaurant this past Friday night with a group of friends. There were 12-15 of us so it was a larger than normal crowd, but I had been to this same restaurant the previous week with a group of 11 and the service was great for the most part.

But not this time.

This restaurant is known for having peanuts on the table and bringing bread shortly after you arrive. Well, peanuts were on the table, but they were wet, so we requested a new bucket. As for the bread…well…we’ll get back to that.

The waitress started off by taking our drink orders. And then she disappeared. Twenty minutes passed and no one had seen her. My girlfriend even got up to look for her and couldn’t find her. She had to tell someone else working.

Time elapsed: 25 minutes

After about 25 minutes, our drinks arrived. Still no peanuts. Still no bread. But we kindly asked her about those things again. The waitress then took our orders and disappeared again for another 20 minutes.

Time elapsed: 45 minutes

At this point, the main courses started coming out. Still no bread. Still no peanuts. We kindly asked her about those things again. Over the next 10 minutes, everyone got their food except for me. I had ordered a burger, but it was nowhere to be found. Other people at the table got their burgers, salads, steaks, etc. but not me.

Time elapsed: 50 minutes

We finally receive bread and peanuts. I still do not have my food.

Time elapsed: 65 minutes

I finally receive my food. Other people at the table have already finished their meals. To make matters worse, my order is WRONG. It’s the wrong type of burger, the wrong type of toppings, and contains some weird sauce that seemed like salad dressing. I notify the waitress of the error. She informs me it’s the kitchen’s fault because she specifically told them about my order. She takes my entire plate and says she will bring me a new burger and fresh fries.

Time elapsed: 80 minutes

Everyone at the table is finished eating except for me and maybe 1 or 2 other people. I haven’t even started because the only thing in front of me is bread. The waitress brings me my food. But, the order is WRONG again. She brought me the same exact burger as the first time, but the cheese has been removed (I ordered a specialty cheeseburger). Not only that, but half of my fries are gone…and they’re lukewarm at best. I tell the waitress about this and she admits that it’s been her fault all along. She didn’t pay attention to me the first time when I ordered and didn’t pay attention to me the second time when I told her what my order was supposed to be. I tell her that since I’m hungry and everyone else is finished, I’ll just eat what’s in front of me. I do ask, however, if she can bring me a slice of cheese so I can make this burger (which contained a runny fried egg…yuck) into a cheeseburger. She told me she’d have the kitchen prepare one for me right away.

Time elapsed: 90 minutes

The waitress returns with takeout boxes for everyone. Has not brought cheese for me. She tells me she’s working on it.

Time elapsed: 95 minutes

Still no cheese. Everyone else is finished, has their food in takeout boxes, and is getting out their forms of payment. I decide to go ahead and eat because I’m still very very hungry. As I’m biting into my burger, the waitress walks up, still without the cheese I requested, and says to me, “Really? I have them preparing cheese for you in the kitchen and you’re gonna go ahead and eat anyway?!?!” And then she walks off. Remember, we’re talking about a single slice of cheese, not a new burger.

Time elapsed: 105 minutes

I’m not sure if someone in my group tipped him off or he noticed the back-and-forth from the waitress and the kitchen, but the manager of the restaurant comes over to speak with me about what happened.

Before I tell you what the manager did, let me ask you what YOU would do if you were the manager in this situation? How would you make things right in this situation?

TUESDAY UPDATE: Here’s how the manager responded to what happened: He came over and asked me what had happened. As I explained the situation to him, he gave me a quick apology and said my meal would be taken care of. He left for a few minutes and came back with the check. My girlfriend and I were on the same ticket. My meal was free but as I expected, her’s was still on the bill (even though she let her food sit and get cold because she was waiting to eat with me). The manager then proceeded to hand me two cards. At first I thought they were gift cards. Nope. They were cards that are good for a free appetizer, sort of. “Valid with purchase of any entree. Not to be combined with any other Offer, Discount or Promotion, including: 2 Full Meals, 3 Course Deal, 3 Course Steak Dinner For 2, $7.99 Full Meals, $14.99 Steak & Lobster, $14.99 Steak & Seafood Combo, 4-Course Deal or other Limited Time Offers.” Oh yeah…and the cards were EXPIRED!!!

I mentioned this to the manager and he just laughed. He then said, “Sorry about that. Would you prefer I got you some that weren’t expired?” I said, “Well, yeah, that would make me feel better—” He then cut me off and said, “You know what, it’s not a big deal. I work here and at the restaurant out in Smyrna. If I’m working, we’ll take them. If I’m not, they’ll probably take them anyway. We don’t reject coupons too often.”

So here I am…with two expired coupons that can only be used when I purchase (aka spend money) at that restaurant. And on top of that, I have to put my trust in “probably” and “don’t reject…too often.”

If you read Jean’s comment below, you’ll notice that the service was pretty bad for others as well. The only thing they walked away with were checks that were rounded up. As for me, I received two expired coupons!

THURSDAY UPDATE: A few days after the whole debacle, I sent an email to the “Contact Us” address listed on the company’s website. I essentially included all of the details listed above. Last night I received a call from one of the top guys in the company. He apologized many times for the errors and said that never should have happened nor should the follow-up from the manager have been handled like it was. He explained that when he called the restaurant to ask about the situation, no one knew anything about it. In fact, no one could even pinpoint the manager who was working Friday night. After doing some digging, he figured out it was a fill-in manager who was only there for a few days. (He was even candid enough to tell me that fill-in manager hadn’t returned his calls.) He told me that if one of his guys had been managing that night, none of that would have happened. He went on to tell me that the restaurant had just hired a new General Manager so they were in the process of making changes. Also, the restaurant currently does not have a Kitchen Manager, which may explain the problems with the food orders.

The executive thanked me for sending a detailed email. He said the specifics would help him get things fixed. He also said he was sending me vouchers for two free meals so my girlfriend and I could return to the restaurant, eat free of charge, and hopefully have a better experience. He also asked me to keep his cell phone number and to call him after my next visit to the restaurant. He wants me to keep him informed of any problems or praise I have for the restaurant.



[By the way, as crazy as this story may sound, there are about 10 people who can back me up on the details. I was even conservative in the times I gave. It was about 2 1/2 hours from the time we sat down until the last person received his credit card back. And to make things even more sketchy, the waitress told those who paid with cash that the restaurant didn't have any change, so the checks were rounded up.]


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9 Responses to “Bad Customer Service: Your Response?”

  1. Ben Says:

    What he SHOULD do: Comp the table, apologize profusely, and assure that he will speak with the waitress about her performance.

    What I predict he will do: Free appetizer coupon with meal purchase on your next visit.

  2. Aaron Says:

    If nothing else he should have gave you a free meal and a gift certificate for next time. All of that on top of A LOT of apologizing for sure.

    I was at a popular Italian restaurant chain with my wife a few weeks ago and ordered spaghetti. I knew I was making a risk when I ordered it, because I normally don’t care for their spaghetti, but it sounded good so I ordered it anyway. I didn’t care for it, and my wife wasn’t very hungry so I ate most of her plate and very little of my own. The waitress asked if their was anything wrong with my order and I told her that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it and that it was just my own taste buds that didn’t care for it. Within a few minutes the manager shows up and apologizes and gives me a $10 gift card….

    Now do you think I’ll be patronizing this place again? Managers have to know how to retain customers. It’s how they make money!

  3. Jamie Lane Says:

    Well… If I’ve got the restaurant right (Logan’s)– they give away meals at the drop of a hat (I didn’t eat all of my steak and the manager walked by and said, “Obviously that steak wasn’t prepared well enough for you, let me take care of it.”)

    So I’m gonna say he probably took care of everyone’s meal and gave you all desert. He probably then made the waitress apologize.

  4. Alyssa Says:

    If I was the manager of a popular food chain I would apologize to you myself, have the waitress apologize to you, not make you pay for your meal, & give you a gift card.

    I would indicate to him that I was disappointed, forgiving, but highly disappointed.

  5. Danny Says:

    What did he do? It depends. Were you in Memphis?

  6. Jean Says:

    I was with David Friday night. Other fo-pahs included another hamburger that had to be sent back for the right toppings, and the cheese never did appear on that one either. Four steaks were ordered around us, and when my husband cut into his, I thought he would have to get a sharper knife to do so. It was supposed to be medium rare. The other three steaks were also ill-prepared. One of our group must eat gluten free, and when she asked about a gluten free menu, was told they didn’t have one. She then produced a web print out extolling the gluten free menu for this chain. I ordered a salad, and while my salad came with most of the other entrees, my dressing didn’t come until David sent his first burger back. It was a lovely evening.

  7. DavidJones Says:

    If this were a contest, Ben would be going home with a Free appetizer coupon with meal purchase on your next visit…that expired in June.

  8. AJ Says:

    I am just guessing this might be the Logan’s in Antioch. When Kelly and I lived in Nashville a group of us had an experience almost identical to this one at that restaurant. We never did use the free coupons…

  9. Jean Says:

    Well, David, you may get some satisfaction from this after all. I had thought about writing the “contact us” myself. I hope you are treated much better the next time around. The manager that night said he normally worked at the Symnra resturant and he was just filling in there. Let me know how it goes. :)

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