Lack Of Service
“Over 40 years ago, my wife’s grandparents were celebrating their 50th anniversary. Her 7 children, their spouses, and grandchildren decided to take them to their favorite restaurant. This was a Mexican restaurant that served a buffet and also served American cuisine off the menu. Her grandparents preferred the menu options.
We’re talking about approximately 30 adults and children. Other than Grandma and Grandpa, EVERYONE else went through the buffet line. We had requested a separate dining room since the restaurant was quite popular and we would have been split up around the restaurant.
Our server took our drink orders and we went about getting our food. The drinks were brought with the one food order. After that, our server disappeared.
Remember, this was a Mexican restaurant, which included spicy food. It wasn’t long before we had finished our drinks and some were getting desperate to wet their whistles. I finally took it upon myself to try to find our server. By now, we had been left alone for about 20 minutes.
Our dining room was separated from the main room by a hallway leading to the kitchen. Our server was still missing in action. I found a cart with several pitchers of iced tea and took it back, where everyone served themselves.
This restaurant’s buffet included dessert, and suddenly here comes our missing server, with another waitress, carrying trays of assorted half-melted sherbet of various flavors. Plopping one down in front of me without a word, the servers were leaving when I stopped one to ask what flavor she had given me. Her clipped answer was ‘pineapple,’ and she left without another word.
Shortly afterward, (with my uneaten sherbet still sitting on the table) the server returned and handed out the checks. Looking at mine, I noticed a 25% tip had been added.
You should know that this happened in the mid-70s when a 10% tip was considered overly generous. All the family started comparing checks and determined that the added tips would have added up to over $50 for what amounted to about 5 minutes of the server’s time.
I should let it be known that I have what has been referred to as a sarcastic sense of humor. When we left and went to the register, I made sure I was the first one to check out. The manager happened to be running the register, and I was ready for him with exact change for two buffet meals.
The manager looked at my check and made the worst statement he could have. He looked at me and said, ‘Sir, you’re short.’ My retort was ‘Nope, I’m 6 foot 1’. He didn’t get it. He then told me that parties of eight or more were obligated to pay a minimum tip. My response was that there were only two in my party.
It started to go downhill from that point. I was told that I was going to pay the tip or he would call the police. My mother had joined the police department when I was 9-years-old, and as a result, I had quite some knowledge of the law. I invited him to call them, and that I would be glad to wait.
That’s where I told him that I knew that a tip was, in fact, a gratuity given for good service, which we had not gotten. I also advised him that if he insisted on making a scene with us, that I had no problem suing for my troubles.
Needless to say, he caved. We each paid the exact charges and never went back.
So, it’s not only what a server says, but how they act towards the customer.”
Find Somewhere Else To Eat!
“My wife and I walked into a well known Southern steak place one early evening midweek, and just wanted a quick bite on the way home from picking her up at the airport. She traveled with her job, sometimes internationally, so we thought it would be easy to get in and out and on our way.
As we stepped inside and waited in the greeter, I could hear a very loud two-way phone conversation, in Spanish, somewhere in the restaurant. There were a lot of profanities being shouted on both ends. This person had had it on speaker and was having a very loud conversation in the middle of the restaurant.
When the very young female greeter came to the station, I simply asked to NOT be seated by whoever that was having the conversation. Either she did not hear me or just did not care, so guess where we ended up…right across from the offender with the phone!
When the waitress appeared to take our drink order, I calmly asked her if she could politely ask the offending patron to at least take the phone off of speaker mode so the entire restaurant would not have to listen to both sides of the conversation. She acknowledged she would do that and be back with our drinks. Momentarily, another person walks up to the table, and introduces himself as the manager, and said, ‘I understand you have a problem with one of our guests.’ All while the loud conversation is going on right behind him. I told him that I had asked the greeter not to be seated by this person, and then asked the waitress to politely ask the offender to, at the very least, turn the phone off of speaker mode.
The manager then made a career-ending statement… ‘Sir, if YOU have a problem with the issue, then maybe YOU need to find another place to eat!’ I was floored! I told him that I wanted to COMPLETELY understand and comprehend what he was saying, and asked him to repeat it…and he willingly obliged. I said, ‘I just want to make sure we ALL understand what is about to happen here. If I leave, you can bet your last dollar that I will be on my computer and phone when I get home talking to your corporate office about this discussion, so I just want to make sure that you understand this from this from the start.’
The manager then told us we needed to leave ‘now!’ We removed ourselves from the restaurant, and I did exactly as I stated to him when we got home. Upon speaking to the chain’s corporate offices, I was apologized to repeatedly, was called back several times to make sure their offer of apology was accepted, and also received, not one, but two, $100 gift cards in the mail with no expiration dates, to be used at any of their establishments.
After about two weeks after receiving the gift cards, we purposely went back to the offending restaurant, not only to see if any changes had been made to the staff but also to show the chain we still loved them. There was hardly anyone in the place that was there from the previous visit, and upon inquiring about the aforementioned manage, we found out that he had been fired, along with most of the management staff, and bartender due to our run in that night, and the subsequent investigation into our allegations. The company found grievous accounting and management errors at that store, and a wholesale staff change was implemented; this came straight from the new manager’s mouth.
Not long after this event, the store moved to another stand-alone location, and they closed the site completely in less than two years, as the demographics of the area changed rapidly and drastically, and the store was no longer viable.
We still patronize the other locations in the area and enjoy their food, but will never forget being treated that rudely.”
That’s How They Get Cooked
“We went out to breakfast for Mother’s Day, and part of my mother’s order was hashbrowns. Now, neither of us like the mostly-raw barely-warm grated potatoes that comprise ‘hash browns’ in a lot of places (how can you call them hash browns when they’re not brown?), so we always request them extra-extra done. I actually always put it to my server this way:
‘Listen, you or the cook or both are going to think I’m nuts. But I literally want them at the point where they’re so crispy, you think you have to throw them out. You can’t possibly burn my hashbrowns unless you turn them to actual charcoal.’ I’ve used this at Denny’s, IHOP, and a dozen independent restaurants that make food in a similar vein, and at none of them have I had a problem. Occasionally they come out a little less crispy than I like, but at that point, I’m like ‘you know what, I know the cook is probably erring on the side of caution, I’m not going to give him/her flack about it,’ and I eat them.
But this particular restaurant?
The server rather nastily goes ‘well, we’re busy. I’ll see what I can do.’
I’m not too happy about that. I’m pretty easygoing about my food—when I lived on the East Coast, my regular restaurant would actually put trainees on my table on purpose because they knew I wasn’t a crazy psycho hyper-specific impossible-to-please customer—but like… it’s Mother’s Day? You think we don’t know you’re busy? We can look around and see that you’re busy. We’re not asking anything more complicated than ‘the hash brown version of a well-done steak.’ Yes, it’s not to everyone’s taste, but I’m clearly here with my mother, and it’s Mother’s Day. Be nice.
But I let it go.
Until he brings out our food.
Our hash browns are stone-cold and limp. I turned mine over with a fork and actually found out the entire inside was raw—as in, if you picked up a potato and grated it directly onto the plate. There was still liquid starch in them, even—which even a quick flip in a pan would have evaporated. My mom’s eggs hadn’t been cooked right—she asked for over-medium and got scrambled—and my French toast was rock hard. So I flagged him down. And I politely say:
‘I’m sorry, I know you’re busy, but we’ve got a couple of problems.’
And this obnoxious kid looks at me and, in the same tone as a teenager going ‘whatever,’ says:
‘I can’t help what your grandmother wants. That’s how they get cooked.’
My mom can be extremely histrionic and overdramatic, but in that moment, she was genuinely hurt. She looked like she’d been slapped. She’s had a lot of health issues in the last few years, and they’d aged her very badly—but most people are at least tactful enough to not say so.
So I gave him a very gentle smile, and said: ‘I can’t help that you’re a rude and terrible waiter, but my mother is not going to be treated this way on Mother’s Day, and I’d like to speak to your manager.’
He didn’t say a word, just walked off. I eventually had to go get the manager myself.
The manager, luckily for her business, was extremely good at her job because I was ready to walk. I told her I didn’t need a comped meal or anything extra, but I wanted a different server.
She served us our remade meal herself and insisted we take home a piece of pie, which genuinely was not necessary. I just didn’t want that waiter anywhere near my mother’s food again.”
I’ll Just Sit Down Here
“It was right after my husband and I got married and moved to a new area.
We went to a local restaurant that we had a coupon for. It was a basic steakhouse, where you throw your peanut shells on the floor, and the ‘tablecloths’ were brown paper sheets.
The server, a very young cute girl, wrote her name upside down on the paper tablecloth, which was cute, but then she sat down beside my husband, invading his personal space, and said, ‘wow, you are a hottie!’ Yes, my husband was a hottie, but I did not need our server to tell me that!
He was so upset. He had already shared with her that we were just back in town from our honeymoon. She called him ‘sweetie’ every time she came to the table and ignored me completely. He called the manager over to the table before our entrees arrived, explained the issue, paid for the drinks and appetizers, and we left.
They were closed for business less than two years later. I do not know if more people felt offense at actions like this, or if it was just bad business management.”
That’s Not My Brand
“My dad had a terrible experience with this one server. He’s normally fairly conservative and rocks no boats, but he had a favorite kind of spirit when we were much younger. He also knew that it was a common thing for a bartender to swap out one particular different brand. They were about the same price but he didn’t care for the taste of the other one and behind it were a religious order he didn’t care to support.
He’d order his brand and always tell the server to be sure that the bartender did not substitute this other brand. If the bar didn’t have what he wanted, just let him know and he’d get something else. He never blamed the server the first time around if he ended up getting the brand he didn’t want.
And that’s what happened this night. But the server said, ‘Oh no, sir, you’re wrong. I told Billy your exact words and that’s what he gave you.’
‘Sorry, miss, no he did not. Please get me another drink and as I said, if you don’t have what I want, just let me know.’
A long time goes by and I have to go to the bathroom. That takes me past the empty restaurant except for the bartender and our server bar area. They’re clearly more than ‘friends’ but then they both see me. That must have been the bartender’s clue to pour the drink because she was arriving back at the table just as I got back.
My dad tastes it and says ‘this is NOT what I ordered.’ She starts to say, ‘Yes it is, I watched him make it’ when I pipe up. I was about 15 at the time and so I said, ‘Dad, she was out there all right but I think she was busier watching something else.’
At this point, my dad says ‘I’m giving you one chance. If I walk out to that bar, am I going to find my brand in stock or am I going to need to call the owner? I don’t like being lied to.’
She stood there, looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘I’m telling you Billy poured your brand. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Okay fine,’ says my dad, ‘I’m going to go look and if you’re right, I’ll be the first to admit it. If not, I’ll be calling Mr. X, who I assume you know is the owner of this restaurant.’
She turns white as a sheet and starts to stammer that well maybe she didn’t actually see Billy pour and almost runs out toward the bar. Meanwhile, my dad left exactly $0.01 IN the glass of the not-his-brand spirit and we walked out.
That was a restaurant my family had gone to for close to the 40 years it had been open. This was also the last time we ever went and the owner was told why.”
The Smallest Sign
“Many years ago in the early 1980s, I took a small group of people on a frenetic two-week tour of the northeastern portion of the United States that hit all of the major historical and tourist sites.
We ended up, near the end of the two weeks, on Long Island, in the Hamptons. Everyone was getting hungry around 1:00 pm, so I stopped at a restaurant that had a very crowded parking lot, which usually indicates good food.
We waited in line (out the door) for almost an hour before being seated. The waitress finally came and took everyone’s order. About 10 minutes after the waitress had left with our order, I noticed a little (4-inch by 3-inch) sign, on the wall next to the table, half-hidden behind the condiments: ‘Credit Cards NOT Accepted.’
As this was the end of our trip, I had only a few travelers’ cheques left. I had planned on paying for everyone’s food with a credit card.
So, what do you do? It was Sunday, so there were no banks open. And this was in the days before ATMs were common.
I discreetly polled everyone in our party, and between the travelers’ cheques I had, and the cash other folks had, it looked like we had enough money to pay for the meals we had ordered.
The food comes and we eat. Then the check arrives and we start putting our money together to pay for it. Yes, we had enough. BUT, there was only enough left over to give the waitress about a 10% tip. Oh well, it’s not my fault that this seemingly upscale restaurant won’t accept cards like most restaurants elsewhere in the world.
We left the tip on the table, went out front and paid the bill, and as we were walking to our cars, the waitress and manager came running out the front door. ‘Wait! Wait!’
When they got to me, I turned and asked, ‘is there a problem?’ The waitress replied, ‘you only left 10%; was there something wrong with the food or the service?’
I told her, no, and then explained the situation; we didn’t realize that they did not take credit cards until after we had already ordered. And I added, for the manager’s benefit, ‘I’ve never been in a restaurant that wouldn’t accept a major credit card; and if you don’t, you should probably at least post that fact in a number of conspicuous places where people will see it before they sit down and order.’
The waitress turned red in the face, and just went into a rage. ‘White trash with no money like you shouldn’t be allowed in a place like this. How am I supposed to live on garbage like this?’ And then she threw the tip money at my face.
The manager kept saying, ‘you have to tip at least 15%; most of our customers tip at least 20%.’
I looked at her, then I looked at him, and then I picked up the money she had thrown:
‘A tip is a gratuity… completely voluntary. I don’t have to tip anything. It’s not my fault you don’t take credit cards like a normal restaurant; it’s not my fault you think a dinky, half-hidden little sign next to each table is sufficient warning of your stupid policy; it’s not my fault the owner doesn’t pay his staff enough to live on. I left what we had; if you think that amount is beneath you, too bad… now you get NOTHING.’
While the waitress raged on, the manager decided to go down the path of threatening to call the police. ‘Go for it,’ I said. ‘I’d love nothing more than to have a reason to sue you and maybe even end up owning this place. First thing I’d do is fire you two’
And with that, I got into my car, backed out of the parking space, and made sure to goose the accelerator so that a little of the loose gravel was thrown at the two of them as I left the parking lot.
I have never experienced any other waitperson, anywhere in the world where I have traveled, that came close to being that rude and obnoxious.”
“The server wasn’t rude to me, but to my dining companion. She is a big girl, 5’10” tall and perhaps 359 pounds. She is not self-conscious about her size unless someone points it out.
We were at a nicer restaurant and she ordered their big steak, baked potato loaded with butter, cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives, and broccoli with cheese sauce. The waiter leaned over and said, ‘You really don’t need that. It’s at least 2500 calories. May I recommend the grilled sole with a salad and the plain broccoli?’
I immediately stood up and said, ‘Let’s get out of here!’ I turned to the waiter and said, ‘That’s insulting. We don’t need your diet advice.’ We started walking out. He’s loudly saying, ‘Well, she’s fat…’ We didn’t hear the rest.
We’ve never gone back.”
“My wife and I are Jewish, and we went to a local Middle Eastern restaurant owned by Iranians. The food was excellent, but when we got the bill we noticed they’d forgotten to charge us for one of our dishes.
We pointed this out to the owner, who was at the cash register, and told her we owed more than they charged us. She looked at our credit card, saw our last name (Rosenberg), and said, ‘How unusual that people like you would say that.’
The meaning was clear to us – that she thought it would be odd for Jews to point out a financial error that was not in their favor. Apparently, she bought into the Anti-Semitic idea that Jews are greedy and deceitful.
Needless to say, we didn’t go back.”
The R Word
“We were sitting at a table near the kitchen and watched the waiter heading towards the doors with a dish going back into the kitchen and the manager asked what the problem was. The waiter replied ‘the customer said the cheese feels funny.’
The manager asked who the customer was, and the waiter replied ‘the slow idiot (but in less kind language) at Table 5.’ The manager says ‘ugh!’ Not ‘WHAT did you say?’ Nothing to let his employee know that word isn’t okay. I went over, told him to cancel our meal and tell me what I owed for the drinks. When he asked why, I told him that I heard the description of the kid at Table 5, and I was going to let them know as well. He comped our drinks, apologized, and asked if I could not say anything to anyone and that he would ‘discipline the server.’ I said sure, and as we were leaving, he watched as I stopped by the table and let the family know how they described their child. As they started getting up, I looked at him and said: ‘I lied…sucks don’t it?’
We never set foot in there again, and my only regret was not writing to the owners to tell them about their employees’ behavior.”
A Bad Birthday
“It was my aunt’s birthday and my parents went with her to a ‘famous’ restaurant. As soon as they got a table, their waitress rather rudely asked, ‘What do you want?’ They did nothing to annoy or anything, this was how she greeted them. They ordered their drinks and the waitress just went to a corner and started texting. They waited for 30 minutes for their drinks and when they got them, the waitress muttered, ‘Hope you choke on it.’
My aunt is a bit sensitive and she asks the waitress why she was being mean to them. She replied that it was supposed to be her day off and that she had to cancel a date with her boyfriend. My dad was furious and bellowed at her in front of the entire bar that she should be grateful that she has a job that pays her bills. She was taken aback and my family left without paying the bill.
They went to another restaurant that was close by. My aunt is hysterical at this point, going on that her birthday was ruined, but everyone is doing everything to calm her down. The restaurant owner came out and asks what was the matter, so they told him what happened. He replied that he’s actually not surprised as many of the other restaurants’ patrons come to his place after a horrible experience there, mostly with the rude behavior of the staff. He would often call the owner about the patrons’ experiences and said that he will do it again for my aunt.
A few days later, the first restaurant owner called to apologize and to inform that the waitress was promptly terminated. My dad said it was not enough and that they’ll never set foot in there, again. To this day, they haven’t gone back.”
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