Bad service leaves bitter taste

Markthespark By Markthespark, 22nd Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Food

Customers taken for a ride by restaurants' slapdash and sloppy service and a lack of etiquette

Restaurant complainer

Some restaurants just can’t get the service right these days.

I use to be the most lenient of patrons when things went wrong at the table. Cold coffee, cold food, long waits before being served – and on one occasion almost footing the wrong bill! But not anymore; now you could label me a serial restaurant complainer. And, that’s only because I’ve had too many disappointments to remember.

That tag - serial complainer - used to belong to my wife; but we both concur nowadays that I have surpassed her as far as that mantle is concerned. So now when I complain, and the restaurant manager with the help of his staff, eventually gets the job done properly (it is my money I am parting with!!!) I am left to wonder why they didn’t get it right in the first place. I said earlier that I have had too many disappointments to remember, but one night in particular I recall during a night out with my wife and in-laws, a wait of more than half an hour for our food. When you’re hungry and looking forward to tucking in, even 10 minutes seem an eternity! Then, when the treats eventually arrived at our table, it seemed like the food had come straight out of the refrigerator.

Well, what I’m saying, is that I know most of these restaurants keep their ingredients in the refrigerator (they have to) before serving them. Obviously, with ours the heat had not been turned up enough on the grill, and was left wondering if the serving had been properly cooked anyway. If there’s anything to raise my Blood Pressure – COLD FOOD! Then, after what can only be termed a lame attempt at warming up our food, we had to once again get the attention of the waitress that we had ordered a round of drinks - an hour before! But what blew me out of the water, to coin a cliché, was when my wife realised she had been given the incorrect bill! That probably was the worst case of restaurant negligence I’ve experienced, and may I say I’ve been on the receiving end of some rough experiences.

Am I happy or what?

Now, I must accept though we are quick to criticise and complain, most of these establishments (my experience anyway) ensure they get it absolutely 100 percent right the second time around, once you’ve lodged your complaint - especially if it is an embarrassing one, or is potentially threatening to their business. Just the other day, not only did I get the wrong order, but when the correct one arrived, my fish portion was undercooked, which simply means … raw. Now, once the waiter has attended to my whining, there’s just a touch of anxiety as to whether the owner/cook/manager is going to agree with my take on things. Within five minutes the manager was standing next to me with a rather sympathetic expression: “That fish was unacceptable, I’m really sorry. I’ll talk to our cook and fix it up.” I am a bit relieved. And fix it up he did. He even cooked the fish himself to ensure nothing went wrong. I wondered after the brilliant second attempt, if they’d frog-marched the chef out of the building. That’s not ultimately what I want to happen; someone losing his job. It’s the entire concern that should take the rap for shocking service.

Anyway, when my fish arrived on the table, it looked bigger, succulent and grilled to perfection; that feeling that it’s going to go down well, once you’ve but only feasted your eyes on it! Then to my pleasant surprise: heaps of extra chips, some yellow rice (not part of the serving) fresh salad, and another side portion. Delectable indeed. So I tuck in. But every ten minutes or so, I have the waiter poring over my shoulder: “Are you okay sir?” “Fine,” I say, hoping to get him off my back quickly. Then again, in between sipping some wine, and while I’m in the middle of trying to say something of importance to my wife there he is again: “Are you okay sir?” Then just as I have the tasty morsels stuffed in my mouth … “Everything okay sir?”.

Getting it right, finally

But when the waiter has come around for the ninth or tenth time for the night, I’m inclined to say: “No I’m not okay… so get out of my bloody way, will ya?” But I won’t, “Shame this person has had a rough night,” it dawns on me. His concern for my well-being prompted by my complaints about the underheated food. Before long, a worried restaurant manager is crouching at my table again, apologising profusely for the unfortunate oversight. Then he says: “I was wondering whether you would like to look at our lovely dessert menu.” To which I reply: “Actually that’s just what my wife and I were discussing. How difficult it is to keep space for dessert.” “Ahhh this is redemption,” it occurs to me. And as if I knew what was coming, says our host: “We won’t charge you for the dessert.” Look, I’m always prepared to pay my way, but now I’m feeling just a little bit embarrassed. I think to myself: “O My word, did I whine that much, that part of my bill gets written off.” They won’t let me pay for dessert ? And in these recessionary times? We take him up on the offer nonetheless and gobble up our dessert. So most times I leave a restaurant feeling between anxious and actually miffed by it all. The experience.

I’m left thinking time and time again: “If only they could get it right the first time!”

So everyone's smiling

There's nothing better than when on an occasion to a restaurant you are heartily satisfied with proceedings. Even the manager and the waiters and waitresses are now a happy lot - that they've made their patrons happy!


Dessert, Fish, Food, Restaurant, Service, Table, Waiter

Meet the author

author avatar Markthespark
I am a 49 year old journalist, and have been involved in the profession for 19 years. I am currently a newspaper sub-editor at a newspaper group in Port Elizabeth on the east coast of South Africa. .

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author avatar jotomy
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

okay, some times it happens.

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