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REALLY bad service...what would you do?

  • j

So my boyfriend and I went to the movies and decided to get a bite to eat afterwards. Restaurant is a very neighborhoody place...been there forever, fairly casual with a decent bar scene, but not too casual. Tables have flowers on them, butcher paper with crayons, but it's certainly no dive. We've both been there before. So we got there around 10pm, but keep in mind this is downtown in NYC. In the section where we were seated (middle room) there were 3 tables mid-dinner and at least 2 others seated after us.

The hostess brings us to our table and 10-15 minutes pass before we spot a waitress fawning over a table of regulars a couple of tables away. I manage to catch her eye and she says our waitress should be over shortly. So I ask if our waitress knows we're there. (We haven't seen anoy other servers in the room). She starts to walk away but then thinks better and comes back and says she'll take our order. We order drinks, entrees and ask for water. She comes back with the drinks. Another 5 minutes pass and I see someone who I guess was meant to be our waitress clearing the table next to us, so I ask her for bread and water.She brings the bread and says "Water's on the way." At this point neither of them have said anything remotely pleasant or anything to us. She does come back with the water and our food comes out a little later. It's fine, but again, no one comes to see if things are ok (although Waitress #2 did ask the other table next to us how their meal was). A little later, Waitress #2 comes and asks if my boyfriend is finished and takes his plate. Both of our drinks are almost empty but she doesn't ask if we need anything. She comes back to take my plate (with a lot of food left, and she didn't ask if I wanted to take it home although I asked my boyfriend in front of her if he wanted me to since I didn't care and he said no). We sit there for another 10-15 minutes or so with no drinks and no one asking if we want dessert. Finally I see Waitress #2 refilling sugar at empty tables and basically have to yell across the room to ask for our check. She sort of throws it down on the table. Total was only $34.75. Would have been more had we been asked if we wanted more drinks, dessert, etc. We left exactly $35 -- something I have never done, much less in NYC. I thought about asking to talk to a manager, but my boyfriend thought the message was pretty clear. Service sucked.

My boyfriend thinks we should have just left at the first sign that things weren't going well, but I wanted to give it a chance. Big mistake. What would you have done?

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  1. Sorry you had such poor serivce, it can ruin a whole evening.,

    What I would have done was get up a bit earlier in the meal when you first spotted some consistent problems with the service and go speak to the manager, very politely. It may have saved you a lot of aggravation. I know it is not your responsibility to make sure you have good service but in that situation, it would have been an appropriate action.

    If you choose not do that, I would definitely have spoken to the manager after dinner and let him know that you were leaving a 25 cent tip and WHY! By not saying anything, you leave it to the incompetent and rude waitress to tell her manager in her words about the cheapskates or not at all.

    BTW: If you haven't already, I would either go there and speak to the manager/owner in person or call ASAP!

    1. With the handy crayons I would have scrawled on the butcher paper, Help! We're trapped by bad service." and walked out.

      1 Reply
      1. I usually suck it up during the meal. I dunno why; for some reason I feel guilty if I don't leave a tip.

        I have no problem writing scathing comments on sites such as these, however. Interesting that you chose not to name the restaurant...

        2 Replies
        1. re: dunstable

          It was Walker's in Tribeca. In hindsight I wish we had either left right away or else talked to a manager. We were just so frustrated by the end of the meal and didn't see anyone who looked like a manager around.

          We should have put the crayons to better use.

          1. re: JennS

            "didn't see anyone who looked like a manager around."

            Tells the tale, doesn't it?

        2. A while ago, a friend who owns a restaurant told me he noticed business dropping. Finally, someone told him that one of his waitresses was a real " " (you fill in the blank). He wished that someone had told him earlier so he could have gotten rid of her and not lost any business. Ever since I learned that, I speak to the manager or call later and let them know. Sometimes they are either not present or too busy to watch every single server. They rely on customer feedback.

          1 Reply
          1. re: shopgirl

            My husband and I used to own a restaurant in the Florida Keys. Let me tell you, I was never so busy that I could not evaluate how a server was doing. Plus there are other clues owners use to keep tabs on service. You look at tips on the credit card receipts. Sometimes people write comments on their tabs. You can SEE the looks on customers' faces. If they look pissed, you better darn well fix it. If the problem is the server, you give the table to someone else and start doing something to make those folks happy. Plus, other servers usually will grumble to the manager or owner about other servers. You take those comments seriously and ferret out the problems. Servers are the face and personality of your restaurant. Now, if JennS really liked going to the restaurant (aside from that one incident) she might want to drop a note or give a call (before the restaurant opens) or drop in for a chat with the owner. If that owner is worth anything he or she will take that very very seriously and fix it by firing that person or making sure she understands what good service means and that it is expected with every single table (even the ones while they are doing their end of the night side work). That owner would probably get back to that customer and would probably offer a free meal to compensate for the bad time. One aside about that restaurant... if servers are yelling across the dining room to each other and acting in a generally slack way in front of customers there are probably problems that extend beyond the waitstaff. That means you may want to find another neighborhood joint.

          2. I had a very similar situation once.
            But a long story real short, before I paid I seeked out the manager, and told her the story. When I got to the part about having to open my bottle of champangene and serve it myself, she quickly asked to see the ticket. (Which was well over $100.)
            What I expected was that she was going to cross out the champaign.
            Instead, she stuck the ticket in her pocket, told us she was sorry, and asked us to please give them a try again sometime.

            2 points for Ralph and Cacos

            1 Reply
            1. re: Barbecue Joe

              What on Earth? So she brought the bottle to the table, then just walked away? That's one of the most outrageous incidents of incompetence I've ever heard. IF I were her manager, I would have fired her on the spot.