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Nov 15, 2006 03:53 PM

Poor Service?

The other threads about service made me think--how often do you get poor service? I eat out fairly often and I can only think of one instance, in the past year or so, where I've had bad service(it was at a chain restaurant, maybe Friday's or Ruby Tuesdays where we waited over 20 minutes and finally had to ask for our server, meal--salads took a long time, it took us close to two hours to get out and we got there at 11:15 am before the lunch crowd). I tipped 15% but should have left less. But, other than that, I'd say all the waiters/waitresses have been professional, some friendlier than others but that's a personality thing. Maybe I've been lucky but I don't remember any major gaffes and certainly not a whole glass of ice cold water spilled on my lap! Knock wood... From high end restaurants to chains, I've been impressed with the people working...well, maybe not for dimsum but that's a different ballgame.

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  1. I don't consider myself an overly-hard-to-please diner, but most recent bad service was just a couple weeks ago in Dallas at a mid-range place in the touristy old town. Mid-afternoon on a Sunday, the place was not particularly busy, yet the servers were not very attentive. It annoys me to no end if my water/beverage glass remains empty for 10+ minutes without someone noticing. Also, the surrounding tables on the patio were not bussed promptly at all, and pigeons were flocking around eating scraps that were left -- totally disgusting. Maybe they were short staffed that day, but it didn't appear that anyone was even attempting to hustle to get anything done. I also fault the manager. I would say that's what annoys me most -- when service is sluggish and totally inattentive, and servers/staff seem to be moving in slow motion.

    To be honest, I wouldn't even be as harsh about someone spilling water in my lap if I truly felt it was an accident (and they happen) that had nothing to do with the server being lax or unattentive or careless.

    1. I live in suburban Chicago, and, remarkably, think that we encounter poor service pretty regularly. I don't think that my wife and I are particularly demanding or high-maintenance, but the service at many of the high-end establishments in our area just isn't what it should be. I actually would expect mediocre of indifferent service at a place like TGI Friday's, but it seems as though more upscale restaurants (where checks frequently are $100 or more per couple, with tax and tip) often employ the same type of indifferent/disinterested server as you'd expect to find at the chain places.

      Although this is a bit of a generalization, many of these servers actually appear to be disinterested students or actors/writers/artists. These servers either really don't care about what they're doing -- perhaps because these jobs are short-term jobs and not careers -- or else never have really dined in upscale places with any frequency and are unaware of the typical level of service that people come to expect.

      While the restaurants themselves are somewhat to blame, for not offering sufficient training, etc., I suspect that part of the problem could be a shortage of qualified high-end servers in the local labor pool. Anyway, so much for my rant...I suppose that life isn't so rough if one of my bigger pet peeves is the service at local upscale restaurants.

      1. I usually experience at least adequate and often good
        to very good service.

        1 Reply
        1. re: taco_belle

          Same for me. Twice in my life have I had truly bad service - and that's saying something, since I've eaten out a lot, and I'm no spring chicken.

        2. I'm more on the opposite end of the spectrum - I always seem to attract poor service. One that notably stays in my mind is going to a local Dominican place and the waitress bringing out bottled water when we asked for water and frowning when we asked for tap water. It wasn't a fancy place - it was just a little mom and pop joint! She brought out little plastic cups and never refilled them, even when we asked. She ignored us, but doted on anyone else in the restaurant.
          I also seem to always get the server on a bad day. I've had one meal mis-hap, and the server wanted to know if I wanted to keep the fries, since she said the kitchen would just toss them anyway. I said yes and waited for my meal to come out, and then she ended up charging me for the fries. But even better - when asked about it (since she really made it seem like it was free) she cops a huge attitude, snaps the receipt out of my bf's hand and loudly says so everyone can hear "It's ONLY A DOLLAR, I don't see what the BIG DEAL is!" and then took it off... oookay. That was wierd! This was at a hip burrito place where it's busy but everyone is usually laid back. When I told some of my friends, they couldn't believe me - they said she's the nicest one and always comps them stuff when they go to eat there.

          I think I just have some sort of bad luck in me!

          At my last 2 places I've dined out I've been lucky and had amazing servers. Yay!

          1. I feel like I get the fish-eye from waiters at some places. I'm unfailingly polite, make eye-contact, and tip well...but there's this frission; as if I'm not speaking English or, just some odd disconnect, in general. Also, waiters tend to defer to my dining companions which drives me up the wall. It makes the odd good experience with general hospitality/rapport that much more enjoyable, sigh.

            5 Replies
            1. re: aelph

              An ex boyfriend had that same problem. Obviously I can't say that the reasons for his difficulties are the same as yours, but he too was unfailingly polite, etc etc. Or so he thought. Granted, he never raised his voice, never said anything rude, and if you read a transcript of his conversations with servers it would sound fine. However, his voice and body language dripped with condescension. Simply put, he considered himself better than servers and they quickly picked up on his arrogance. It was embarrassing.

              Even after pointing it out to him, he never got it.

              1. re: marcia

                Haha, I know a few people like one of my sisters. Everyone else in the family is cool. I think waitstaffs can see these people coming or smell them.

                I rarely get bad (as in awful) service but I make it a point to make it easy to be served. You know, I'm there to enjoy myself and the last thing I want to feel is being tense. Also if I'm mellow, I know if I'm getting bad serevice it's not me.

                  1. re: marcia

                    We have some good friends who act that way every time we go out with them. They act as though the wait staff was put on earth to treat badly. We love them, and they're not like that to anyone else, but they're awful to eat out with - so we don't go out with them anymore. It's really embarrassing.

                    1. re: marcia

                      I understand your's is an anecdote to my hypothetical situation, but I know enough about and sympathize with the typical lot of some servers that I hope I'm not being misread as condescending to them. Shrug.