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What Would You Have Done?

Feeling ever so slightly hungry my gf and I went to a chain resto to grab some beer and a salad. We ordered a asian chicken salad and two mugs of beer. The place wasn't busy at all and our beer came in a timely manner.

Few minutes later came the salad but lo and behold no chicken... So we hail our waiter and tell him that the chicken is missing from our salad and he gives us the most indifferent look and replies "oh" and takes the salad back to the kitchen.

5 minutes later he comes back with our chicken salad and I notice that our "asian" salad is lacking a couple other ingredients that were clearly listed under the menu description including water chestnuts and shredded fried noodles. We track down our waiter again who went missing for a couple minutes to flirt with some other customers and tell him that our salad is missing a couple other items.

His response "so what do you want me to do?"

I reply "can you fix the salad to the description on the menu?"

With a sigh he once again takes back the salad and we finish our first mug of beer (which was probably the highlight of our visit). Another 5 minutes pass and the waiter comes by, silently drops off the salad bowl and continues walking on by. It appears the rest of the missing ingredients were pretty much thrown sloppily on top of the chicken rather than tossed to fully incorporate all the ingredients.

Furious, I asked to speak to the manager. I told the manager the story, of how we had to send back a simple salad two times and how ingredients were missing and how sloppily they've been corrected. So the manager asks "so do you want a new salad?"

I respond "Honestly, we'd like to see the food we get served a little more presentable and appetizing. I'm sure many other customers would probably throw a tantrum but we're not that type and we just want YOU the manager to know that the service here isn't up to standard par and that you'll lose business in the long run." He said "thanks and left"

We ended up eating the salad, although it sort of ruined the whole dining experience cause it seemed we were arguing more than actually eating or drinking. I feel we were very patient and expected the manager to do something to make up for the whole situation, I'm not talking about comp or anything but even a sincere apology would have done... was I asking too much or did my ends justify the means?

We ended up not finishing the salad. And our tip was, missing a percentage or two...

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  1. Most chain restaurants have a website.

    I would go on the website and write an email to their feedback or contact person. The email then goes above the individual restaurant, to the Corporate people. It certainly won't help with your meal situation this time, but it does offer them a clear message, perhaps they will try to "right a wrong". Some of the time, they send a complimentary offer.

    Just one idea. Sorry about your meal.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mcel215

      if you email corporate, youll get something free for sure.

      1. re: niccole

        yes thats true. but nothing will change in the long run :-/

      2. re: mcel215

        No, no, no! Do not send emails on things of this nature! Write A Letter! A Letter is given much higher priority and will be delivered to the franchiser/regional manager with a brisk note, "Fix it" attached.

        BTDT. I still write Letters (good, bad, and ugly.)

      3. Ditto with the other comments. One has to be kinda careful about how far you go when food keeps being sent back. Your salads could come back with god-only-knows what added on!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tanya Wiens

          yep, I worked in restaurants toooo long. I would have done one send back and then asked for the additional toppings to be brought out to me soon as possible while I started on the salad.

        2. You were a lot more polite than I would have been. I agree that follow-up in an email might improve your mood.

          1. Sounds as if you tipped better than I would have. Tip "missing
            a percentage or two?" I would've left 1%.

            1. definitely e-mail corporate, with a cc to the manager.

              apologizing was the least the guy could have done. sounds like the trickle-down theory is the name of the game there.

              1. Please tell me why you left a tip. I too suggest you go one more step up the corporate food chain and inform the next level of chain management of the situation, if you feel so inclined. I don't know the rules as to whether or not you can let us know which chain it was, but if you could tell us, we could know to avoid risking such an experience with them.

                1. What would I have done? By the second round I would have just eaten my salad (or not), and definitely left no tip. Why are you encouraging such bad service by leaving a tip at all?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PeterL

                    The only time I had to send anything back TWICE, I wrote a big giant "ZERO" (spelled out) in the tip line on the credit card receipt, and wrote the reason why on the bottom.

                    The manager was "unavailable" at the time. I haven't been back to the Cheesecake Factory since.

                  2. I'm not sure that I would have eaten the salad. You did try twice re-ordering what the menu clearly stated. Other than being hungry, with one beer down the hatch...I would have ask for a bill adjustment and left.

                    Also agree with posts that an email to their HQ is in order. What a pity. Training, QC...was def. lacking.

                    1. You did pretty much what I would have done. You made your feelings known to the server and to the manager and you reduced the tip. There is not much else to do. You could help the rest of us by telling the name of the place. There are plenty of places out there looking for our money - I try to avoid places that have practices as you described.

                      1. You did everything correctly up to leaving a tip. Jfood would have zippo'd the tippo. Then I would have written an email to corporate and asked for nothing. Just give them feedback. Do you really want to go back?

                        1. "Something free for complaining to corporate"?? Probably, but that would involve going back there again (which I would not do).

                          No tip, not one thin dime - and (casting a very unlikely note in a bottle onto a stormy sea) I'd write "VERY dissatisfied with food and service" on the check. Sometimes someone responsible in management will see it (but in a chain, I dunno.)

                          1. Obviously, it wasn't the waiter's fault that the dish was not as described. However, he should have apologized and returned the dish with ample portions of the missing food.

                            No unique advice, but I certainly agree that no tip (except one penny or coin, perhaps, to voice your dissatisfaction) should be left and that you should write the corporation. They really need to know what their waiters are doing.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Cecile16

                              Agreed the waiter was not at fault as to the food being wrong, BUT a decent waiter would have noticed no chicken and other missing food.

                              Email headquarters. Big companies want to protect their image. They will check on the problem.

                              1. re: Cecile16

                                How was it not the waiter's fault, at least on the second time around? I can understand the first time, when they probably just grabbed it and ran, but when the kitchen screws up once, it's the *server's* duty to ensure, with the now-corrected food, that they're serving correctly what the patrons had ordered. The fact that he gave them a healthy dose of attitude to go with their semi-salad was unforgivable, and I'd have been talking to the manager with fire in my eyes...the kind of fire that says, "If I don't do something to make these people feel better, they're going to give me five times the headache that they're getting from this doofus of a waiter I've got."

                                I believe that the waiter was, indeed, at fault. I do agree with the other posters that no tip should have been left. It's one thing to be absent-minded or just plain air-headed, but it's another thing entirely to be giving off an attitude when you're the one at fault. Rewarding such behavior is anathema to me.

                                You *could* email the corporate HQ, but you'd be surprised just how much more effective a personal phone call to their corporate HQ can be. Honestly: they *want* to know about this kind of experience.

                              2. Thanks for everyone's feedback, they're much appreciated. As far as me saying the "tip was missing a percentage or two" pretty much is my sense of sarcasm for not leaving a tip. I will in fact take up everyone's advice on emailing corporate hq, and the establishment was Islands in Valencia CA.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                                  one thing I haven't seen mentioned is that you might want to double check with the General Manager. You asked for the manager so you got whoever was floor manager at that moment - doesn't mean you dealt with the top dog in that restaurant. Especially if it was a slow time of day, the GM may have been absent. I would like to think the GM would've acted more apropriately whereas a 25 year old who is Asst manager and unhappy with their life might not care about your troubles.

                                  1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                                    Oh, God.

                                    Islands.

                                    Some of them are fantastic -- like Glendale and West LA. And some of them are horrendous -- Burbank and Woodland Hills. It's all in the management, I think.

                                    I caused such a ruckus one time in the Burbank Islands that we netted free food and $50 in gift cards -- which we used at Glendale.

                                  2. i would have called the manager over, told him that i refuse to eat the salad because it's not what i ordered, put the cash for the beers on the table in front of him, and left.

                                    life's too short to waste on these sorts of petty and malcontent people.

                                    1. A lot of chains are franchises and there's not all that much corporate can do except close the place down, should it really get a bad rep.

                                      I hate situations like that and think that I would have handled it just like you did.

                                        1. Most servers are trained to know the ingredients of their menu items, so they can describe it when asked by patrons. This is especially true in the larger corporate chains.
                                          It appears that the manager was letting his "style" which was non caring and lazy, flow down to his staff. Most unfortunate.

                                          The second time it came back wrong, I would of sent it back, asked they remove it from my bill and asked for my tab.
                                          Good grief, who knows what they did to your salad after that?

                                          I would get the servers name, and the manager on duty, and then write a nice letter of my experience to corporate. These two yahoos are ruining the reputation of a chain restaurant that once they find this out will probably will act swiftly purely out of gratitude.
                                          And guess what, now everyone that has read this thread knows to avoid that restaurant, I would if I lived there.
                                          When these things happen I refuse to cave into the insolence, there are just SO many other restaurants that want to serve good food and give a good dining experience.

                                          1. Wow, I got a reply back from the Guest Service Ambassodor saying that they were sorry and sent me a gift certificate... I guess voicing your opinion really does work!

                                            Thanks to the fellow chowhounders for the advice! Much obliged...

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                                              So, given your pevious experience, are you going to give them a second chance? (FWIW, if it's a service issue, I'll give a resto a second chance; if it's a food quality issue, I'll pass.)

                                              1. re: mclaugh

                                                Give them a try, but try a different one.

                                                1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                                                  I wouldn't redeem it at the same location, that's for sure.

                                                2. I would have payed for the beers, and refused the salad. Zero tip for the waiter., and vowed never to return.

                                                  1. knowing a number of people who worked as waiters/waitresses, they have all told me NEVER SEND BACK FOOD, because you don't want to know what the wait staff, etc. does to it. and some were in fine restaurants.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: hana

                                                      I was going to ask if they noticed any "secret sauce" on the salad.

                                                    2. E-mail and follow up with an actual letter to an actual regional manager if you can get a name and an address, or CEO. Maybe use a P.O. box or work address, and just your first initial.

                                                      1. I know its difficult, but may I humbly suggest non-corporate alternatives whenever possible. Its not always practical, but seriously. Letters will get you freebies that you have to go BACK to the hellhole and spend more money to actually take advantage of! God forbid they recognize you and have gotten a rebuke from corporate!! But spending your dollars elsewhere will make them really sit up and take notice. If they comp you a meal that effectively cost them 3$ that doesn't hurt as much as a loss of a $40 tab! Thats fer sure!

                                                        1. Chain restaurant......enough said.

                                                          Honestly, they just don't care. If the item even slightly resembles the photo hanging back in the kitchen, or at the very least has all the necessary ingredients present, then they tend to think 'What is the problem?'

                                                          You just don't go to those places for a good dining experience. It ain't happening.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: cooknKate

                                                            True enough, but even in the chain joints you should be treated better than this guy was.

                                                          2. I can count on the fingers of one hand (actually, one finger of one hand) the number of times when I've left a tip of $0.00. See, I think bad tippers go to hell, and good tippers get time off. I've left extra tips at places where I've waited too long for the food because there weren't enough people on duty. I like servers, and I pay them well.

                                                            But if I had had your experience, I would now have two fingers to count the number of times I have left no tip. There was absolutely, positively no excuse for the way you were treated. And yes, it was the waiter's fault. I will and do cut servers all kinds of slack, but once you complained that guy's job was to make it right. The manager's attitude was even worse. And I guarantee you that I'm not one of those persnickety complaining diners, either.

                                                            In retrospect, I wouldn't have given the waiter two chances. I'd have refused the salad after the first attempt, paid the exact change for the beers and left.

                                                            1. I'd've sent it back the first time, checked it making the waiter stand there the second time, and then had him get the manager.

                                                              Did you pick up a business card with the manager's name? You'll want to make sure you note the unit's address _and_ his name (in case he wasn't wearing his name badge.)

                                                              Once I learned that the manager cared even less about my experience, I'd've walked without paying for the meal. Given the apathy, and then outright hostility exhibited by the waiter, I certainly wouldn't have left a tip.

                                                              1. You're very brave eating that salad. If there's one category of people you don't want to piss off - your fault or not - it's restaurant staff. If you've never worked in the food service industry, I'm sure there are plenty here who would be more than willing to share some horror stories. Pay the bill, leave no tip and in the spirit of don't get mad, get even: I'd drop the whole thing on the floor and walk out.