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Suggestions, Please

This happened last week and I'm still trying to figure-out what to do.

A friend and I had to attend an out-of-town funeral in the morning - afterwards, we went to a local, small, family-run restaurant for lunch and to talk. It was a slow lunch at the restaurant, but we had the most atrocious service.

1 - Server slid into the booth, next to me, to explain the day's specials.

2 - Server managed to knock over dining partner's glass of wine, into her salad (and the bread basket), then brought and left at the table a DIRTY kitchen towel for us to mop-up the mess.

3 - Server then returned to ask if friend wanted a new salad and new glass of wine.

4 - Server regailed us with stories of "bad customers."

5 - Server brought us the bill for another table.

6 - Server brought us the correct bill, but had charged for A) second glass of wine, B) second salad, and C) second bread basket. We asked to speak to the manager/owner who said that we had ordered all three items (apparently asking for a "new" glass of wine and salad and bread was different from asking for a replacement?) but eventually she took off the additional charges.

7 - All we had was a $100 bill to cover the (about) $35 check, so that's what we put into the check holder. We waited for the change. And waited. And waited. Our server'd disappeared. I asked another server where ours had gone to - was told that he'd already left - with our change! So I asked to speak to the manager/owner. Was told that they'd ALSO left and that we should call with our complaint.

8 - Called the restaurant that evening and spoke to owner, who told me that I'd have to "prove" that we'd given the server the $100 AND that we'd not told him to "keep the change."

So do I chalk this up to just bad luck? Make the drive to the restaurant (about two-hours from here) to speak to the owner in person? Register a complaint with the BBB? Post the restaurant's name all over with this horror story?

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  1. Horrible! Definitely should try to contact the owner, if not in person, write a letter. If the owner doesn't seem to care or take action to replace your stolen money you should definitely register a complaint with the bbb.

    1 Reply
    1. re: amopdx

      FYI to everyone who has recommended contacting the Better Business Bureau: They can and will do nothing. The BBB is a membership organization. The business MUST be a member in order for the BBB to even listen to your complaint. And when there is a complaint against a member, the worst they can do is kick the business out of their group. Chances are the BBB will weigh the complaint against the membership fees they receive from said member.

      Look to the city/state Consumer Affairs Department. Most localities have the power to launch an investigation. But even then, you would need some sort of proof.

    2. That is a very strange story. I would start by mailing an account of your experience to the restaurant, so that you have physical documentation of the situation, and the exact amount of change your are requesting. Mention that you will complain to the BBB if you have not heard back from them in 10 days. Perhaps send it registered mail?

      2 Replies
      1. re: erin07nyc

        better yet, on the letter cc: the BBB

        1. re: erin07nyc

          I agree completely. Write a very professional letter (have a friend with an English degree proofread it for you; I catch mistakes all the time in work done by very well-educated friends.) and copy the BBB on it.

          I would also copy the Chamber of Commerce, in case the restaurant is a member, and the tourism commission, if they have one.

          Do you have a friend who's an attorney? You might check to see if it would be considered threatening (or worse) if you mention in your letter that you will gladly write a follow-up letter regarding the resolution of the situation once you receive the money owed you.

          If you do not get satisfaction, a detailed letter to the editor would certainly be in order, too.

          In the future, if you for some strange reason find yourself in the same freaky situation, I would recommend not leaving the premises until contacting the police department. I'll bet you'd have your money right now, and all you'd have to do is write letters to BBB, Chamber, Tourism, and Editor rather than also attempting to get your money back. You should still be able to call the police.

          What a story!! Where was this, anyhow?

          Let us know what happens.

        2. Definitely report this to the BBB. Where did this happen? I mean the town. How large a town? Do they have a newspaper that publishes letters to the editor for "Rants, Raves & Roses" or something like that? Is it a large enough town to have a food editor for the local newspaper? I would publicize this unforgiveable experience. I would even seriously consider speaking with the local district attorney. What the waiter did was theft - pure and simple.

          1. Oh My! I would definately speak with the owner, not the manager as that has gotten you nowhere. Since you had a friend witness the money theft you would certainly have a case against them shoudl you choose to report it. Most of the time, if a restaurant owner hears "lawyer" they'll do whatever it takes to avoid litigation.

            1. Since speaking with the owner got you nowhere, I'd defintely send a registered letter, cc the BBB, contact local news outlets, and seek legal remedy. I wouldn't waste the four-hour round trip for a face to face meeting, as it will likely get your nowhere - but DEFINITELY keep persuing it. and YES - post the name!!!! that's shocking.