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Sent back entree, meager comp

I have never done this before. But last night I did have occasion to refuse a red snapper dish as the fish was past it's prime. I asked for it to be removed from the bill. They said they ould only discount 15% because some of it had been consumed. I had one bite, brother had two bites and it was deemed icky at that point. OK, now how are you supposed to evaluate a dish unless you taste it? When discussing the "discount", waitress says that they are eating the same fish (was it ours?) in the back and it was fine. Was I unreasonable in wanting the whole dish comped?

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  1. wow. there are so many layers of wrongness here. they served you bad fish, then charged you for the bites you ate which was how you determined the fish was bad, THEN came back and admitted that the staff was eating off the plate you were just eating off of (eww!) saying they thought it was fine just to prove you wrong? this is a example of how NOT to run a restaurant.

    in all my time as a bartender and server i have never heard of a dish being discounted. it's either whisked away and remade or taken off the bill entirely. sometimes we would do both depending on the situation (this would be one of those situations). please tell me you didn't actually pay for a dish you didn't eat! and i hope you spoke to a manager!

    as a side note, i have a BIG problem with servers "sea gulling", i.e. eating off a guests unfinished plate. it's gross, unprofessional, and worthy of getting fired.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rebs

      I don't know if it was our fish, or just from the same "batch". Management chose not to come out to speak to us. Just made the waitress the messenger. And yes, we paid.

      1. re: SweetPea

        When I saw the title of your post I thought "Here's another one of the posters on this board wanting something for nothing!" It seems there are many who post here who are always looking for something for nothing or more than what they paid for and it gets old reading these moochers' posts. However, when I read your post I couldn't believe it. I have also never heard of "discounting" bad fish. And management wouldn't speak with you? You're not going back to this place are you? I would write management there and tell them why I was not coming back. (And it wouldn't be for the purpose of getting something for free!)

        1. re: SweetPea

          This is just awful! I can't believe a restaurant would discount bad food instead of removing it from the bill. The moment you complained the food should have disappeared (and NOT fed to waitstaff in the back room!!) and been replaced with something that wasn't too old to serve.

          I'm still shaking my head. Discounting a disputed item instead of removing it instantly. Yikes!

        2. re: rebs

          Yes, that--re the servers eating off the plate, rebs, but when I read what the restaurant representative told SweetPea--i.e., they could only discount it fifteen percent because part of it had been consumed--I thought they must be confusing it with some sort of bulk purchase.

          As though SweetPea had bought a palette of bricks to finish a patio edging, discovered she didn't need them all, and received a partial credit from the supplier, since he can resell the bricks.

          I hope no unwitting patron ordered a bowl of red snapper chowder at that place the next day. ;-D


        3. "Comp" isn't the right word--that's something edible given to you free, whether you choose to consume it or not. What you describe wasn't edible.

          "I'm so sorry. Would you like us to remake this for you, or did you want to try something else?" Any other response to a complaint like yours means you don't return (and out the restaurant by name on the appropriate geographical board here on CH).

          5 Replies
          1. re: tubman

            Posted on South Board. Thialand Restaurant Columbia, SC

            1. re: SweetPea

              If it was a Thai restaurant, maybe there as a lot of fish sauce or shrimp paste in the dish that made it taste funky, not necessarily the fish being old. Have you enjoyed the food there before?

              Regardless, their response was inappropriate.

              1. re: babette feasts

                Good point, but both of us felt the same about the fish. We have enjoyed food there before, but that has come to an abrupt end.

            2. re: tubman

              I had a smoked meat and fries platter at Pickle Barrel (Yorkdake Shopping Plaza, Toronto). The meat was cold. The cook must have dropped the (open) salt box on the fries. The waitress offered to have the meat warmed up and a fresh batch of fries. I had already been waiting for 20 minutes, so I said 'No, Thank you'' -- No discount, though -- They won't see me again.

              1. re: lamaranthe

                To me, going to Yorkdale Shopping Mall means that I'll be shopping. After a while I get tired and hungry but I don't feel like wasting my time fighting with the staff or the (hiding) manager. I felt that 20 minutes was already a long wait. IMO the waitress places the order, picks it up when ready, brings it to the table. The waitress who tended my table did the best she could do, offering to warm up my plate and ordering another plate of fries. It's just that I did not want to waste another 20 minutes waiting. I tipped her 15%. Why should I penalize her? There are other eateries in this Mall. And for good smoked meat and fries, I refrain until I can go to Centre Streeet Deli! It is not that far away and it's really worth the ride.

            3. You sent something back saying you thought it was bad, the only proper response is to take it off the bill and offer to serve you something else. The something else may or may not get comped, the important thing is that the thing you percieved as badly made is taken off the bill. Doing anything else is just plain foolish.

              1. A major botch by the restaurant's decision-makers. It's unclear if the server was put between a rock and a hard place, but she would have at best garnered a 15% to the penny before tax. I would (if I had the time) have made things more uncomfortable for the manager to hide - there are fun ways of flushing them out from hiding, such as staying at the table and just waiting, making a call to the restaurant's manager while you're still at the table, et cet. If you ahve the time, never get rolled; for the sake of those who follow you, roll right back. Consider it the evening's dessert entertainment: dining as virtual contact sport.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Karl S

                  I'd definately reduce the tip to about 3%. The waitress' job was to be your advocate in the kitchen, and she failed miserably in this role on multiple counts. The insults heaped upon you were a team effort. The entire operation failed you (and probably several of those people share the tip so they all deserve to be stiffed). Sadly, people nonetheless tipping 15% in such situations and rewarding horrible treatment is why we have so much bad service and server sense of entitlement out there.
                  Please out this restaurant. They don't deserve your protection. For good measure, call the health department on them.

                  1. re: Leonardo

                    There's a difference between an uncooperative waitress and an uncooperative manager. If the waitress is doing everything she can to make sure you're happy, she deserves at least 15 percent and probably a good bit extra. If she doesn't care, then she deserves a lower tip, but not THAT low. According to Emily Post, the lowest you should leave for a tip is eight percent for bad service, and if you're tipping low like that you would do well to get the attention of a manager to explain the situation.

                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      I understand that sometimes waitstaff are placed in a compromised position. Our waitress was very rude regarding the discussion about the fish and the bill. Mgmt would not surface. A tip was not tendered as we felt it was not deserved. I guess I should have mentioned that in the beginning.

                      1. re: SweetPea

                        It sounded like that from your original post when the waitress said that it was fine. That's very bad form. I'd be curious as to where this happened, but with management like that the place can't possibly last very long, and I'm not in your neck of the woods anyway.

                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                          >...lowest you should leave for a tip is eight percent for bad service
                          there are bad service situations where you are irritated or have wasted
                          time, but in this scenario, you are actually out money. an example might have
                          been where you had to escalate and cause a minor but evening ruining scene
                          to get the item removed.

                          under the circumstances, i think the customer may not unreasonably try
                          to achive some equity by taking it out of the tip. i suppose it might be
                          slightly fairer to leave a 5% tip and take it off the bill yourself, but that's
                          a more aggressive move. i have plenty of sympathy for waitstaff whose
                          compsenation is partly in the hands of other people [poor preparation,
                          take too long] or subject to some element of chance ... accidentally
                          bumping a patron on the head or spilling some water on him ... but
                          if you are deliberate rude with no provocation, i just dont think you are
                          owed anything. if a cardealer spend a bunch of time with you and then
                          tries to pull something sleazy, should you leave him $20 for the 30min
                          where he was "reasonable"?

                          so the elements i would consider is "what is the nature of the loss
                          you have suffered" and "what is the cause of the loss [true accident,
                          back of house fault, front of house fault], and what mitigation was
                          attempted. if each f these variables end up wrongly aligned, i dont
                          think you owe anythng.

                  2. re: Karl S

                    Karl S, while I like your strategy for flushing out the manager, I encountered a manager who backed the server.

                    Sweet Pea, I also like the idea given of stopping payment on the bill.

                    In addition, how about a letter to the Chamber of Commerce, copying the restaurant?

                    1. re: dolores

                      We paid cash but have a receipt. Yes, I am considering BBB, Consumer Affairs, Resto report via DHEC, etc. Mgmt obviously does not care.

                        1. re: lamaranthe

                          I'm with SweetPea on contacting EVERYONE who could come down on the restaurant in even a minor way. Things like this send me into a letter writing frenzy where NO ONE is spared anything. Trust me, you can bring anything from a restaurant to a nursing home, or a major utility to it' begging knees, and you don't even have to be rude nor vendictive in your efforts, and always hold a trump card.....THE TOP regulatory agency/entity that no one wants that bomb to reach. Don't do it on the phone. Do it in writing, and "cc" everyone that has been included in your complaint.....no angry "rants", just justified "assertiveness".

                        2. re: SweetPea

                          slow down, please. yes, this was craptastic customer service, but nothing was criminal or deceptive. this is not the purview of the bbb or consumer affairs. i'm not sure what dhec is and acronym for, but if it's your local health dept., unless you can prove you fell ill from food you were served, you have nothing to report. you didn't witness the servers seagulling, did you?

                          write to the owner, and bad-mouth the place to your friends. don't return. let it go.

                          1. re: SweetPea

                            OMG! BBB?!?! Don't go back. End of story. Don't waste any more time on this!

                      1. SweetPea

                        This is horrible but you probably do not need jfood to confirm that very evident point. To answer your question, though, the cost of the dish should have been removed and a free substitute brought to you.

                        Other thoughts:
                        - there is not one person who did anything for you including the waitress. when she stated the staff was eating it in the back she went into the zippo-tippo category.
                        - jfood would write a letter to the manager and copy the local board of health, and the better business bureau
                        - jfood would then call amex and file a stop payment and send a letter to that effect
                        - jfood would place the name of the place on chowhound

                        probably nothing will happen with all of this.

                        then jfood would go to a good resto and have a good meal and chalk it up to experience.

                        1. Never. Go. Back. If the wait staff had to argue that the fish was "fine" because the BOH was eating it, and then tried to ding you for the bites(YARGH!) you took to ascertain (YARGH!), well, eeek this is bad, this restaurant doesn't deserve the business, and deserves a letter/call to management.

                          No problem here with no tip, as waitstaff didn't advocate for the customer in a quite iffy situation. Must say I am amused by Karl S's approach of waiting "them" (mgmt) out. would love to see that scenario.

                          1. First, SweetPea, I take it that the meal was a la carte and not prix fixe, and that they discounted fifteen percent only from your entree and not your entire meal?

                            If it was a la carte...

                            SweetPea, you know how we homecooks like to cook for other people and enjoy seeing what we cook make them happy?

                            I've always found good or exceptional restaurant chefs to be like that, except to the Nth power.

                            Ever notice how appreciative good chefs are when you have the chance to compliment them personally? How good executive chefs in many better restaurants come out of the kitchen at some point in the evening to circulate among the tables to make sure patrons are satisfied?

                            The good ones are always distressed to know that you don't enjoy something, even if the product is high-quality, and they prepared it beautifully, but it's not what you had expected or it's not to your taste.

                            They take pride in their artform, and it bothers them very much to know that someone did not enjoy his or her meal.

                            The same goes for a well trained, professional maitre d' or waiter or waitress. On most occasions when I haven't eaten much of my meal, which can often be because I'm just not very hungry, and not necessarily because it's not good, the waitron or maitre d' have asked me, kindly, if there was something wrong with it. Often enough, even after I explain that it was delicious, but just too large a portion for me, they *still* ask if they could exchange it for something else.

                            And I remember on at least one occasion, when I enjoyed the food very much, and reassured the waiter of that, but just didn't eat too much of it, when the bill came, the entree had been comped.

                            That's what happens in well run restaurants.

                            They respect and love cuisine, and understand that grace and hospitality are basic to the business of restaurateuring.

                            They should have offered to exchange or comped your entree without your having to make the request, but since they did neither, no, you were not at all unreasonable.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: MaggieRSN

                              Yes, a la carte. The discount was only in relation to the fish. I was OK with the other items ordered and was specific in my request to have only it removed from the bill.

                              1. re: SweetPea

                                SweetPea, can you tell us the name and location of this place? I want to be sure to never go there.

                                1. re: sammur

                                  Thailand Restaurant, Columbia, SC - posted on south board

                                2. re: SweetPea

                                  Of course, never go back. But let them know that. Stop payment then write a letter telling them how horrible your experience was and especially how you are letting the world know it too. I can't believe they didn't comp it-maybe they just don't *understand* that is the way it is properly done?

                                  1. re: chocchipcookie

                                    there is nothing on which to stop payment. the op paid cash.

                                  2. re: SweetPea

                                    TY. Just wanted to make sure I had understood you properly.

                                    Repeating myself, but only to offer moral support. You were not unreasonable at all. The resolution you wanted was appropriate, but the actions of the restaurant were not.

                                  3. re: MaggieRSN

                                    Maggie, I'm confused. Per your example, you ate and enjoyed your food, then found it to be comped. You then stated, "That's what happens in well run restaurants".

                                    Well run restaurants are supposed to take things off the bill you've enjoyed? Riddle me confused.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      Those restaurants usually switch ownership in a couple of years. I mean, there's comping because a mistake was made and "silly not cost effective" comping. A place can be full every night and still hemhorrage money.

                                  4. Sheesh. A few years ago a companion were traveling via car and stopped at a Denny's/IHOP type place for breakfast. He ordered pancakes and, being his typical self he found something wrong with them--if I remember correctly there was a foreign object on the plate, a remnant of a hash brown potato--oh the horror of it all.

                                    Instead of complaining, which let me tell you was highly uncharacteristic, he just pushed it away while I munched contentedly on my eggs while he sulked. (The stories I have of his behavior in restaurants are legend, and one reason we eventually split up) . Anyway, the waitress noticed he barely touched it, offered a replacement and of course my beau declined, because, well, who cares. Without even being asked she took it off the bill.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: marcia

                                      I have a friend like this, we all hate going to dinner with him, he complains about everything in order to get something off the bill.

                                    2. Unacceptable actions by the restauramt, and the waitress.

                                      I would have paid the full check, tipped the waitress very little(her response was rude, & her response that the BOH was eating it and it was ok was argumentative, and unprofessional), outed them here on CH, and never returned to this place.

                                      I dont believe in starting a letter writing campaign to the owners, managemet, etc(I wouldnt plan on going back anyway, so it serves me no purpose). That just wastes more of my time than this visit has already. I have more money than time, and I would just simply put this place on the do not return list, and move on.

                                      Way too many quality restaurants to waste time on places like this.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                        Earlier this year at a fish restaurant in Alanya, Turkey I sent back my fish because it was overcooked, full of bones (although it was a filet) and didn't taste good. I then gave the money for my check to my friend so I could go to the toilet and told her I would meet her at the car because I needed to put some more money in the parking meter. The waiter came out to my car and said I had to pay even though I sent the food back and if I didn't, they would take the cost out of his pay. I told him I sent it back because it was inedible and shouldn't have to pay. He finally realized I wasn't going to give in, so he gave up and went back in to the restaurant. In contrast, one time at a pizza parlor on a US military base in Germany, I didn't eat but 2 slices of my pizza and threw it away. The manager of the food court came over and asked if there was something wrong with it and when I explained that it was the worst pizza I had ever had and didn't want to eat it, she took me over to the pizza counter and told them to refund my money, which they did. This is an example of excellent customer service.

                                        1. re: RevImmigrant

                                          i have a friend who almost always complains about her food and almost always sends it back. its kind of obnoxious. i mean i am all about good food, but we almost have too much attitude in the US about getting exactly what we want, when we want it. go most other places around the world and they do not put up with this at all.

                                          1. re: Zucumber84

                                            When in Rome, do as the Romans do. That is one of the reasons why I would go to Rome.

                                            There is no reason to expect the same level of customer service in all parts of the world. I wouldn't want "customer service" intruding on the whole experience.

                                      2. That is terrible.

                                        Did you use your credit card? If you did, call the credit card company and tell them what happened and that you will not pay that portion of the bill.

                                        We once did that when a restaurant insisted on charging us for two glasses of sparkling wine that we had taken two sips from - thus realizing that they had given us sparkling wine when we had specifically told the waiter that we want champagne.
                                        I do not drink sparkling wine - and especially not at $17 per glass. BTW, that was the last time -ever- we went to a restaurant for Valentine's day (or any other commercial "holiday"). What over priced nonsense.

                                        1. They were awful and inexcusable to you and I wouldn't have paid for anything unless the entire bad fish was removed from the bill. Force the issue, unless you were short on time. and of course, no tip at all.

                                          1. Since you paid in cash I would have manually taken the fish off the bill and left the remaining amount. Why would you pay for something that was bad. You wouldn't go to the grocery store and pay for expired milk and if you did without looking the grocery store would refund your money.
                                            Also rude server for telling you that there is nothing wrong with the food and that everyone is eating your food (that they are making you pay for) in the back = no tip.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: camp1980

                                              I understand your point. My brother wanted to get out of there without further issue. So they voided my card and he paid cash sans tip and we left. Here's the kicker..... I left my wool blazer and scarf there when I left in a huff. A week later I had to make a deal with my husband that I would go into the meat market and get steaks with "bed hair" (and I forgot my hat) and he would go into the Thai place with "bed hair" (he couldn't care less) and get my blazer and scarf. Painful. They still smell like curry even after airing outside for 2 days. I never did anything to punish them. Maybe it's just their culture's way of doing business. I felt that it would be better to just move on. This thread is enough.

                                            2. Perhaps I was brought up in a very different environment than most. I have NEVER witnessed a family member send back food and ask for a discount or for it to be removed from the bill. I was taught from a young age that unless there is something obviously wrong with a food item (not necessarily a matter of personal taste) or a drink, that you pay for it. If you do not LIKE it, you don't ORDER it again. If one food item out of many is not good, you return and know what to avoid. If everything put on the table was inedible, you simply do not return to that restaurant. Please take time to read below about my experience with unreasonable customers.

                                              Now, I was a server for a while. Recently I was hired as "Head Server" at a new tapas bar. Last night I had a horrible night. I had three customers in a row complain. After two weeks of being open, we have not had this many in even one week. The first table complained of the priceof their top shelf margaritas. They were upset that a margarita with Patron Silver costs more than our house margaritas. They then were livid over the fact that their filet (which was ordered "extra well done") was dry. I politely took care of the filet, of course. I even had an extra baked potato delivered to a woman at the same table who didn't care for the asparagus she had received. They then began to scream over the margaritas and accused our bartenders of not putting liquor in their drinks. I assured them that the drinks not only contained 1.5 ounces of tequila but also triple sec and grand marnier and other juices.
                                              The second scenario was a plate of seared tuna. I had the tuna earlier that day and it was fabulous as usual. It had been delivered fresh earlier that day (and we are 3 hours from the coast..it was REALLY fresh and high grade tuna). I personally order seared tuna anytime if it is on the menu. I recognize that sometimes it is better than other times. I personally know that our tuna is fabulous. I went and ate another piece in the back to be sure. I tried to reason with the table. They insisted that the tuna was fishy. Our chef will sample a food in the back if a table complains. He also tried the tuna. If fish is ever complained about and is past its peak, he gladly encouorages me to comp the food. If not, he says NO. The bottom line is that there are individuals who lack class and who take advantage of the system. I had a table complain that their margarita was too sweet and then order a mojito! For God's sake, please have some class. Also, PLEASE don't take it out on your server. I can assure you that the server has NO control over the food and as long as he/she does her job, you should tip appropriately. (it least 15 percent!! )

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mesamanager

                                                I too, have been a server. The "zippo tippo" was deserved.