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When does bad Customer Service supersede good food?

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AzDumpling Apr 10, 2008 10:52 AM

Fairly new here and perhaps this is a topic that has been discussed to death in the past. Brought to mind by some recent posts regarding Zinc Bistro on he Southwest board as well as by somewhat recent posts regarding the Original Pancake House (Pancake Nazis) that is located in Scottsdale.

At what point does it simply become too much for you to take in order to enjoy the food you like? If the service is somewhat surly or indifferent will you tolerate it in order to enjoy a first class dinner? Is the service as important to you as the food you are eating. Where do you draw the line?

  1. d
    dolores Apr 10, 2008 11:26 AM

    >>When does bad Customer Service supersede good food?

    Hmmm. Bad might mean different things to different people. There are steak and pizza places here in NY where the servers are gruff, grumpy, short and no nonsense. While not my idea of good service, this is a hallmark of the restaurants. That said, the food comes quickly, the patron isn't rushed, and on the two places I have in mind, the food is very, very good.

    Then again, there are the restaurants which rush me. I hate being rushed. Loathe it, in fact. So, since that is my ultimate deal breaker, I won't go back to a place that rushes me, even if they had the best food on the planet.

    >>Is the service as important to you as the food you are eating.

    I'd have to say it is more important.

    1. Miss Needle Apr 10, 2008 12:48 PM

      There really are a lot of variables to this question. I've got a high threshold for things (slow service, being rushed, indifference). Now, if it takes over an hour to receive my food with no apologies or explanations whatsoever, that's a different story (which happened to DH once). But I detest rudeness (and I'm talking more than the typical steakhouse type). Luckily, this hasn't happened very often. But I refuse to eat at a place if the people are rude, no matter how good the food is.

      1. meatn3 Apr 10, 2008 10:25 PM

        There isn't a specific way to quantify the "point". Often I realize the point has been crossed in retrospect. Usually it manifests as great reluctance to revisit a place. That's when I realize the the service has tainted the food for me. If the food is really good, I won't write it off immediately - it takes several experiences to get me to that stage.

        2 Replies
        1. re: meatn3
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          dolores Apr 11, 2008 04:59 AM

          >> it takes several experiences to get me to that stage.

          Do you give several experiences to places that don't give a tinker's damn about the dining patron, meatn3? I give them two visits and that's it.

          1. re: meatn3
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            dolores Apr 11, 2008 05:01 AM

            >> it takes several experiences to get me to that stage.

            Do you give several experiences to a place that doesn't give a tinker's damn about dining patrons, meatn3? I give them two visits, and that's it.

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            Pincus Apr 11, 2008 10:46 AM

            I have a little red line. Good experiences at a place make my attitude toward a place move below the red line. Bad experiences at a place make my attitude toward a place move toward the red line. If the red line gets reached, I don't visit the place again.

            The velocity at which the red line gets approached can be very rapid indeed (one visit) or take two or three visits. And, since I'm human, depending on the day/week I've had, the distance to the red line can be a lot shorter and that might make me cross a place off my list unfairly. Or slightly unfairly. But that's life.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pincus
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              Beau711 Apr 11, 2008 12:10 PM

              Great reply, Pincus. I guess you could call your tolerance level the 'thin red line.'

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              Orchid64 Apr 16, 2008 04:33 PM

              It depends on the type of food at the restaurant. If it's something I can make a version of at home as well (or better), then bad service pretty much means I'm done with a place. If it's a type of food I can't make well or at all and is really good, I'll put up with more bad service because it's my only access to that particular type of cuisine.

              That being said, there's little I can't live without and the main point of eating out is being served rather than hassling to cook my own food. Overall, the service is just as important (if not moreso) than the food itself.

              1. Aspiring Foodie Apr 17, 2008 07:40 AM

                As someone who has worked for years in customer service management, and has had a stint in the service industry managing a cafe/bar, customer service is a big deal to me--and I have rather high standards. I also know what it's like to work in customer-centric industries so I know that sometimes people in these industries just start hating their clientele. I can tell when a waiter/waitress/manager simply just does not care. Conversely I can tell when they are just trying to shut me up.

                I think that a lot of people in these industries could benefit from sensitivity/empathy training--it's been my experience that those who are most empathetic tend to give the best service so I always teach my employees to think about how they'd react and what they'd expect if something were happening to them.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Aspiring Foodie
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                  dolores Apr 17, 2008 07:51 AM

                  >>I always teach my employees to think about how they'd react and what they'd expect if something were happening to them.

                  Exactly, my point always with servers and managers. Good for you, Aspiring Foodie.

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                  AzDumpling Apr 17, 2008 11:45 AM

                  When I choose to spend my money for a meal in a restaurant I look into whether the establishment serves good food. It is relatively easy to find reviews for most places that would interest me. I often simply assume the service will not be an issue. I don’t go into a restaurant expecting to be fawned over or to develop a personal rapport with my server but likewise I would hope for a pleasant evening in which the dining experience does not get overshadowed by service issues. To expect Commander’s Palace service everywhere one goes is expecting far too much.

                  The service issue works both ways as many customers seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to be rude and indifferent to restaurant staff. I have never been one to do that but I have seen it many times. It is a difficult industry to work in and a difficult job in which to please everyone.

                  What I will not tolerate is sloppy service and an uncaring and indifferent attitude when I do not give the server reason to treat me badly. I suppose it comes down to being made to feel like my business is appreciated and my patronage of the establishment is something that is welcomed. I might have the best piece of meat or fish sitting in front of me that I have ever been served but if the staff is cold and uncaring, requests are not filled somewhat promptly and a sense of hospitality has not been extended I will never return for another meal. There are simply too many good places to dine for me to want to frequent a place where I do not feel welcomed.

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