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May 22, 2008 07:05 AM

Your worst service experience?

How tolerant should we be when receiving bad service? What qualifies as truly bad service? When management/owners (if at all present) are indifferent or less than receptive to your concerns regarding rude and or extremely incompetent service - what is the next step?

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  1. Plain and simple - just don't go back - EVER! Besides alerting everyone on CH, what else can you do? If you've made your concerns known and they are 'indifferent or less than receptive' then I think you've done all you can. Perhaps they just don't get it. Move on. Hopefully the next experience will make up for it.

    1. See "Sotto Sotto" in the dictionary. They define it.

      1. Mine is Cava - dinner with a few friends (party of 4) on a busy night with continuous difficulty getting the waiter's attention. When we got his attention, we were always spoken down to and he kept trying to upsell us on more expensive bottles of wine (and more of them) as well as extra courses when we always declined.

        Our waiter disappeared halfway through the meal (evidently to get high) and when he reappeared, he started referring to one of our number as "Madam President" and the rest of the table as "The Congress", as in "So, Madam President will have a coffee, what would Congress like?". This was incredibly rude and awkward to say the least and although we had planned to have dessert and after dinner drinks we really had no choice but to leave.

        The food was ok and we were pleasantly surprised throughout the meal that they seemed to be giving us fairly large portions. Needless to say, when we got the bill we realized that we had been double billed for lots of the dishes without the waiter ever mentioning that's how he was putting in the orders (which would have been fine, incidentally).

        By the time things got as bad as they did, we looked around for the manager but he was nowhere to be seen.

        I still can't forgive myself for actually leaving a tip but have sworn never to return. I sometimes blame myself for not having brought events like these to management's attention, but in truth there are so many decent places to eat in the city that I really couldn't be bothered to tell them how to run the restaurant. I think never going back and sharing the experience is the best instruction.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cat123

          ohmigod, Cat, I know the server you're talking about. I have had the unfortunate experience of being waited on by him 2x at Cava. The first time we found him to be a bit "off", the 2nd time just plain rude! Not as bad as you're experience where he addressed you as "President" and "congress" but he did the same thing with doubling our order (of foie gras). When we got the bill, and called him on it, he removed it(the "extra" order" from the bill without a word of acknowledgement. I'm still kicking myself for not saying something to the manager, but next time I make a reservation at Cava I will specifically request not to sit at his table.

          1. re: sake

            Amazing - the foie was one of the things he doubled up on us too. Why waste that trick on the cheap stuff I guess. You are braver than me to return - I was never bowled over by the place to begin with and the service had never been that great previously but would never go back after that.

            1. re: Cat123

              What did the waiter mean by calling you Madam President? I wouldn't like it either, but is that insulting in a way I don't understand?

              1. re: small h

                I think that calling someone Madam President implies that they either think you are acting in a superior way (treating them like an underling) or that you are too demanding or bossy. That is how I would take it, anyway.

                1. re: danhole

                  In that case, I would've gone with Her Majesty. Or La Contessa. Madam President is altogether too subtle, if you ask me.

        2. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times....

          It was at a small, basement restaurant in Boston many years back (can't remember the name). Waitress was simply unbelievably surly - clearly was having a bad day and was not afraid to let everyone witness it unfold. Scowl on her face, grunted responses to our questions, and an annoyed look when he actually had the nerve to place our orders. At about 45 minutes, the surliness morphed into disappearance, and no food (only drinks) had been delivered. Finally, a few minutes later, the manager appeared to let us know that she had been fired, mid-meal (we were one of only two tables of people). The management then went on to deliver a delightful meal with superb and friendly service, a few comped items to make up for the opening debacle, and the guarantee of repeat customers.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Cachetes

            Sorry, but I think the manager was as unprofessional as the waitress when he informed the customers said waitress was fired. What was his point? Frankly, it would have ruined the experience for me. Had he merely said she left for the day, fine, but to make his problem the customer's problem is the height of unprofessionalism, at least to me.

            Most others will disagree, I'm sure, but I take no joy when someone loses their job, especially since there was no way for you to know what was going on behind the scenes, what her history was, etc. I can't help but think that manager had some sort of agenda, and no way would his behavior ensure my return. In fact, I would tell everyone I know what happened.

            1. re: marcia

              I agree. I find any kind of airing of a business' dirty laundry to be distasteful. Just tell me she left for the day. I don't wish to be privy to personnel issues, especially a one-sided manager's report. Ick.

              1. re: Leonardo

                When I was a high schooler, my boyfriend and I went out to dinner and after 30 minutes without a server ever coming by after placing a drink order. The manager was found and she ended up serving us the whole night, and at the end we were told that the server was fired. It ruined our night - but there wasn't far to go.

          2. mine was at pio pio on the uws in nyc, part of a larger chain that everyone and their mother seems to adore. we went for lunch on a sunday. it took 45 min to take our order, 45 more minutes to deliver our food -- or half of it, anyway. they brought my SO his food, but not me. 30 min later, the waiter appears with the wrong entree. finally, another 30 minutes later, my entree (fish) comes out, cooked beyond recognition into something resembling a rubber scuba diving flipper. neither the server nor anyone else at the restaurant offered any word of apology at all after we complained. i'm sure the chicken is tasty and inexpensive as others say, but we haven't been back and i personally will never go back.

            my personal degree of tolerance for slow service is usually pretty high, esp. when the company's good. it was the combination of repeated bungling and then an utterly unapologetic, even surly, response to our complaint that really pushed me over the edge.