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Your worst service experience?

m
mode May 22, 2008 07:05 AM

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?

  1. m
    millygirl May 22, 2008 07:34 AM

    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. Googs May 22, 2008 08:54 AM

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

      1. c
        Cat123 May 22, 2008 09:35 AM

        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
          s
          sake May 22, 2008 11:13 AM

          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
            c
            Cat123 May 22, 2008 12:37 PM

            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
              s
              small h May 22, 2008 01:04 PM

              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
                danhole Jun 5, 2008 12:37 PM

                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
                  s
                  small h Jun 5, 2008 01:10 PM

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

        2. c
          Cachetes May 22, 2008 01:10 PM

          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
            m
            marcia May 23, 2008 12:29 PM

            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
              l
              Leonardo May 23, 2008 09:59 PM

              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
                t
                TampaAurora Jun 4, 2008 05:22 PM

                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. c
            cimui May 22, 2008 03:13 PM

            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.

            1. JungMann May 23, 2008 06:25 AM

              I try to be patient with slowness and inattention, especially if the food is good. I know that it can be stressful working in a Manhattan restaurant and sometimes you're just not on your game as a server. But what I can't tolerate is rudeness. I once ate at a restaurant in Gramercy where you ordered at the counter and the waitress brought the food to your table. Not only did the waitress try to haggle her way out of serving a side salad, she brazenly brought me precisely the order I didn't want and then rudely offered it to the table seated next to me, "Because he don't want it," she sneered. It's one thing to be a rude server; it's another to embarass your customers.

              1. j
                JennS May 27, 2008 11:16 AM

                My worst experience was this past Saturday night at Saracen in Wainscott/East Hampton, NY.

                5 of us had a reservation for 8pm. We arrived a few minutes early and were seated immediately -- the restaurant was about half full. There are 3 separate areas and we were seated in the middle one, which had about 8 tables of different sizes. We ordered 2 appetizers, 5 entrees, 1 side, and a bottle of wine. Apps and wine were brought out quickly and were tasty. Then things started to go downhill fast. The restaurant was became packed and our section filled up. No one bussed our appetizer/bread plates. Our waiter (Connor) came over and asked if we wanted another bottle of wine, which we did, and then disappeared.

                About 20 minutes after that, when we had finished both bottles of water and the bread on the table and had not seen a busboy except for the ones literally speeding past us running food, Connor reappeared and told us they were out of that wine. We picked a substiution and asked about the whereabouts of our entrees. Behind us we noticed a two-top that had been seated for a while and had not gotten menus. The table next to us, which arrived after us, received their entrees but seemed to be having a wine problem as well. The manager -- who could have been a character from the Sopranos -- yelled that he was sorry, that the restaurant was busy (OF COURSE IT WAS -- it was Memorial Day weekend in the Hamptons!!!) and he would comp their wine. We grabbed him and asked about our entrees and wine. He said he would check. Over the next 45 minutes we accosted anyone we could find and begged for our entrees and wine, and the manager, hostess and Connor (finally!) came over repeatedly to ask what we had ordered and to say that it would be right out. The manager finally brought over our bottle of wine (the one we had originally ordered, that they DID have) and comped it -- it's not like it was that expensive -- $45. Still no food. Finally the hostess found 4 of our 5 entrees and we were happy to eat them at 10pm. The last entree and side never came, despite our requests.

                The only reason we didn't leave is that we kept thinking that we had already invested time, so the food would be out soon. It would have taken longer to find someplace else to eat and we sort of got into the spirit of commiserating with the other diners in our section, who were either not served, served the wrong things, or served cold food.

                We ended up paying for 4 entrees only, and obviously not leaving a tip. I don't know if anyone else in our section paid for their food -- it was a total fiasco, and the manager and his staff (except the hostess) could not have been ruder, more frazzled, or less helpful.

                The next night we had a delicious meal at home -- burgers, grilled veggies, and roasted potatoes with fresh herbs.

                3 Replies
                1. re: JennS
                  n
                  NicoleFriedman Jun 8, 2008 01:40 PM

                  I agree that was an unfortunate incident but I'm just amazed at the line "it's not like it was that expensive-- $45". I guess all things are relative! :}

                  1. re: NicoleFriedman
                    j
                    JennS Jun 9, 2008 07:11 AM

                    I guess it is all relative. How much would you expect to pay for a decent bottle of wine at a restaurant where entrees are approx. $25?

                    We ended up eating 3 appetizers, 4 entrees, and drank 2 bottles of wine and paid $120 between the 5 of us after we argued our way through the bill with the manager.

                    1. re: JennS
                      n
                      NicoleFriedman Jun 27, 2008 01:57 PM

                      $45 does seem excessive to me and I guess that's why I hardly ever drink wine in restaurants.

                2. FoodieKat Jun 2, 2008 06:35 PM

                  A pizza delivery person giving me the wrong order, then trying to charge me for the pizza because I'd eaten a slice (only at this point did I realize it was the wrong pizza!) and THEN yelling at me because I refused to pay extra for the erroneous pizza (I'd already paid in advance for the order he'd screwed up). I called the restaurant and complained about their exceptionally rude and inept driver, and never ordered from there again. Manager didn't even say a word, no apology, nothing.

                  1. 0
                    0peramanda Jun 2, 2008 07:50 PM

                    The worst service I ever had was at a chain restaurant in the Orlando area about 10 years ago. We arrived at an off time, but the place was open. There were about 12 of us, and the restaurant was empty except for one table. The guy at the door told us it would be a 45 minute wait. When we said we didn't mind, he seated us within 3 minutes.

                    When we placed our order, he stood tapping his pencil on his order pad impatiently. He spilled a full glass of tea in my mother's lap, stormed off, came back with a pile of napkins, and kind of threw them at the table. He never said "I'm sorry," or tried to help clean it up (the floor, not her actual lap). When the food came out, several things were wrong, and my sister, grandmother and I were still waiting on our entrees a good 20 minutes after everyone else had theirs.

                    Finally we tracked down a manager, who took over our table and comped the meal.

                    Number 2 was at Palomino in Cincinnati. It was recommended by the concierge at our hotel. We didn't have a reservation (we were traveling, it was late, we were unprepared), but were told we would be able to get a table in a few minutes. We went to the bar and ordered a drink. As soon as we were served, the hostess found us to tell us our table was ready.

                    We sat down and our server immediately came over and demanded to know what wine we wanted. We hadn't even tasted our cocktails yet. He was so impatient with us the whole time we were trying to look over the menu and wine list. He'd huff and roll his eyes and storm off if we tried to ask questions. When he brought our appetizer, he sort of unceremoniously dumped it on the table. The people at the next table were getting the same treatment. I overheard one of them say to the other, "Did I do something to the waiter?" He was honestly so rude I had a hard time fighting back tears. At the time, I was a litigator -- I do not cry easily.

                    When our entrees came out, mine had obviously been sitting under a heat lamp for a long time. The manager was behind my husband talking to yet another mistreated customer, so we called him over and told him about the service we had received. Within minutes, my entree was replaced, and it was actually quite nice. We ended up only paying for our drinks and appetizer. The manager made the waiter close the bill out with a $0.01 tip, which made me feel a little guilty. But only a little.

                    1. meadandale Jun 4, 2008 06:13 PM

                      My worst server experience?

                      It's a toss up (there have been a few). My favorite:

                      My girlfriend and I began fighting about something during dinner and were ready to leave. The server dropped the check at the table and I immediately put down a credit card and we sat and waited...and waited...and waited. It was an uncomfortably long time, considering that my girlfriend and I were basically ignoring each other across the table.

                      Our section of the restaurant was basically empty and our waitress didn't reappear for 30 minutes. I finally gave up and we left our table and went into the bar to pay the bill. Halfway through the transaction, the waitress comes running into the bar frantically looking for us, thinking we'd just left without paying. Frankly, we should have. She'd probably gone out back to smoke and fraternize with her fellow servers right after dropping off our check or gone on a food break, or whatever. I don't really care.

                      I politely informed her that she wasn't getting a tip and suggested that she NEVER drop a check and disappear for 30 minutes ever again.

                      1. chef2chef Jun 5, 2008 08:31 AM

                        When the service is REALLY bad, I just don't tip. I know thats bad but why would I tip someone who didnt do anything worth getting one

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: chef2chef
                          l
                          lgphil Jun 5, 2008 10:06 AM

                          Why is that bad? One of the problems I think we have with getting good service is thaat people tip no matter how bad the service. There is no feedback between good, average and bad service. All seem to be tipped approximately the same. Many people will up the tip for great service, but don't seem to drop it for poor service.

                          1. re: lgphil
                            d
                            dolores Jun 5, 2008 10:31 AM

                            >>Many people will up the tip for great service, but don't seem to drop it for poor service.

                            That is strange. I can't understand that at all.

                            1. re: dolores
                              l
                              lgphil Jun 5, 2008 10:47 AM

                              I don't really understand it either, but even here, if you look at the tipping threads, you see lots of statements like "I start at 15% (or 20) and go up from there." Very few people seem to go down. Just an observation.

                            2. re: lgphil
                              Miss Needle Jun 5, 2008 01:08 PM

                              I think why chef2chef said it was bad is because tips are generally pooled with the entire waitstaff, busboys, etc. So stiffing one incompetent waitperson hurts everybody.

                              The best way to let the restaurant know is to say something to the manager. If you don't tip, they could assume you're a tourist or something.

                              1. re: Miss Needle
                                jfood Jun 5, 2008 01:18 PM

                                As jfood has stated in the past, if you get sub-par service, you tip accordingly and always mention something to the MOD on the way out.

                                Then let the MOD and the other tip-poolees teach the weak link how to be a team player.

                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                  d
                                  dolores Jun 5, 2008 02:33 PM

                                  Say something to the manager?

                                  And if the manager is as incompetent and uncaring as the server?

                                  Nope, my money is on no money, not a dime, for a bad server.

                                  Works every time.

                                  Oh, and not going back, of course.

                                  1. re: dolores
                                    Miss Needle Jun 5, 2008 02:40 PM

                                    A lot of restaurants in touristy areas like Times Squares have started imposing service charges because of the European tourists. A lot of tourists don't leave anything because they're ignorant of the tipping etiquette in the States. You can certainly leave a smaller tip or nothing at all. That's your call. But the only way to make sure that a restaurant knows that you're unhappy with the service is to verbalize it or to write a letter.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                      Cheflambo Jun 8, 2008 02:04 PM

                                      Miss N ... many European tourists are VERY aware of tipping practices here in the US, but use "ignorance" as an excuse not to. They figure "Hey, Im not going to be coming back here any time soon, so I dont care what they think of me...."

                                      I am not making this up. As a young server in my college days, I actually (over)heard someone say this at one of my tables at a nice restaurant in Washington DC. Being a smart-alec-type, and knowing that there was a better than even chance of not getting a tip anyway, I was about to drop off the check when I asked, all wide-eyed and innocent "So where are you folks visiting from?" The UK, they replied. "Oh, I've never been there," I said, "But I've heard that in the UK there's seldom any tipping of the waitstaff. Is that true?" They sort of verbally shuffled around and said "yes, that's often the case". "Well, here's your check, and I hope you enjoy your vacation here in the US." Surprise! I got a 15% gratuity (very generous for a mid-range restaurant server in the 70s).

                                  2. re: Miss Needle
                                    The Ranger Jun 21, 2008 08:00 AM

                                    In my experience, very few [none] restaurants have their servers "pool"; maybe dishroom and hotside but not each other. Servers are mercenaries, not philanthropists, and do not cotton to an internal welfare program simply because someone isn't "making as much." The attitude is very much, "Mine is mine; your's is yours."

                                    1. re: The Ranger
                                      m
                                      magfitz Jun 23, 2008 08:09 AM

                                      I worked at a restaurant for 9 years and we always pooled the tips. And never heard of it being that rare.

                                      1. re: magfitz
                                        The Ranger Jun 23, 2008 10:10 AM

                                        Six restaurant over many more years; none pooled the servers' tips. 'Tenders' tips were not pooled either.

                                        1. re: The Ranger
                                          Servorg Jun 23, 2008 10:30 AM

                                          It seems like pooling is not that rare. It's certainly been mentioned on this board quite a few times over the years by servers. This web site discussion of how it works in NY is pretty clear and sounds as if it is pretty common: http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com/co...
                                          (run a word search on "pooled" to find the part that talks about tip pooling)

                                          1. re: Servorg
                                            The Ranger Jun 23, 2008 11:08 AM

                                            Interesting. Every server I knew (mercenaries every last one of them) would have told me to go perform some anatomically impossible feat if I'd suggested "pooling" their tips. Tips are merit pay; plain and simple.

                              2. c
                                charlesbois Jun 5, 2008 10:57 AM

                                When I was about 7 years old, I went with my family to IHOP when we were out of state. I had never been to IHOP but I was excited about pancakes. Even though it was dinner, I ordered the pancakes, while everyone else got entrees. The salads came out for everyone's entrees, but I didn't get a salad, just had a small glass of OJ to sip on. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. An hour later, after inquiring a couple times about the entrees (and my pancakes) the server comes out and says "it's going to be another half an hour more, the cook just threw up in the kitchen and he needs to clean up before starting to cook again." Well, we left the restaurant without paying for our drinks and the salads. I think we were all hoping that the salads were made BEFORE the throwing up in the kitchen incident...

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: charlesbois
                                  danhole Jun 5, 2008 12:42 PM

                                  Oh charles! That is truly the most disgusting thing I have ever heard! I think you win this round! Your post makes what I was going to say sound so trivial, I am not even going to post it.

                                  1. re: danhole
                                    d
                                    dolores Jun 5, 2008 12:59 PM

                                    danhole, I guess you didn't read the post about the guy deliberating about whether he wanted to pick out anything from (not his own) ...... well, I'm not sure I should continue!

                                    Now THAT was one of THE best (and unforgettable) posts I've ever read. Although, charles, yours is a good runnerup.

                                    1. re: dolores
                                      danhole Jun 5, 2008 01:23 PM

                                      Dolores, don't leave me hanging here! Where was that? Is it on this thread?

                                    2. re: danhole
                                      c
                                      charlesbois Jun 5, 2008 01:14 PM

                                      awww, don't let my post scare you off...post yours!

                                      I could tell the one about the band-aid in the burrito...

                                      1. re: charlesbois
                                        danhole Jun 5, 2008 01:38 PM

                                        Well, okay, but it isn't up there with yours!

                                        Years ago we celebrated an anniversary at a restaurant that had singing waiters, and every night it was a different theme. There was a runway type stage, also. The servers didn't get on the stage, that was for the professional singers, even though the waiters were very good too. My DH made reservations for us and the theme that night was songs made famous by Mario Lanza, which is special to me as my dad and I would listen to his records on Sundays. He even told them it was our anniversary. This place was not inexpensive, and we were very young and mostly broke, so it was a treat to go.

                                        Get there and see lots of empty tables. They put us at a table right by the kitchen, away from the stage, so we had to really crane our necks to even begin to see it. When we ask to move, they tell us that those tables are reserved . . . wasn't ours? Their attitude was like either you sit here or leave. So we stay. Then, even though we are right by the kitchen, almost getting hit by the door a few times, our food took forever to come out, while others seated after us were getting their food. And talk about being ignored! Our waiter practically skated past us avoiding all eye contact. The food was disappointing, as well. We could still hear the music though and that was great, wish we could have seen who was singing, though!

                                        In retrospect I think our age played a factor. We were probably the youngest patrons there, I mean how many 20 somethings back in 1980 even knew who Mario Lanza was? But it doesn't justify the treatment.

                                        1. re: danhole
                                          Cheflambo Jun 8, 2008 02:09 PM

                                          Dani - was that The Great Caruso? Their website says they are closed now, since a fire in 2006.

                                          1. re: Cheflambo
                                            danhole Jun 9, 2008 06:39 AM

                                            Sure was! It went from a music based theme to a dinner theater theme, but we never went back.

                                    3. re: charlesbois
                                      susancinsf Jun 7, 2008 10:36 AM

                                      well, I definitely can't top that, but the pancakes thing does remind me: was once dining in a breakfast chain type of place in Phoenix (not IHOP, I think it was a Carrows, which is much worse, so don't ask what I was doing there...)

                                      but in any case, I ordered pancakes. When they came, there was a fairly large green catapiller-type bug of some type on the top of the stack...I called the server back over to point this out; she looked at the pancakes and said, 'oh that's just a piece of parsley'. I was just about to question why there would be parsley on pancakes, when the thing started crawling, which of course allowed me to retort instead with, 'Does parsley move from one side of the pancake to the other?'

                                      well, perhaps she was really, really nearsighted :-)

                                    4. s
                                      SharaMcG Jun 5, 2008 02:43 PM

                                      My sweetheart and I went to Rupununi in Bar Harbor a few years back. Resto was busy but not overly crowded. Our server assured us he would "take care of us," took our order then disappeared for over 40 minutes. Then he delivered bread and salad and disappeared again, again resassuring us he'd "take care of us." When he finally brought the entees (over an hour after we ordered), my fiance's steak (which was ordered medium rare) was raw and cold in the middle. We called server over (after 20 minutes of him whizzing by and ignoring us) and sent it back. Another 20 minutes later (!) he returned the plate exactly the same. Nothing had been done to it. My meal was cold at this point, too. He reassured us that he would "take care of us at dessert," but I told him to just bring the check. He disappeared again and after another 20 minutes, we got up and walked out. I have never ever done that before and would never even consider doing it but it was late and we were disgusted and still hungry. We ended up walking into another resto down the street and having a lovely dinner there with no problems. Rupununi is a resto I recommend people against trying now. Obviously!

                                      1. steve h. Jun 5, 2008 02:48 PM

                                        sat down, waiter took drinks order, delivered same and... never showed up again. chatted with manager and owner on the way out (they flagged me down). this stuff doesn't happen very often. i'm sure the waiter found another position in the hospitality industry.

                                        at the end of the day, simply not a big deal. this was not a fancy restaurant by any stretch. still, you have to know when to fold 'em.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: steve h.
                                          Catskillgirl Jun 7, 2008 01:31 PM

                                          "still, you have to know when to fold 'em"

                                          OK, this made me LOL. It's true, though. How much do you put up with before simply walking out?

                                        2. diablo Jun 5, 2008 03:08 PM

                                          Years ago I went to a restaurant with my parents for dinner. All American Cafe or something I think it was called. Well we were seated and they took our order and then we waited for an eternity. Everyone, and I mean everyone, working there disappeared for a good 40 minutes or so. Hostess, busboys, manager, waiter. Gone. It was like the Twillight Zone. Turns out two of the chefs got into a fistfight in the kitchen, as the waiter explained when he finally returned to the table. The rest of the staff had to step in to finish the orders, and I have to say they did a great job. They comped the meal, but we left the same tip we would have if we had been charged. Very strange experience...

                                          1. Midlife Jun 7, 2008 07:35 PM

                                            This happened close to 30 years ago now, but still brings back memories. 6 young couples; New Years Eve; local Chain restaurant in the hills with a great view of the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles skyline. Reservations for 8PM. We arrive on time and are seated in what must have been a banquet room because it was all round tables and had no view at all. We ordered from a pre fix menu by about 8:30. Salads/soup arrived at around 9:30...... then nothing......... until 11:30 when entrees began arriving EXCEPT of the 12 people only 6 or 7 got what they ordered (most of which was stone cold). 2 or 3 more were totally wrong meals and the last few got NOTHING. We found a manager who was apologetic but totally overwhelmed. Each couple left cash in the amount of whatever they thought they had received, plus tax and NO TIP. We made it to the home of the closest couple in time to see the ball drop and make scrambled eggs and bacon for those that had followed. The experience is now part of the folklore of our circle of friends, many of whom we still see.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Midlife
                                              Servorg Jun 7, 2008 07:50 PM

                                              Quite an "Odyssey" alright. I believe that's why New Year's Eve is called amateur night.

                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                Midlife Jun 8, 2008 12:15 PM

                                                I understand it's actually still there to this day. We moved to deep south OC many years ago (pre-quake) and haven't thought about the place much except when in the company of people who shared that evening.

                                                1. re: Midlife
                                                  Servorg Jun 8, 2008 12:22 PM

                                                  Yes, the Oddity is still serving all you can eat slop for weekend brunch and lesser portions of slop during the week to people who can overlook the food while they are looking out over the SFV.

                                            2. l
                                              lawgirl3278 Jun 9, 2008 09:18 AM

                                              Here's my horror story:

                                              One hungover morning after a wedding, my boyfriend (now DH) and I went to a Denny's in Springfield, PA for breakfast. I ordered scrambled eggs, my DH gets a club sandwich.

                                              Waitress disappears. And we wait. And wait. And wait. For one hour. We saw our food sitting there under the lamp but couldn't find our waitress to get it. We spot her and my DH says, "Excuse me" and she blows right by us waving her hand saying, "Yeah yeah I heard you."

                                              We waited a few minutes more and she literally slams the plates on the table. So hard that mine actually slid across the table. Naturally, the eggs are so cold they're congealed. My DH attempts to ask her something and she cuts him off. He asks to see the manager and she yells and walks away. This in the middle of a full house, with people waiting at the door.

                                              But here's the kicker.

                                              We get up to leave and walk over to the manager. He sheepishly apologized, while he was HOLDING BACK the waitress as she's screaming, "NO NO F__K THEM!!!" We bolted out and told everyone waiting in line to run out of there. A good bunch of people left.

                                              Most insane experience ever. I've never been to a Denny's since. I meant to write a letter but forgot about it.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: lawgirl3278
                                                j
                                                jujuthomas Jun 9, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                We had a slightly similar experience in a Dennys, where my husband didn't have any silverware. He tried flagging the waitress down and got a snippy "I SAID I'll get your toast in a minute". We ended up stopping another server and asking HER for silver. we left a penny tip on advice from the manager. At least our waitress didn't go nuts! wow.

                                                1. re: jujuthomas
                                                  d
                                                  Dee S Jun 10, 2008 07:20 AM

                                                  The MANAGER told you to leave her a penny tip? I'm guessing you spoke with the manager about the waitress, since you said advice was given. That's just wrong.

                                                  Weak managers don't make the situation right. I'm sure the waitress didn't think she did anything wrong and she got another cheap table.

                                                  OTOH, Denny's is pretty foul.

                                                2. re: lawgirl3278
                                                  m
                                                  marcia Jun 9, 2008 04:11 PM

                                                  I've been boycotting Denny's for so long now that I forgot the original reason (this was prior to the accusations of racism) but I don't think it was due to bad service.

                                                  Maybe I'm mistaken and it was indeed because of outlandishly bad service, which to me translates into either a rude server and/or being ignored. I'm quite tolerant, but I will not put up with either one.

                                                3. s
                                                  smalt Jun 9, 2008 12:46 PM

                                                  Viet restaurant, all the rave on the local food boards. We went early, house was fairly empty. Ordered. Finished the dishes presented and waited for the last dish to arrive, thinking their pacing was just bad. Waitress looks at us blankly. Not about to wait for dish now, the flow has been disrupted. Ask for check. Busboy then tries to give us our glasses of water. Took awhile to get the bill paid for, too.

                                                  No apologies, no acknowledgment of error. Food wasn't horrible, but we've not been back as it wasn't as stellar as others make it out to be and the service just spoiled the experience and colored our opinions of the place. I'm more likely to focus on the negatives (Asian strip mall, walk past a huge smelly dumpster from neighboring grocery stores) than any positives.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: smalt
                                                    m
                                                    marcia Jun 9, 2008 04:26 PM

                                                    Sorry, if this is your worst server experience you've been quite fortunate.

                                                    As for your statement "I'm more likely to focus on the negatives (Asian strip mall, walk past a huge smelly dumpster from neighboring grocery stores) than any positives." it perhaps colored my assessment of your post. If you had to walk by those negatives, why did you go enter in the first place?

                                                    1. re: marcia
                                                      JonParker Jun 9, 2008 05:13 PM

                                                      I'd consider those indicative of a possibly great experience. My fave place in the world right now is between a tattoo parlor and a cheesy bar.

                                                      1. re: marcia
                                                        s
                                                        smalt Jun 10, 2008 05:52 AM

                                                        Yes, I have been fortunate - or I just don't get out much! I'd overlook the named negatives if the experience had been worth it, but it wasn't. The fact that it's in an Asian strip mall in itself is not a negative, it was used to describe the locale - we''re not talking suburbia here.

                                                        To each his own.....

                                                      2. re: smalt
                                                        a
                                                        akq Jun 9, 2008 06:26 PM

                                                        If it was Tamarind Tree - try it again (it is excellent and very inexpensive...not run like a fine dining restaurant). And next time, if they miss something, ask them for it - they can usually get the food out quickly if necessary.

                                                        Nevermind if I got the restaurant wrong, though!

                                                      3. b
                                                        Billow Fair Jun 11, 2008 02:12 PM

                                                        I read 'Midlife's' post and had to add my own. Christmas Eve at Castaway, another pretend-to-be-nice restaurant In the San Fernando Valley with a good view as it's main attraction. We were a party of 6. I can only assume they had trouble getting anyone competent to work the holiday. The restaurant was busy, but not mobbed. We were ignored all evening. We had to eventually scrounge our own water pitcher from the wait station and salt and pepper shakers from another table. When a couple of our party ordered rice with their main course instead of potatoes (there was a choice on the menu), everything came with potatoes and everything had rice on the side. Nothing was properly cooked to order. I kept looking around for Gordon Ramsey, thinking we had wandered into Hell's Kitchen in an early season episode. Then my SIL ordered a second glass of red wine and it was served in a white wine glass and the waiter said (I'm not kidding) "You may want to pour this into your fancy glass" (the empty red wine glass that had not been cleared.)...he was wearing a suit. It actually went downhill from there and ended with me complaining to the manager and the bill being halved. I even left a 10% tip; 5% on what the total should have been. Heck, it was Christmas.

                                                        1. jfood Jun 12, 2008 06:33 PM

                                                          The jfoods 26th anniversary dinner very expensive restaurant at a high end resort in FL.

                                                          - jfood ordered a rib eye med-rare; mrs jfood the dover sole, prices were $52 and 60, respectively (not a typo)
                                                          - delivered. ; sole was good but the steak was extra well done. Called waiter over and he told jfood it would take 20-30 minutes to re-fire. what? he left the dover sole and mrs jfood nibbled hoping the steak would arrive in time for them to eat together
                                                          - steak 2 arrived 25 minutes later, waiter asked jfood to cut ino it. it was raw. jfood showed the server an he LAUGHED
                                                          - server removed steak and asked if jfood wanted to see the dessert menu (jfood had pre-ordered a special dessert, what were the menus doing here?)
                                                          - Jfood asked for the check, neither steaks were on the bill
                                                          - jfood approached the MOD on the way out and told him how disappointed he was
                                                          - MOD responded "What the hell do you want? You had two steaks?"

                                                          General manager of the resort had a different attitude, thankfully.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jfood
                                                            mschow Jun 12, 2008 07:33 PM

                                                            OK, jfood, you simply cannot tell a story like that without sharing the name of the resort...that is truly unbelievable!! Please do share.

                                                          2. Gio Jun 12, 2008 06:44 PM

                                                            Did I ever tell you about the waitress in Vermont who brought the ketchup bottle to our table on her way to serve another table....and opened it with her mouth?
                                                            "Well I only have two hands," she said when we were shocked.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                              Servorg Jun 12, 2008 07:09 PM

                                                              I suppose you should just count your lucky stars that she didn't have a check between her teeth, because one can only imagine what creative bottle opening technique you might have been forced to witness next. ;-D

                                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                                Gio Jun 12, 2008 07:40 PM

                                                                LOL servorg!! One can only imagine. And, I have a vivid imagination.

                                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                                  g
                                                                  gryphonskeeper Jun 14, 2008 07:40 AM

                                                                  I have opened them in the crook of my arm, I also have opened beer bottles in the fleshy part of my forearm (a tip I learned on chowtips)

                                                              2. h
                                                                hungry_pangolin Jun 14, 2008 08:44 AM

                                                                This doesn't compete with vomiting chefs or psychotic waitresses, but here goes... just outside London, Ontario, a place called The Horse&Hound, sort of a gastro-pub. Sweet Jesus. Six of the family went for dinner, and were seated in one of the rooms. We were given menus, drink orders taken, and then... we were forgotten. Almost a half hour passed before we were finally able to flag someone down to ask where our not very complicated drink order was, and that we would like to order. Drinks and wine arrive, at last, not entirely the ones ordered, but now we just want booze to sedate us. Another 30 minutes pass, and some apps arrive, some don't. Ditto the mains, 45 minutes later, some mediocrely executed ones arrive, some MIA. How does one rack of lamb arrive, and one not, both ordered the same? And (the height of pretension for a place that can't get the drinks right) a palate cleanser... coconut sorbet (blech!). And on those rare occasions when the staff did show up, the attitude was outrageous. How dare we ask for food and drink? How dare we repeat the request after 20, 30, 40 minutes? The manager, when we finally found him to complain, was even worse. By far, the worst experience in my life. They went out of business. Good. Fuck 'em.

                                                                1. o
                                                                  ola Jun 14, 2008 09:08 AM

                                                                  Many years ago, my parents hosted a big family meal at Bruno's in San Francisco. It was our waitresses first day and she was overwhelmed. Minor errors while she took orders and served appetizers. When she served me my meal, the plate slipped and the entire entree ended up in my lap. And then she swept the food off of my lap into the plate and put the plate back in front of me on the table! I caught her eye, shook my head and softly said "No." It was like she woke up from a dream and realized what she had done, apologized profusely and had the manager come over to apologize as well. They offered to cover costs of dry cleaning and comped the appetizers.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ola
                                                                    janetofreno Jun 18, 2008 12:10 PM

                                                                    reminds me of a service story.....I may have posted this once before, a while ago. A group were at a restaurant in Washington DC, and the waiter was having trouble accessing the far end of the table...probably because the tables were too close together. Instead of kindly asking someone to move or to pass a drink, he pushed his way between two chairs...and tripped, spilling margarita all over one of our group's head. It was as if the guy had won the NBA playoffs and was drenched with gatorade...that much liquid right on top of him. And the waiter said to us "Its not my fault; the chairs are too close!" and left....never to return with an apology OR a drink to make up for the spilled one. We talked to the manager, who replaced the drink and then charged us for it!

                                                                    Then there was the time at another dinner in a popular Atlanta night spot where the waiter told one of our group that "You are too fat and I can't get around you!" (Yes, those were his exact words. This guy is big-boned, maybe, but I have never thought of him as "fat." Even if he was, it still would have been inexcusable IMO.)

                                                                    1. re: janetofreno
                                                                      Ette1010 Jun 28, 2008 04:13 PM

                                                                      My question for you is, if you saw the server struggling to reach the end of the table, why didn't anyone move his chair without being asked or offer to pass the drink down the table?

                                                                      1. re: Ette1010
                                                                        janetofreno Jun 28, 2008 10:16 PM

                                                                        Actually, we did offer to pass the drink, and he declined, saying he could handle it...right before he dumped the drink.

                                                                        And moving the chairs would have done no good....there was no room to move them. I know that some restauranteurs want to squeeze as many tables in the room as possible to allow for more meals sold...but there is such a thing as too many. When moving your chair does not provide enough room for a waiter to pass between tables then something is wrong....Sorry, but the restaurant needs to take responsibility for that!

                                                                  2. Chew on That Jun 18, 2008 08:29 AM

                                                                    Here's my story:

                                                                    I have a thing for buffalo chicken...boneless wings, sandwiches, what have you...and I always order it with extra buffalo sauce. I also drink a lot of water normally, but drink even more when I'm eating spicy food (naturally...).

                                                                    So this one time, I order wings with extra sauce. The waitress delivers the food and leaves never to be seen again for at least a half an hour. She finally comes around and I ask for more water...I wait and wait and wait...until she walks by empty handed. I ask where my water is and she retorts "Ya know...maybe if you didn't get extra sauce, you wouldn't need so much water!" This was after asking her to refill my water ONCE which I would do normally.

                                                                    Besides, even though I need water, I LIKE it that way and it's none of your business to judge my eating habits. I was PIIIIIISSSSSED.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Chew on That
                                                                      g
                                                                      gryphonskeeper Jun 18, 2008 09:09 AM

                                                                      so, did she enjoy her .01 cent tip? That is what she would get with me.

                                                                    2. The Ranger Jun 21, 2008 08:27 AM

                                                                      I'm not very tolerant of poor service, let alone surly attitudes, and find many people that have worked in the industry are of similar mind. We will [generally] cut slack if a restaurant is slammed, short-handed, etc. but surly, uppity, nasty, and downright stupid personnel are sure to get called on their behavior.

                                                                      In this case, you've talked to the owner/manager on the way out and found them unresponsive: What do you do? Take a business card with the manager's name, note the time you spoke to him or her, hopefully you also noted the server's name, and then write two Letters. The first goes back to the restaurant with a minor "cc: Better Business Bureau" tagged on the bottom. Then send the next off to the local BBB. It doesn't help with your case but it does annoy owners, and that's the end result.

                                                                      I've found that managers have had an about-face change in attitude after an owner received a Letter, or notice.

                                                                      The nice thing about documenting the incident is you can then cut-and-paste the letter to multiple electronic sources. :)

                                                                      1. r
                                                                        randyjl Jun 24, 2008 06:45 PM

                                                                        While "dining" at Outback with a friend the waiter returned after serving our entrees and asked how things were. I said the steaks were fine, but my baked potato was so cold the butter would not even melt. He apologized profusely and proceded to pick the potato out of my plate with his naked hand! I am seldom at a loss for words but even after picking up my jaw from the table, I still could not speak I was so shocked! To make a longs story short, after complaints to the manager, not only did he comp our meal but gave us a $50 gift card as well. I gave the card to a church raffle and have never been back to an Outback.

                                                                        1. bkhuna Jun 27, 2008 02:34 PM

                                                                          I can empathize with servers, they do a hard job and I think they should be compensated for their work. However, there have been two times in my life where I felt the server needed to be throttled for their attitude.

                                                                          I don't get angry. I simply walk away from the table and seek the manager, explaining to them why I'm not hanging around for my dinner, why they've lost a customer, and why I'm telling others to stay away.

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