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When do you expect to get "comp'ed"?

Recently I saw a few posts with diners complaining about food or service at restaurants. What struck me was the expectation of some people to have their dishes or meal comp'ed. One example was that the diners complaint about the AC being broken in the restaurant on a very hot day, decided to stay there to eat. Eventually it became too unbearable to eat there due to the heat and they took the food and left but expecting that in some way they should be comp'ed (which the restaurant didn't do). The other post was about service issue on timing in sending out dishes. The restaurant comp'ed the whole meal (note: very expensive), but the poster still complaint on how the service of the restaurant was unacceptable. There are many other posts on how people expect the restaurants to comp their dish or meal but I am not going into the details.

For me, I never really think that the restaurants need to comp anything. If I get a bad service, I note it in the receipt and give less tips. If I have a bad dish, I either send it back on my first 2 bites (really, after a few more bites, I feel cheap to send it back as if I am trying to get more food), or I just let it go. I know I won't go back to the restaurant or order that dish again, but I don't expect the restaurant to comp me if I don't finish my plate.

Granted, it is a nice gesture if a restaurant decides to comp you. But I don't feel that someone should expect the restaurant to comp anything when they complaint. What's your view? When should a restaurant comp a diner? When do you expect to be comp'ed, if ever?

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  1. my personal thought is if you get comped you lose your right to continue to go on and on about it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LaLa

      Correct. That should end the discussion. I have been butchered in many, many restaurants and only once or twice did I ask for a total comp. My test of a comp-worthy meal is that the food and/ or service was so outrageously and inexcusably bad that it ruined your mealtime beyond any hope of repair. My way of communicating that is to calmly suggest that they do the right thing because if they don't, I will refuse to pay anyway.

    2. Generally speaking, I wouldn't expect to be comped for something unless it was clearly the restaurant's fault that something was inedible or unless there was physical damage (the restaurant spills wine on my coat, hits me on the head with a hot plate, etc.). Otherwise, I'm with you: if the service is lousy, take it out of the tip. If they tell you up front that there's some kind of problem and you decide to stay, you're responsible for the decision, not the restaurant.

      I hear waaaaaay too many people whining about how they should have been comped this or that, or bragging about how they bullied the restaurant into comping them something. Sometimes I get the impression they make a fuss out of something trivial just because they're angling for a freebie. Not cool, IMHO.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Boy, do I agree 100% with you Ruth!
        Perhaps I have a bit cynical view of getting "comped". I live in Las Vegas, work in one of the biggest resorts in town, in hotel reservations. I've heard it ALL, reasons why a person should be comped. Be it for the stay, or for a meal.
        I guess i'm a bit cut and dried on the subject: If meal and experince was horrid, let the manager know your issues. A good one will try and make you happy- usually comping said meal. A bug in food? The manager gets a call over, and discreetly informed of the "visitor". Now, for (in my mind, anyways) a trivial matter of temperature of resto, or music volume..That does NOT deserve any type of comp. You can leave, if it bothers your senses, but sitting thru a meal, eating like a King (all the while, complaning about trival issues you have with resto) THEN you demand to be comped? WRONG WRONG WRONG. I've seen people pull this little stunt, and it's frustrating. People whine like 5-year olds too, to try and get comped. It's quite pathetic, and I sincerly belive these people will be sent to the 7th level of Hell, when the time comes. (LOL, kidding!)

        I know, Vegas is different from the rest of the world, in the areas of getting comped. But, i've seen some really slimy people pull really slimy stunts just to get something "free".

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Hi Ruth,

          I think you are right that there are some people who try to take advantage of the whole "hospitality" idea. I particularly dislike people who, eat the whole plate, then complain about the dish not good, and expect to be comp'ed (and if the restaurant did not, they complain more either on the CH board or elsewhere). I mean, if you eat the dish, you need to pay for it, good or bad.

        2. Agree completely. With every word. I NEVER expect ANYTHING to be comp'ed. I figure if I haven't sent it back after the first bite or two, it's my own fault for not speaking up. And I would be embarrassed to even hint that I expected not to be charged for something.

          I was once offered a meal for two on a future date at Balthazaar when a friend and I were seated near the big, round table that was occupied by a group of young men who got increasingly drunk, increasingly loud, and decreasingly dressed. But the offer was made with no prompting whatsoever on my part.

          And I was once comp'ed any bottle of wine I wanted at Ouest when they were out of the first two bottles I had ordered. I had just laughed it off and certainly wasn't expecting a freebie. I thought it so generous of them, that I ordered a bottle more or less in the same price range of the ones I had ordered previously. After dinner, the manager told us he was bringing us complimentary desserts because he couldn't believe I hadn't ordered the most expensive wine in the house.

          1. If I have a reservation and I end up having to wait for the table, I think I should be comp'ed a cocktail or glass of wine. However, I don't suggest that to the staff, which may be why it rarely happens.

            One of my peeves is the trend of having people wait in the bar regardless of their reservation time so they will order drinks and spend more money. I expect my reservation time to be honored and if there is a mixup or a table simply won't turn, the restaurant should compensate me for my wasted time. I get there on time based on the restaurant's representation that they would have a table for me, so if they don't I should be compensated in some way.

            Having said that, one of my other pet peeves is dining with people who intentionally complain about something at a restaurant (service, food quality, water marks on the stemware) and don't consider their dining experience a success unless they've gotten something comp'ed. I have stopped dining with a couple due to their obvious practice of trying to wring something free out of every restaurant they patronize.

            I suppose if there is something really disgusting in the food that wasn't supposed to be there, it would be good business for the restaurant to comp the diner the meal, or at least the offending dish.

            6 Replies
            1. re: NAspy

              "If I have a reservation and I end up having to wait for the table, I think I should be comp'ed a cocktail or glass of wine. However, I don't suggest that to the staff, which may be why it rarely happens.

              One of my peeves is the trend of having people wait in the bar regardless of their reservation time so they will order drinks and spend more money. I expect my reservation time to be honored and if there is a mixup or a table simply won't turn, the restaurant should compensate me for my wasted time. I get there on time based on the restaurant's representation that they would have a table for me, so if they don't I should be compensated in some way. "

              What are you talking about--15 minutes or an hour, somewhere in between? I'm assuming nobody is holding a gun to your head, demanding that you buy their alcohol.

              Lastly, if you go to a doctor and s/he is late and doesn't honor your appointment time do you think you should be monetarily compensated? Probably not.

              1. re: marcia

                Well, I do think that -- if I have to take time off work and then am kept waiting for my doctor more than half an hour, I start fantasizing about sending her a bill -- but I certainly don't expect it because it's not the norm in that setting.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  My point was the sense of entitlement that some people have about "their time" irritates the snot out of me. Hell, my time is wasted every day by people who I think should be doing their jobs differently. Why aren't there more check out lanes open at Target, for example? After all, I'm at the store so hop to it, people! Is it annoying, yes, but others are being inconvenienced too. And in the end, what difference does it make?

                  Stuff happens. I'm just sick to death of people who think that those who work in the hospitality industry owe it to customers to give out freebies because they have to wait, it's their birthday, anniversary, or whatever. There was a thread here a while back where posters were all over a certain restaurant for actually, gasp, calling a customer in advance to tell him (or her) that they were running late and could they come in 15, or maybe it was 30 minutes, later. Can't have it both ways. Personally, I thought it was responsible for the restaurant to call because gee, maybe they thought ahead and didn't want the customer to waste their time, but people here were up in arms about it. Still don't understand why.

                  And no, I don't work in the industry but I work with the public (not in retail) and entitlement gets really old, really fast. Save the comps for gross errors, like having food/drinks dumped on you, etc.

                  1. re: marcia

                    >>My point was the sense of entitlement that some people have about "their time" irritates the snot out of me. Hell, my time is wasted every day by people who I think should be doing their jobs differently. Why aren't there more check out lanes open at Target, for example? After all, I'm at the store so hop to it, people! Is it annoying, yes, but others are being inconvenienced too. And in the end, what difference does it make? <<

                    Restaurants should at least make an effort to seat people according to their reservation time -- why even bother having reservations if they aren't going to honor them? I don't mind waiting up to 15 or 20 minutes for a reservation, but after that, I get annoyed and a complimentary cocktail will go a long way to making me forgive the delay. I don't think it's a sense of entitlement to expect an establishment to honor a reservation time, and although I would never ask for a "comp," it is certainly an appreciated gesture on the restaurant's behalf to acknowledge that they've inconvenienced you.

                    By the way, I feel this same way about other services/service professionals. I dropped a hairdresser once who would double book appointments and leave me sitting with wet hair while he did another customer. I've stopped shopping at certain markets that chronically understaff their registers and instead patronize grocery stores that have adequate staff so their customers don't have to stand 10 deep waiting in a checkout line. I also prefer to shop at stores like Nordstrom that put extra staff on the floor during the holidays so they have enough people around to giftwrap presents without forcing customers to have to go stand in a separate line for an hour for that basic courtesy.

                    I guess, on a basic level, I appreciate good customer service, and will provide my loyalty to stores/services/restaurants that give it to me, an will happily pay more for it.

                    On the other hand, if I'm provided bad service (like being made to wait more than 20 minutes for a confirmed reservation), I will be annoyed and if that particular establishment wants to keep my business, they'll have to do something to make it up to me.

                    1. re: marcia

                      "There was a thread here a while back where posters were all over a certain restaurant for actually, gasp, calling a customer in advance to tell him (or her) that they were running late and could they come in 15, or maybe it was 30 minutes, later."
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      i wish i had seen that thread. i, for one, would be extremely impressed & appreciative if a restaurant did that for me. then again, i'm completely anal about being on time for everything, so if i think there's a chance i may be even a minute or two late for a reservation, i always call the restaurant to let them know.

                      you're right that restaurant patrons seem to have developed a sense of entitlement in recent years. on the rare occasion that i call to cancel a reservation these days, the host or hostess usually thanks me profusely for having the courtesy to call & let them know, because apparently this is now a rare occurrence.

                      boggles the mind.

                      dine out often enough, and you're bound to have the occasional bad experience. every restaurant has off nights, sh*t happens...but unless you've been treated badly by the restaurant, abused by a staff member, or poisoned by the chef, there's no reason to be an ass when things don't go your way. i'm always horrified when i witness diners beating up on servers or getting off on power trips over minor mishaps or misunderstandings. hey, i'll admit, i'm very particular about my food, and i expect high-quality meals & service when i'm paying for them. so yes, if my food is cooked or prepared improperly, or i find a bug or hair in my food - both of which have happened on more than one occasion - i send it back and ask them to fix the problem or prepare me a new plate if necessary...but i see no need to demand compensation or tear someone a new one just because there was a screw-up somewhere along the line. more often than not, when something has gone wrong during the meal, restaurants surprise me by unexpectedly removing certain items from the bill as a good-faith gesture. i always appreciate it, but never do i feel that i'm entitled to it.

                  2. re: marcia

                    Actually I told my doctor ...look I work on commission...I don't get paid unless I am out working and I expect that you honor my appointment time.I have never had to wait since ...going on 5 years!LOL!

                2. getting compensated (something for free) is never expected.

                  deb and i were in silk's (restaurant in the san francisco mandarin) awhile back. had a pleasant chat with the waiter, ordered some of his suggestions and later said we liked certain dishes and certain wine pairings. over the course of the meal, he brought out the chef and the sommelier. we talked and talked, ate and ate, drank and drank.

                  my bill was maybe a third of what it should have been. it was a fun evening.