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Aug 26, 2008 11:56 AM

What would you do?

I am interested in what other diners would do if they go to a very expensive establishment for a special occasion and nothing but nothing works?
The reservation has not been honored at the specified time, the food is really mediocre, the service is totally non-existent, and the bill is "off-the chart". Oh yes.. the fancy restaurant had completely "forgotten" about your special occasion. Thoughts ?

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  1. Assuming you ate the food and didn't send it back, what can you do? You pay your bill, leave a tip proportionate to what you feel is the quality of service, don't go back, and tell your friends so they don't make the same mistake. It is also imperative to talk to a manager and let them know you were disappointed in your visit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pollymerase

      This, in my opinion, is the perfect answer.

      1. re: pollymerase

        I totally agree, the OP has to take responsibility for choosing the place and the OP 'assumed', bad thing to do, the chow was good. Go the first time and have a bad experience, shame on them, go a second time and have a bad experience, shame on me. As for the special occasion, was the OP disappointed they didn't get a free cupcake with a candle in it! Live and learn.

      2. You might also want to post the name of the place here so the rest of us don't get the same experience

        However, you might also want to write a note to the owner/manager. If they DO care, they'll try and fix things for the future. Who knows? you may even get comped!

        3 Replies
        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

          You see, clam, that is part of the problem -- a call, letter or email sent later is too late and is viewed as a belated attempt to get a freebie. It is essential to let someone in authority know at the time. Even if it is a celebration or a business meeting and you don't want to make waves, someone in the party needs to get a manager's attention, get his or her business card, and make a comment that things are not up to expectations and you will be contacting them later.

          1. re: nosh

            better late than never. yes, no question it would be better to let someone know at the time, but that may not have been possible/appropriate depending on the event - stepping aside to have a word with a manager can put even more of a damper on an already bad experience.

            In your complaint be as specific as possible. Give not only the date, but the time you were there, and exact details about what happened. The sooner after the event the better - I am sure the hostess/host remembers the missed reservation and can give the management their recollection of the story.

            1. re: nosh

              I would not have raised the issue at the restaurant in this situation. If the food were spoiled or some other serious matter, yes, that demands immediate action. Your point about the restaurant assuming a letter really wants a "comp" is valid. However, in this type of letter, which is both for venting and for constructively informing management of deficiencies, I state that I am not asking for a comp nor would I accept one. I suppose this is a minority position but it works for me.

          2. Write a letter to the GM describing your experience and your disappointment. Don't be overly critical but give him the facts and let him know that you have always enjoyed the place on previous visits which is why you chose it for your special occasion.

            Believe it or not, mgmt wants to know when you're not happy. They'd rather have you come to them w/ your problem rather than tell everyone you know. Many times they will respond in writing w/ a gift certificate an invitation for you to come back and try again so that they can make it up to you. Not that that should be your motivation, of course.

            1. I always include a quote from retailer Marshall Fields when training new franchisees on handling Guest Complaints. Basically, he said that the people that don't complain do the most damage because they don't give you the opportunity to improve.

              Most restauranteurs would want to know about your experience so they could address the issues and make corrections. An objective, fact based letter/email or call after the fact should be appreciated and an effort to re-gain your business would be appropriate. It's not too late to express your disappointment after you've left the restaurant.

              1 Reply
              1. re: oldbaycupcake

                In some ways, I think a letter/email after the fact is better. In the heat of the moment, we get irate and can easily forget or mangle what we want to say. If I wait to compose my thoughts and write an email/letter, I can make sure I get what I want to say down on paper in a well thought-out and rational manner. It also gives the restaurant a written record of the complaint, while a manager is more likely to forget the substance of a complaint if it was a busy night and there were several issues happening simultaneously.

              2. How much would you pay for jfood's car?

                Alanccrx, it is unclear what any of this means is terms of degree.

                - how long did you wait, 5 minytes or 50 minutes?
                - mediocre food - jfood knows of lots of expensive places that have mediocre food.
                - did you mention anything duringthe meal about the service? what exactly does that mean? could it be t hat you were expecting something because it was an occassion for you but not for them?
                - you go to a "very expensive establishment" and they give you an "off-the chart bill"? Huh? did you not see the prices of what you ordered? And it;s the restaurants fault t hat the math added up to an amount. Euclid lives.
                The forgetfulness. Did you inform them and did they agree to do something special and they forgot? Or when you made the resrvation did you say "This is a special occasion..." and just expect something. If the former, that's the fault of the restaurant, if the latter, then sorry to say it but what did you expect?

                Given the information it appears it could be your fault, their fault or a combo plan.