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Nov 22, 2008 04:25 PM

Avoid Laperouse - a truly terrible experience!

I reserved one of the private salons for our 25th anniversary dinner 2 months in advance of our trip earlier this month. Upon arrival we were shown to our private dining room for two and shown a small doorbell-type button next to our table that was to be used to summon the waiter assigned to our salon. We ordered 2 glasses of the recommended champagne and placed our orders. When the waiter departed he discretely closed the salon door behind him. The salads arrived along with bread and butter as expected. The waiter then was not to be seen again for 30 minutes. We used the ringer button to no avail thinking he was perhaps stationed downstairs in the restaurant. He appeared with our entrees after 40 minutes. We ordered the scallop and salmon main courses and both were well-prepared but not spectacular. We did not hear or see the waiter for another 45 minutes after this. With our main courses eaten, we decide to forgo dessert and elect a nightcap back at our hotel. We rang the bell to request "l'addition, s'il vous plait" but the waiter never responds. After 20 more minutes, I attempt to catch the attention of another staff member by opening our salon door and looking into the hallway but no staff member will agree to assist. I return to our salon but leave our salon door open as an indication to our waiter that we are in need of attention. He finally appears and upon presentation of the bill, I furnish my credit card. He returns almost instantly to say there is a problem with the authorization (I had contacted my credit card company prior to departure to assure foreign charges would not be flagged as suspect while traveling abroad and had used the card successfully for the prior 3 days of the trip). He requests another card. I furnish my American Express Gold Card. He returns instantly to inform me there is a problem with processing this card as well but assures me it a problem with the restaurant’s credit card system not with my card. A third credit card is provided now and still the problem persists. He suggests the only solution is to pay with cash or ,if I agree, he will write down my credit card number (!) and attempt to process the charge tomorrow! I refuse to comply with that request and begrudingly furnished him with my debit/cash card. “Viola!” , he cries , elated when he returns to announce the successful processing of the cash transaction. By this time , it was clear that a scam of the highest proportions was being perpetrated by this place. We hurriedly exited and informed the hostess as we departed of the miserable and ruined evening we experienced as a result of terrible service and the outrageous conduct of the waiter regarding our bill.

On what was to be a memorable , romantic celebration, we ended our evening on the phone with each of our credit card companies attempting to confirm that each and every credit card we had supplied to the waiter had not been processed for the charges . They had not but, by that point , the evening had been tarnished. An upsetting end to what should have been a memorable anniversary dinner. Avoid Laperouse by any and all means!!!!

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  1. I am so sorry about your terrible experience, particularly on such an important day. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

    1. Can't say I'm suprised. This sounds all too familiar in terms of poor service. One point is, however, that you were supposed to make out and not want to be disturbed. That is the point and tradition for private dining rooms. They really are private. I guess this subtext should me made more explicit...

      2 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        Fabulous, souphie... is there a couch in the room, or does one have to clear the table?

      2. sounds like a special occasion was not so also sounds like a failure of leadership... the waiter was obviously never trained properly... or, you know maybe they were shorthanded that night. If there's something I've learned over the years it's this."you never get bored in the restaurant business... because there's always something GOING WRONG!"

        3 Replies
        1. re: MikeTheWaiterDotCom

          Or maybe a mis-match between expectations and venue on behalf of the OP. Is it simply a slow paced, romantic venue and the OP expected US paced service?

          I had the opposite experience in LA, we chose a classy/trendy/expensive restaurant for the last meal of our holiday, were surprised to find it empty at 9:00, and even more surprised to be out on the sidewalk 60 minutes later fully fed and watered. I now appeciate Americans eat early and like fast service.

          On the "scam" comments. France operates "chip and pin" for credit/debit card transactions. I have had a lot of my visitors experience problems with old fashioned "swipe" card. As the OP found out it wasn't a scam at all, it was simply the chip and pin system not processing these cards. As a system it dramatically reduces fraud.

          1. re: PhilD

            Re: Credit cards: As an American with only "swipe" credit cards, I have experienced frustration many times in Europe, when staff are not educated in the workings of these. However, it has always been resolved, when it is explained to them, and every restaurant has at lease one card processing machine that accepts the swipe card. Alternatively, they can enter the card numbers or call the credit card issuer and place the charge by phone. So there is no excuse for a card not being accepted. It does sound like a scam to avoid the credit card fees.

            1. re: rrems

              It sounds like he let the waiter wander off with his credit card in hand, which is a good way to get ripped off. You should be watching when they swipe it, and if there is a problem processing it, the machine will print out a receipt saying so. Some places will charge your card twice if you give them half a chance, so check your credit card statements carefully.

              I only have to worry about this with my card for business expenses, which is magnetic-only, but even there I've seen a double charge one time when the waiter walked off with it despite my protests. If I have any doubt, I just use my personal chip&pin card now.