Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Apr 25, 2009 11:15 PM

Good service...that hard?

Tonight I had one of the worst dining experiences of my life.

A close friend and I went out for dinner at a chain burger place ( i won't name it, but it involves a red robin...). Now, I wasn't expecting fantastic service or anything, but since we go there semi-frequently (whenever we're home from school) and its never been terrible, I figured it would be okay.

Our waitress was absolutely terrible. We were seated quickly, but it took the waitress about 10 ten minutes to come and take our drink orders. The restaurant was fairly empty, but i figured maybe she was busy with something else work related, so I didn't really get upset. She took our drink and food orders all at once (we were ready to order by the time she came to the table). She brought our drinks over in a timely manner and told us the food would be out shortly. About 10 minutes later our food came out but she didn't give us and cutlery or napkins. My friend had ordered a salad, kind of hard to eat without a fork... The waitress said she'd bring us some right away, then came back 10 minutes later to ask us how the food was. Well, I'm sure its great, but I haven't had an opportunity to eat it... She finally brought us PLASTIC forks and knives and apologized because they were low on cutlery. Most of my food was cold when it came to the table, and she barely refilled our glasses. I was really upset, but I'm not one to leave a bad tip and still left her 15%.

What do you do when you have bad service?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Place like RR I expect mediocre service. Most that work at places like that is a training ground for "first" server jobs. You probably got a newby.

    I throw servers off their routine. When I'm seated most of the time I'm ready to order and tell them and most of the time they aren't ready for my order and have to come back.

    One of the first things I look for when I sit down is a set up and if it isn't there I tell the server when I order. If it still isn't there when my food is served I'll tell the server again or look for anyone to get me some, same thing for refills. Otherwise I look for an empty table and get my own silverware. The dishwasher was probably on a break and that's why they were low on cutlery.

    Next time ask for the manager and complain as soon as you sense things aren't going right, rather than have a total disaster and be upset like you did. Time to complain is while you're at the restaurant and not here on CH. Place like that will probably comp you a dessert for your trouble.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monku

      My friend John and I end up doing the silverware and napkin nab all the time at this one diner. We ask for the silverware and napkins but if they don't come and the food is getting cold, time to grab them from the nearest empty table that is set up. Another place we used to go to had free refills on coffee and soda and since the station was easy to get to we would once in awhile resort to self service. Since we were regulars we cheerfully left a nice tip. Yet a third late night diner is very slow on busing the table, and since sometimes we like to linger and chat, I often put the dirty dishes in the plastic pan on top of the cleaning cart with the other diners' dirty dishes, no biggie. One time this strange waitress we had demanded to know who bused our table. I didn't want to argue with her so I just lied and said I didn't know. It must have really bothered her because she asked again later and I explained that we really didn't notice. I guess it never dawned on her that we had simply done it ourselves. At a fourth place, my favorite diner, they are very busy and often tend to drop off the check early and not check back to see if we want a to go container. Their portions are huge so I usually do. If I can't get our waitress' attention, there are stations all around, well stocked with bags and to go containers so I just help myself. I'm a regular there and I feel comfortable doing this. I always leave a nice tip. I want to feel at ease and good about going to these places again and again. But as easy going as I can sometimes be, I wouldn't stand for cold food if it was supposed to be hot. I wouldn't necessarily blame the waitress, but I would expect that something would be done about it in a timely manner.

    2. Monku's right. The time to complain was when you got plasticware and a clumsy excuse and another wait.

      That said; I'd have tipped 15 cents not 15 percent, with a short note explaining that you usually tip 15% but service was so bad it didn't deserve it.

      1. I adjust the tip if service stunk. That said, if I sat more than a couple minutes without silverware, I might go roaming around looking for some. Ditto that for long since drained iced tea and coffee if I am in a place like RR.

        No doubt - she bit as a server.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sal Vanilla

          Reminds me of a Los Angeles Chinatown restaurant my relatives like to go to because the food is good and cheap.
          I always cringe because the service is notoriously always bad. Have to ask for something like chopsticks, water, more napkins three times and then maybe you'll get it or I have to go to service station and ask for it.

          I don't know what it is....can't be they don't hear you. Sure enough last time we were there I told them watch it will take asking three times before we get chopsticks...sure enough the fourth time we got them.

        2. Bad *attitude* is a huge pet peeve of mine. Even if the kitchen's slow, or it seems to be a Murphy's Law kind of a day, the server's attitude can make all the difference in the world. IMHO, if you work in a service industry, you owe it to your customers to be pleasant, efficient, and polite - if you can't do that, you should be in another line of work.

          One of the worst service experiences that comes to mind is the time that I asked a server for a spoon no less than three times - he couldn't seem to bring it, so I ended up getting up and going to the kitchen for one myself. When he brought our check, guess what was in the folio? You got it - a spoon.

          Little punk. I think he quit before the manager could fire him that night.

          1. So you went to a chain, sat at a table with no napkins and no cutlery. Then you did not ask for either with the drink order, did not ask for any when the drinks arrived. And there are lots of ten minute intervals. Since you then stated that your food was cold when it arrived at the table, how did you know since you were so upset about no cutlery so could not eat it unless of course you ordered a sandwich or burger? Was the hot sandwich/burger cold? And why is it the server's fault if the restaurant runs low on cutlery? Also how do you not know if the server told a busser or runner to bring the utensils. And the server did apologize.

            Sounds like a RR that is having issues but you have to be a little more assertive as well. And as you go out more this should hopefully be your worst experience. Sounds like a big yawn to jfood.