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Aug 23, 2009 06:08 PM

Full pitcher of ice water dumped on me, do you think this high end restaurant responded correctly?


My husband and I were dining in an expensive steak chain restaurant last night. We were seated in a booth. The woman filling water glasses set the pitcher behind me on top of the wooden booth ledge. She knocked it over and it came full force over my left side. My pants were soaked, hair got a little wet, mascara even ran. The rest of the water ended up soaking my husbands legs and shoes under the table. Everyone was very apologetic and came running with towels, etc. After toweling off we were moved to another booth, where i sat on a towel and we had to have towels under our feet as our shoes were wet. We are not demanding people and really felt badly for the woman and told the manager when he came over to apologize. He said "what a pleasure to deal with gracious, forgiving people such as you. Most people aren't like that". At the end of the evening when our check came we were comped for our wine and a dessert. Our bill was $150. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, so I'm not aware of the standard procedure, but I really thought at least my meal and wine would be comped. What should they have done?

  1. They did it. They comped you wine and a dessert. They could also have offered to pay your cleaning bill. Were you expecting a $150 comp? That seems VERY excessive to me.

    5 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      The bill was for both my husband and me. I thought they would comp my portion of the bill.

      1. re: bjeango

        Well, they didn't. Still think that would be excessive. It was water spilled. Not like they tripped you and you fell to the floor breaking your leg. If your bill, after deducting the wine and a dessert, was $150, then your half was $75. Add that to the wine and dessert and that seems a ridiculous amount for something that did no permanent damage.

        BTW, welcome to Chowhound. Hope you will have more positive experiences to share with us going forward.

        1. re: bjeango

          I think comping you for 1 meal (instead of the wine and the dessert) would have been reasonable, but I don't know what the value of the wine and the dessert were. Maybe I too am expecting a lot, but it sounds like you were more than a little inconvenienced by being soaked with water and having to move tables. I mean, what if you had to go to the theater or somewhere else after dinner? Of course, something is better than nothing, and at least they comped you for part of your meal. And it could have been worse. I've had (very hot) coffee and wine spilled on me before. I'm glad for you that it was only water.

          1. re: bjeango

            Well, to offer a different view...
            Welcome to your first posting on CH! As you can see, "not about food" posts can get quite heated and sometimes feel personal. Don't let it keep you from enjoying all the wonderful things and great advice that can be found here as well.

            It sounds like you handled a difficult situation very gracefully. It's a shame to have a nice evening not live up to it's possibilities.

            1. re: meatn3

              Thank you. I was a little suprised at the number of responses. And you're right, it can feel personal.

        2. I had a similar experience, years ago. The FOH manager gave us a "free pass" to a future dinner: We could go back and have a meal, gratis. This is the only way we ever would have returned. Our subsequent meal was delightful, and we've recommended them ever since.

          18 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            I'm curious why you would never have returned otherwise. It was inadvertent and did no real damage. If the food and service otherwise were good, did you think you were going to have a repeat of that?

            1. re: c oliver

              The manager's response was an expression of the restaurant's attitude towards its customers. If he had shrugged us off with an offer of free desserts, that would have indicated to me that they did not particularly care, and that would have kept me from going back.

              1. re: pikawicca

                While I wouldn't have expected a free meal, I totally agree with what you're saying about the restaurant's attitude. Last summer (i've told this story before), my 70 yr old mother fell from an booth who's step was unlit (they hadn't turned the lighting on), onto the tile floor, where she lay for a few minutes, and aside from a very minimal and delayed reaction from the bartender, there was ZIP. In price range of OP, and we'd had appetizers, meal, dessert, and i'd had wine.

                Now i'm not saying I would have expected a write off, but I don't know about any other place, but if an elderly woman came *this* close to seriously injuring herself due to my negligence in my restaurant, I think i'd be a little giving. Sheesh, at least make a little fuss over the woman. We didn't say anything either until later, and I tipped as per usual. Mom felt she hadn't taken as much care as she should have, but it was way too dark there for someone not so nimble on their feet.

                However, because of the restaurant's attitude about this, I will never darken their door again.

                1. re: im_nomad

                  This is often why people sue (had your mother been slightly injured). Often it's not because of the actual damages suffered, but because of the terribly uncaring attitude displayed by the party involved.

                  1. re: Leonardo

                    And that, my friend, is *exactly* why businesses pay such high liability insurance rates. Under the law, a person is entitled to sue for damages suffered, *not* because they feel "uncared" about.

                    1. re: shaogo

                      I think what Leonardo is trying to say (not to put words in anyone's mouth), is not that people seek damages not because their feelings were hurt, but because they were injured and no one gave a crap.

                      In the situation I described, my mother was hurt, she as bruised up the next day, and pretty stiff. It was a hard fall. We were on holiday at the time, and moving along, no one wanted to make a big fuss. The night of, I was more concerned with my mother's well-being than even remotely being interested in compensation. We're not the litigious type, but after things settled down that night, I did a lot of head shaking, and WTH happened in there sort of thing.

                      I admit I should have later followed up with a message to the owner or something, particularly due to the fact that they hadn't switched the lights on but I didn't care anymore about their food....i'm kinda bull headed when it comes to people I love getting hurt. And I do judge a place by how they treat old folks and such. Even on a personal level, I can't imagine being near anyone who fell and looking the other way.

                      1. re: im_nomad

                        Thank you Nomad. Precisely what I meant.

                        Shaogo: As good business practice/customer relations/common decency, it never hurts to be empathetic and caring. It is also good risk management. I have seen many cases where a person suffered provable real injury, and their decision to sue or not was based on how the business treated them.

                        1. re: Leonardo

                          I agree with you, Leonardo. However, it appears you're a lawyer. It doesn't matter what a litigant's *decision* was based upon. What's determined by a court of law is whether or not the complainant suffered physical/financial injury.

                          Of course, any business should show the utmost in compassion and concern for a person who is hurt on their premises.

                        2. re: im_nomad

                          You consider a 70 year old --- OLD???? I'm not that far from that and my husband is even closer and we are far from old. If we trip and fall, it's usually due to not being careful enough. I am particularly clumsy. But we are in NO WAY feeble and unable to take care of ourselves.

                          A few years ago I was kinda moving too fast through a restaurant to rejoin our party. All I can figure is that some oily dish had been dropped on the wood floor. My feet flew out from underneath me and my head bomped the adjacent wall and down I went. It hurt like the dickens but I was more embarassed than hurt. I quickly brushed off any suggestions of help and rejoined our group laughing at myself. I never considered that the restaurant owed me something. HAD I needed to seek medical care I would have followed up with the restaurant as they do have insurance for just such things.

                          And if an evening is "ruined," then no amount of money is going to make it "un-ruined." I think the restaurant that the OP referred to showed far more kindness with their solicitous gestures than any amount of monetary gesture would have made.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I keep thinking the same thing! Not that I don't feel awful that she fell down, was bruised and stiff. But give her a break! 70 is not old!

                2. re: c oliver

                  It absolutely DID do permanent/real damage! Their night/experience/dinner was irreversibly ruined from that point forth. The idea of comping her meal and even offering a future comp/discount is in the restaurants best interest in attempting to show they care and continue having them as customers. Furthermore, in the current world of instant internet reviews and rantings, I would think they would understand that the old adage of "a happy customer tells 1 or 2 people but an angry customer tells 10" is really more like " angry person tells 10,000!"

                  1. re: nkeane

                    Cold water causes permanent damage?! My God! I was caught in a rain storm in the late fall. Who should I sue?! I got much wetter then the OP!

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      Rain is an act of god, the spilled pitcher was the act of an idiot. One is chance, the other negligence. Personally, I think she should sue both the pitcher maker (for not making a tip-proof bottom) and booth maker (for building a ledge that encouraged negligent behavior).

                      1. re: Cachetes

                        But I watched the weather report earlier in the day and there was no mention of rain. Can I sue the network? Maybe the weather man? I'm calling Jacoby and Meyer's.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          I imagine they've pursued a few doozies related to restaurants!

                    2. re: nkeane

                      Oh please..."permanent damage"? What was tyhe OP the Wicked Witch of the West?

                      If someone were to tell jfood that they would not return to a restaurant because they spilled some water on them and they would not comp the whole meal plus and another free meal, jfood would whack them on the side of the head and tell them to grow up.

                      BTW - When one posts a review on line whether good or bad it reaches the same number of readers.

                      1. re: jfood

                        "If someone were to tell jfood that they would not return to a restaurant because they spilled some water on them and they would not comp the whole meal plus and another free meal, jfood would whack them on the side of the head and tell them to grow up."
                        What jfood said bears repeating. "Permanent damage"? Come on.

                      2. re: nkeane

                        I ditto what KTinNYC and jfood say above. And "in the current world of instant internet reviews and rantings" (let's put the emphasis on "rantings") I think any of us who've perused CitySearch and the likes (and Chowhound, for that matter) are acutely aware of the flaming of those who're just never happy - and those posters who give accurate, objective reviews.

                  2. If your wine and dessert cost $25, they did less than they should have. If your wine and dessert cost $150 (as my wine bill has at times), they did you OK. In between, I dunno - did you otherwise have a good time?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Good point. I was thinking maybe a conbined value of $50-$75 but I could be WAY off.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        That's what I was thinking. See my post above. I have no idea what the value of the wine and dessert was, but if I were in the OP's place, I think the expectation of getting 1 meal comp'ed (instead of the wine and dessert) is a reasonable one.

                      2. Had they spilled red wine or Hawaiian Punch or cranberry juice all over you, your entire meal should have been comped as well as cleaning expenses. Being that it was just good old H20, they were correct in their approach to your sitch. I would've also given you a small denomination gift cert. to ensure a return visit on your part. Hopefully, it was a BOTTLE of wine that they comped and not just a glass or two... adam

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: adamshoe

                          The wine and dessert cost was $55. I guess I thought being soaked with ice water was a pretty big deal. The food was great, but it was not a completely enjoyable evening being wet and cold. We had traveled out of town for the weekend and a special meal.

                          1. re: bjeango

                            That seems more than adequate since comping your meal portion alone seems like it would have come out to roughly the same amount. I wouldn't expect to have both the food and the wine covered for just water. Yeah it's a bit frustrating, but I've certainly got less for a) glass falling on my table/seats from the balcony, b)wine spill, and c) wing sauce spill. It's just water, not something dangerous or really messy in the long run.

                            1. re: bjeango

                              They took roughly 25% off your bill... that sounds like fair compensation to me. I'm sorry you got drenched - it couldn't have been much fun - but at least it was only water and not wine or coffee or somebody's soup!

                          2. The original comment has been removed