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Dec 7, 2009 10:01 AM

I'm a regular at this place for over ten years, should I be offended?


Another thread got me thinking about this. I'm a hardcore pool player. I've been frequenting this high end (nice food, micro brews) pool hall for 10+ years. I started going when I was a poor student. At that time I was going maybe 3 times a week, and spending about 80% of my very disposable income there. I know the owners there pretty well, have been to parties at their home. I have always tipped very well. I've introduced friends and family to the place. In all I've been a great customer, if not a friend to these people.

However, the last time I went there with friends, my buddy ordered a beer that he'd never tried before. It turns out that he didn't like. He returned it and asked for something else. At the end of the night we were settling the check and I see that we have been charged for the beer. I asked our server if she could take it off the bill. She goes to consult with the bartender (who has been working there almost as long as I've been going there). She returns and apologizes that she can't take it off the bill. So I asked the bartender about it and he told me that he would not refund us because there was nothing wrong with the product. Wow, I thought, is this how you show appreciation to a long time customer? I was so pissed off and actually a little hurt to be treated this way. It has soured my relationship with the place and I may never return.

So what do you think? Did I overeact? Or does a long time customer deserve special consideration?

  1. You over reacted should have been treated better with regards to consideration for your past patronage....but really, all this angst over a beer? As the bartender noted, there was nothing wrong with it and it was ordered by your friend, not you, and I can only surmise your friend is not a regular from the details provided.

    Sounds to me like there is a untold story in the tipping department somewhere in this story.....if you want to make a statement, next time have the bartender run you a separate tab and voice your displeasure with him.....the server has no place in this argument to be punished in any way, as she was only doing her job.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder

      Oh, I absolutely agree with you that the server has no place in the argument. She was brand new and had no idea who I was. Her tip was in no way affected by how I felt about the situation.

    2. It would have been nice for them to have not charges you but there is no reason for you to expect the refund. It's not like they can sell the unused portion to another customer but I think most sensible business people would not have charged a regular.

      I'm sure you've gotten your share of freebies and other considerations in the past. I'd just write this incident off and continue enjoying the place and not let this incident color your views too much.

      1. If the beer were "off" ie skunky, or flat then I could see taking it off the bill. Take a drink off the tab because someone decided he didn't like it? No.

        3 Replies
        1. re: maplesugar

          Well thats not how I would run a business. My friend ordered something else to replace the beer. I think the beer should have been written off as spillage as a sign of good faith. Thats what I did when I was a bartender.

          1. re: haggisdragon

            I agree with you haggis. At my restaurant we take things off the bill that people don't like. Obviously not if they drink or eat most of eat, but it is the cost of doing business to take it back if someone doesn't like it. Especially, if somone is giving you a lot of business.

            1. re: haggisdragon

              Did he get charged for the replacement? The vast majority of places seem to consider a replacement the same as a credit. A credit would be if you decided you didn't want anything else. Not saying I love it, but this seems to be standard practice at most places. They do not have a concept of a higher degree of service.

          2. I agree with the other posters.

            There was a better way to handle this though. You mentioned " buddy ordered a beer that he'd never tried before." I always ask if I could get a small taste before ordering a brew I've never tried. Most places are happy to offer up a small taste and it solves the problem of ordering something that doesn't suit your palate.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Dee S

              I alway offer customers a sample if they ask about a beer and "It's a pale ale from Chicago" or whatever isn't satisfying. An ounce or two of beer is well worth the hassle later - as long as people don't think they're at an ice cream parlor.

              1. re: corneygirl

                I've never heard of any bartender turning down a customer asking for a sample especially if it's not very busy. If it's slammed it may not be the best time to try something new.

              2. re: Dee S

                A nearby microbrewery / food joint, offers a sampler selection of all their beers, for cost. It's a nice way to try things out. However, even that aside, they do offer a single sample if you want to try before buying.

                1. re: im_nomad

                  thats fine if its on tap. If you order a bottle, expect to pay for it. if they don't charge you thats a nice gesture, but certainly not expected.

              3. Bartenders who comp drinks for friends and "good" customers create a significant loss in profits. This bartender made a business decision and if I were you I wouldn't take it personally. Like the server, he was only doing his job.