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what do you want me to do about it?

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pinstripeprincess May 22, 2010 04:30 PM

there's a service conflict at the dining establishment you're at and rather than keep it all in and rant about it later, you take the effort to speak to the server or manager (not to go over the servers head, but because they are the issue). they agree that you encountered a problem, but all the offer is a curt "what do you want me to do about it?" what do you say?

a product issue is easy, replace it. i don't need freebies but at least fix the food in front of me. how does one "fix" service? what can one actually ask for? i don't need heads to roll and i don't need comps, but i want to feel some sort of satisfaction and asking me what i want puts me on the spot rather than them offering a solution they're comfortable with and i only having to accept it. perhaps they just don't want to provide a solution? what if this response comes after sitting on it for a day and calling in? admittedly this makes it harder for them to provide a solution that isn't a freebie for the next time you come in, but is there another appropriate response?

i can't ding the tip, they've acknowledged the problem (though haven't necessarily adressed it with the staff from what i can tell) and so it would make me feel petty. what if they're the type of establishment that doesn't normally get tips? then monetary compensation isn't as much of a motivating factor anyway.

so tell me, what would you say? what have you said?

and yes, i know, i've still managed to rant about it anyway.

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    sabroso RE: pinstripeprincess May 22, 2010 05:47 PM

    I would say that "doing something about it," i.e. correcting poor service, is the precise job description and number one imperative of the manager. Exactly how they should make it up to the upset customer would depend largely upon the situation, but if you are met with such an apathetic attitude from a server I would without hesitation ask to speak to the manager, and if it is in fact the manager that gave you that reply, it would not be out of line to send a letter to the owner so that they may remove the ineffective individual. Granted, the customer is not always in the right in a service dispute, but any restaurant that allows displeased customers to leave with the impression that the staff doesn't care about their experience will not stay in operation very long.

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      Lizard RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 02:06 AM

      If someone really answered 'what do you want me to do about it?' I'd find that so hostile, I wouldn't be sure how to answer, save for perhaps first to say that their chosen phrasing doesn't suggest the hostility and resistance to dealing with the issue.

      If you don't have an idea of how to make things right, I wonder if you might turn it back to them. 'I was hoping that you (as the professional and representative of this restaurant) may have some ideas on how to salvage my experience. I could shrug my shoulders and write off this restaurant but I was hoping I could leave feeling good. Any thoughts you might have on how to make this right would mean a lot.'

      Of course, I have no idea what this situation is so who knows?

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      1. jfood RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 04:20 AM

        It depends on the tone of those words as well, whethere this was a sincere "i know it stinks and will do anything to correct tone" or a "screw you I ain't got no power to fill your water glass tone."

        Some suggestions...

        - ask for another table
        - ask for another server
        - ask for the check and leave
        - tell them to take the check and stick it where the sun don't shine and leave
        - ask for a quiet conversation off line with the MOD
        - ask for the name of the owner if the MOD is the offending party

        It is similar to asking how high is up...it depends on the situation, who the offending party was and the level. Was the food delivered wrong and noone was around to address it? Was the water glass not refilled properly? Was the chair wobbly and you asked for a different chair?

        So you need to address a quid pro quo. If the water glass remained empty do you get free meals for life? If the busser dropped a glass, it shattered and cut your wife and they apologized to the table next to you while blood rolled down your wife's leg?

        So it sorta depeneds on the situation and those words could mean diffeent things depending on the situation and the tone.

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          Harters RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 05:07 AM

          The OP doesnt mention the specifics of the issue with service - but wouldnt the solution be inherent in the place acknowledging there was a problem. A restaurant that, by this time, can only come up with "what do you want me to do" may not be as customer focussed as one might expect.

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          1. pinstripeprincess RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 06:02 AM

            thanks for the thoughts so far, i knew the question of specifics would come up since this isn't such a cut and dry topic.

            the exact recent scenario :
            i was at a well respected gelateria in my local town which is a bit out of the way for me so i don't tend to visit frequently. as prone to do at places like this, i wanted to sample a few flavours before picking since they're rotated through frequently and it had been a while. after receiving the first sample, she gave me a leery eye when i asked for a second. and then immediately pressed me to pick a size of container. when i said i hadn't decided and wanted to sample their milk chocolate hazelnut she asked if i knew what nutella tasted like, i said yes and then she cooly put her hand down on the counter and stared me down and said "it's just like that". while i was staring longingly at the milk chocolate hazelnut, in a weird twist she suggested the pistachio as being very good but was still reluctant to hand over a sample and immediately asked again what size container i wanted. the place was deserted. before i had come in she was talking on her cellphone in the back (she was not young if this colours your impression). this place has been known to come up with interesting flavours and to be proud of what they do and encourage people to sample away. i was just baffled. so i didn't press to try more, though i obviously wanted to, and left with a small cup not wanting to confront her and feeling as if it wouldn't have helped the situation anyway. a few hours later to avoid her on the phone, i called in and asked the manager if it was a new policy of theirs to limit the number of samples (this was likely far too abrupt of me) and he said no. i told him that a counter person hadn't wanted to give me more than that and relayed the nutella story. he asked for a description of the person and i gave one. then in a curt tone he said that he wanted to fix the problem, but what did i want him to do? i said i didn't know. he repeated it again, i want to fix it but what did i want him to do? feeling flustered i said again i didn't know and i guess i just wanted to let him know. this seemed to frustrate him more and so he let out a few more words and a "fine" and we hung up. i probably would have been happy enough with a heartfelt sorry (which never came up) and being told he would talk to the counter person. flustered in the moment, i never came up with that. i guess i thought he would have been naturally apologetic.

            i have had similar situations come up but in less aggressive tones with high and low establishments and mentioned it to the management staff (all these not about food threads constantly remind me that the course of my experience is in my hands as much as theirs) with often more satisfying results. but this one really irked me, he made me feel like i was trying to fleece him and that i was being the difficult one. so to satisfy them the next time it comes up, what do i say?

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            1. re: pinstripeprincess
              h
              Harters RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 06:26 AM

              Thanks. I agree with you - realistically, all one is going to expect here is an apology.

              You will know the tone of voice that was used - but it seems possible that he was wanting you to "make more of it" so he had evidence with which to confront what might have been a generally troublesome employee. A rant from you demanding the employee be fired might have been exactly what he hoped for - (if so, fortunately you didnt oblige him)*

              * phrase in brackets added to original post

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              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                jfood RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 07:10 AM

                Rule #1...never make that phone call unless you (global, not specific) have an answer to that question, and never say "i'm never coming back."

                in this case jfood would never recommend "fire her." just be reasonable, "I was not able to make a good decision and enjoy your great gelato and was hoping you might offer a cup of x scoops in the future for me."

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                1. re: jfood
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                  smartie RE: jfood May 23, 2010 07:17 AM

                  hmm, not sure I totally agree Jfood, sometimes you just want to call the management and tell them that their staff's attitude isn't great when he or another manager is out of the store. I think feedback is good, but the decision of what management does about it is up to management.

                  I guess the OP could have said that he doesn't specifically want anything other than to give the information to the management. If I ran a business I would want to know if my staff had behaved poorly or inappropriately. If the complaints keep on coming in about one specific worker then I would either speak to that worker or fire him/her if the attitude did not change. OTOH some customers will complain about anything and everything. Management have to weigh up the complaints, the frequency and the severity.

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                  1. re: smartie
                    jfood RE: smartie May 23, 2010 07:29 AM

                    slight nuance, but you then the answer to the question, smartie. you want nothing and jfood has made that call as well. sometimes it is just an information-only call. but you always need to have at least some idea if you are looking for comp or not. makes the call more productive.

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                    1. re: jfood
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                      smartie RE: jfood May 23, 2010 07:56 AM

                      and sometimes you just want to tell them it was fab. Yesterday, after a really good lunch at The Office (new to Delray) with 2 of my offsprung, I went back in after paying to say what great food and great service.

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                      1. re: smartie
                        jfood RE: smartie May 23, 2010 08:00 AM

                        absolutely...gotta do both ways

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                    2. re: smartie
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                      Cachetes RE: smartie May 23, 2010 12:07 PM

                      I agree with you. It is not up to the customer to tell the manager how to manage the store, but merely to provide feedback. In fact, the tone and incompetence of the manager in handling the OP's phone call to me suggested why the employees of the store likely lack good customer service skills - no one there to teach or guide them!

                      Very good response!

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                      1. re: smartie
                        pinstripeprincess RE: smartie May 23, 2010 12:22 PM

                        and this is the tone in which i was calling. i wasn't looking for a comp, i just wanted to let them know in case she was turning off other customers. i agree with jfood that i should have been completely prepared in understanding what i wanted, but really all it was was a sincere and minor apology and the understanding that it wouldn't happen again to anyone else. it didn't seem like something that requires quid pro quo calculation, just a bare minimum response. that i was being told that i had to ask for that baffled me.

                        edit: i should also mention, since it has come up twice, i didn't ever bring up "never coming back". it's over the top.

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                      2. re: jfood
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                        FrankD RE: jfood May 25, 2010 03:18 AM

                        "What do you want me to do about it?"

                        "I want you to make sure your staff are trained properly, so that I don't have this problem on my next visit. Can you promise me that all your staff will be told what your sample policy is, and that they won't pressure me to decide on the size of my purchase before I've even decided what flavour I want?"

                        If he says "Yes", good. Thank him, ask for his name, and tell him you'll let him know how successful he was after your next visit.

                        If he says "No", and it's a chain, tell him "Thank you", but you're going to go up the ladder. If it's locally owned (and you suspect he's the owner or the owner's brother), tell him you're sorry, but you won't be able to patronize his establishment any longer, and that you're going to tell all your friends about his attitude to customer service. This is the the only weapon customers have - our feet - and if he provides a "No", this is the time to deploy it.

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                      3. re: pinstripeprincess
                        Marge RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 07:32 AM

                        Can't resist...
                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8jzHO...

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                        1. re: Marge
                          pinstripeprincess RE: Marge May 23, 2010 01:06 PM

                          maybe it was larry in disguise scooping the gelato!

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                        2. re: pinstripeprincess
                          Midlife RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 10:33 AM

                          Sounds like a story that should be titled 'A Tale of Two Idiots'...... the clerk AND the manager.

                          Assuming you don't come in frequently and ask for a dozen samples each time (with a long line of people waiting behind you), this is a simple case of clerk attitude and/or lack of training. And.... a manager who doesn't have the sense to admit that and simply say he'll speak with her about it. That said, I'm a bit mystified as to why you continued to play the Manager's game and didn't just tell him he should look into that clerk's behavior as it had alienated you and could lose them your business as well as that of others.

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                          1. re: Midlife
                            pinstripeprincess RE: Midlife May 24, 2010 01:34 PM

                            i was in shock. i'm not sure how much more i can express that in this thread. i reported the incident and quickly was met with agreement yet hostility. it was dead silent after the "what do you want me to do about it" lines because i just didn't know what the heck to say, it was very awkward. i would assume that looking into it would be the natural thing for him to do but he never mentioned it. it seemed odd for me to tell him how to run his operation. next time something similar happened i will be much more prepared, but this time around i didn't want to be on the phone with him any longer.

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                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
                              Midlife RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 04:00 PM

                              Understood. Everyone reacts differently to things. I guess my shocked reaction would be a sarcastic retort of some kind, rather than silence. But, then, that sort of thing does get me in trouble sometimes.

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                              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                bhoward RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 05:44 PM

                                I will be honest. When I stumbled onto this thread I honestly thought it was a joke. I have finally realized it isn't. Please people, step back. We are talking about someone who perceived an attitude when she asked for another small spoonful of ice cream! The final straw of the thread, to me, is above where the original poster says she was "in shock" when speaking to the manager. Really? Even giving huge leeway for hyperbole, come on. The answer to the question, if you really were offended, is "fix it". Don't tell the manager how to do his job, just give him your complaint and either go back or don't.

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                                1. re: bhoward
                                  pinstripeprincess RE: bhoward May 24, 2010 05:48 PM

                                  i'm sorry if i wasn't expecting to get attitude for feedback about rudeness. it threw me off guard. i told hiim the issue and that was all i really wanted to do. he still seemed miffed, so i wanted to know if there was a better way to go about it. it's not a complicated issue and it was never meant to be.

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                            soupkitten RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 10:11 AM

                            i don't know what the manager's tone was like, but it actually is very common with after the fact phone (or email) complaints to try to assess what really happened and what will make the customer happy. there is usually a little he said/she said, and as we all know, some folks are never happy and pov can really skew things. i would have phrased it differently: "i am sorry you had a bad experience. this is out of the norm because we train our people thus thus and thus. feedback from other customers is that they are great 99% of the time. again i am so sorry that your experience was different. what can we do to make things right?" reasonable people will respond reasonably in the conversation and a satisfactory outcome can be reached. unfortunately some people are a little off-kilter and will have really unreasonable demands that are out of all proportion to the offense (or the perceived offense). some times in conversation it turns out the customer has never patronized your establishment but they want something from you. . . in some cases the manager should probably consider completely disregarding the complaint. the mgr may also know a critical piece of information that would be inappropriate/unprofessional to reveal to a customer, which explains everything. for example, hypothetically if the mgr knows that normally the employee in question is super-sweet and gives great customer service, but right now her grandkid has been in the hospital for a week, she's getting frequent updates via cellphone, she hasn't been sleeping and is frazzled, but she just can't afford to take another day off to be with the rest of the family. . . the mgr is just going to do whatever to smooth things over on behalf of the stressed out but otherwise normally fine employee. life happens, but all you wanted was some ice cream, not anyone else's drama-- the mgr gets it and has done this before. part of the job.

                            in your case (service issue wrt: free samples, pre-purchase) it would be imo not appropriate or reasoable to either ask for freebies or to ask that the employee be fired. a sincere apology and an assurance that 1) your experience was outside of the norm 2) that the mgmt will strive to improve and maintain good customer service should probably be sufficient.

                            if i was owner or mgr i would also invite you back and request that you to ask for me personally next time you visited the shop & at that time i'd check in with you wrt your experience (hopefully improved & fine), get general feedback & i'd discount or coupon-ify your purchase and/or give you something i was working on in development-- "oh you like the hazelnut milk choc, well here's our brand-new salted toffee choc crunch, we've got a batch with graham cracker crumbs in it and one without, here take a half pint of each and tell me which one you prefer, it would be great to get your feedback before we put our final product out on the floor."

                            it's hard to have that type of interaction over the phone, or when someone is upset and their feelings are hurt, and all of the parties are present. need some time to cool off and get perspective-- then mgmt can step in and help fix it. i do think that when a customer is giving negative feedback that is not of the ranting, i-will-never-return variety, but more like the i-was-pretty-bummed variety, that s/he can say to the mgmt what they would like the experience to be like in future and ask for assurance that it will be improved. then the customer has every right to be ticked off in the event that the second visit is unsatisfactory, but otherwise the incident should be treated as a one-off and forgotten. it's only ice cream. imo.

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                            1. re: soupkitten
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                              purple bot RE: soupkitten May 23, 2010 10:32 AM

                              Well said, as usual, soupkitten.

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                              1. re: soupkitten
                                pinstripeprincess RE: soupkitten May 23, 2010 12:39 PM

                                and this is one of the responses i've been waiting for, industry side.

                                i do agree with a lot of what you've said, but i am trying to focus the discussion on how to react. i cannot control how they choose to handle me, my question is how should i handle them? i would have loved for them to have treated me with the respect that you've suggested but it didn't happen. they offered hostility and i wasn't sure how best to deal with it. they made their move, now how do i make mine? i do like your response re the i-was-pretty-bummed, it is in line with what i was trying to communicate and perhaps your wording would have been better. apparently my "i just wanted to let you know" left him in a huff on the phone.

                                the one thing that i take issue with is "it's only ice cream. imo." yes, it's only ice cream. in this particular instance. i've had other rude experiences in more formal and significantly higher priced locales, this is just one of the ones that had layers of rude piled on it that i felt the need to get feedback about it. at higher end places docking the tip is the most likely recourse but in the end the final suggestion that most people offer here on Chow is to tell the management. i did and their poor reaction makes me wonder if it's worthwhile to tell them at all.

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                                ribeye621 RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 11:56 AM

                                "What do want me to do about it?" is extremely rude but I have a feeling he simply was trying to discourage you from coming back. Reading the follow-up post, it seems to indicate that you had four samples. Am I the only one that thinks this is excessive and thinks it hurts the profit margin a bit if you're having four samples and purchasing one cup (about $3 around here)? Did you plan on having more samples until you encountered the cashier's attitude problem? Granted I am the kind of person who doesn't use coupons at local restos because I don't want them to lose the money so I'm way on the other side of this. I believe that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I like a cigarette after a nice meal. I usually find an alley behind the restaurant or an empty parking lot to smoke in so I don't bother others. Just because I can smoke outside the door of the resto as people pass by doesn't mean I'm going to.

                                Not trying to be rude, I'm a very curious person and I like challenging people on their opinions to see where they are coming from when I disagree with them because oftentimes I am able to see the problem from another point of view.

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                                1. re: ribeye621
                                  pinstripeprincess RE: ribeye621 May 23, 2010 01:01 PM

                                  i had 3 samples. i was stared down for the potential 3rd and sampled something else instead that i wouldn't normally have because she didn't want to let me sample what i wanted to. if things had naturally flowed, i would have sampled 4 items that i actually wanted to try (instead of being denied or pushed in a particular direction) and made my decision.

                                  a small cup of gelato is $4. if she hadn't been so rude i would have ordered a larger size.

                                  how many samples would you have had? how large do you believe these samples to be? does size vs number of samples change your view? the samples i had were virtually nail scrapings. fine by me, i only wanted to know if the flavour will suit for an entire scoop. if another gelato place piles it on the spoon then i feel terrible asking for more than 1. but is this also not the type of business known for sampling (especially a specific establishment that has been reported to run into the back to offer samples of new products)? if they had a sign or told me that they didn't allow more than two samples i would have abided with no issue and picked more carefully. i assume this is all worked into their $4 for a small cup profit margin, otherwise they should mention this to customers instead of being rude.

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                                  1. re: ribeye621
                                    invinotheresverde RE: ribeye621 May 23, 2010 11:27 PM

                                    I totally agree. It's only ice cream. Are four samples really necessary to figure out you don't like strawberry? It's not exactly a big time commitment. I can see the staff person being annoyed. That said, she should have bitten her tongue until you, or any guest, was completely out of ear shot and acted more professional.

                                    As far as the manager's behavior, I agree with soup. He was probably trying to discourage you from coming back.

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                                    1. re: invinotheresverde
                                      rworange RE: invinotheresverde May 23, 2010 11:38 PM

                                      Darn right four samples are sometimes not enough.

                                      What if Thai Iced Tea, Cardamom, prickly pear or fig don't taste as interesting as they sound. With gelato you aren't exactly buying bargain tubs of ice cream from Wal-Mart. You are paying big bucks for a small portion. Again, if there is a sample limit policy clearly state it. Don't be rude if the customer surpasses some imaginary limit in your head. Peaple are NOT mind-readers.

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                                      1. re: rworange
                                        invinotheresverde RE: rworange May 24, 2010 02:40 AM

                                        No, but doesn't common sense dictate what's enough? Do I need every policy everywhere clearly stated for me, or am I, as a reasonable adult, logical enough to figure such things out?

                                        I eat gelato fairly often. I have never once asked for a sample. In fact, imagining myself doing it gives me the heebs.

                                        "What if Thai Iced Tea, Cardamom, prickly pear or fig don't taste as interesting as they sound."

                                        Big whoop. I guess I just don't let things like that bother me much. "Note to self, next time don't purchase the cardamom, etc.". Voila.

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                                        1. re: invinotheresverde
                                          jfood RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 05:34 AM

                                          +1 In. Rude is NEVER acceptable but neither is inconsideration.

                                          Imagine a world where we now need signs to tell us how to use our brains, where will it end..."it is against the store's policy to spit in the scooper's face."

                                          A store (jfood remembers B&R in the 70's) comes up with an idea to assist people in an ice cream choice and now it is the 28th amendment to the US Constitution that having a FREE sample of each is a guaranteed right. How about a sign..."please try 2 flavors and choose so we can be considerate of all the customers. Additional samples are $0.25." Could you imagine the wrath on these boards.

                                          This whole "every policy needs to have a contract lawyer involved" mentality makes jfood glad he stayed awake in the 3rd grade. That's where he started learning reasonableness and consideration.

                                          Note to self...take into account surroundings when in the real world.

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                                          1. re: jfood
                                            pinstripeprincess RE: jfood May 24, 2010 05:59 AM

                                            so i draw my line at 4 samples, sometimes 3 because it's good stuff so my decision is easier. how is this inconsiderate to customers? how is this inconsiderate to the business when they're giving me fingernail scraping sized samples and are KNOWN to be sample-happy? no one is waiting behind me and i wasn't rude to the scooper (where this spit in the face business came from is ridiculous since that doesn't even edge on consideration, it's full blown rude).

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                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                              jfood RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 07:22 AM

                                              P

                                              All very good points and all personal preferences with no right or wrong answers.

                                              inconsiderate to customers? If there are people behind you in line then taking numerous samples slows down the line, basic queuing theory. With noone behind you that comes off the table.

                                              fair to the business? needless to say that there is a cost to the sample, whether $0.01 or $0.15, multiplied by the number of samples. And fingernail sized is absolutely appropriate, so jfood does not even understand how that comes into play. And if anyone honestly thinks that an ice cream shop does their Cost-benefit analysis to include the number of free samples in their pricing theory here's a news flash, they don't. Neither do they weigh each scoop, which probably has a larger delta to their bottom line than the samples.

                                              sample-happy? not sure if you mean the business is happy to give away samples or the customer is a sample-happy customer. Businesses are happy to give away samples in hopes of earning a long time customer, easy analysis. But at some level there is an inflection point where a customer turns into more of a debit than a credit. And if a customer is the sample-happy person, at some point an adult conversation between the manager and the customer should occur.

                                              your not being rude to the scooper? never even considered so off the table, it was the scooper in your impression that was rude and then the manager's tone was a double-down on your impression. Only you were involved so jfood thinks that everyone on these boards accepts that, no question asked.

                                              "spit in the face"? that was a hyperbole that all rules need not be explicitly spelled out in contract form at every establishment. and as you will see in many threads there are many levels of the line one needs to cross to be rude, just look at all the threads on what to wear to a restaurant. Some call it rude; some call it mind your own business. And don't get started on the cell phone at the table discussion, ouch.

                                              If taking 3, 5, 10, 20 samples keeps any customer on their own personal side of the consideration or rude line, that's their call. But as this number increases there are others that come into play...the business, the workers and the other customers, if any. It is not a full blown zero-sum game, but at some point others will call too many samples rude.

                                              Jfood tries to limit himself to 2-samples at an ice cream place, it just feels right. If others feel comortable with >2, so be it. But as this number increases, people better understand that as part of a bigger picture, others may start getting frustrated and eventual the rude ball comes into play.

                                              But here's a question that gets back to the OP...what did you expect from the manager on the call?

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                                              1. re: jfood
                                                pinstripeprincess RE: jfood May 24, 2010 01:29 PM

                                                not additonal rudeness.

                                                if he said any kind of variation of "thanks for telling me, i'm sorry for your experience. i will speak with the counter person. i do hope we see you again." that would have been completely satisfying to me, it has been a response i've received before and felt was entirely appropriate. to have to ask for any part of that just surprised me. and then how to ask for it baffled me entirely. i've admired that you have been able to determine each level and the appropriate response for many service based issues but i imagine that none of these came to you at your first experience of each situation. it has come with thoughtful consideration over time. i started this thread because even after experiencing it i still couldn't come up with a good response and was hoping to heed advice from knowledgable and thoughtful people.

                                                and no, an ice cream shop doesn't weigh each scoop but if they're completely unaware of shrinkage, spoilage, and how many litres/gallons go in and out of that case within a day vs their sales, then i can't imagine that's factored into their operating costs and dear god save them all and their businesses. maybe i should be throwing money at them so that their awful flavours survive and baskin robbins doesn't take over my neighbourhood.

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                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                                  akq RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 01:38 PM

                                                  The problem is - if the manager said that he'd tick off a lot of people who woudn't be happy without a free cone or whatever. It sounds to me like he wanted to know what would make *you* happy - just knowing we heard you? Free cone? or? So why is it so difficult to say a variation of what you wrote here:
                                                  Thank you for listening. I just wanted to confirm that the sample policy had not in fact changed so I know for next time, and to bring this uncomfortable situation to your attention so that hopefully you can talk to the counterperson and make sure none of your other customers encounter this sort of situation. I look forward to a return visit and I'll let you know how it goes.

                                                  Or something to that effect?

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                                                  1. re: akq
                                                    pinstripeprincess RE: akq May 24, 2010 02:14 PM

                                                    because, again, i was baffled and this is all written with hindsight. i wasn't composed enough to tell the curt voice behind the phone just exactly that. i told him "i just wanted to let you know", which was stated above. if he offered me a free cone i would have said no thanks, it isn't necessary. maybe curt is too nice of a term, all i know was that he made me feel immediately uncomfortable and i was filled with trepidation.

                                                    what i'm asking here, is what is the best response you can think of and if this has happened to you and what did you do because i obviously didn't come up with a good one. which you have done just now, but as usual this NAF thread has gone off course a bit.

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                                                  2. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                    jfood RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 01:39 PM

                                                    "maybe i should be throwing money at them so that their awful flavours survive and baskin robbins doesn't take over my neighbourhood."

                                                    Jfood has lived in his town for 14 years and the main ice cream store is BR. The number of scoops he has eaten in 14 years is easy to calculate...zero. He refuses to eat it. pure unadulterated crap.

                                                    A new Gellato place opened a couple of years ago and it is the anti-BR in quality. Heaven sent PSP, heaven sent.

                                                    yes, jfood has played the role of consumer advocate way too many times, has heard almost everything and knows when to raise and knows when to fold. he tries to give kids a break, but when they go down the "I am smarter than the customer" on the phone, they lose way more than they win as jfood remembers the old addage...it is difficult to have an intelligent conversation with an unarmed man.

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                                              2. re: jfood
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                                                Harters RE: jfood May 24, 2010 06:06 AM

                                                I don't know of any shop that routinely advertises that customers may sample before they buy - although my local deli and cheesemonger both certainly permit it (the latter always offering a sample before you buy anything). Would we expect to try the various apples on offer at the greengrocer or think the butcher should fry up a selection of sausages?

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                                                1. re: Harters
                                                  rworange RE: Harters May 24, 2010 09:46 AM

                                                  >>> Would we expect to try the various apples on offer at the greengrocer or think the butcher should fry up a selection of sausages?

                                                  Um, yes

                                                  This may just be a case of regionalism here, but markets in the US, at least the SF Bay Area, do indeed offer produce, sausage, meat, bakery, dairy, etc samples. This can range from your everyday Safeway to Whole Foods. There are few farmers markets here where a vendor does NOT offer a sample.

                                                  In Vera Cruz Mexico, EVERY single food aisle was manned by vendors offering free samples ... and that included the booze aisle. I got a nice sample of Johny Wlaker that was the equivalent of a regular shot in the US. It makes that Wal-Mart shopping so much more pleasant.

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                                                  1. re: rworange
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                                                    Harters RE: rworange May 24, 2010 10:02 AM

                                                    Oh, OK, then.

                                                    Not common here in the UK - farmers markets and the like excepted. I think our village greengrocer would think I was a nutter if I asked to try the dozen or so different apples he normally has on offer. And the supermarket would probably call security if anyone asked them to cook sausages before they bought.

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                                                    1. re: Harters
                                                      rworange RE: Harters May 24, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                      You don't ask. Usually the produce is cut up and in a covered fruit dish. The other products will be set out sometimes manned by a person who gives them out ... often with coupons.

                                                      It is more of a promotional thing to get people to try something, usually new. However there might be something you see all the time like Jimmy Dean sausages because on they are on sale.

                                                      Why Safeway puts out samples of those tasteless Granny Smith apples is beyond me. Maybe it is just a way to get rid of apples no one is buying anyway.

                                                      The only time you ask is at the deli counter. I don't know why, but this is one of the few places that makes me uncomfortable sample-wise. Maybe it is because it is just usually crap. Or maybe it is one of the few areas you have to ask.

                                                      Someone did touch on an etiquette thing though. If the joint is crowded, don't take up time doing excessive sampling. It used to drive me nuts after a long day at work when I was trying to pick up some chow for dinner at Whole Foods that you would get behind people who not only would take sample after sample totally oblivious to the hungry herd surrounding them, but also have long discussions about each sample and whether they liked it or not.

                                                      Hmmm ... do you think there might be a book in sampling etiquette?

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                                                      1. re: rworange
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                                                        Harters RE: rworange May 25, 2010 05:37 AM

                                                        Ah, promotional samples and coupons. Different story altogether, of course.

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                                                    2. re: rworange
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                                                      soupkitten RE: rworange May 24, 2010 10:25 AM

                                                      well, free shots of scotch sure brings the concept of "sample abuser" to a whole 'nother level, doesn't it? ;-P

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                                                      1. re: soupkitten
                                                        rworange RE: soupkitten May 24, 2010 10:51 AM

                                                        Heh. Sample responsibly. Don't sample and drive.

                                                        And btw, I not buy buy a bottle of booze ...it was one of the few times I tried something that I knew what it tasted like ... but hey, free JW in Wal-Mart ... it just makes too good a story. I did hold back on the other types of booze that I was familiar with.

                                                        To cover this indulgance, I bought some of the canned JW products which turned out to be very nice in the hotel after a day on the road. I can highly recommend the canned highball.. at least in Mexico because the ginger ale uses sugar.

                                                        Hey ... wait ... did I just recommend a product on Chowhound which has a world-wide audiance? Could it be possible that that free shot of JW might generate a whole lot more profits that the cost of my one measly freebie?

                                                        The power of the free sample

                                                        PS. I don't like HFCS, so I can only recommend the JW and ginge ale if the soda is made with sugar.

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                                                      2. re: rworange
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                                                        maryv RE: rworange May 24, 2010 04:46 PM

                                                        "There are few farmers markets here where a vendor does NOT offer a sample." Lucky you! It's not nearly as common at farmers markets here in Massachusetts.

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                                                    3. re: jfood
                                                      whiskeyhead RE: jfood May 24, 2010 06:20 AM

                                                      Well said, jfood. While I do agree the employee's reaction was quite smarmy, the thing that baffles me is the manager's response. Then again, they've probably had some ridiculous complaints in the past and just assumed from the beginning that this was going to be another one to add to the pile. As someone who's worked retail through college and grad school, I can say with assurance that for every crabby employee there are five nasty customers. Do I think it was taboo for pinstripe to ask for 3 samples? No. Would I have done the same, probably not because I'm far too oriented with being on the other side of the counter and because I do know what banana tastes like ;)

                                                      But to answer pinstripe's question, "what do I say?" I'd let it be. If you really like their gelato, then wait a while and go back for more. Who knows, maybe something was said to the employee(s) and you might find the shop has a more customer-friendly environment. One can dream. But don't take it personally. I once had a manager call my house to schedule a job interview with someone I don't know and when I took the time to return his call (since I thought maybe the intended receiver really needed the job) I got an aggravated "Well, this is the number he gave me" and a hangup when a simple "Thanks for letting me know" would have sufficed. I can count on one hand the number of business (especially service industry) owners I've known who are also happy people--so consider yourself the lucky one.

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                                                    4. re: invinotheresverde
                                                      rworange RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 10:20 AM

                                                      >>> No, but doesn't common sense dictate what's enough?

                                                      Absolutely.

                                                      However, if a store has a policy of giving out samples and is going to begrudge a customer for going over some unspoken limit, it is to their benefit to post the limit. Otherwise you wind up with unhappy customers who not only may not return, but tell everyone they know how rude you were to them.

                                                      I don't know why samples would give you the heebies. As I mentioned elsewhere, it could be regionalism. You might be in a small town where the selection of food is limited and why would you need a sample for the same limited food that is offered week after week, year after year.

                                                      It might be economic. You may be fabulously wealthy and a $5 cup of lousy gelato or whatever means nothing to you.

                                                      You just may not care about food. One banana gelato tastes the same to you as another.

                                                      In the SF Bay Area the variety of food is astounding. It can also be expensive.

                                                      I take samples as I need them to make the best use of my money and calorie intake.

                                                      Am I going to take a sample of the Safeway Granny Smith apple that I have no intention of buying. Absolutely not. Should I be in a store like Costco, am I going to gravitate tot he mainly disgusting samples I won't buy. Nope.

                                                      At ice cream / gelato stores am I going to try EVERY flavor. Nope. Just the ones I am interested in which usually is in the 2 sample range. I have tried a half dozen at one shop that encourages it and even when I stopped because ... well six samples even made me unconfortable ... they insisted I try 4 flavors more. You know what? I am a regular customer there and often recommend the place on Chowhound ... not for the freebie policy ... but because I have a really good feel for their product line and there is some excellent stuff there.

                                                      If the local sausage maker is selling packages of four sausages for $15 and has eight types ... if there are samples, am I going to try every single one? Damn right. Maybe you have the money to throw away like that, but IMO it would be foolish of me not to explore the best value for my money before making a decision.

                                                      A dozen different olive oil samples where the bottles are going for $30. You bet I'm going to try each one.

                                                      But I am sampling to make the best choice. The next time I pass the sausage or olive oil vendor I won't be taking samples again unless they introduce a new product.

                                                      Also, while I can't read the mind of the shop vendor, I can at farmers markets. If all the samples are laid out, that is the go sign to try as much as you want. If it is the type of vendor who keeps the samples off the table, I feel that they are not into sampling and will spend a lot of time talking to them about their various products and make one or two choices based on that.

                                                      Now I am sure someone will say, why not have those discussions with all vendors. I only have so much time. A market might have over 50 vendors each with more than a dozen products. Samples are the easier and quicker way to go.

                                                      That is not to say I don't ask before taking that first sample. I ask what they think is their best whatever. If the first one or two recs are not to my taste, I move on and don't go through the whole product line

                                                      A local cheese store always gives a taste of each cheese. I am really a big fan of Roquefort and not only have sampled them all but bought certain types repeatedly over the years. For those, before even asking I'll say "i don't want a sample because I know what it tastes like but I'ld like to get some Papillon"

                                                      Again, people under estimate the power of the sample. There's this one vendor,the bolini guy, who insists you stop. You protest ... "No, I have tried your food it is excellent. I don't need a sample". If you are foolish enough to stop that long, by time you have finished your sentence, there are two or three samples in your hand and it is rare you will leave witout having a half dozen more thrust at you. And he is just the nicest most pleasant guy in the world. The food is good but even if I don't want anything, at that point I have accrued enough guilt of my free lunch to buy something. He started with one stand. I believe now he has way over thirty stands at most farmers markets. The power of the sample.

                                                      So it is on the business to be clear about their policy if they don't want to offend some customers, especially in a sample-happy area like SF.

                                                      And if that turns into greed on the part of customers then it is up to the company to do something more intellegent that scowl at customers.

                                                      When I first moved to the Bay Area, wineries offered free tastes of wine. Tourists got more and more greedy ... and there were other issues I forget ... but it is rare today for a winery to give free samples anymore. There are tasting fees stated up front and usually they are returned if you buy some wine.

                                                      Anyway, everyone has their own internal voice. If samples give you the heebies nothing I say here will convince you otherwise. Since I feel comfortable with the way I sample, nothing anyone says here will convince me otherwise.

                                                      The point is it is up to the business to deal with samples in a way that won't put some customers off. No one says they should be required to post signs or state limits. The smart ones do.

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                                                      1. re: rworange
                                                        invinotheresverde RE: rworange May 24, 2010 01:20 PM

                                                        "...it could be regionalism."
                                                        It's not. I live just outside three metropolitan areas.

                                                        "...economic."
                                                        I'm not fabulously wealthy, but a $5 gelato is pretty insignificant to me.

                                                        "... not care about food."
                                                        I'm a pretty prolific poster on this, a major food board, and a sommelier to boot. Do you really think flavor is unimportant to me?

                                                        Samples creep me out for a couple reasons. First, they're often sitting out to the general public, and I'm a germaphobe. Second, I don't view a scoop of ice cream/tomato/sausage/etc. a life or death decision. Yes, i want a quality product, which is why I shop in a quality market. I find having to sample the goods before buying them as an insult of sorts to the purveyor, a la "I'd better make sure this shit don't suck before I drop loot on it". Lastly, I've worked in restaurants my whole life, and I think the "sample people" are ridiculously annoying.

                                                        It would just never cross my mind to have to try something like that before I buy it. A new car? Yes. A new couch? Yes. A bagel from my local bakery? No way. Do you try to sample everything in life before you buy it? What about things that are sealed, like canned Roma tomatoes or a gallon of milk? Do those have to be opened and tried first?

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                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                          jfood RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 01:51 PM

                                                          Wow your stock price going up pretty fast today Ms I. :-)) Whoda thunk you and jfood would be so camped out together on this side of the fence.

                                                          Jfood totally agrees. This entire riskless purchaser mentality is just plain silly. Go to a new restaurant, it's a risk, try something new at an old restaurant, its a rsk and then there is the CHOWHOUND MANTRA...try to find deliciousness. How many crappy things have we tried to find the perfect burger, the perfect roasted chicken, the perfect foie gras and in your profession, that small little winery that makes something you really like.

                                                          Jfood knows this thread has tangented a bit and it's probably the subject of another thread, but jfood agrees with you that you sometimes do not finish a plate of food or a bottle of wine or soda because you just do not like it. The idea that this is the sellers' risk is just mind-boggling. People gotta take some grown up positions and stop looking for free everything before they spend a couple of bucks.

                                                          And the "sample people"? Annoying is an understatement. Place them at the far end of the parking lot away from the mainstream. they block aisles, cause traffic jams, leave their empty cups all over the place, etc. don't get jfood started.

                                                          soapbox over. :-))

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                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                            rworange RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 02:10 PM

                                                            Nope. I think i indicated pretty clearly what I do not sample, giving specific examples. I do not sample the familiar or suspected crap ... ie frozen appetizers with a long chemical list.

                                                            I guess you just have more money because a $5 gelato and a $15 package of sausages is significant to me.

                                                            Nothing is life or death. I just want to make the tastiest choice possible for my dollars.

                                                            Also, I have calorie issues. I'm not going to be happy if I'm wasting calories on a just ok product like ice cream or sausage that is going to give me an unsatisfying calorie hit.

                                                            If someone is offering a sample, they open themselves up to honest evaluation. I didn't ask them to provide samples so I see no insult to anyone offering to try their product. It is like asking "how do you like my new dress?" You will usually get an indifferent answer, but you better be prepared for that person who says "I think you should wear something else"

                                                            On the other hand some will honesty say "you look stunning"

                                                            IMO, it is cheap large-territory focus group feedback for the vendor.

                                                            Better his samples of achovy olive oil go unsold after sampling so that no more are produced rather than making a lot of it and being stuck. His lemon olive oil may be spectacular, but if without tasting my first bottle was the other, then it would be unlikely I'd buy another product from that vendor again.

                                                            On the other hand, instant feedback of "WOW" after trying something and purchasing the product can give a good indication about what to focus on selling.

                                                            The samples you got working in the industry ... well to me that equates to having to eat damn Costco samples.

                                                            I'm sorry to hear you are a germaphobe.You just might not realize all the swell stuff you are missing out on. I don't mean that as a challenge, it just makes me generally sad when people have that.

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                                                            1. re: rworange
                                                              invinotheresverde RE: rworange May 24, 2010 02:30 PM

                                                              "The samples you got working in the industry ... well to me that equates to having to eat damn Costco samples."

                                                              ?

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                                                            2. re: invinotheresverde
                                                              pinstripeprincess RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 02:34 PM

                                                              as a sommelier, you must do tastings frequently. how often are tastings of specific wineries presented au gratis? how often is your buck dropped on several bottles to find the right one to present at a restaurant or event?

                                                              i'm not shopping at costco, grabbing a sample along the way to another aisle (i don't ever sample at costco because the products are never of interest to me). i'm at a gelato shop with full intention of buying gelato. that sampling the flavours is a widely accepted practice is a boon to me. you don't like to. fantastic. don't. but these aren't samples set out to collect germs, they're not samples i've been told i cannot have. they're samples to help me determine a final purchase that will leave me happy with my experience at the gelato shop.

                                                              even jfood has said that he'll suck it up and buy something but won't be too happy about it all. enough unhappy experiences and i'll never return, but if two more samples could have made me ecstatic about your product and appreciate the enthusiasm you have to share it with me, you've won me over.

                                                              if someone asks for a taste of a bottle you have open for by the glass pours at a restaurant, do you immediately hate these sample people? or do you prefer that they find a glass they are happy with?

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                                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                invinotheresverde RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 02:47 PM

                                                                I'm given bottles of wine all the time. It's part of my profession. I don't approach anyone to do so, especially someone who obviously doesn't want to give them to me.

                                                                I don't believe I ever mentioned Costco.

                                                                I believe we disagree that sampling gelato is common practice. I can't remember ever having seen it done.

                                                                I will certainly give a taste of wine to guests asking for it. I won't give three, four, more, etc. I rarely drink wine available by the glass, so it's not something I've done myself.

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                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                  pinstripeprincess RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 03:12 PM

                                                                  and when you are given a bottle of wine, are you more likely to pick from the selection of places that offered you bottles? Or do you make it a regular habit to seek out on your own dime wineries and bottles that are exceptional?

                                                                  i only bring up costco because that is what i associate with "sample people" and samples sitting out in the general public. not a single product oriented shop filled with people fully intending to purchase what is available to sample.

                                                                  then please tell me how you handle people when they want more than one sample? i'd be happy to also offer that as a solution to the people whom ask "what do you want me to do about it?"

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                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                    invinotheresverde RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 03:52 PM

                                                                    I find wine both ways, neither on my own dime.

                                                                    Sample people aren't definited by where they shop, they're defined by their behavior. You, psp, are a sample person.

                                                                    I would maybe, MAYBE, bring over a second sample of wine, once I'd figured out their intent. If they were just interested in a cheapie glass, one and done. I'd steer them towards a cocktail, etc. If they were intersted in a bottle of a higher end btg pour, I'd possibly bring over a second sample.

                                                                    And yes, I'd be frustrated, as I know each wine inside and out. If I'm bringing over a sample a customer doesn't care for, it's because he hasn't made it clear what he actually likes. Also, sample pours are probably about 1 oz. and a standard restaurant btg pour is 4-6, depending on the joint. After two samples, you've had anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 glass of wine already. I'm in the business of selling my wine, not giving it away.

                                                                    Again, it needs to be said that I've very, very rarely encountered this. Also, where does it end? If you can sample a restaurant's wine, can you sample their vodka? Their mashed potatoes? Their wagyu? One oyster before you purchase the dozen?

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                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                      jfood RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 04:14 PM

                                                                      "One oyster before you purchase the dozen?"

                                                                      jfood will have one each of those 6 as samples. And could you bring a little horseradish over with that? :-)) Gotta love that concept.

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                                                                      1. re: jfood
                                                                        Marge RE: jfood May 24, 2010 04:45 PM

                                                                        Me too!....no, I don't care for the kumamoto, I'd like to try a blue point...blech, hmm, let me sample a fanny bay...not bad, but I'm not sure I want a dozen, let me try one of those malpeques...

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                                                                      2. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                        rworange RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 04:55 PM

                                                                        But once again ... no one in this thread ever ... ever ... ASKED for a sample from a vendor that did not offer samples.

                                                                        So your issue of asking for an oyster or wagyu is not relevant. Those are not being offered as samples.

                                                                        Maybe you are having problems with this concept because you are unaware that gelato and ice cream places regularily offer samples. I don't care where you live ... Baskin Robbins has given samples from day one.

                                                                        Jeez, even in Florence the gelato makers offered tastes.

                                                                        Mashed potatoes are a bad example though. Whole Foods and Safeway will give you a sample of that and sometimes the Country Crock people do samples at the market.

                                                                        And yes I have had samples of vodka and other hard liquors at restaurants when I'm making decisions on the high end. Again, I never ask or expect it. I'll ask which brandy might go nicely with my dessert and some places just offer a taste of two.

                                                                        You keep veering off into territory that isn't the topic here. The topic really is how to respond to a specific question. The subject of sampling I tried to divert people from early on because it gets off into this stuff. But once people were determined to discuss it, well ...

                                                                        NOBODY is askng for samples at places that don't give samples. In fact, quite the opposite. The OP asked the manager if there was a limit or if this was just the policy of a single employee.

                                                                        If the manager said, even in a nasty tone, "Only two sampes per customer" I'm guessing the OP would not have posted. She would have the info she needed next time in the shop.

                                                                        My favorite olive oli vendor has never given samples and I doubt ever will. He's also $$$$. I have never said to this guy, "You should offer samples". It is not his thing.

                                                                        Some places are generous with wine tastes. You are not. If for some reason I was dealing with you ... or anyone ... and they gave me a sample of one wine and no more, I can't even imagine asking for another. You go with what is offered.

                                                                        I'm more into sauternes.. expensive ones. One restaurant was really generous in terms of giving tastes of two or three ... and guess what ... that usually led me to buy the most expensive glass and usually more than one.

                                                                        No one has to offer samples. IMO, sometimes it is a good move and can really give a boost to a business ... but you better have a damn fine product

                                                                        The issue is not at all about asking for samples from businesses that do not offer them.

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                                                                        1. re: rworange
                                                                          pinstripeprincess RE: rworange May 24, 2010 05:37 PM

                                                                          and i knew bringing up the specifics of the sampling situation would turn this thread up on its head, which made me hesitate in the first place.

                                                                          if he said there was a limit then that would have been the end of it. his shop his rules. i just would have told him that he should have the counter person inform anyone interested in sampling. no thread necessary.

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                                                                          1. re: rworange
                                                                            invinotheresverde RE: rworange May 24, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                                            "The issue is not at all about asking for samples from businesses that do not offer them."

                                                                            I was responding to psp's query about giving out wine sampes at my restaurant, where they're not offered.

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                                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                              pinstripeprincess RE: invinotheresverde May 25, 2010 05:01 AM

                                                                              imo, i still think you are sampling. i doubt you purchase a bottle of the same stuff when you're offered a free one to taste. it's in your best interest to spread your budget around where you might not otherwise get a free sample. just because you're in the business and this is just a part of it that you're accustomed to doesn't make it any different than what i've become accustomed to with gelato places looking to gain my business.

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                                                                          2. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                            pinstripeprincess RE: invinotheresverde May 24, 2010 05:33 PM

                                                                            i fit into your definition of sample person, so absolutely yes i am a sample person. you have zero give on this topic, fine by me. but i draw a softer line between the inconsiderate and grabby hands i associate with the name and people who are genuinely interested in a new-to-them product. apparently i don't feel people are always freeloading when they have a sample.

                                                                            good on you, you dislike samplers and you've somehow managed to live/work/play where you don't see it occuring. i on the other hand appreciate when someone is interested in creating a great experience for me by tuning into my tastes. if that's by samples then so be it, chances are they'll be much more successful.

                                                                            and btw, no one ever said a sample had to be free.

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                                                                  2. re: rworange
                                                                    pinstripeprincess RE: rworange May 24, 2010 01:49 PM

                                                                    you bring up a great point that a friend also mentioned when i spoke to them about the abhorrence for sampling that has come out here. maybe it's entirely regional.

                                                                    i'll have to take a wider sample (don't throw rocks at me!), but i don't believe i know anyone in toronto that wouldn't ask for a sample from a gelato shop when they were considering flavours they hadn't tried and likely quite a few that would ask for more than two without feeling it was taboo if they were just trying to find a good flavour.

                                                                    i'd also be curious to know how many of the people who would get zero samples are in/had been industry.

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                                                          2. Caroline1 RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 02:12 PM

                                                            It's a difficult situation to assess if for no other reason that the written word not carrying any vocal inflection or body language. However, that said, and assuming neither the inflection nor the body language of the counter person were heartwarming and inviting, about the first time she sounded irritated with ME, I would have looked in the direction of the door and aked if there was a Baskin Robbins anyplace near. But hey, this is a "taxi cab remark." You know, the kind you look back and wish you had said.

                                                            As for the manager's question on the phone, "What do you want me to do about it," another taxi cab response from me would be, "It's not what I want you to do about it. It's what YOU want to do about it. I just thought you and/or the owner might be interested, just in case your trade has fallen off lately. Thanks for listening." And that would have been the end of it for me.

                                                            THe unfortunate thing about this situation is that people are very much like Pavlov's dogs. Having had this situation come about with t his specific ice cream parlor, I don't think their ice cream would ever loose a certain bitterness for me in the future. Sometimes it's a pain in the a-- to be human! I would tell my family I want an ice cream maker for Christmas! '-)

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                                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                                              rworange RE: Caroline1 May 23, 2010 04:05 PM

                                                              "It's not what I want you to do about it. It's what YOU want to do about it. I just thought you and/or the owner might be interested, just in case your trade has fallen off lately. Thanks for listening."

                                                              You win, IMO, for best solution.

                                                              In this specific case, because the entire sentence was ... tone of voice aside " he said that he wanted to fix the problem, but what did i want him to do"

                                                              ... I would have repeated the first part of that sentence back to him "If you want to fix the problem, what do you want to do? I would have kept repeating it as he kept repeating it.

                                                              But yours is a better, one-size fits all solution. I need to write that down so I can use it when this situation occurs to me.

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                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: Caroline1 May 24, 2010 05:51 AM

                                                                i agree that your solution is great, i'll have to keep it tucked away in my memory.

                                                                thankfully i'm negotiating custody of an ice cream maker as we speak so that i can have unlimited samples out of my freezer until i figure out what i'm in the mood for ;)

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                                                              2. j
                                                                jimingso RE: pinstripeprincess May 23, 2010 02:35 PM

                                                                One possible explanation: the rude counter lady was the wife of the manager.

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                                                                1. re: jimingso
                                                                  EWSflash RE: jimingso May 23, 2010 05:18 PM

                                                                  That's possible.

                                                                  It could also be that the store gets stiffed by people coming in for samples and leaving without buying anything. That may have been why she asked you what size cup you were buying. She didn't go about it very gracefully.

                                                                  I have to say that three samples, to me, is excessive, but I've never been to a gelateria, so I don't know what kind of behavior is the norm there.

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                                                                  1. re: EWSflash
                                                                    Marge RE: EWSflash May 23, 2010 05:55 PM

                                                                    Agree that the response of the counterperson was less than professional and tactful BUT...I must agree with Larry David regarding sample abusers--it's ok to sample one or two flavors, but really--banana must taste like banana, tiramisu should taste like, oh, I don't know, tiramisu? If this gelateria is "well-respected", go ahead and sample one or two if you must, but come on, is it reasonable to expect unlimited samples before you settle on a choice for a $4 cup of ice cream?? I personally would not consider asking for more than 2 samples before choosing, and would frankly be embarrassed to complain about being called out on my fussiness...

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                                                                    1. re: Marge
                                                                      pinstripeprincess RE: Marge May 24, 2010 05:45 AM

                                                                      is anyone here asking for unlimited samples? for a business that is commonly known to offer samples gleefully i think my expectations were set appropriately that i would be able to sample the few that i wanted to. perhaps you should talk to invinotheresverde who would chide you for taking even 1.

                                                                      and even then you don't seem to agree that the counterperson was less than professional and tactful because you think it was the appropriate way to be "called out on my fussiness". if she had initially said they didn't offer samples, then i would have made a choice and got the cup without issue. if she said there was a limit then i wouldn't have pushed her past the limit. if the MANAGER said there was a limit over the phone, which he agreed there was not then i wouldn't go in asking for more than that. no one said anything against having samples and decided that being rude was the right action instead.

                                                                      if ice cream flavours are that simple to you then i'm jealous your world is so delicious, but the number of times banana has tasted like lab manufactured esters, strawberry has chunks of ice in it, nutella tastes like flour oil and cocoa powder, and rhubarb orange is overwhelmed with a never mentioned vanilla... well that one small expensive cup ends up having to be trashed and i'll write off the business entirely. at least when i sample i'll get the few good flavours and be back for those instead of avoiding the shop entirely.

                                                                      i'm also really surprised that only rworange seems to understand that samples are built into business models. if it wasn't they wouldn't let people have them or offer them. just because some people feel bad for taking them, doesn't mean that the business isn't prepared to suck up the cost or ups their cost to accomodate for it. companies don't offer samples, freebies, or coupons to suss out the free loaders, they do it for promotion and customer retention.

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                                                                    2. re: EWSflash
                                                                      rworange RE: EWSflash May 23, 2010 06:02 PM

                                                                      There are other threads about the number of samples one should take. Though the issue is irrelevant here, IMO, if a place is going to restrict samples, it should be clear up front and post a sign.

                                                                      One ice cream business in Berkeley did that. It is now out of business. It used to tick off some Chowhounds so much they refused to go there. I liked the joint, but have to admit I probably would have gone a bit more often or bought larger cups if I had more of a choice. If I didn't like the two samples, I'd pick something else interesting. It would tick me off if I didn't like it as the ice cream was about $4 for a not too generous serving.

                                                                      Other places have built their businesses on freebies. A bakery that started as a farmers market stand now has two shops and the 'free samples' were one thing that helped build it. You wouldn't get a taste of a scone or cookie ... they'd give you the whole thing ... without asking.

                                                                      Ditto on a restaurant that gives free drinks and dishes because it is your first time there ... and the same thing because you came back or brought someone new with you.

                                                                      Some businesses don't seem the bigger picture.

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                                                                    3. re: jimingso
                                                                      rockandroller1 RE: jimingso May 25, 2010 05:10 AM

                                                                      I agree with this, based on how the call went. Sounded like it started off ok in that the mgr was interested, even asked for a description of the employee, then abruptly got short. A relative or at least friend of the manager is my bet.

                                                                      I agree with rworange for best response, as well.

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                                                                      akq RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 10:15 AM

                                                                      You are generally more likely to get what you want if you know what you want to accomplish in the conversation with the manager...so what did you want? I think it's important to make sure you can answer the question "What can I do to make you happy/solve this problem?" before you call the manager (unless it's an emergency). Some ideas:
                                                                      1. I wanted to confirm with you that your sample policy hasn't changed and bring this experience to your attention so that you can re-train your counterperson.
                                                                      2. Since I wasn't able to sample the flavors, I got one I wasn't happy with so I'd really love another small cup on the house the next time I am in.
                                                                      OR?

                                                                      My question for the other posters is - what happens if after my first two samples I haven't found a flavor I actually like? I love ice cream and gelato, but cannot handle flavors that are too sweet. What should I do if I try the strawberry and it's a sugar bomb...and then I try vanilla and it is also a sugar bomb? What to do? Ask for a 3rd sample? Leave? Order another flavor without tasting it and hope it's less sweet? Tell the counter person what I am after and ask for her help?

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                                                                      1. re: akq
                                                                        jfood RE: akq May 24, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                                        there are two choices that jfood sees to your last question, and you came up with both his suggestions. jfood has tasted a couple of samples and has left, begrudgingly because he really wanted some ice cream, heard that the place was good but the flavors were too weird for his palate and the two he tried told him it was just not going to happen. The more adult thing is to have a conversation, yup people still do talk versus tweet. Apologize, explain what you are looking for and why you did not like what you already sampled. Give it another good old college try, and hopefully there is one that at least crosses the line into acceptable, maybe not delicious, but acceptable. Maybe order a kiddie size to limit the financial hit, order it, eat it and then move down the road of life, with or without a fond ice cream memory.

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                                                                        1. re: jfood
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                                                                          akq RE: jfood May 24, 2010 11:49 AM

                                                                          I like that solution - ask for help. Maybe the counterperson wanted confirmation that the OP was planning to actually make a purchase (what size?) before giving out a bunch of samples? Maybe if the OP was looking for a particular thing or wasn't happy with the ones she'd already tried and told the counterperson that, she could have been helpful? As much as I understand not wanting to feel like a freeloader by asking the counterperson to give more samples when she already seems to have decided I've had my share, saying something at the time at least would give the counterperson the option of actually solving the immediate problem.

                                                                          I think that's what's been bothering me about this thread - complaining for the sake of complaining is counterproductive and never really makes anyone happy, but complaining and offering a solution, can be productive. The OP didn't notify the counterperson at the time of the incident and thus didn't give her the opportunity to immediately cure the problem. Additionally, when OP did contact the mgr, she hadn't identified what an acceptable outcome would be. The problem for me seems to be passive-aggressivity - I want to tell you vaguely what went wrong (the counterperson made me feel weird about asking for samples...note she didn't actually say no samples or refuse me samples...just made me feel weird about it and no I didn't say anything to the counterperson at the time) but I have no idea what I'd like you to do about it.

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                                                                          1. re: akq
                                                                            pinstripeprincess RE: akq May 24, 2010 02:01 PM

                                                                            i haven't had great experiences with servers telling me about food. i know my palate and i know what i like. i paused between my choices (there were no people behind me in line!) where she had ample time to ask me if i liked it and why i did or did not like it if she wanted to be helpful. she didn't want to be helpful, she appeared to have wanted to be annoyed. she didn't want to let me sample the flavours i wanted but suggested another flavour and wanted me to trust her opinion on it and purchase it untasted. and also when someone is being downright rude to me, i don't feel inclined to address them about it right then and there considering it is likely to fall on deaf ears. they had decided to be rude, i doubt that was going to change because i called them out on it.

                                                                            what exactly is so passive aggressive at telling the manager that their counterperson was rude? that i wasn't aware they had a sample limit and that she refused me samples? am i seriously the one who is supposed to offer a solution for that? it's feedback. feedback doesn't require solutions from the person giving it. or should i next time instruct him on how to train his staff to not be rude?

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                                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                                                              akq RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 11:26 PM

                                                                              From your description the counterperson never refused you samples nor told you there was a sample limit. Neither did you actually inquire as to any sample limit or push the issue, it seems. You did, however, call the manager later on to let him know. Sounds passive aggressive to me - you feel affronted by some implication that the counterperson doesn't want to give you samples but instead of asking the counterperson if the policy has changed or asking if there is a problem with you having a sample of a particular flavor, you say nothing, get your feelings hurt and then call the manager when it's too late to "save" your experience to "let him know" and are shocked when he asks what he can do to make you happy. Yikes.

                                                                              "Feedback" is ok, but what exactly is the manager going to do? Tell the counterperson to do a better job making customers feel like they can have unlimited samples? The counterperson would likely say that she never told you no more samples...and she didn't...

                                                                              Your question was - what would you say? My answer was that I would tell the manager what would make me happy...which requires actually figuing out what would make me happy before calling the manager, or better yet, asking for it while I'm still in the store and they can actually give it to me.

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                                                                              1. re: akq
                                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: akq May 25, 2010 04:31 AM

                                                                                if you want to ignore the rudeness and hostility on their side go ahead. no i didn't take charge of my experience with the counter person because i didn't feel it would make the situation any better. because i was only looking for a sorry and an assurance it wouldn't happen again, it felt really odd having to ask for one. how often do you ask for an apology?

                                                                                so now feedback is only "ok"? nearly every thread where a misstep takes place by the establishment people go on to chide the person for not dealing with it. for not dealing with it at the time or afterwards before lambasting the place in a review or ranting about it. yes you have to give them the opportunity to fix it, i just happened to choose after rather than during. but apparently now we're getting picky and only during is appropriate regardless if the counter person obviously doesn't care about your experience. i don't care to make a scene inside the establishment, and there's nothing here that says my experience wouldn't have been "saved" (your word not mine) by a friendly phone conversation.

                                                                                i'm also sure he could train her on more appropriate ways to handle situations with too many samples than staring someone down. there's always a right way to do something and a wrong way to do something.

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                                                                      2. L2k RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 12:27 PM

                                                                        I heard the same thing from the manager of the commissary/cafeteria at my office building. I started working here last summer, ate in the cafeteria a couple times/week for the first few weeks. Then I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich. Delicious! Until I found half of a ball bearing in the meat (ok, technically in my mouth). And then the other half.

                                                                        I reported this to one of the assistants, who got the manager, who had a hard time believing my tale (even though he knew me as he usually runs the register).

                                                                        "What do you want me to do about this?", he asked me. I told him I thought there was a problem with the food, and they should look into it. "Well, we get the pork in big bags from XXXXX", and all we do here is heat it up and put it in the sandwich, so it's not our fault.

                                                                        I gave him my business card (not my real one, but a personal one, no need to get my company involved, as there are multiple tenants in the building) and told him that I looked forward to hearing what he found out in his investigation into the matter, either from him or from his boss, and that I'd be eating elsewhere in the meanwhile.

                                                                        9 months later, no word. I REALLY hated going out to eat during the winter, but I made my statement and kept to it. And I've told all of my coworkers who wonder why I don't eat there exactly what happened.

                                                                        I still see the manager now and then, if I need to get a bottle of orange juice or just to steal mayonnaise packets, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't recognize me, nor even remember the incident. But I do.

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                                                                        1. re: L2k
                                                                          pinstripeprincess RE: L2k May 24, 2010 02:03 PM

                                                                          i guess as soupkitten has mentioned, neither of them cared to have us back!

                                                                          fine by me. the gelato isn't anywhere were it used to be. it does still make me wonder how much business they're slowly alienating.

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                                                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                                                            soupkitten RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 07:13 PM

                                                                            i don't think i mentioned anything about them not wanting you back. where was that said anywhere in my post?

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                                                                            1. re: soupkitten
                                                                              pinstripeprincess RE: soupkitten May 25, 2010 04:04 AM

                                                                              sorry i didn't properly attribute the it to invinotheresverde who made the suggestion in conjunction with agreeing to your post.

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                                                                            2. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                                                              Blueicus RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 08:14 PM

                                                                              I don't see the connection between a single situation where the service was a bit "awkward" and the downfall of said business.

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                                                                              1. re: Blueicus
                                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: Blueicus May 25, 2010 04:05 AM

                                                                                pick at whatever words you want. rude, awkward, hostile, etc. at no point am i cursing them to fail, but if this is their general attitude about these things then yes they could easily be alienating business.

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                                                                            thomas64 RE: pinstripeprincess May 24, 2010 08:52 PM

                                                                            Somewhere in these posts, the OP said he had three samples and his standard operating procedure would be to have four. Really? I can see why the server was miffed. She shouldn't have been rude, but think about it - four spoon samples is about a 1/4 or so of a regular serving, maybe more. As another person said - that stuff can be expensive. That's free product she's giving you. And how does she know you're not going to ask for seven samples? She doesn't know you. It's ice cream for goodness sake - pick a flavor and live with it.

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                                                                            1. re: thomas64
                                                                              rworange RE: thomas64 May 24, 2010 09:10 PM

                                                                              Nice to see you read the post carefully and the responses. Didn't catch that the question was asking about the number of samples allowed and that the anagger confirmed there was no lpolicy on limiting samples? People just loooove the sample part of this thread which wasn't the point of the OP>

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                                                                              1. re: thomas64
                                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: thomas64 May 25, 2010 04:15 AM

                                                                                4 samples would have amounted to, at absolute most, 1/4 of a teaspoon. for $4 i hope i'm not paying for 1tsp of ice cream.

                                                                                it's so easy for everyone to jump onto the inconsiderate freeloader wagon here and draw their own artibrary line in the sand. i was never looking for validation on a sample policy. if you have anything to contribute with the actual question at hand that would be more considerate of you.

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                                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                  Marge RE: pinstripeprincess May 25, 2010 04:24 AM

                                                                                  Ok, I'll bite--I think if you were fractionally as assertive with the server and/or manager as you've been in this thread, this would not have been an issue. I fully agree with the post by akq on May 25 at 226am!

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                                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                                                                    Cachetes RE: pinstripeprincess May 25, 2010 06:51 AM

                                                                                    I see no passive aggressiveness in what you did, as some earlier posters have said. I am the sort of person that just sort of expects that people will be courteous, or, at a minimum apathetic. When I am treated with hostility or derision, I often don't even realize it until after the fact. Am I oblivious? Maybe. But voicing your concerns to the manager after the fact makes you in no way passive aggressive (especially b/c you haven't even mentioned the name of the place in this thread, which is something I really respect), especially (and only!) if one does so in a courteous way. Perhaps I (and you) are not as quick on the response as some others, but to then say that the subsequent odd (and I would say rude) interaction was your fault is just ludicrous. The fact that the manager expected you to do his job for him is HIS PROBLEM, and in no way makes you a bad customer. There are some really clueless owners and managers among the many great ones out there, and some people on this thread seem to be forgetting that.

                                                                                    As for the samples, yep, it's one of those issues that some people can only see in black and white, which is a shame b/c that is just not how the world operates (including in terms of the multitude of sampling practices and policies I've run into over the years).

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                                                                                2. The Chowhound Team RE: pinstripeprincess May 25, 2010 07:34 AM

                                                                                  Hi all, It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.

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