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Is it the customer's role to complain to a restaurant after a poor experience?

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[NOTE: We've moved this discussion from the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7748... -- The Chowhound Team ]

It's not a customer's role to complain to a restaurant. Some may, some may not out of reticence; but blaming the customer is like blaming the victim!!

  1. I agree. I don't view it as being my "job" to help restaurant owners/managers do better at THEIR jobs. Generally speaking, if we're not happy with a restaurant experience, we just don't go back. It's just the way it is. We don't dine out that often, we have limited disposal income to spend on dining out and I'm not wasting my time or money more than one time on a less than great dining experience.

    8 Replies
    1. re: flourgirl

      Hear hear. Absolutely. Cant understand the criticism of the poster for not telling the restaurant of their issues. Not the customer's role.

      1. re: menton1

        "Not the customer's role"
        I'm surprised and somewhat baffled by some of the comments posted above.
        Anytime I'm treated poorly or served substandard food by a substandard Server it not only becomes my, ( AKA The customer) 'role' it becomes my responsibility to at least let someone in charge know what is or is not happening and give them the opportunity to do something to correct the situation, Otherwise I would really feel like a 'victim'.
        venting my displeasure in some passive aggressive way. That just makes no sense to me.

        1. re: Tay

          You express your displeasure by not returning, as another poster indicated, spending your hard-earned restaurant dollars elsewhere. Not passive-aggressive at all.

          1. re: menton1

            i see a lot of passive-aggressive behavior all over the internet, CHowhound included. Instead of making a simple comment in situ, people will stew about it and vent in a chat room.

            My rule of thumb is that if you think it's something that can be handled right there and then, go ahead and say something. This would include almost all service issues.

            But if you think the kitchen is simply incapable of producing good food, then I doubt there is a fix for that.

            1. re: menton1

              "You express your displeasure by not returning'
              mention 1 ...
              Very often I express my displeasure by speaking to the Server or if necessary, mgmt
              Contrary to the beliefs of some, many food/service issues are miscues or misunderstandings. If patrons never point out problems to mgmt/staff. they may well think they're doing a good job/ After all, (Hopefully) No one does a poor job on purpose and no mgmt wants unhappy customers, especially if they are owners. Not saying anything at all, rewarding a bad Server with a 20% tip and then venting by posting a highly critical review does nothing to improve the quality of local eateries.
              You better believe I'm not inhaling disinfectant spray witjout saying something!.

              1. re: Tay

                You seem to be bringing in details from the original thread that do not necessarily apply to posters of this thread (eg. 20% tip).

                1. re: dump123456789

                  "You seem to be bringing in details from the original thread that do not necessarily apply to posters of this thread (eg. 20% tip)."

                  True

        2. Takes a lot of energy to whine, a lot less not to go there again.

          1. I always say something in a respectful manner rather than stay silent or complain on yelp like a coward. Anyone in the service industry that does not have their head up their ass appreciates constructive criticism. face-to-face.

            7 Replies
            1. re: cookingasshole

              I agree. Anyone in retail would like to know when they aren't meeting customers expectations. I usually tell someone (in person, via-email, or even old fashioned snail mail which I've found works the best) if something falls short. If its clearly wait-staff that is the problem I tip less and wait staff almost always knows when they screwed something up.

              I usually say something on my way out the door as I don't want to appear as one of those people who are just looking to get something comped; and there are a lot of them out there.

              That said, if someone doesn't want to say something and simply not return that is their prerogative. But good retailers would want to know.

              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                When you say snail mail "works the best", what do you mean? Do you mean restaurants have improved more when you've sent snail mail than when you've spoken in person or via email? What barometer are you using to judge this?

              2. re: cookingasshole

                I won't do either. I just don't go back again. And actually, almost every single time I have read a post here on CH where someone wrote of speaking to management about a poor experience, it was not welcomed with open arms by said management. IMO, it only has the big potential for making an already unpleasant experience even MORE unpleasant than it already was.

                1. re: flourgirl

                  The attitude one projects is typically met in kind. Acting like a dick accomplishes nothing but a pleasant demeanor encourages proper discourse and issue resolution, in my experience.

                  1. re: cookingasshole

                    In your experience how has poor service or food been "resolved" by your demeanor and discourse?

                    1. re: cookingasshole

                      I don't think it's valid to draw the conclusion that every time management is less than thrilled with being on the receiving end of "constructive criticism" that it's because the customer acted like a "dick".

                  2. re: cookingasshole

                    Anyone in the service industry that does not have their head up their ass realizes that not all customers will be direct (or constructive) with their criticism. It's part of the service provider's job/responsibility to deal with that, not the other way around.

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                    1. The original comment has been removed