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Do you expect a comp? [moved from General Topics]

About 3 months ago, we ate at a fine dining restaurant in town for a special occasion. Many things went wrong with both service and food, and our bill was not rung up properly either. Rather than spoil the evening out, we tried to make the best of it but left unhappy. We have a pretty small child and rarely go out for such dinners, and with the cost of the dinner and the sitter, it was a let down. I sent an email to the manager afterwards to let him know what had happened. I like this place and have recommended it to many people via word of mouth and online. He emailed me back and we set up a time for him to call me. He apologized and we went over the various things that happened. He offered to have us come in again so they could "take care of dinner for us" and I said I didn't write with that intent, and besides we might not get out again for a long time. He said no bother, the offer stands and at least let us buy you drinks or dessert or something, let me know when you are going to return and just keep my email and respond to it whenever you're coming back.

I responded to his original email earlier this week and said we have another chance to go out, asked if it would be possible for us to return on Friday. He called me and said absolutely, we'd love to have you return and he made the reservation for us himself.

The meal was much better. Food was good, etc. Service was still slow but not awful.

I sort of expected at the very least that the guy would come by and say hi and check to see how things were going, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, that we might be offered a drink or dessert like we discussed on the phone. Nothing. We didn't see anyone that looked like they could be the guy I talked to on the phone (all women at the front/hostess stand, nobody in the dining room that looked like a manager). I suppose I could have gone to the hostess stand and ASKED to talk to so and so "just to say hello" but I don't think I should have had to do that.

I know my fellow hounds will give it to me straight. TECHNICALLY, no, I know we shouldn't have "expected" anything, but we were just treated like any other guest and I thought at least that we would get someone coming by and thanking us for giving them another chance.

I emailed him to follow up when we got home. I just said "thanks for making the reservation, the dinner was much better" and he just responded with a simple reply like "glad it was better for you!"

Would you have expected something extra?

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  1. Absolutely not. Sorry you were treated "just treated like any other guest."

    1. Yes if he said it I would expect it. Maybe, if it was a while ago, this was a new manager? Who is a woman? Hard to tell through emails unfortunately.

      1 Reply
      1. re: coll

        It was not a new manager. It was 4 months ago and the same person who emailed me after the original incident is who I emailed and who then called me to make my new reservation.

      2. I'm really impressed that the restaurant not only rang to discuss the matter but offered a full comp.

        That said, if the experience had been that bad for them to apologise in such a generous way, I wouldnt have ever gone through their door again - not even for a freebie.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Harters

          Well, we had been there once before and also had some service problems the first time, but the food was very good so we decided to go back. That's when we had all of the larger problems. This is a very popular and well-rated restaurant in town and the only one that serves this particular type of cuisine in town, so we decided to give it another shot since the manager had been so nice and had offered to buy us drinks or dessert.

        2. I'm confused by your post. Did you receive a comp drink, dessert or did you pay for your whole dinner? If it was comp but the guy didn't come by to see you I would consider that no big deal.

          5 Replies
          1. re: escondido123

            We did not receive anything comp'd nor even a stop-by from the manager to say hello.

            1. re: escondido123

              I can see why the OP is a disappointed. There had been a good indication that there was going to be a comp - at least drinks or dessert. The OP would have had a reasonable expectation that the restaurant would actually honour its offer.

              Perhaps there was just a simple error of circumstances. You know, the manager guy intended to take care of things on the night, having made the reservation, but was off sick, been fired, abducted by aliens or whatever other reason caused him to be not around that night.

              1. re: Harters

                If the manager had invited me, I would have asked for the manager when I came in. Places get busy and people forget--or there was another reason like H said--but I would not have sat and paid for another dinner that I expected to be comped.

                1. re: escondido123

                  Good point. I think I might have said something on arrival - like, maybe, " Hi. Mr X made a reservation for me. Is he around so I can say thanks?"

                  1. re: Harters

                    That's a good point. If I'm ever in that situation again, that's how I'll approach it.

                    On the other hand, I did acknowledge that we had come and eaten there in my follow-up email, and he didn't say anything like oh, did they take care of you or get you that dessert or whatever?

            2. When I have an experience like you had I immediately go to their web site and send them an Email. I have always received a phone call and a GC to cover the meal. They want you back and that is a very inexpensive way to get you back. The manager was, unfortunately, not too bright. i would not be returning there again too soon. I would have asked for the manager and asked him what he meant by "take care of dinner for us", and then explain what it meant to you. If you like the restaurant that much I would give him a call, if not forget it and chalk it up to another place not to bother going to.

              1. You bet I would have expected something extra...if not a complete comp, at least drinks, dessert or something. You took the time to send an email to the manager and to speak with him regarding your experience. And...he did offer to "take care of dinner" for you. What is that if not a promise to comp you for dinner? And to not even stop by your table...! The guy is a dishonorable jerk who doesn't keep promises, and didn't have the integrity to acknowledge it when you reminded him with the "thanks for making the reservation" email.

                I have only rarely accepted an offer of a comped meal...usually if the experience is so bad, I don't want to return. But there have been a few occasions when a good restaurant has had a terribly off night and I have accepted an invitation to return. Always I have been welcomed back with an extra effort to "make things right", been fully comped, and left the restaurant with the servers grinning from ear-to-ear because in this circumstance I have usually tipped ~40% what the meal would have cost.

                Under the circumstances, of course you should have expected something. I would never return there again!

                1. If you were offered a full meal, and received nothing, you should not return to that restaurant. In general, when I have an experience as bad as your first one there, I don't return. I just assume they aren't competent enough to make dining there enjoyable. It's part of life. Eat somewhere else the next time you have the chance to go out.

                  1. If I were due a "comp" for every time something went "wrong" with service or food or the bill, I would eat free for the remainder of my life.
                    It's not a perfect world. Move on.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: pikawicca

                      That the management said to come back so they could "take care of dinner for us" is ambiguous. Management was thinking better service, food, and billing than last time. Customer heard "free meal". Poor communication.

                      And 3 months later? Does this liability carry forward to the next quarter's balance sheet?

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Maybe so, but when a person is responding to communication about a less-than-satisfactory experience, that is not the time to have poor communication. The manager should have been clear and at the very least, stopped by to check in with them or have someone else do so on his behalf if he was not present.

                        1. re: jlhinwa

                          Sometimes poor communication results from poor articulation and poor/ wishful listening.

                    2. When things go wrong, I do not expect a comp. However, I do contact the restaurant and outline my issues. In several cases, we have received comps, but do not think that I have ever used one. My intent is to express my issues, and hope that the restaurant will correct them.

                      When thing go wrong in the service, I whisper to the server, and expect replacements, that are OK. I do not expect comps, but have received them. I tip even better, when things are corrected.

                      Hunt