I'll never come back here, and this is why
Okay, it was a bad experience.
Maybe the food was bad, the service was bad AND there were other problems.
In the heat of the moment, as you are grabbing purses or children in your haste to Just Get Out, Do you tell the manager?
Do you go home and write corporate or Yelp (or ChowHound?) about your horror story?
Does the restaurant get a chance to know the error(s) of their ways?
I think it is unfortunate when a person runs out the door without giving the restaurant or manager a chance to correct or make up for a mistake. When I have a serious issue with a restaurant experience, here is what I do. I pay the bill and tip accordingly (if the service was the major problem, the tip reflects that, but if the food or some other thing was the issue, the good tip is unaffected.) I then calmly go find a manager and have a polite conversation. In the few instances I've had to do this, I have assured the manager that I paid the bill and tipped, and I don't expect my money back, but that I want them to know of the problem so that they can correct it. In every instance, the manager I've spoken to has listened, responded apologetically, and done everything in his or her power to make it right. In almost every circumstance, the manager has apologized, thanked me for coming for a polite conversation, and has written me a generous gift certificate on the spot, encouraging me to give the establishment a second chance. In those few instances, I have gone back and have had good experiences.
re: Kris in Beijing
Yea, that can happen sometimes. Honestly, I was assuming we were talking here about a single-entity restaurant where the managers and workers have more at stake and may be under the watchful eye of the owner, and where reputation is their best form of advertising. When we move into the chain restaurant situation, we are talking an entirely different ballgame!
If the service and food are really bad, there reaches a point where I just want to get out - I don't want to linger in the restaurant for the time it would take to complain, or hear excuses. If the experience is bad enough, I don't even want a gift certificate, because I wouldn't set foot in it again even if they paid me.
I would, however, bring up issues as they arose, as appropriate. So if there was an excessive wait for service, I'd track down the server, if the order is wrong or the food under/over cooked, I'll bring it up, if they forget someone's dinner I'll remind them. That's their change to apologize or make amends.
And, my story that prompted the question:
I've been subscribed to a franchise sit down chain's mailing list for years. One Beijing location was a family tradition after visiting the English Language bookstore.
Used to be, I'd get an email in my birthday month reminding me to drop by for a B1G1 entree. Now, marketing has changed and there are offers and pictures at least monthly. And coupons, with lots of fine print.
I was emailed a coupon $10 off $25 or more, excluding the current advertising blitz combo/set meals.
My frequent restaurant partner and I went around 4pm; several servers beginning evening shift, few patrons.
We ordered carefully around the limitations, got an appetizer I'd previously thought interesting but had never tried, up-sized on the steak weight, added salad, and up-Sided to get a "specialty side." We also both ordered soda, not water (dining partner pretty much only drinks water).
Thus, the coupon 1) brought us in 2) encouraged us to over-order by no less than 40%. IT DID ITS JOB. Successful marketing.
Drinks came. Refills were slow. I made eye contact with the bartender, who did a good job alerting our server; he breezed by and promised refills, dropping off bread.
Appetizers delivered by staff; empty glasses noted By Staff.
I make eye contact with Person Who Is Probably the Shift Manager. He brings us refills.
Food comes-- where's that up-Side? --can we have more soda-and water too?
PWIPtSM asks if we "Still want that thing?" I decline.
No soda, no water.
Bill comes, unrequested.
Oh, I apologize, when the server returns for the pleatherette sleeve containing the bill, we have a coupon and the up-Side is listed on the bill.
I hand over my device, opened to the coupon.
Server is miffed -- coupons must be printed, he can't do the discount. I show him the screen-- it doesn't say it has to be printed.
I ask about adjusting for the up-Side.
He gets the PWIPtSM. I ask about the coupon and the up-Side. The PWIPtSM leaves with my bill and Makes a Phone Call from the bar.
Returns and haughtily tells me coupons must be printed, even though they just type the barcode into the register (why does he tell me this?)
I pay for it all (yes, even the up-Side), plus minimum 16% tip.
As we're leaving, the gaggle of girls at the front wish me a good evening and happy returns. I tell them thanks, but I won't be back. They look stunned.
I know it's not the worst tale in the world-- and by far not my worst. Maybe I got a first time PWIPtSM who didn't know how to make adjustments on the register? Was I one of those horrid Coupon-Customers?
re: Kris in Beijing
Want to second that one should always advise of coupon before service.
So you showed them an online image of the coupon? Why would you think it should have to say "Must be Printed"? Maybe if you offered to leave your device so they would have a 'hard copy' of coupon for the till...
Finally, you note that the bill came "unrequested" like that's a bad thing. That may be my single most frequent complaint when dining, having to request bill.
re: Kris in Beijing
Have you used a soft coupon at this chain before? I know that Groupon uses them, but I don't assume everybody does.
My most recent terrible service experience like this was at a place that chowhounds LOVE. I haven't posted about it because it was obviously a one-off and I would simply be ranting to an unfriendly crowd. Nor did I "give management a chance to rectify" since my server was very well aware I was unhappy and understood why. She offered me free coffee. The last thing a still-hungry and angry diner needs is coffee.
This. Too many other places to try. But I might be willing to give a restaurant a second chance if I could be the reason for the bad experience (tired, irrationally bitchy, not feeling well, poor dining companions, etc.) or if time has passed and other Chowhound's report experiences are vastly different from mine.
Yes, and if they are not readily available, I communicate with them via telephone, letter, or e-mail. If they have not resolution, then I usually publish the most objective review possible, though I seldom mention that in any correspondence, as I want first, to hear their "side of my story."