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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?

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  1. 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.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jljohn

      And in my personal example, I was attempting to deal with the manager : )

      1. 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!

      2. re: jljohn

        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.

      3. I tell the wait staff to bring me the manager, then I tell the manager the problem(s).

        1. 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?

          7 Replies
          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            I'm not going to comment on your service issues but one thing I have learned reading threads about coupons is that you always tell your server you will be using a coupon BEFORE you even order, maybe as early as when being seated.

            1. 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.

              1. re: FrankJBN

                I've found, especially when traveling in Asia, that it is considered somewhat disrespectful to bring the bill without being asked. This may be something that is simply held over from very high-end dining, but it is something I was always aware of.

                1. re: Midlife

                  95% of restaurants in Japan will bring you the bill without being asked. They'll just lay it face down on your table or in a holder, and then you take it with you and pay on the way out. I don't know where you get your generalizations.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    Wasn't generalizing. I was recounting my own experience. There's a difference.

              2. 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.

                1. re: julesrules

                  A "sister" restaurant explicitly states in emails that you can "just show your server this code." That was my error.

                1. re: GH1618

                  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.

                  1. re: viperlush

                    Seriously doubt that we Ch'ers will comment favorably on a sit down franchise chain restaurant, as much as we like to pontificate about our food choices.

                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      Sure we do, have you been to the Chains Board?

                2. 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."


                  1 Reply
                  1. Every business has a bad day, if you're unlucky to be there on that day, especially if it's your first visit, your experience could suck. If you don't get a good feeling, don't go back, but really, you shouldn't post a review online for one bad meal. This is where Yelp, etc. goes bad. You're under no obligation to go back, but cripes, it could have been your taste buds that were off, or a waiter with a behavioral health disorder that went weird that day, or YOUR behavioral health disorder that went weird that day. My mother was the queen of that, she'd go to a restaurant that we'd been going to for at least 20 years, and come out and say "Well, THAT place has gone down the tubes!" Meanwhi8le she's been dead for eight years and most of those restaurants continue to thrive.
                    If something is offensive to you, talk to the manager. If the manager isn't interested, well, then you have to figure out if you're complaining ridiculously, or if the manager's an asshole. But unless it's positive, I don't recommend judging a restaurant on one meal. You could end up looking like one of those people for whom the whole world doesn't quite measure up to your lofty expectations. And you don't want to be that guy.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: EWSflash

                      My question was and is: what do other people do? Do they walk and boycott? Do they Really go talk to the manager? How many follow by posting online on Yelp? How many contact Corporate?

                      I posted my particular experience separate from the query in order to try to keep details of my story from interfering with my question. And I left out the restaurant's name because I wanted to know what people Do, not get sympathetic horror stories or slammed by supporters.

                      I used to dine with a "the free water isn't cold enough" lady so I can offer sympathy about your mom's attitudes!

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        My grandmother always said "You only have one first chance to make a good impression!". Why go back when the first time was unfavorable? With so many restaurants, why would I throw good money after bad? I just gave In and Out a third try because a friend wanted to go and will never go back.

                      2. re: EWSflash

                        Restaurants can't rely on getting a second chance and I don't think anyone should be expected to give a restaurant multiple tries before giving it a review, bad or good. Sure, every business has a bad day but that doesn't mean I, as a paying customer, should give them a free pass if I have a bad experience. If I have a bad experience, I'm not going to waste hard earned money trying it again on the off chance that it could be better (obviously, if there were redeeming parts of the first experience, or the manager seems receptive to my concerns, or if I have a feeling they're just having a bad day, then that's different). And I'll leave a review online if I feel my experience could be helpful for someone else. It's easy to skim through reviews on Yelp and see which people are "one one of those people for whom the whole world doesn't quite measure up to [their] lofty expectations"- the reviews aren't specific ("it sucked") or rate a place 2 stars based on just one complaint, etc.

                        1. re: tinnywatty

                          I wasn't suggesting that you had any kind of obligation to try a restaurant again after a bad experience, I was just saying it may not be fair to go blasting away on Yelp about how bad it was based on one visit. If the waiter gave you a wedgie on the way out, that's something that the manager should hear about, and if the manager laughs when you tell him, by all means leave an online review about that.

                      3. >>>
                        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?

                        Just yesterday I called the manager of a restaurant to tell her I was "going away mad." I gave then several last chances, but they kept screwing up. I calmly outlined some of the latest screw-ups. She agreed my complaints were valid and thanked me for my input.

                        There are many restaurants in my area to waste time and money on bad food and/or service.

                        1. No, I typically don't say anything to the manager. In at least one case I can remember, my encounter with the manager (after attempting to send back inedible food in a low-key manner so I could continue enjoying my meal) was my reason for not going back.

                          I like trying new places. The only reason I return to a restaurant is usually that my memory of the food is so compelling that I must go back. An experience that was less than pleasant in any way generally means I won't be back. There's a practically unlimited supply of new places to try in this area ... so there's no need at all to settle.

                          1. It all depends...

                            Everybody has a bad day -- even an entire restaurant. There are days when no matter how hard the team tries, the wheels fall off, and the whole service just ends up in the ditch.

                            Then there's just gross incompetence and apathy.

                            If it's the former, I try to be understanding -- sometimes I say something to the manager, sometimes I'm loathe to pile one more complaint on his/her head!

                            If it's the latter (indicated by attitudes, usually) -- we just leave and put it under "Never Again".

                            1. I communicate with the manager, but if the place is busy I don't do it that day; if he/she is too frenzied my message might not be heard or might not be well received. Also, depending on how exasperating a situation it was I might not be the most gracious person in communicating it.

                              I used to assistant-manage a bookstore, and we always welcomed this sort of communication. If we don't know, we can't fix it, was our thinking.