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Jan 4, 2013 08:56 AM

Restaurant Pet Peeve

I've noticed something that has been occuring recently; mostly in Diners. You don't get everything in a particular item that's listed on the menu. For example, I have 2 diners that are very close to where I live. Many times I'll order off the menu I have at home and pick up the food to bring home. I'll order a deluxe cheeseburger or a Happy Waitress special and upon arriving home I'll discover that the cole slaw and pickle were not included. I haven't gone back to get them, but I have called to let them know. I've been told at the 2 diners I frequent that you have to request the pickle and cole slaw because many people don't eat them and they would rather not waste food. My point is why should I have to request something that is printed on the menu that any reasonable person would expect to receive?

I've complained about this practice and one of the diners now have "cole slaw and pickle available on request." So at least I know I have to request it. The other diner won't do this even though I've suggested it. The woman who owns it tells me that now I know, I should just request it when I order. So now when I order I sarcastically ask for the Happy Waitress Special and ask for the grilled cheese sandwich, fries, and cole slaw and pickle to be included.

Along the same lines is when something is added that is not requested or mentioned on the menu. A pizzeria/sub shop near me has the sub combinations listed. On the menu it says "all sandwiches will include lettuce, tomato, onions, oil, and vinegar." I ordered a sub without onions. Upon arriving home I discovered that the onions were left off as requested, but that there was mayonaise included. I don't like mayo on a sub and called the place and asked why it was included when it wasn't mentioned on the menu. I was told "you should have requested that it be left off like you did the onions." But onions were listed on the menu, mayo was not. So next time I guess I should tell them to leave off onions, mayo, and maybe peanut butter since it's not on the menu either, but I wouldn't want it on my sub.

A small issue to be sure, but one that irritates me. More so than the minor inconvenience is the inability of the people I've talked to to get my point. Except for the diner that actually changed their menu to read "available on request." I'd be interested to get your thoughts. My wife thinks I'm overreacting. I don't think so.

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  1. Meh. Minor issue and I am with your wife.

    When ordering take out I always specify exactly what I want. Remember that movie with Joe Pesci? "they f*ck you at the drive thru". I'd rather be specific than get home and be disappointed.

    5 Replies
    1. re: foodieX2

      Yeah, I know to be specific now, but wouldn't you agree that most people who order takeout would expect that something listed in the selection would be included? It's just common sense. If the menu reads "Cheeseburger Deluxe: 8 ounce burger with lettuce and tomato, french fries, cole slaw and pickle" that you can reasonably expect all to be included in the bag when you get home?

      1. re: hotdoglover

        When ordering takeout I never assume anything. Errors are easily rectified when dining in but not once one is home. How hard is is it to say "I'll have the cheese burger deluxe, please, with lettuce, tomato, fries, slaw and a pickle" or "I'll have the cheeseburger deluxe, please. That comes with xyz correct?"

        My only exception are the high end local places we love. On the times we want their food at home I know I will bet what I want because they don't regularly do take out. Plus they know us and we usually don't even have tell them what we want...

        And as far as the "common sense" aspect I disagree. Menus change, severs turn over, new mgt takes overs, etc etc etc. why not control your own destiny?

        1. re: foodieX2


          It's not hard at all to say "I'll have the cheese burger deluxe, please, with lettuce, tomato, fries, slaw and a pickle" or "I'll have the cheeseburger deluxe, please. That comes with xyz correct?" In fact, I just did it today before I posted. My point is that I shouldn't have to request something that is already on the menu when I order it. Menus change, owners change, but is it too much to ask that these places are a little more forthright? If they feel that food is wasted, why can't they do what the one diner did and mention "available upon request?" If they are that concerned about waste, either mention that it's available upon request, or don't offer it. It's misleading at the least and dishonest at the worst. These diners should cater to the customer, not the other way around. Customers should not have to be mindreaders or "understand" policies like this.

          1. re: hotdoglover

            Life is WAY to short for me to worry about this stuff.

            I am sorry that you feel these type of places that you are frequenting are doing this on purpose with the intention of misleading you and with intended dishonesty. If that is truly the case I would like to think they won't be in business long.

            If you don't want to be the one in control of your order by ordering exactly what you want than maybe it would help to find a place or two you really like and become a regular. Most small, local places especially places that live and die by regulars and take out want you to be happy. Get to know the owners and/or staff. Frequent them often. Vote with your dollars. I find the more I get know a know a place they more I get in return.

            There is nothing better than knowing that when I call my favorite local
            Thai place they always say "and no green peppers right?".

        2. re: hotdoglover

          <It's just common sense>

          This is the mistake you're making....never assume everyone out there has it or that they're practicing it... especially in the city I live in :).
          I automatically now assume nobody's got it and I'm much more relaxed about things like you're talking about. Be specific and ask for what you want.

      2. My feelings on the matter are quite similar to yours. While the coleslaw/pickle issue doesn't bother me much (as I am one who doesn't usually eat them), I do get upset when something is not as described.
        I've ordered burgers in places where mayo was not in the description, but it showed up on the burger.
        It's not at all unreasonable to expect what is listed in the menu to be on your plate.

        1. check what you should get when you order the food, and check your order when picking it up.

          no issue, no problem, everyone happy.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Maximilien

            While a sensible idea to check before you leave the restaurant with your meal, it isn't always so easy to pull everything out of the bag and open or unwrap the food, especially in places where the pickup area is crowded or just not roomy enough. Why can't people just do their jobs (sigh)?

            1. re: juliemoose

              Because that would be too much to ask. And if you pointed out a mistake, somebody might get their feelings hurt.

          2. Genrally speaking, I'd expect to get what's advertised or the place telling me, say, that they run out of slaw.

            I'm with the diner that now has the "on request". As for irritation, I'm also with the OP's wife. Life's too short to get irritated about a burger.

            16 Replies
            1. re: Harters

              I usually check my order. I can go to a drive in and request something simple, but I check to see if the order is right. But when I come in to the Diner and the woman at the counter says "Happy Waitress Special" I just assume that I'm getting what I ordered and not a Chef's Salad. Believe me, I check my orders now. But some of you seem to miss the point. It's not about being irritated over a burger. Or even screwing up an order. I can tolerate mistakes. I just feel it's misleading when a place knowingly does not give you what they advertised and doesnt have the courtesy to tell you. Yeah, many, if not most people may waste the cole slaw. But what about those who enjoy it and are expecting it. Is it fair to them to deprive them of at least knowing that it won't be included unless they ask? Why should the burden be on the customer? You say that the customer should go through the whole thing of verifying what they ordered and making sure it is included. Why can't the diner (which is considered a service industry) take the time to say "you ordered the cheeseburger deluxe. There is lettuce, tomato, fries, and would you like cole slaw?"

              1. re: hotdoglover

                No problem and they should do that, I agree. But if they don't why not take control yourself? Really, not being snarky.

                I would rather order my food, specify exactly what I want (if they don't) than to get there, unpack the whole thing to its correct and then have to wait even longer to get it right.

                1. re: hotdoglover

                  If it doesn't arrive on my plate and I'm expecting it, I ask for it. I'd miss the slaw & pickle if it wasn't there and I was especially fond of the diners version. I don't see the problem asking for it if the items don't arrive...and if they aren't included asking why and then deciding if I still want both even upsell.

                  Bottom line, I'm not going to ruin my meal over life's complex mystery. I'd rather dig into the burger!

                  1. re: HillJ

                    that is if they decide to include the burger and not change it to a chicken breast because they found that half the burger was being thrown out and that was a waste.of food. oh, and the fries? well, since the fries went with the burger and since the burger is no longer on the bun, well, then, you don't need fries. you were expecting a bun? with a chicken breast? don't you know that the carb-conscious definitely chuck the buns so, in order to prevent additional waste, no bun.

                    enjoy your burger-free, bun-free, fry-free burger and fries!

                    1. re: Vidute


                      And at what point do you say to yourself, the guy around the corner deserves my business, not this place.
                      As customers, we ask, we receive or we move on down the road....

                      1. re: HillJ

                        if i am not being given what was advertised, what i ordered, what i PAID for, i am being cheated/stolen from. imagine how the business owner would react if i decided to pay an arbitrary price for goods i received. i'd be wearing a nice pair of bracelets.

                        i'd move on if the owner refused to his deceptive business practices and "upon request" is deceptive, imho, because you are paying for something that is advertised as part of the menu item but the item is not automatically included.

                        no matter how good the food, it doesn't overpower the bad taste left by these practices.

                        1. re: Vidute

                          However, the devil is in the details, yes. Are you the type of paying customer that assumes a change made or missing item on the plate you ordered is automatically deliberate and deceptive on the part of the business or do you ask why the meal did not arrive as advertised? Do you then ask for what was advertised or stew silently? Do you ask for a replacement entree or an adjustment to the price since the entree is different than advertised? How involved as a paying customer do you get?

                          As I said, I ask. I ask. I ask. And if the answer isn't to my liking I deal with that too.

                          But what I don't do is assume the error is deliberate. Mistakes get made, food orders are often relying on what was delivered to the restaurant that week/day/etc. Servers make mistakes. We read things wrong, etc.

                          Granted we want what we want when we really really want it. I look forward to every meal..but, I'm not going to fret over stuff that just takes away from the pleasure. I deal and move the next meal.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            my response was based on the op's situation in which he did ask and the owners' responses were basically you get what we give you not what we advertise and if you don't like it, too bad. pay up.

                            yes, most of the time the side dish is accidentally forgotten, or the kitchen mistakenly adds onions to your salad when you requested no onions, but when ingredient changes, substitutions, or omissions are done without your approval and without reasonable cause/explanation when questioned, then that is deliberate.

                            1. re: Vidute

                              my apologies for the overuse of the word, you. it wasn't my intention to single you out in reply.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                english is so inadequate at times, no distinction between the singular you and the plural you. however, we do have the singular ewe and the plural ewes. although, fish is another kettle.

                                should i infer anything in your lower-case reply as your other posts, here, have used standard case? ;)

                                apologies accepted. :)

                                1. re: Vidute

                                  just laziness on my part
                                  multi-tasking at my age takes an army :)

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    i'll have to remember to respect my elder! ;)

                                    1. re: Vidute

                                      It's okay to call me a dinosaur, Vidute. I won't be offended. I wear my lines proudly!

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        i was dating to a little further back....primordial soup, anyone? :P

                                        fyi, i'm no spring chicken myself. :)

                                        1. re: Vidute

                                          you're fun, Vidute. Thanks for the giggle.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            thank you, HillJ. i can rest, now. every day i set a goal for myself to make someone smile or laugh. :)

              2. I am not sure that the world will run with you but I am in total agreement with your statement. If I owned a sub shop or a diner or a business of any sort that catered to the public, I would certainly listen to a comment like yours. I DO work in the spa industry and our top priority is to give the customers above and beyond what was expected. We order take out for lunches from private restaurateurs as well as burger joints and if the deal was "served with a pickle" we will call and have them send someone down with a pickle on a platter if need be. Yes, we throw a lot of food away but the customer paid for it. They can decide whether their appetite warrants the full portion or not. I say, if you want to attract business by putting something on your menu and people bite, you'd better have not only the promised items, but a smile, a thank you for your business and an "is there anything else you need?" in there somewhere. But "customer service" has been reversed like so many other things today and it is now the customer who must serve. Not everywhere, but it's a growing problem in every arena.

                6 Replies
                1. re: tracyscookin

                  Well said Tracy! At least someone gets what I'm trying to say. The fact that it's a minor issue is not the point here. If it bothered me as much as some here assume, I wouldn't go back. But I like the food, convenience, and the people who own these diners; especially the woman who refuses to change her policy. See, I have interacted with her and know she is a wonderful person, and in my opinion does not fully understand what I'm trying to convey. The reason for my post was to find out if those of you (Chowhound readers and posters) feel the way I do. A matter of curiosity. Thanks all for your opinions.

                  1. re: hotdoglover

                    I totally agree with you. I think people are missing your point.

                    1. re: hotdoglover

                      I get ya. I'm picky, and if something is listed as being included, I can just ask to have it held off. If it isn't listed, how am I to know? Knowing the general ingredients in things, I do know to ask before ordering some things, but add-ins and condiments vary by restaurant, so I might now know. And if I'm on vacation, it's not like it make sense to note it for future reference.

                      1. re: hotdoglover

                        Your reason for asking was not lost on me, hotdoglover. Not at all. What wasn't coming across for me was how well you conveyed what you wanted after it arrived to your dissatisfaction. My impression was you didn't believe you should have to ask. That it's THEIR job to know and to deliver as advertised. My only counterpoint was to offer the suggestion that you speak up. As the customer it is also your right to do so. Then, corrections have a chance.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          But it is their job to deliver what they advertise. That is their reason to exist. If the menu item description says, #13. cheeseburger served with fries, coleslaw and pickle, and that's what I order, I should never, ever have to say, "I will have #13. Cheeseburger, fries, including coleslaw and pickle." Not if the menu describes it as included. That business owner needs to revise her description of what she is selling (and what you are paying for).

                        2. re: hotdoglover

                          i totally don't agree with you.
                          1) whenever i order i completely specify what i want. on the VERY rare occasionions i get take out i check that everything is in the bag before i leave.
                          taking on a little personal responsibility makes life a lot easier.
                          2) i am a REGULAR in most of the restaurants i like. i have a regular rotation and favorite dishes in each restaurant.
                          at this point, almost all the restaurants i go to know when i walk in the door how i want my food and/or my martini prepared.