HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Manager's Handling of Minor Problem

Some years ago a friend and I used to go to a chain restaurant for our weekly lunches. They had a nice appetizer selection so we'd get 3-4 and a dessert—actually a little more expensive than an appie, 2 mains and dessert—but we got a variety and were happy.

The last time we were there the waitress forgot to ring in our order. When we told her to go ahead with it, she again apologized and said that they'd be comping our drinks (just a couple of pops).

As we were having dessert, a manager came by and dropped a coupon on our table with a "Here." It was for $5 off a subsequent visit with a minimum purchase that was a little higher than what we usually spent.

We saw that this was in lieu of the comped drinks and when we asked our waitress about it she said, obviously embarrassed, that the manager had decided this was more appropriate.

This got my Scorpio up and I got really annoyed, to the extent that when she came to get our payment I handed her back the coupon with a "We won't be coming back so you just hold on to this."

Now to be clear: we were NOT expecting anything for the delay. We were pleasantly surprised when the waitress offered. And I'll admit that I overreacted (I was going through a bad time and was overly emotional) but I'd like to know what people think of the manager's actions and how he handled the (what had been a really minor) situation.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would have told the manager "our server told us she was comping our drinks since she forgot to put the order in. Is this a little something extra?" Maybe she didn't tell the manager she had already offered you a comp.

    2 Replies
    1. re: boogiebaby

      You're right, this is exactly what I should have said, had I been thinking clearly.

      1. re: boogiebaby

        she also may have not told the manager the truth about forgetting to send your order.

      2. imho, if the manager knew what the waitress had promised, and then decided not to comp the beverages, the guy was a real dummy.

        either he didn't think it though before he made his move or he didn't have the capacity to think it through.

        in any case, he risked and lost regular customers--a sin in the restaurant business.
        it's bad enough to lose regulars for the normal reasons.
        to lose them over something like this is really stupid.

        possibly the waitress overstepped when she said the beverages would be comped, but the manager should have backed her up on this even if it was a misstep.

        the variable food cost of two pops to a restaurant is miniscule.
        good regular customers (ones who order full meals and tip appropriately), on the other hand, are priceless.

        1. As you said the minimum for the coupon was ' a little higher' than your normal meal, thus probably 5 off 25 or more, l am guessing here. This seems like a more generous offer than the a few sodas as perhaps the manager had not seen the extent of your check that day and thought he was doing you a favor.
          Regardless, life is short, you really won't go back to a restaurant you obviously like for a dollar or two ? Wow.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            i've seen good-paying, and good-tipping, customers lost for less.
            once i saw a customer lost because the customer, having ordered a full meal including beverage and dessert, was charged an up-charge for some additional sauce and he got so irritated that he never returned.

            i absolutely agree with Delucacheesemonger that if i were the person in your position, i would have shined it on.
            but as a person who has managed restaurants (a grueling and thankless job), i understood that one of the main components of my job was to keep the regular good-paying and good-tipping customers happy enough to come back again and again.

            if you have to throw a couple of soda pops at the problem to make it ok, so be it.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              I already admitted that I overreacted. I'm sure I would have gotten over it and returned but the location closed down shortly afterwards.

              The $5 was actually less than the cost of the drinks and because we would have had to purchase more than usual in order to meet the minimum, it would either have had no effect or ended up costing us money.

              1. re: Jasz

                maybe the schadenfreude you can derive from the closing of the restaurant will compensate you enough?

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Oh it certainly did!

                    Plus, we ended up trying new restaurants.

              2. Wow. From the OP, this happened "some years ago". It must really have struck a chord with Jasz for her/him to be raising it on an internet discussion board so long after.

                In spite of the manager being less than gracious in attitude, it looks to me that the coupon was a more generous compensation offered to customers who were regulars, than just a comp of the drinks.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Harters

                  My sister's customer service comment triggered the memory—I've not holding a grudge :)

                  And as I said, the coupon was actually worth less than the drinks would have been and might have ended up costing us money.

                2. Most likely I would've said, "Oh, okay, thanks."


                  1. "And I'll admit that I overreacted (I was going through a bad time and was overly emotional)"

                    By your over reaction do you mean by saying you wouldn't be back? Or is there more to this story and your reaction than you are supplying us with? (I'm sorry I couldn't resist to ask)

                    Unless you did freak out in a big way...then the manager was just a dope.

                    I remember being in a similar situation for dinner a many years ago. Incredibly slow service.....we complained to the manager who eventually got our meals out to us, circumventing the salads we had ordered. While I thanked him for getting our entree's but pointed out we never received our salads....he walked away very embarrassed. He came back about 2/3 minutes later with two glasses of white wine and placed it on the table proudly stating "These are on the house for our mistake". I smiled and said thank you.....but I'm drinking a Martini and my wife is pregnant (obviously so) and not even drinking tonight.

                    That pretty much just frustrated him for the rest of the night. lol

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        Oh no, no scene—I leave that to others of my family ;)

                        By overreacted I just mean the way I let myself get so annoyed over such a small thing and, as you said, the snap decision to not return.

                        I've encountered the wine thing too, most often for a long wait to be seated, and need to decline (I usually don't drink as I'm the one driving)—it would be nice if they then offered whatever it was that you were drinking, within reason of course (I'm just thinking soft drink on my part).

                        1. re: Jasz

                          I think you did the right thing at the time. You were able to live with the resolution, even though it did give you a good story to tell years later. You did not make such a big deal out of it that the waitress, who appears to have been an OK sort, got into major trouble for promising more than her chintzy manager was willing to give. And you were one tiny straw in the pile that eventually broke that camel's back.

                      2. probably not germane, but when you say "a couple of pops" do you mean sodas or do you mean alcoholic drinks? just curious, i'm from ohio, where carbonated soft drinks are pop (i understand elsewhere all carbonated soft drinks are cokes). and in massachusetts, it's soda. but in mass, you can go out for a couple of pops. and that means drinks.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: eLizard

                          I meant soft drinks, Coke and Diet Coke if I remember correctly.

                        2. In many cases the servers are given a comp tab, in some cases it has to be approved by the manager. I'm guessing that this particular server tended to over-comp and the manager wouldn't approve this one, in which case the server would end up eating the cost (sometimes the direct cost, sometimes the retail price.) It gets complicated to say the least. If the server was expecting a decent tip, and return business then the server should have kept their word and made sure the drinks were comped. Instead the server let the manager try a different approach.

                          1. Just my opinion, but you said the restaurant closed, my take is he must have been rude to others as well and it had to do as part of the resto's downfall.

                            1. I suspect the manager didn't know the waitress had already offered to comp the drinks, and for some reason she didn't want to tell the manager. Poor communication between the two of them, and unfortunately in your ire you didn't consider clarifying for the manager when he came by with the coupon.

                              1. I don't think you should make a comment re the wine bottle opener and the absentee manager, but a quick email about the quality of the food and the server would be good. Especially if you include her name.

                                Include your contact info so they don't assume it's her family or friends writing.

                                1. "but the location closed down shortly afterwards."

                                  I had almost the exact experience in the summer of 2011 in a chain.

                                  I found out months later that The Day I dined, the mgmt team had been given an ultimatum that included a number of diners over a month. Thus, they were both unhappy AND trying to get bodies in the booths.

                                  In the "end," the location was closed for 3 weeks for a remodel, the entire mgmt team was let go, and servers were spread across 4 other locations in a 50mi area for training.

                                  Well over a year later, that location is booming and the service is excellent. They also team-train servers for other locations.

                                  1. This is a case of the manager not being able to see the forest through the trees. The restaurant's cost on two sodas is literally pennies. They more than likely let their staff the drink the stuff all day long for free and dump gallons of it down the drain on any given night.

                                    They lost a repeat customer because they didn't want to eat a few cents.