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Returning food at make-your-own style restaurants?

I frequent Starbucks every morning and have an occasional trip to Chipotle which made me think of this question. I'm an iced coffee "no room, light ice" drinker which most of the employees at Starbucks understand but there are occasions when light ice is delivered as "extra ice" which is completely the opposite of what I order and ensures that I won't really enjoy the drink for a few reasons which are irrelevant I think. I always hesitate as to whether to ask them to either fix or make it anew. SO has had occasions in which orders at Subway or Chipotle were either completely wrong or included an ingredient that you just don't like at all (e.g. olives). There are a lot of threads on returning food at sit-down restaurants with designed menus of constructed dishes, but for the make-your-own-style restaurants (e.g. Chipotle, Starbucks, Five Guys, Subway, etc) do you return food if it's not made to your specifications? I

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  1. It depends.

    I generally order hot coffees "with room", and sometimes don't get the room. So I have to waste a few oz of coffee to make room for the cream I add. I don't bother to complain about that because it's something I can "fix".

    Would I send back a heavily iced drink if I ordered just a few cubes? Yes, because over time, it would drastically affect the balance of the drink.

    In that vein, when I was a Diet Coke fiend, I would send back the regular fountain Coke I'd mistakenly be poured--I can tell the difference in taste (obv), and I don't need the sugar.

    Not sure how Subway can mess up an order. They make it right in front of you, so if they started to throw lettuce on my sandwich, I'd stop them and make them take it off.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      Oh yea, I'm a Diet coke fiend and always send it back or just drink my water. Good point about Subway though I think a few times they have grabbed the wrong sandwich and when both parties aren't paying too much attention while adding/ordering I've seen it go wrong, same at Chipotle, when your eyes have moved on to the next ingredient and they are adding the previous one.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        'Um, sorry, you gave me somebody else's sandwich a minute ago. I ordered X, not Y.' And then the nice person will take it back and fix it for you... but there's not much room to go wrong when they're assembling it in front of your eyes.

        1. re: Kajikit

          re: Subway
          I've had problems with them getting it wrong while assembling in front of me.

          My youngest likes black pepper on her sandwich. Subway has shakers of both black pepper and salt mixed with black pepper for the employees use. If the employee is not careful they use the wrong one. It is not easy for the customer to tell if that shaker in the employee's hand has just pepper in it.

          Monday, my daughter took one bite into her tuna sub, spit it out and complained, it's salty, She got up from her seat, went back to the counter and insisted on a new sub.

    2. Not sure why the freedom to return a product not made as ordered is any different at a 'fast food' place than any other................... except maybe that the low price makes me more likely to just live with it. THAT and the idea that I went there for 'fast' food, and re-doing it takes more time, so it depends on how badly they've messed up the order.

      In thinking about it, though, I don't think I've ever had a 'fast food' place make an order error. I've had some product I didn't think was worth the price, but that's different.

      BTW............... if a Starbuck's put in way too much ice when I'd specifically asked for minimal ice I'd definitely take the drink back, if I had the time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Midlife

        I guess in my mind it was different in that in a restaurant I'm usually just slightly altering an order such as "add this or don't include this" which is a change of the dish they have already assembled so if a mistake is made I'm less likely to complain or say anything because they have already proposed to me what they would like my dish to contain vs the other style restaurant where it is designed for you to create your own meal de novo so you're not really messing with the flow of anything already established.

      2. i don't eat at these places, but part of their appeal is quickness, yeah? so if my sandwich had something "extra" on it, i'd just pull it off. yeah, i hate raw onions so i would still be able to taste them, but $5 wouldn't be worth the hassle/time of going back and getting another.

        1. I had this happen to me a couple of days ago at 5 Guys: they made my cheeseburger without the tomatoes and grilled onions I'd asked for and added lettuce. I didn't want to wait for it to be remade so I had it as is. However, had they put on something that I really couldn't stomach, yeah, I wouldn't have had any problem asking for it to be remade.

          Actually, I would have an easier time asking for problems to be fixed at such restaurants that you named rather than a sit-down one because then it puts off the pace of the meal.

          1. Well, fairly recently I had to do just that. I was in LA for work and, as always, the first stop from the airport (well, after rental car pick up) is In-n-Out.

            I asked for my usual double double, animal and protein style. Now, since it's been SO LONG since I had In-n-Out, I was really excited to get my burger.

            But instead of my order, I got a regular double double, NOT animal style, NOT protein style, and with raw onion! Not even close to my order.

            Luckily, I'd ordered it for car-eating, so the mistake was immediately apparent and I was able to get it corrected. But there was no way I'd just let it go considering how rarely I get to have In-n-Out.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Violatp

              Well...... that's a major difference. Obviously they mixed your order up with someone else's. Gotta have my Animal Style!

              BTW, is ordering Animal Style (way more calories) offset for you by making it Protein Style? Whatever works, I guess.

              1. re: Midlife

                I got used to ordering protein style when I was low carbing (ignoring the carbs in the sauce lalalalalala). I just like it better now.

              2. re: Violatp

                Animal fries with that?

                1. re: Bkeats

                  Nope, not a fan of their fries. I get a Neopolitan shake!

              3. At Chipotle you pretty much supervise the assembly, so if it's not to your liking then it's really not because they screwed it up. Having said that, if it's not satisfactory then I don't see why you wouldn't have a right to complain.

                1. i just bought a subway sandwich 10 minutes ago.

                  since they make the sandwich right in front of you and you can/should stop them and correct them at any time during the sandwich preparation , if something isn't right by the time they hand the sandwich to you, imho, it is YOUR fault.
                  i don't think it is too much to expect that the customer will stay alert during the few minutes it takes them to assemble a sandwich.

                  don't really have an opinion about your starbucks question, but, personally, when i order there, i also supervise while my order is being prepared, so i've never had the experience of receiving a beverage with too much or too little ice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: westsidegal

                    That is me, too. I supervise intently when my sandwich, burrito, whatever is being made and interject loudly if something is amiss.

                    At the cash register, it's too late to start objecting especially if you're there at rush hour.

                  2. If I can't have it my way (thank you Burger King), they can have it back. If I'm sheeling out five bucks at Starbucks, that 2 Splenda, no Foam Soy Latte (for the wife) better be delivered as ordered. If I just want a coffee, I can get a 24 ounce at the quick Mart for 99 cents.
                    A Five Guys burger is $5.89 in this area. They won't cook it anyway but well done, so they had better get the toppings correct, or again it will go back,

                    There is absolutely no reason to feel obligated to accepot and consume food/drink delivered not as ordered.

                    1. i picked up a sandwich at the au bon pan in nyc's port authority for a bus trip back to boston. i was so looking forward to turkey with brie and apricot mustard. but, when i bit into the sandwich -- driving through new haven -- it was turkey with brie and roasted red peppers.

                      had i been eating in the store, i would have had no problem returning it. in fact, i was annoyed enought to call the corporate offices and they sent me a couple of coupons.