Social Question

jca's avatar

If you were dining with someone in a restaurant and the server came over and asked you to move to another table, would you find that unacceptable?

Asked by jca (35967points) July 21st, 2012

I was in a restaurant last night with a friend, and the waitress came over and asked us if we wouldn’t mind moving to another table to accomodate a large group that was coming in. She offered to move our plates for us. I could tell my friend was not happy, and she looked away and rolled her eyes. I told the waitress to give us five minutes and we would leave instead. The waitress came over again and told us never mind, we didn’t have to rush.

I was willing to accomodate her request, but my friend told me she thought it was rude of the waitress to ask that we move.

What do you think?

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39 Answers

janbb's avatar

It seems like a fair request to me as long as the other table is acceptable enough.

tom_g's avatar

I wouldn’t mind.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Situations like this is an inconvenience to customers. They are paying for the experience, as well as the food. It is understandable why your dining partner felt offended by the request. With that said, I would be fine with changing tables.

It sounds like poor seating strategy on the part of the person that chose the table for you two. Then again, unexpected situations crop up. The eye-rolling would not be acceptable in my book. I wouldn’t say anything, but I also would not go back to the restaurant again.

downtide's avatar

I would move but I’d be annoyed and would probably give a smaller tip – depends how the service was otherwise.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

ZERO tip, never go back again.

marinelife's avatar

I would not mind if they had a smaller table that was acceptable, and we were a party of two at a larger table.

Trillian's avatar

Seems reasonable to me if you were at a table bigger than necessary for two. I imagine there were reasons that I don’t know about for seating you at a bigger table to begin with. Was the waitress who asked you to move the same one who seated you to begin with?
Did you get seated there in order to get you seated quickly rather than have to wait a few extra minutes?
Meh… I’d move, it would take more than moving my location to ruin my evening.

Mariah's avatar

Life is too short to get worked up about things like this…

gailcalled's avatar

Sounds reasonable to me also; perhaps she would have comped you free desserts.

zensky's avatar

It should be your only problem in life.

tom_g's avatar

I guess the follow-up question would be…

You’re at a restaurant with a large group of people for your grandfather’s birthday. You could be seated if one party would move a couple tables over. You see the waitress ask the other party and they roll their eyes and are offended because they would have to actually move to accommodate your group. How do you feel? What’s your view on humanity right now?

FluffyChicken's avatar

I don’t see why this would be a problem.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I wouldn’t have a problem moving unless there was some very compelling reason why I needed that particular table. Nor do I find it likely that many situations would come up in which one table was not just as good as another. In other words, I can’t see this as being a big deal at all—and I think that @tom_g‘s follow-up question puts the situation in precisely the right light.

@downtide @Tropical_Willie It’s not the fault of the waitress that the host ordered her to ask @jca and her friend to move. Waitstaff are not the decision-makers in restaurants. When you lower someone’s tip for something like this, you’re saying “I am so disappointed in what someone else did that I don’t think you should be able to afford groceries this week.”

jca's avatar

@marinelife and @trillian: We were party of two at a table for two.

janbb's avatar

@jca So why did they ask you to move? You said something about accomodating a large group; did they want to push two tables together?

jca's avatar

@tom_g: You’re preaching to the choir asking how I’d feel if it were to accomodate my large group (hypothetically), as I didn’t have a problem moving in the first place. I was asking the question wondering if I were correct in it not being a problem, or if it would be a problem for others.

@janbb: They had a big party of 8 coming in and I think they wanted to use our table for two to put with other tables to accomodate the party of 8. I think using our table where it was located was easier than taking the other table from across the room.

Cruiser's avatar

It would have to be a very unique set of circumstances for me to refuse a polite request.

Sunny2's avatar

If food was on my plate, and I had tasted it, I would not move. If I hadn’t been served yet, I would.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Being moved after being served is a no-no. It would be different if a manager asked, and not the waitstaff. A manager would understand the need to comp for the disturbance.

I’d be alright with it if it were a comfy spot. I’m particular as to where I sit. One of the main reasons I choose to go out to eat is for the experience.

downtide's avatar

@SavoirFaire Wait staff in the UK have better wages than ones in the US and they’re protected by minimum wage regulations here. Tipping in the UK isn’t as big a deal as it is in the US. My reasoning though, is that it was likely the same waitress who seated the party in the “wrong” place to begin with. It really depends on the manner in which she asks.

Kardamom's avatar

No biggie at all. And like @downtide said, it might have been an honest mistake in the first place and I always give a wide berth to honest mistakes (I’ve made plenty of them myself). And if she asked politely, it really wouldn’t be a problem at all. I also don’t mind moving for the exact reason stated, that a bigger party came in un-expectedly. No biggie at all.

Berserker's avatar

I wouldn’t mind, no big deal, as long as I wasn’t asked to move in the middle of my meal. If I was, I’d still move, but that would kinda suck. I wouldn’t just up and be all like, FINE then, I’m leaving.

ucme's avatar

A not unreasonable request.
Some restaurants have bloody miserable staff, they should have a sign outside warning as much…...
“Our servers are down” Not to be confused with internet cafe’s though.

YARNLADY's avatar

I might say something like “I hope this means we get our meal for half price”, but I wouldn’t mind moving.

gondwanalon's avatar

No problem. That is nothing. Forgetaboutit.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I don’t think it would bother me very much.

Crashsequence2012's avatar


Because I know someday MY party will be able to be seated because another party was willing to move instead of throwing their “I’m the customer!” weight around.

Buttonstc's avatar

None of the restaurant staff are claivoyant enough to know when a large group will arrive, so how could it have been a mistake on someone’s part.

This has actually has happened to me when a friend and I were out a few months ago. We had only been seated long enough to look at the menu.

They needed to move some tables together. It’s a fairly small space overall and it made perfect sense. Moving just wasn’t that big a deal. No eye rolling necessary.

Your friend really has a problem with flexibility obviously. How ever does she cope when everything in life doesn’t go exactly as she expects it to be ? It certainly happens often enough in the course of multiple minor events in the course of everyday living. That’s life.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Whoops. I may have made a mistake. Was it the server or the friend that did the eye-rolling?

Buttonstc's avatar

It was the friend doing the eye rolling and making a big deal about it.

Bellatrix's avatar

It would depend what stage of the meal we were at and where they wanted to move us to. If we hadn’t started eating and the alternative offered was okay, I would be fine, otherwise no.

We went to a restaurant in Sydney a couple of years ago. We were dressed appropriately and were quietly talking. We sat at a table for two and were given menus. There was no reserved sign on the table. Then a different waitress came up and said ‘you have to move, this table is needed for a party that has booked’ (they had forgotten to reserve the table). We were a bit stunned at her tone and she then moved us to a table in a passageway (it was like we had been seated in a corridor outside the main restaurant!). She wanted our previous table so she could push two of the two seater tables together to seat four people. When they arrived though, there were only two people.

We were seriously pissed off and there was no apology. We complained and have never gone back there again and I wrote a review expressing my dissatisfaction.

So, it’s all about the context and the attitude. If the person had been polite, had made sure we were moved to a reasonable table and had offered a free glass of wine, dessert, something to acknowledge the inconvenience to us, we would have been more understanding.

Ayesha's avatar

I wouldn’t mind. I also agree with @Mariah.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I would move, but I would be very annoyed. The large party should have called ahead to make a reservation, or they should be forced to wait. It is not fair for me and my company to have to move because the either the party did not make reservations or the wait staff did not prepare adequately.

EDIT: I still wouldn’t have rolled my eyes because that is rude and says more about me than about the situation I’m in. Plus, I wouldn’t want to make things uncomfortable for the people I’m with. But it is unprofessional of a restaurant to ask people to move.

cookieman's avatar

I would have got up, stabbed the waitress with a spoon, and gone over and slapped each member of the large party right before storming out while screaming obscenities in Italian.

CWOTUS's avatar

It was badly handled all around, no doubt.

The manager should have made the request (practically on bended knee), and not the waiter. The request should have been accompanied by a sweetener of some kind. The large party should have called ahead to make a reservation or should have simply expected to wait until the contiguous tables were available.

Your friend should not have rolled his eyes, and should have been as gracious in acceding as you apparently were.

Kardamom's avatar

Because it’s late and my mind has started to go out on a stream of consciousness, I just had this vision of the restaurant playing the game of musical chairs, but that’s not all, the music was dubstep!

I’ve been on another thread for a couple of days where some kind Fluther members were trying to explain to this middle aged gal what dubstep music is, turns out I like it

SavoirFaire's avatar

@downtide Fair point about wage differences between the US and the UK. Unless restaurants in the UK are vastly different than those in the US, however, it is not the waitstaff who chooses where to seat customers. That is again a job for the host. So it still seems like a case of blaming the wrong person to me. A tip isn’t a commentary on the restaurant, after all, it is a comment on your waiter. As such, I would never give a smaller tip on the grounds that people other than the waitstaff had detracted from my experience.

One thing I find surprising about this whole conversation, though, is how many people feel that the situation provides an excuse for opportunism. I am constantly disturbed at the number of people I know offline who are looking for every chance to leave a smaller tip or get something for free out of a restaurant. It seems to me that the central opportunity granted by the situation described in the OP is the opportunity to be a decent human being. To pursue the cruder opportunities, I think, is to close the door on this one.

This is not to say that I disagree with @CWOTUS about how the restaurant should have approached the situation. Offering something in return for the inconvenience is certainly a fine thing to do. It is in expecting—or, worse yet, demanding—something in return that I think people show a lack of class. This is not a description of what you were proposing, of course, but it is lurking behind some of the other answers. And I am admittedly sensitive to this for having a few family members who are positively conniving when dining out.

Trillian's avatar

In a similar vein to what @SavoirFaire was saying, I believe he’s referring to the sense of entitlement so many people seem to have. We may actually be able to trace that all the way back to the original coining of the phrase “The customer is always right”. It’s obviously an untrue statement, and may be the ting responsible for having created such a monster.
Why on earth people feel that they should never have to be inconvenienced in any way ever is beyond me. It is also beyond me the inappropriate and disproportionate reactions to what are, after all, minor inconveniences.
I also believe that at the bottom of it all is a lack of critical thought.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I don’t tend to get worked up about things like this but from the waitress’s point of view, I do think that the manager should have asked rather than the waitress having to do it. I think it shows a better level of customer service when the manager deals with potentially difficult situations and it also means the poor waitress doesn’t have to deal with unhappy customers who roll their eyes (a simple eye roll can make you feel like shit when coming from a customer in my experience) at a decision that the waitress probably didn’t make. I often have to break bad news to customers after the managers have made a decision that is likely to affect the customer negatively. There have even been times when I haven’t agreed with that decision and so having to defend it to customers makes the situation even worse. It’s not a nice position to be put in and managers should be willing to own their decisions more and not hide behind staff.

From a customers point of view, I wouldn’t mind moving to make life a bit easier for the waitress (who probably felt uncomfortable asking) or the large party.

@Trillian I hate “the customer is always right”. I have had customers be unnecessarily rude to me and then had my boss remind me that “the customer is always right”. I don’t care who you are, rude and mean is never right.

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