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Shippy's avatar

Do you think it is better to not complain in a restaurant?

Asked by Shippy (9889points) August 15th, 2012

In case they spit in your food. I have been told by waiters and the like that this is common practice. Would this stop you complaining

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19 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

If you have a complaint, you make it to the waitress in a reasonable voice and with no accusations. Then you never return if you are concerned about salivary vengence.

If I had a reasonable issue, I wouldn’t hesitate to mention it. And have. We just had a new luncheonette open in town that specialized in a Middle Eastern menu. They asked for our opinions afterwards… every one was pleasant, but it was clear that the kitchen was off to a rocky start.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If you do it in a reasonable manner and for reasonable things it’s fine. Don’t order a steak well done and complain that it’s dry. On the other side, we got salads, her’s had a big ole caterpillar. I just go the servers attention pointed it out. and she replaced the salad. Or at least she changed the dish.:)

_Whitetigress's avatar

Common practice? What state are you in?

And I agree with @gailcalled and @Adirondackwannabe never blame the server. It’s pretty much 80% the kitchens fault that the food isn’t made correctly. Just remember the server is the mirage of the restaurant, where other wise you would probably be cooking at home yourself. Servers wouldn’t risk spitting, trust me, they are addicted to getting tipped, it’s fast money and it’s cash in the pocket straight after there work day is over. Spitting in someones food would only ruin their chances of continuing their addiction.

Blackberry's avatar

Yeah, not for fear of saliva, but because I’m not a dick. When people complain, it’s usually about something trivial.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Blackberry You’re right about the complainers being dicks. I set in a restuarant and watched a bunch of guys wolf down their meals like starving animals and then they start loudly bitching about the food. There wasn’t enough meat in the dish, it wasn’t any good. The server takes some of the food off their bill. They leave and they start high fiving each other outside for getting free food.

_Whitetigress's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I saw something similar the other day. Someone got onion in a meal, he didn’t want onions, told the server it was ok and that he will just switch the item with his partner. Server gave them dessert for free for the mix up. After eating all his food, he still felt he shouldn’t have to pay for the item that he let his boyfriend eat, with the switched item. Just in a casual restaurant. Geez la wheez, the logic people have these days.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@_Whitetigress Yeah, like it’s okay to steal from a business. But if everyone does it, the business goes under and we lose their services. Ignorant short sighted people.

downtide's avatar

I ask the server if I could have a quiet word with the duty manager, and I make my complaint directly to him/her. Then the manager can choose to feed back the complaint to whoever would be appropriate. I will always complain quietly, so as not to be overheard by other diners.

Kardamom's avatar

If there is a problem with the food being the wrong item, or having a caterpillar in your salad, quietly say to the server, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I ordered the chicken, not the fish, would you be able to get me the chicken instead, thank you so much.”

It usually is an honest mistake coming from the kitchen. So loudly, or angrily blaming the waitstaff is not going to help you, but asking them kindly to assist you is going to get you better service.

I don’t think people should complain if they simply don’t like the taste of the food. There’s too many picky people that don’t like certain things, and those people should not eat out at restaurants.

Because I’m a vegetarian, I have to ask lots of questions before I place my order. I try not to be one of those people that seem whiny, so I apologize a lot ahead of time. Like, “I’m so sorry to keep asking you all of these questions, but I’m a vegetarian so I just wanted to make sure that the broth is not chicken or beef stock, would you be able to check for me. Thank you so much.” One of my friends is highly allergic to peanuts, so she has to do the same thing. But if you are super polite, and apologize in advance, it’s better for everyone.

If you get something that is obviously raw, when it should be cooked, again employ, “I’m sorry to bother you, but it looks like this chicken didn’t get quite cooked all the way through, would it be too much trouble for you to ask the chef to throw it on the grill for a little bit longer, sorry about that. Thank you so much.” I’ve found that if you are the one doing the apologizing and being polite that you’re going to get much better service.

If it turns out that the wait person was being rude to you, your best bet is to wait until after you have eaten, then either say something directly to the wait person, or better yet, avoid doing that and have a word (right then, or later in a letter, e-mail or phone call) with the manager. Just make sure you try to get the person’s name and note the time of day or evening and date that you ate there, so the manager knows exactly who you are talking about. And be super polite when you talk to the manager.

No matter how bad the food tastes, or how wrong the order is, or if a bug accidentally ended up in your salad, there’s no reason to get angry or start making nasty, or loud comments. It’s just not helpful and will probably make you appear to other diners, or your own companions that you are being a boor. Just be calm, and be super-polite in the way that you ask for changes to be made, and thank the person for assiting you.

josie's avatar

Complaining is usually not a good idea in any case.
Politely pointing out a mistake is reasonable.
Most people want to be helpful, many people react badly if put on the defensive.
But if you are in an establishment where you for any reason suspect they might spit in the food, why go there in the first place.

Bellatrix's avatar

If there is a genuine problem with your food (it’s cold, there is a spiky bone left in it, it isn’t what you asked for, something is missing that was stated on the menu) you should politely let the wait staff know. You don’t need to be obnoxious about it. You paid for a meal, you should get what you paid for in an edible and non-dangerous state.

If you fear someone will do something bad to your food, and my understanding is no restaurant that cares about their reputation will stand for this from their staff, eat what you can and complain politely on the way out.

I believe restaurant management want to know when your dining experience didn’t live up to expectations or there was a problem. They don’t want abuse but if they keep getting complaints, they have a problem and that could affect their bank balance. Better you speak to them politely than write a horrible review and put it on the internet.

Berserker's avatar

I’d remain polite, but if there was truly something to complain about, I would. Civility. That’s they key. After all, I’m paying for this. If it’s something really bad, it’s best to speak up. I don’t sweat the small stuff though. If I get the wrong order, or something appears in my food that shouldn’t be there, like a horseshoe, I’m going to say something. If I have way too many fries or if the food’s too hot, well let’s just be realistic here.
And God help someone who spits in my food and I fucking find out about it. I’ve worked as a waitress for years and have never ever thought of doing that to someone, not even to rude customers, so I sure hope nobody would want to do it to me. :/

Kardamom's avatar

@Symbeline That would actually be kind of cool to find a horseshoe in my pasta ; – P

Berserker's avatar

Actually, I can’t really argue that. :D

Nullo's avatar

Be polite. Your server has had a long day of self-absorbed customers and would rather not be a dogsbody for an NPC. Being rude is going to make them less willing to be cooperative.

jca's avatar

If my steak is overcooked, I’ll not say anything. If my soup is cold, I would probably ask “Can you please ask them to heat this up a bit more?” That, I don’t think, warrants spitting in my food.

I once ordered blueberry pancakes in a diner, and instead of the blueberries being cooked into the blueberry pancakes, which is what I would expect, it was pancakes with a can of blueberry glop (like blueberry pie) on top. I asked the server, “I know you didn’t cook this, but it’s like, disgusting.” She said “I understand what you mean” and she was laughing, and she brought me something different. I made sure to tell her I know it’s not her fault, because I am sure it’s tough to have a job where you get blamed for everything, 90% of which is not your fault.

Once, in another diner, I had a screw in my lasagna. This was about 20 years ago, and they were doing construction. I told the manager, but was charged for it, and was still too young to advocate well for myself.

Another time, I was with a friend at a restaurant in Andes NY (probably the only restaurant in Andes NY) and he had a meat hook in his bacon-wrapped filet mignon. We just told the waitress, but we really should have asked for the manager for that one. Imagine if he swallowed a meat hook?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I firmly believe that unless an establishment has a really bad owner/operator that treats the staff poorly, most cooks and servers are out to please and not get revenge. Tampering with a complaining customer’s food is more likely to wreak more havoc.

When I worked in the service industry, we were taught to interact with customers by “taking the LEAP”. That meant Listening to the complaint, Empathizing, Apologizing, and Problem-solving. An additional step, that I feel is key, is to follow-up with the customer. It worked like a charm.

As for the original question, it depends upon your definition of complain. There may have been times when I have mentioned an error or an unexpected ‘surprise’, but they are few and far between.

If time permits, I’ll ask the server if I can speak to the manager on duty to tell that person how pleased I was by the service. Both of them need to know when a customer is satisfied by a job well done.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@jca Are you kidding me? You’ve been in Andes? No one knows where that is. Even the people in Bovina Center don’t know where it is. And now everyone’s going to want a meat hook in their food. Was it the Andes Hotel?

jca's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: Yes.

I’m a well traveled woman!

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