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Do you complain?

Posted by Griz 
Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 07:12AM
I was in Dunedin this weekend for DD's graduation. On Saturday night we took friend's advice and booked into a popular restaurant (they'd had a cancellation so could fit us in). Now I'm a good home cook. I ordered tomato soup with fresh bread, braised rump with mash and jus, and a coffee pannacotta with berries.
The soup wasn't properly blended and I had a lump of unblended garlic in it, the bread came without any kind of spread (it had been toasted so was a tad dry), the rump steak was a bit dry (I felt a fattier cut would have braised better) and the jus wasn't reduced so I ended up with a soupy vaguely beefy potato soup on my plate, the pannacotta was set in a glass, but to my taste/expectation it was overly set and also had separated into two layers as it hadn't been stirred while cooling (I make pannacotta regularly, turn it out and have an expectation of a good "wobble"winking smiley.
I didn't complain on the night, as I didn't want negativity to take a shine off my daughter's evening, but we paid $75/head for this meal (there were other options and I did have concerns about them as well, but hadn't eaten them so couldn't offer constructive criticism) so I sent a message to them last night. I've received an apology and that they'll mention it to the chef...
I feel like I shouldn't have complained, that perhaps they'll be thinking I'm just a Masterchef fan with an opinion...I hope I worded my concerns in a constructive manner, but wonder if others would have done the same thing?
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 05:14PM
I don't when it comes to restaurants. I go into it knowing its a hit and miss thing, and like you said its often an occassional thing and does tend to spoil things. If its a disappointing experience, there is no recurring experience. If its a higher priced restaurant, I do quite a bit of research before going there.
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 05:21PM
Hmm I think that there were too many things not quite right for $75 per head.
Was the $75 just for food or were drinks included in that price?
If the former then I would be annoyed and yes I would complain.
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 08:17PM
It didn't include drinks. We paid a shade under $300 for the three of us for a meal and drinks. I'd done my research, this restaurant was a highly recommended one both by locals and online.
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 08:59PM
I would be really annoyed Griz and would have used their name in my conversations, online and verbal.
I don't accept that restaurants have good nights and bad ones, they still charge the same rate.
I also don't think that their response was satisfactory. They could have done something to make a difference.
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 10:41PM
Helen, Like what. Its after the event now. I think if you want the restaurant to do something, you really have to complain on the night and demonstrate your issues. The problem for businesses is that customers can take advantage of their service policies.
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 10:45PM
For that kind of cost I would be terribly disappointed in the food you have described. It's always hard to make a complaint at the time as of course nobody wants to spoil someone else's occasion. And It often seemed to me, in the days when we ate out often, that the worse the meal the less likely it was that anyone would ask if everything was satisfactory. I have a couple of times sent a politely worded email the next day, detailing the faults as I perceived them. Once I got a polite reply expressing gratitude and asking us to go back and give them another chance, otherwise no response at all.

I would not hesitate to post online reviews detailing the faults. I agree with Helen - a restaurant may well have an off night, but they still charge the same.

I once posted a damning review on a review site when we had experienced terrible service and patchy food. The next day the restaurant manager emailed me, asked me at which table we had been sitting, apologised profusely and offered a $150 gift voucher so that we would return and give them another chance. That was the right way to deal with it!
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 11:30PM
Hi Griz, I too post reviews and I take care to not be 'scathing' and to comment on both the good and the bad. I would seldom complain at the time if I was with other ppl.
Late last year I went to a well known winery/restaurant, and while the food was very good and the setting lovely, the service was irritatingly attentive - staff constantly asking us if we were ready for our next course/did we want more wine/did we want coffee/did we want dessert, so much so that we left without dessert or coffee and had both somewhere else. I put a review up and mentioned the service and got a reply back, (which was good), to the effect that they allow 15 mins between courses! But that they would also review this policy, and that's a good outcome IMO. I think most places want to know if there are problems so they have an opportunity to fix them.
Re: Do you complain?
May 16, 2017 11:56PM
Plates as Griz put her concerns in writing I would assume that it was articulate and considered.
If it was my restaurant I would take that on board and try and make things right.
A voucher would be my first thought. I know that they were travelling but they may have someone who could use it and it is an appropriate gesture. As a restaurant owner I would rather that than a damning review somewhere online or word of mouth.
Griz I would have no hesitation in explaining this on online review forum.
Re: Do you complain?
May 17, 2017 08:39AM
I always complain at the time if there's an obvious problem (like something being burned or receiving well done meat when I ordered rare). My philosophy is that if I don't, I know I will be annoyed for a long time whereas if I make the complaint I can put it to bed in my mind and not worry about it further. However, the kind of things that Griz experienced for me wouldn't fall into that category except for maybe the separated pannacotta - they're not at all what you want, but they're not very good rather than clearly faulty. In those circumstances I would write about my experience in an online forum, but there's certainly nothing at all wrong with contacting the restaurant directly. I'm not too impressed with their response, however, and I definitely think it was them underresponding rather than you being too picky, Griz. Compare that to the best response I ever had to a complaint - we were in Las Vegas at a super-fancy "secret restaurant" run by a big-name chef. It was the kind of place you had to make reservations for six months in advance the instant they opened the bookings as there were only eight seats. It was a degustation menu and it was $US300 a head (I know, but it was a special occasion). As part of the elaborate preparation, you had to fill in a questionnaire beforehand about your food likes and dislikes. My mother was with us and she'd told them she didn't like rare meat, and one of the courses she was served was rare. When she mentioned it to the maƮtre d on the way out, he tore up her entire bill. Now that's customer service!
Re: Do you complain?
May 17, 2017 06:00PM
Griz, I think you are quite justified in the way you handled the situation and I would also be miffed about their response.
I am with Helen about good and bad night scenario. If service (of any kind) is not up to standard then it's the putting right that counts. I know there are some people that one could never really please but I hope I never fall into that category. Just don't push me too far winking smiley.
Re: Do you complain?
May 19, 2017 08:21AM
In your case I would do probably the same Griz, I think that such price level obliges to certain quality which should be kept all the time not sometimes. The manoeuvre with sending a message later on is ok as well IMO.

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Re: Do you complain?
May 20, 2017 12:34AM
Interestingly I notice that anyone who is or has been involved in the food industry are very anti customers going online and commenting on problems they experience there. I am just reading Jo Seagars' book "Elbows off the table" and in her When Eating Out etiquette notes says 'On the rare occasion when theres a problem, take it up with the management at the time. If the problem is not solved right away, it is appropriate to contact the restaurant later to see if it can be sorted out. It is completely inappropriate to launch an anonymous online assault on the restaurant."
However, in my opinion like Griz if you have been invited to the venue as the guest of someone else or on the recommendation of one of the other guests it feels wrong to start complaining and causing a ruckus at the time. I also think that if the chef sends out a sub standard plate of food they probably already know about it and think that thats OK. I'm sure there wasn't just one plate with runny jus or overset panacotta. I find other peoples reviews on their experience very helpful and I doubt many people go online and make up negative comments up just for kicks! I'm sure restaurants would prefer people didn't give negative feedback but in the end its like social media and indeed like this forum, here to staysmiling smiley
Re: Do you complain?
May 20, 2017 12:39AM
Danube Wrote:
I am just reading Jo
> Seagars' book "Elbows off the table" and in her
> When Eating Out etiquette notes says 'On the rare
> occasion when theres a problem, take it up with
> the management at the time. If the problem is not
> solved right away, it is appropriate to contact
> the restaurant later to see if it can be sorted
> out. It is completely inappropriate to launch an
> anonymous online assault on the restaurant."

Jo Seagar's cafe got terrible on-line reviews for years before it went broke and closed down. I imagine she blames the reviews rather than the bad service and disappointing food.
Re: Do you complain?
May 20, 2017 12:50AM
Interestingly I notice that anyone who is or has been involved in the food industry are very anti customers going online and commenting on problems they experience there. I am just reading Jo Seagars' book "Elbows off the table" and in her When Eating Out etiquette notes says 'On the rare occasion when theres a problem, take it up with the management at the time. If the problem is not solved right away, it is appropriate to contact the restaurant later to see if it can be sorted out. It is completely inappropriate to launch an anonymous online assault on the restaurant."
However, in my opinion like Griz if you have been invited to the venue as the guest of someone else or on the recommendation of one of the other guests it feels wrong to start complaining and causing a ruckus at the time. I also think that if the chef sends out a sub standard plate of food they probably already know about it and think that thats OK. I'm sure there wasn't just one plate with runny jus or overset panacotta. I find other peoples reviews on their experience very helpful and I doubt many people go online and make up negative comments just for kicks! I'm sure restaurants would prefer people didn't give negative feedback but in the end its like social media and indeed like this forum, here to staysmiling smiley On the plus side, if I think the place was amazing I'll comment on that too.
Re: Do you complain?
May 20, 2017 12:56AM
I rather think that you are right Tpandav, I'm sure there are very annoying customers out there but in the end thats the industry you are in and people are entitled to their opinion. I think that consistently poor reviews are probably an indication of what you can expect if you visit.
Re: Do you complain?
May 23, 2017 02:01AM
I would definately complain - I dont think you need to be nasty - just state the facts.
I would ring them up and ask to speak to the manager - how else will they know if people are too afraid to say anything. They will just keep on serving overpriced mediocre food.
Re: Do you complain?
May 23, 2017 03:29AM
Only either on the night or directly afterwards. I have only ever posted one poor online review and that was for a retail fashion store that failed to fix a quality issue with their product and blamed me. They handled it so poorly that I can never shop there again and I did place facebook page feedback.
Re: Do you complain?
May 28, 2017 06:59PM
Complaints should be considered a gift...in any business. It's their opportunity to grow, coach and improve and if a business doesn't receive complaints they should be worried as it could be that their customers aren't coming back, ever. So if I have to complain I always try and do it at the time in a constructive manner, but I agree it can be difficult as in Griz's situation.

At a special occasion dinner the waiter who had taken our order come to check our meal was ok. I had ordered a rare steak and I quietly asked if he thought my steak was rare? He took one look and said not at all, he then politely asked could he remove my plate for a few moments. He took the plate away, then returned with it minus the steak, so I could continue with my vegetables and would not feel left out as everyone else was eating. Shortly he returned with a complete plate including the correct steak and swapped the plates out.

I thought it was such a great way of dealing with the situation, there was no scene or fuss and on our way out he thanked me for asking about my steak as he said he took it personally when the kitchen had got something wrong, that his role was to ensure everything was perfect. Wow, how good was that!

I have also taken the time to put my complaints in writing as sometimes you know that at the time the person involved isn't interested yet the manager or owner may really appreciate the feedback. After all how can they improve if they don't know what they are doing wrong?
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