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How restaurants should respond to customer comments

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In the August issue, editor Michael Sanson discussed a scenario where he ordered a sandwich that was improperly prepared. The server did not check back until the end of the meal. When the server finally asked about the meal, he was told it was improperly prepared. Nevertheless, the bill was presented without the faulty sandwich being removed from the bill. He asked readers how they would have handled a similar scenario. Here are excerpts from some of those who wrote.

I agree 100 percent about the fact that somebody should make it right. If a guest doesn’t love a dish, it comes off the bill. I’m always on the floor so I know right away if someone doesn’t enjoy something. In the event that I’m off handling a situation somewhere, servers know that they are to find me so I may touch the table. I work too hard to let a guest leave displeased!

Jason Cervantes
The Strand House
Manhattan Beach, CA

Photo: Thinkstock

Your server was at fault for not checking with you sooner. The cook should know how the meal is supposed to be served and a manager should have responded to your complaint. However, I don’t think the server should have the power to discount tickets or void items. I see every day how a server can cheat the business. They will charge the customer full price then discount the ticket, putting more money in their own pocket. If an item needs to be refunded, both the cook and server must agree and sign the ticket and a supervisor will handle the refund. The bottom line is, the customer should leave happy.

General Manager
4-B’s Restaurant
Havre, MT

I agree with you that you need to ask the question within minutes of the first bite, but sometimes, a busy wait staff is blind. However, looking at it from a wait staff’s position, if you ate every bite of your disliked sandwich, then the server is trained to charge you. So my question is did you eat all your sandwich? If you did, 90 percent of servers will charge you, thinking you are just trying to scam them.

Richard van Dommelen
Burning Applewood,
Bellingham WA

Should a server be able to comp a meal? Initially we did not allow it without a manager’s approval. However, if the patron does not find out until the check arrives that their comments were heard and acted upon, the reaction is more often “It’s about time,” rather than “Thank you.” We have adjusted our controls so that servers can make the call, within limits. They should check with the customer early in the meal and immediately take action on a complaint. If the complaint is serious enough, a manager needs to be involved directly and offer a comp and apology.

Tom Gorman
Finance Manager
N.Y. Wine & Culinary Center
Canandaigua, NY

If I hear one of my servers asking a table, “So, how was everything,” I lose my mind. It means that he or she did not bother to inquire how things were going shortly after the food was dropped. It’s the manager’s job to make sure the staff follows a protocol. They are even asked to check and see what the bus people have cleared off the table and if there is a lot of uneaten food being discarded, and I am to be told. A fast visit to that table is in order to see what was wrong.

Susie Fordham
Seabasin Restaurant
Rocky Point, NY

Yes, the wait staff should be able to handle this matter. If they are good enough to serve it, they should be good enough to let the kitchen know they put out a less than quality product. They are the front line. Now, if you ate the whole thing and then said it wasn’t cooked right, we would have a brief conversation. Remember, the customer is not always right, but we can discuss it.

Bob Mc Govern
Packard’s Restaurant
Northampton, MA

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