You mean you want it hot?! – Bad service in Restaurants

by Doc-G on April 27, 2009

Again, I keep apologisting for not posting more often and I am doing it again. I’ve been very very busy selling burgers, sausages and other great meat products to our wonderful customers here in Adelaide and all over Australia.

Today, I want to have a rant! I’ve been wanting to have this rant for a long long time now and I’ve decided to bite the bullet with 3 little stories about bad service in restaurants. These are not stories where you have to wait for ages but you know they are trying their best and they are not stories where anyone has blown their nose into a pizza etc (ie like the latest videos on You Tube will show you!). They are stories about food places where people are doing their jobs just very very badly!!

Please feel free to tell me your stories of bad service!

Story 1) Ignorance – I was on a work trip to Sydney, I was in the process of picking up quite a large account there and I was also meeting up with a couple of food bloggers (Helen Yee from Grab Your Fork!) and a multi-media web guy from the company that owns Chow Hound. He wanted to discuss a couple of things and thought it would be great to do it over lunch. So being in Sydney, he took us to a swanky little Italian place quite near Darling harbour. I’m thinking Sydney, seafood and we order from a tall middle-european girl with not much practice speaking english who should have been a model but for some tragic reason was waiting tables. I ordered the Spaghetti Marinara and the others also ordered various pasta dishes.

When the dishes arrived they were cold. Now, we are not talking sitting somewhere and cooled off a little whilst waiting to be served sort of coolish under optimum temperature cold. We are talking around the 2o C mark (ie just above freezing). So I call the ‘Euro-model’ over and explain that our dishes are cold.

‘Cold?’ she asked.

‘Yes, cold’ I reply.

‘What do you mean, cold?’ she asks.

‘I mean only just defrosted’, I reply.

‘You mean, you want it hot?!’, she asks.

All of our jaws dropped in-synch. ‘That’s kind of the idea’, was the reply.

She takes them away, and they come back not 4 minutes later, steaming hot having just been nuked in the microwave. We finished out meal in stunned silence and prayed for the stomach cramps to evade us.

Lesson: Unless it explicitly says, ‘Pasta salad’ on your menu, please serve your pasta dishes hot as it gives away the fact that you are buying in pre-prepared dishes from a catering company and vastly overcharging for it.

Story 2) Rudeness – Just last week I rang up a restaurant on O’Connell Street in North Adelaide to enquire about lunch bookings. So when I ring up, the guy answering the phone answers with, ‘Yeah!’. After asking my questions to which his answers were short and quite gruff, I thanked him for his time to which he just hung up the phone. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like visiting this place.

Lesson: Everybody is your customer, whether they know it or not. Being rude to them ensures that they will make the decision for you.

Story 3) Deceit and insincerity – We were eating at quite a fashionable Italian restaurant on Unley Road in Adelaide. The decor was beautiful and funky and the menu was contemporary up-market Italian. They had a good wine list and there were eight of us all having a great time. The starters and mains on the whole were OK. This was over a year ago and besides the upcoming story on the service, the only thing I remember about the food was the tuna which had a huge raw piece of the blood line left in which tasted incredibly tangy (in a bad way) and metallic.

So after the main course is served, the girl who is serving us and has been coming up with all the insincere comments all nights starts with the whole, ‘…because you are my favourite customers, we are going to give you a real treat tonight…’ crap. We got served a ‘complimentary’ balsamic vinegar sorbet as a palate cleanser. This thing had all the subtlety of a sledge hammer and we were apparently so lucky because we were getting this for free. More like the chef was having a ‘bad chef’ day and made this stuff, thought it was disgusting and gave it out for free because he felt too ashamed to charge for it.

The piece-de-resistance was the finale with the cheese course. On special for that evening was St Agur. In the UK, you can buy this stuff in the supermarket and I really quite like it. In Australia, well, I’ve not seen it in the supermarket and AQIS is a bit funny about bringing stuff from OS with mould in it (we’ve only just got Roquefort back in the last couple of years!!). So after hearing this girl harp on about how special it was, I ordered it (I was going to order it anyway). She comes back 5 minutes later saying how they had just dropped the cheese on the floor and it was now ‘unavailable’. When the other waiter came to the table, he was telling me how great this cheese was. When I remarked to him how disappointed I was that it wasn’t available, he stated to me that it was and that he had just served some to another table at which point the other girl comes, grabs him by the shoulder and starts whispering in his ear. He looks both bemused and puzzled and then sheepishly comes over and repeats what is clearly a lie and that the cheese is actually unavilable. What the real story was, it seems is to be lost forever in time.

Lesson: Your customers and not always as stupid as you think they are and quite often can tell when they are being lied to. Similarly, heaping fake praise on your customers comes off as insincere and disingenuous. Treat people in the way you expect to be treated.

Send me your stories of Bad service!



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