Good Vs. Bad Service

I like rewarding good service. That’s why on Monday, after two young men from Play It Again Sports spent well over an hour wrestling our home gym out the door, down the steps, and onto their truck, and did so with smiles and upbeat attitudes, I immediately e-mailed the store to let them know how much I appreciated their workers and what great service they offered. The store supervisor e-mailed back to say:

Thanks a bunch! It seems as though we only hear about the bad things these days… so it’s always nice to hear the good things.

That being said, I have to admit I’m quick to react to bad service. I don’t always point it out, unless I think doing so will actually alter the situation, and I do try to keep in mind that everyone has their off days. But Blair and I experienced bad service on such a new level the other day that no “I’m having a bad day” excuse could cover it.

Our Egyptian tour group met last Friday for dinner at a small Italian restaurant in Eden so we could share photos. The restaurant knew we were coming… twenty-seven people at 6 PM. So why they decided to have only one cook and one brand spanking new cook on staff escapes me.

Our waitress decided the best way to bond with our table was to insult us. She was young, and she was kidding in everything she said, so she can be forgiven, even if “You’ll sit there and eat what I bring you and shut up about it,” language isn’t the best way to land a tip, IMHO.

Then the fun started. We had one waitress for all 27 of us. It took almost 40 minutes just to get drinks. When she finally came by to take our order, I ordered a tuna salad with oil and vinegar dressing.

“We’re out of oil,” said our waitress.

I shared a look with the people at my table. “You’re an Italian restaurant,” I said.

“I know,” she laughed. “Weird, isn’t it?”

Fine, I pick a different dressing. Then the waiting begins. The first food didn’t appear for well over an hour. And appearances were sporadic, at best. Some people finished their meals before others ever saw their food. Our table was last. When they finally delivered vegetable lasagna to a woman across from me, it was filled with meat.

After an hour and forty minutes, I stopped the waitress to check on my order. “You know, we don’t have tuna,” she said.

My patience point was breached. It was past 8 PM, I was starving, and I had a long run in the morning for which I needed to fuel. “How is it possible I’m just now hearing about this?” I asked.

“I know,” she said. “I am so mad. I’ve been cussin’ the cooks. You want to hear the language I used with them? Cause I told them, ‘Now you’re messin’ with MY money.’”

She went off to get a menu for me to reorder. The woman at my table tried to calm me down. “She’s not the cook, it’s not her fault.”

Normally I’d agree but the fact that I had to stop HER in order to get this information didn’t sit well with me. How long was she planning to wait to let me in on the secret? That IS her fault. 

Finally, the manager peeked her head in the room and scurried over to our table. (That’s another gripe. People were complaining right and left and this so-called manager left this poor waitress to fry on her own. The manager should have been front and center, making amends.)

The manager offered to bring me a side salad while they prepared my new order. “I’ll have honey-mustard dressing,” I said.

“Oh, we’re out,” she said.

“You are not,” I snarled at her. “My husband just had some on his salad.”

She hurried away and lo and behold, returned with honey mustard dressing. (Wonder if that trick would have worked for the olive oil?)

In the end, about 4 people, Blair included, never even got their meals. The food was terrible, orders were messed up, we were there for over 3 hours… and so they offered everyone 10% of their meals.

I. Was. LIVID. The only reason I didn’t fight it was that I just wanted the hell out of there and away from such a high conglomeration of completely ignorant people.

I’ve waitressed. I have sympathy. I know sometimes you get so far down a hole there’s just no climbing out. But all it would have taken to turn the night around for me was some accountability, manners, and a sincere effort to acknowledge things went wrong. And, frankly, after a 2 and a half hour wait for my meal and my husband never getting his, I think a comped meal was in order. That manager was a waste of a person. So many capable people looking for work these days and she holds a job she’s clearly not suited for.

As you can see, I’m still a TAD bitter about the experience. More than anything, I just want to sit everyone down and say, “Now. What might we all have done differently to alter this situation?”

The restaurant had a great chance to showcase itself and gain 27 new customers. Instead, it assured itself of no repeat visits and tarnished its reputation as we all agreed we’d warn people off from ever eating there.

Good service... bad service. It's more about attitude than the events that transpire. Things go wrong. It happens. But how we deal with what goes wrong is the difference between a furious and a happy customer.