There’s nothing I have less forgiveness for than watching a restaurant customer berate a server. First of all, it’s always obvious to me when customers haven’t worked within a restaurant environment, because they’re quick to antagonize the hostess, the bus boy, the server. Secondly, the bad customer almost always harasses the server for items that are beyond his or her control, such as a wait for food or wrong substitutions.
But what happens when it really is a server issue? Whether it’s a lack of knowledge of the menu or the inability to provide service with a smile, how do you deal with bad service? This week, Andrew Knowlton over at Bon Appetit’s The BA Foodist offers five tips for handling a waiter who falls short of your expectations, including eating at the bar and telling everyone you know about the bad experience (ha!).
In addition, my two suggestions are this:
1) Folks have forgotten that tips are just that – complimentary cash for great service. I’m still amazed at how often I eat out with friends or family members, the check comes, and the person paying the tab still leaves a tip, even if the service was mediocre, or worse, dismal. My best tip experience was down in Australia, where servers are paid a top wage and tips are rarely provided by customers. If the service doesn’t warrant a tip, don’t leave one.
2) If you really experience bad service, really, truly, don’t be afraid to notify the restaurant manager. During one awful birthday dining event, we had a waiter who was a little too cocky, rudely bantering with my husband when he inquired as to the preparation of a dish. When I asked that my steak be very well done, instead of medium or medium rare, the waiter snidely commented that I should order fish instead, painfully unaware that my fully-cooked meat request was a requirement as a heavily-pregnant woman. When he stepped away from our table, I was quick to flag down the restaurant’s manager, relating our unhappy experience and requesting another server. The manager was more than happy to accommodate.
~ Jennifer Heigl