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5 Things you really shouldn't be complaining about in a restaurant

Are more customers complaining just because they are being heard?

by: Cathy Marston | 12 Apr 2012

The internet and in particular social media has been grasped enthusiastically by both restaurant owners and restaurant goers alike and Twitter can be an amazing tool for good in the restaurant world, with establishments using it to fill late-cancelled tables and customers seeking recommendations for the best pizza in town.

But it is also offering an instant and immediate way to complain about a restaurant which some owners are finding hard to manage. We’ve already seen reviews on this site cause uproar and controversy and there will be more to come as customers become more demanding, more insistent on satisfaction and more apt to complain under the relative anonymity of a Twitter handle.

But are the complaints always fair? Reading the reviews on this site makes you realise there are some absolute shockers of restaurants out there without a doubt, but equally so – some of the things I see people complaining about are just ridiculous. I think we can all recognise bad behaviour on the part of restaurants, but here are 5 customer complaints which I think are simply out of order.

“The menu is boring”

Firstly – did you do your homework and check out the menu beforehand? No? Why not? Most restaurants these days have their menu online on one site or another and it’s simply lazy not to find out if it’s the type of food you like. Secondly – this is just too personal to be a complaint. One person’s boring is another’s comfort zone. And lastly – how do you know the chef isn’t adding his own exciting twist to the food rather than describing every single tiny element in a five-line description? Try it and see.

“They don’t allow corkage” or “Their corkage charge was far too much”
Corkage is not a right. No restaurant has to allow you to bring your own wine, they do it as a service that is charged for like anything else. If you don’t like the service they offer because you think it’s expensive, then don’t use it – try another restaurant or buy off the wine list. In either case, it’s back down to doing your homework first and ringing the restaurant to ask what their policy is.

“My well-done steak was dry”

Oh puh-leeeze! I know some restaurants that won’t even do a well-done steak because it is virtually impossible for it not to dry out as it’s cooked – especially in a busy kitchen where the chef cannot stand and watch it all the time. Keep well-done steaks for your own kitchen at home and order something else.

“They wouldn’t let me change the halloumi for feta”
Well why should they? The chef designed the dish, costed it, taught the kitchen brigade how to make it, timed the preparation so that it arrives on the pass at the same time as the other dishes – and now you want him to change it just for you? Yes – sometimes it can be done and that’s great, but if a restaurant says no then it’s probably for a good reason and this isn’t a legitimate cause for complaint. Order something else instead.

“Service was ridiculously slow”
Okay – sometimes this is a genuine reason to complain. But before you do – ask yourself these questions. Did I arrive at the time I booked? Did all my friends arrive at the time we booked? When the waiter came to get the order, did we give it to him or were we so busy catching up and chatting that we sent him away until later? Did we listen as he told us the specials or were we still chatting? Did we change anything halfway through? Did we add on a couple of dishes later for the one member of our group who went to the loo when the orders were being placed?

If you can honestly, hand on heart, say that nothing you did impacted on the service (particularly the first two which is a very Capetonian habit) and you still wait 2 hours between starters and mains, then by all means complain.

What do you think? Fair or unfair? Anything else that people shouldn’t complain about? Let us know.


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