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Restaurants in review

Cath Shone wonders if restaurants should have a refund policy and how far they should go to keep customers happy.

by: Cath Shone: Food24 Restaurant Editor | 30 Apr 2009

I go through any given number of restaurant reviews a day. Some grab my attention, others don't. Some make me laugh out loud, others make me want to cry.

It would be wrong to say that the review I am going to highlight today grabbed my attention, because it didn't. It was actually the response from the restaurant owner that made me sit up and take notice.

The review and response were as follows:

Review for La Piola:
We ordered meals from this restaurant a month ago. The take-aways were eventually ready a half hour late. We were offered drinks while we had to wait, thinking that they were a courtesy. They were however added to the bill. Being in a hurry, we left with all our meals only to find that of the nine meals ordered, only four were correct! No vegetarian meals were present despite having been ordered. My brother, Ian Graney was told that a manager would contact him the following day. He eventually called Mr Felton who told him that there was nothing wrong with his order! He also stated that they would not refund the meal and the best he could do was 50% off another meal for all of us. Following their mess up, the only people gaining on this would be the restaurant. Why would I put myself through the risk of it going wrong again and having to pay for it? Other restaurants jump at the opportunity of trying to make things right with customers. Pity La Piola don't understand this policy.

Owner's response: I would like to respond to The Graneys complaint. There certainly was a delay with the order, La Piola is sit down restaurant which offers takeaways due to our good quality pizzas. On this particular evening we were extremely busy with our normal sit down customers and take away customers were told beforehand that there would be a wait due large amount of orders being processed. The order was received by the Graneys, not checked as most customers do, and taken away only to find that there were a few errors. They called the restaurant informing us that there were errors with their order. This was rectified and delivered by my manager to the Graneys residence. I was informed and called the Graneys the next day to no avail. I then had Mr Graney come into the restaurant later in the week asking what I was going to do about it, demanding a refund which is not my policy since the order was rectified on the night. I offered them a sit down experience at a discount which was reasonable offer.

Too many restaurants are quick to refund when there a problem my policy is to get the client back and give them an experience of what La Piola is all about. Restaurants experience a bad night which you need to overcome, assess the night and see how we can improve. La Piola has done this.

Is it me or is this reviewer being a bit of a pratt?
Having worked many years in the hospitality industry I am inclined to sympathise with the restaurant, so I decided to put this one to our Food24 bloggers to see what they thought.

Kitchen Girl thinks that people looking for freebies are cheap and naaaasty, whilst Frootcake doesn't trust the customer after many years in retail herself. Restaurant blog reckons it's off sides to wait a month before dissing a place on a public forum, and although Kookaburra agrees with the customer she thinks the restaurant should really have checked the order properly.

It looks like the general consensus is indeed that this time the customer is being a bit of a chancer – but also that the restaurant, obviously, is not entirely blameless. What do you think?

Every week our Restaurant Ed checks out some of the more interesting restaurant reviews. To review a restaurant click here. To read her blog click here.

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