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Handling poor service in a restaurant - what to do

17 Mar 2017

I’ve had a lot of friends approach me lately with negative stories about their restaurant experiences. And while it’s acknowledged that customer service in South Africa could do with much improvement, restaurants always seem to appear at the top of the list.

Read this story that a colleague of mine wrote about the restaurant service levels in Cape Town (which is undoubtedly SA’s city with the biggest eating out culture). Do we accept average to below average service just because we can’t be bothered to say anything or because we’ll get a disgruntled look from the restaurant staff for pointing out a fault?

Either way if you are unhappy with a restaurant's service and you have a legitimate reason to complain about something, like when the waiter fails to remember to put your order through or even worse – forgets about you altogether, there are ways of letting the establishment know without hurling all your anger out over social media. You will be taken more seriously by the restaurant and it will truly help them to address the issue(s).

Here’s a quick and simple mental checklist to tick off the next time you feel the need to complain about something when you're eating out:

1. Address the issue immediately – don’t wait until your plate of food is finished to tell the waiter that it wasn’t cooked properly. And don't wait until you get home to write  a scathing 'review' on their Facebook page.

2. Don’t lose your toys – shouting and screaming to get attention will only make it worse.

3. If the waiter is unhelpful, speak to the manager - explain exactly what happened in detail so that he or she can find a realistic and suitable solution.

4. Don’t make it personal – verbal abuse directed at the waiter or waitress that goes beyond the situation at hand is just not OK. No matter who you are.

Contrarily, if the service is good (or better yet – amazing) then do the right thing and TIP accordingly!

Yours in beautifully folded napkins and shiny reserved signs,




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