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Mistaken Ticket and Sanitation

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Wow, I feel like I have had a lot to write lately.

Anyway, we went to a restaurant this morning for breakfast. Long story short, the server had inadvertently given our ticket to another table who had already paid and left.

So, the server then turns the situation over to the manager. After literally a 12 minute wait and no contact from the manager, the manager finally comes over to us and explains that she cannot reopen the ticket and wanted us to pay for the other table's ticket with a few items comped (so in total, we were paying $6 less than our normal bill).

I actually was not bugged with paying a different ticket. What bothered me was that they left us (their customers) sitting alone for over 12 minutes with no end in sight. Further, after hearing her solution, I realized that we were made to wait so that they could figure out the easiest resolution on their end.

In other words, instead of trying to resolve the situation quickly and get us out the door, the manager opted to make us wait on her to figure out how to conform the situation with her computer system.

I know all POS or TPOS systems are different in what changes you can make to tickets and sales, but I also know that there are plenty of alternatives to work around the situation. Let the customer go...don't hold them hostage because of a mistake you made. Then, ON YOUR TIME, when you are closing out the till, THEN you can figure out how to conform/fix an open ticket. But she was so afraid of having an open ticket on her system that she froze and made us wait until WE could help HER conform to her system.

The computer systems are there to make the work easier...not to make life harder by making you conform to its rules. Maybe I am mistaken, but I was pretty sure that a manager has override abilities to edit/delete/cancel an open ticket? yes, there are other problems with that too and more headaches to deal with, but at least the problems fall on the manager and servers to deal with...not the customer who did nothing wrong.

The saddest part to me is that this is one of our frequent breakfast places....but they are opening a third location and took most of the experienced staff to that new location. Thus, we are left with the less experienced and new staff and management...so we get a situation like this with the check--not to mention the new cooks placing skillets and other dishes directly on top of the main course food. SANITATION PLEASE. I pointed this out to the manager too, and she said, "Oh, we get inspected a lot and have no problems with sanitation."

I guess she doesn't consider dish bottoms coming into direct contact with a customer's food as unsanitary. I think we won't be going back for a while. We'll let them get up to speed first.
post #2 of 20
Your swapped bill situation reminds me of Abbie Hoffman's trick in Steal This Book from the late 60's-early 70's. Two friends order at a counter- one has coffee and the other has a full meal. The server brings the checks which they promptly swap. The full meal person pays the coffee check and exits leaving the coffee drinker with the larger bill which he doesn't have to pay since he only had coffee. They move onto the next place and the coffee drinker gets the meal and they repeat the process. :smoking:

The sanitation thing bugs me as well. Since plates are so much bigger and service is much more casual, I'm always seeing servers with their shirts (or body parts) resting on the plates as they bring them from the kitchen rather than use a tray, which I gather is no longer cool.
post #3 of 20
First, 12 minutes is not the end of the world. Second, you have no real way of knowing that the manager was just looking for the easiest way out for them. Third, you saved $6. I don't see the problem.

Regarding the dishes, it's pretty common (if not universal) to stack clean plates on top of each other. If that isn't a problem sanitation-wise, then this shouldn't be either. It is a problem presentation-wise, however, and possibly a food quality issue.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #4 of 20
Maybe you shouldn't go out to eat so much.
post #5 of 20
I agree....if twelve minutes is to long to wait...perhaps a fast food chain
might work out better for you....
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Really? Hmmm....interesting take. So it is preferable for a manager to hold up a table from getting cleared, hold up a customer from paying and leaving, and have to take a hit on comped items than to merely have the customer pay full price for what they owe? I wonder if the owner would agree. Again....hmmmm.

Personally I would have gladly paid full price for our meal than be left at our table with no updates, no water, and no end in sight. Again, this is one of our regular restaurants with the experienced staff gone. I would believe that many customers would be disappointed when a favorite restaurant suddenly falls below expectations.

I knew the previous manager fairly well, and I highly doubt the results would have been the same. No contact with a paying customer after the server tells them there is a problem??? I would hope that servers out there could back me up on this and at least say they would stop in and at very least offer some water or something.

And in fairness to servers, twelve minutes was a guess...but I felt it was much longer. I take servers at their face value when they claim that customers often claim "we waited for 10 miuntes" when in reality it was only "3-5 minutes." The actual time waited isn't the point...the time the customer felt they had to wait (combined with the good will lost) IS the point.

And as suggested...we won't be going out to eat at this place for a good while. And I am sure that the owner will appreciate knowing that an easy-to-resolve problem has now cost him two regular customers.
post #7 of 20
For Pete's sake....it was breakfast....just leave a twenty on the table...if you were in such a rush....of course a patron's perception of time is skewed....of course you should not have been left waiterless, and of course service should be seemless....especially presentation and payment of the check....I think some of the posters just wanted you to see that it was just breakfast....that is unless you were at the ritz or four seasons.......I think you might have been a little critical and had a slightly warped sense of expectation and what the level of service should have been. I, for one, rarely, if ever, complain. I just won't recommend or return to an establishment...if I am offended or have had a poor meal....lighten up.....
post #8 of 20
Unfortunately, sometimes it does take a few minutes for a Manager to realize a solution.
You note that this is a new manager, one who probably hasn't faced this situation before.
And I'm sure you weren't the only issue this manager was facing that day.
There may have been staff calling in sick, a mound of paperwork, equipment failures, etc., which can cause even a seasoned veteran to be momentarily overwhelmed.

Could it have been handled differently if not better?
But then too you could show more compassion.
My hope is that when you graduate you will encounter a more accomodating customer than you yourself are.

And to cease patronizing a business over one problem, and a relatively small one at that......you probably are doing them a favor by not returning.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Even Stephen and Jim,

Thank you for your comments. You are both correct in your positions and I thank you for putting it in perspective--esp. Even Stephen. Yes, it was just a breakfast. I was just venting after a frustrating experience at what was one of our favorite Sunday morning spots. While I vented here, we were more than accomodating and respectful to the staff and manager. No harsh words or uneasiness at the restaurant, and left a good tip for the new waitress.

Although I was bothered from my own experience that morning, I think you are absolutely right Jim, the mgr was probably dealing with a number of mistakes that morning. Once you mentioned it, I do recall a few other tables getting some lengthy visits from the mgr while we were eating.

And like I said, we will probably return once the new staff gets up to speed...or maybe we'll make the trek to the new location where our regular servers are now stationed. Again, thanks for your perspective. I promise to tame future venting. :blush:
post #10 of 20
"....that it was just breakfast"

Just breakfast? Are you kidding?

Do you really believe that poor service and possible unsanitary conditions are OK at breakfast, but you should expect different levels at lunch and dinner.

Gimme a break!
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #11 of 20
Breakfast or lunch at the Ritz coffee shop is one of the great cheap dates of all time. You pay a few bucks more to eat the same eggs, sausage, hash browns and biscuits you love in spectacular luxury, surrounded by antiques, soothed by baroque music, well trained wait-staff -- and exactly the same food as any good coffee shop only with those "cute" little ketchup and Tabasco sauce bottles that girls of all ages just love. Doll house memories, i guess.

Drop the extra $15 and treat your woman to the Ritz. Don't tell her it didn't cost that much more. Instead, tell her she's high maintenance but worth every minute and every penny. Paybacks are the best.

post #12 of 20
If you really like the place and would like the current situation to change, I recommend bringing your concerns to the manager in a constructive manner.

Also, KYH is most definitely correct. Standards are standards, regardless of the time of day.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #13 of 20
your absolutely right......I've taken my 8 year old daughter for afternoon tea
and breakfast to the ritz....a different world to be sure....also a good lesson
in manners for the young ones....
post #14 of 20
Thank you, KY! I was about ot say something similar.

What about the fact that he is a paying customer and has certain expectations from a place he knows well? Why is it that some people are more than willing to roll over and just simply take whatever is dished out to them without complaint? This is exactly why service sucks whether it's breakfast a the local diner or an expensive meal at dinner. Low expectations are the problem.
post #15 of 20
I wouldnt say it is so much as low expectations. Some people are just generally nice (I know I am), and try not to be a great burden on others, even on people serving them. I do not do fine dining because I cannot afford it, though I have to admit if I did I would have somewhat higher expectations.

I have learned the following though from my few years in the industry:

1.) Do not walk into a restaurant any sooner then 1 hour after opening and no later then 1 hour before close

2.) Do not hold up tables after paying the check if they are getting ready to close or if they are busy. I will go back home to read the newspaper or conversate with my family/friends.

3.) Patience, Patience, Patience. Tables have held up on my account because I might have had to stop and prep something I ran out of or I forgot to drop an order. Many people have been patient for me, I pay that same respect back.

4.) Do not agitate people that handle your food (aka the Cardinal Rule in "Waiting").
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks Lentil...I was beginning to think that I was alone on this one. :)
post #17 of 20
No Stew you are not alone.
Let me respond from all four corners of the table - chef-owner-server-customer.

12 minutes waiting for your bill is unacceptable and is about 10 minutes too long. At least the wait person was honest about the situation.

Most POS systems have a way to reopen a closed check.
If the other table paid with a CC or cash it could still be fixed by any decent well trained manager. Closing the wrong check happens, everyone on my waitstaff has done it at one time or another. I have done it myself.

The simplest way to handle this situation would have been to quickly re-ring the check, tell the kitchen not to make the food, present the check to the guest and let them go on their way. Then fix the problem.

Even if you were "comped" a few things, you should have been presented with something to come back with the next time. A free dessert or a free cup of coffee with purchase. When we make a mistake we should do what we can to make ammends.

On top of this, with the way that this was handled, (as re-told) now skews the POS reports from a sales/comp standpoint and items sold.

From another point of veiw, Shhhtttuff happens. Some days you get the dog and some times the dog gets you. I would not stop going to a place I liked because of this one thing. If you go back couple time more and things are not improving or getting worse then find another place.
Life is like Plastic Wrap!
Life is like Plastic Wrap!
post #18 of 20
RAS- I have to disagree with you on a few points.

1.) I am nice.

2.) If one isn't supposed to walk into a restaurant until it has been open for an hour, they why doesn't the place open an hour later? But wait! That would mean that one would have to wait an hour still. Pretty soon, it's an hour before it's time to close, and we surely can't walk in then, can we? If you open at 6 or 9 or 11, then be ready to serve then. Don't you go in early enough to prep for opening time?

3.) Do we really have to plan to be at a place more than an hour before it closes? I thought CLOSED meant that they wouldn't accept any more guests. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't go into places 5 minutes before closing, but I surely would go in 30 minutes before closing. Naturally, I wouldn't linger long after the closing bell (see #1), but I would expect the same service that I would if I went in 2 hours earlier. People who get the bum's rush, don't normally go back again, and from an owner's perspective, that just won't do.

4.) So if we adhere to your theory (one hour later than opening and one hour earlier than closing), on a day when the restaurant hours are, say 11am -9pm, and assuming a line cook would come in at 10:30am and finish clean-up at 9:30pm, that would mean that he/she is getting paid for 11 hours minus breaks (if taken), minus the one hour rule on either end, which leaves a total of 8.5 hours of actual work. Not bad if you're the line cook. Kinda sucks if you're the owner. (disregard #1)

5.) Patience, patience, patience is a good rule to live by, but one needs to recognize the difference between being patient and being a doormat. This goes back to the low expectation comment made in above posts.

6.) My sister sends her tea back 4 times. No kidding. Water's too cool, teabag sat in water too long, something is floating in the water, no one else can see this, mind you, and lastly, her cup is dirty. Then she'll send the person back for milk instead of cream which, in my mind, could have been accomplished in the first send back.

I not only hate to go out with her, but fear that she has had her cup rimmed with someone's finger wet with spit more than once. A manager should go to my sister's table and ask if there's anything he/she can do for her because she doesn't seem happy with her $1.50 cup of tea. That would probably not stop my sister, as she'd be flattered that her new lackey was higher up on the food chain, but would get the server off the hook. That said, a server/cook who messes with someone's food should be fired on the spot.

Anyway, I've got to get to work. I'm open, but my hour of lag time us over.:D
post #19 of 20
sorry for the triple post. I have no idea how that happened and can't seem to delete 2 of them.
post #20 of 20
Haha these are rules that I stick to... and ones that I offer as guidelines to others. They are not set in stone for anyone but me.

1.) Great, keep it up.

2.) Consider it cooks karma. I have had to open 50% sometimes because we were just that behind on prep.

3.) Again, cooks karma. I have actually refused to enter restaurants during the last half hour even though the host said it was fine.

4.) When there aren't orders, we prep. Caught up on prep? Grab a sponge and detail the wall behind the line, take down the ventilation filters, etc. Even with no orders, there never is "nothing" that has to be done.

5.) I agree. That being said, I tend to be extremely patient as long as I know someone is working to get my problem resolved. If the server/manager is standing around doing nothing while I am still anxious, of course it is going to bother me.

6.) I tend to give a reasonable margin of error to servers in acknowledgement that I am human too. I would drink tea if it were hotter than warm, but could still be hotter (if that makes sense).

7.) Agree, I do not do anything to negatively impact the food. It is completely disgusting and unprofessional. Sadly not everyone thinks like this. Part of my motivation for sticking to my guidelines factors this into consideration.

Good luck with work!
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