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Am I this out of touch - Page 2

post #31 of 45
I agree that the communication should have been better in this regard, but, philosophically, I am against comping in this instance. In the real world I probably would have comped it, but I don't see why the restaurant should have to eat the cost when there was nothing wrong with the product. It's just another way our society won't accept the consequences of our actions. It's a gamble every time you try something new. You might like it you might not, that's part of the fun of it. But why should the restaurant take the hit if you try something new and don't like it? You'd never consider taking the beer back to the liquor store just because you didn't like it (a whole other story if the beer was unsound). I would never expect a restaurant to comp something just because I wanted to try something new and didn't like it. And I'd love to tell anyone who does expect a comp in that situation to "man up" and deal with the consequences of their choices.

I understand that this is only a beer we are talking about, and doesn't cost much, so I would probably comp it, though it would drive me nuts to do so. A question for those of you who are pretty adamant about comping, what happens when it is the $21 foie gras app that the customer tried and didn't like or the $15 glass of cognac, or the $35 venison entree? Try reselling the $200 bottle of wine a customer returns just because they didn't like it. Not many tables will agree to purchase an already opened bottle in that price range unless you give to them at a steep discount. These aren't made up instances. I've seen all these happen and worse, nor are they as uncommon as some of you want to believe.

I understand that we are a "service" industry, but we are the only "service" industry I know that allows customers to change their minds after purchasing and ruining a product and then getting their money back just because of their personal preference. And while I will probably continue to comp these small items, I do so grudgingly because it is wrong to expect a restaurant owner to eat the cost so that you can expand your personal horizons.
post #32 of 45
Plus someone said the customer is not always right. Well it is our job to make them think they are, and seek a resolution to any problem. This is service with a smile,, this is what they are paying for, this is why they patronize us.
post #33 of 45
In my entire life I've never gone to a bar or restaurant, tried something, decided that I didn't like it or didn't want it, and expected to be comped. On the other hand, the restaurant that I work for comps for just about everything. So you see where I come out on this. To me the only time a restaurant should comp is when they make an error, such as not coming out the right temp, it takes too long, or if there's a hair or something on it. But if it's prepared how it should be then I don't see why it would be comped. Maybe if I was an owner or in FOH my perspective would be different. It would be easier just to comp. But what happens next time? Is this guy going to come in, try something else he's never had, then expect to be comped if he doesn't like it? At this point I wouldn't care if he never came back.

And from a patron's perspective, there are times when I go out that I like to try something new. And the risk you take in trying new things is that you're not always going to like it. But you chalk it up to a learning experience. If they see that you don't like something and offer to comp it or replace it then great. But I don't expect it. Besides, it's beer we're talking about. Of course some are better than others. But unless it's Heineken or Milwaukee's Best, any beer is good beer or at least good enough to drink.
post #34 of 45
Pete, I don't think sending back the foie gras is even half as common as sending steaks back.

The true loss on any item should be right around food cost and that comes right off the bottom line. If the place is new then it should adjust for that after a while when they look at the total month to month food cost.
post #35 of 45
This isn't steak, it isn't foie gras, it isn't a lot of things.

What it is -- is micro-brew beer. A beverage whose particular characteristics, by definition, will be unfamiliar to the customer.

A customer who doesn't like the product is the risk a bar takes when selling unfamiliar beers. Comping an unhappy customer is good business and good manners. Climbing up on a high horse isn't.

Merely presenting the beer without offering more information, is the establishement's way of saying "We think you'll like this." When the establishment is wrong, it should replace the offending cup without comment beyond, "sorry -- of course you can have something else."

If your idea of running a bar (or the bar part of a restaurant) is to tell the customer, "Tough luck; you're responsible for covering the bad bet you made on our recommendation," I don't want to drink there.

After all, the customer wasn't the one who decided that selling "winter beer" which tastes like anti-freez, road-salt and bubbles was a good idea.

The alternative to underwriting the customer's risk is to offer sample "shorts." Not a bad idea.

post #36 of 45
When I worked at the cafe we had a very open kitchen and I encouraged customers to try a small sample of a soup or stew if they were uneasy about it, or a few salad greens with an unfamiliar dressing, and most times they liked it and ordered the item. Sometimes they didn't and they just ordered something else, but they were happy and they kept coming back.
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
post #37 of 45
Yeah well, I've tried to make my case, and I'm not going anywhere with it, so I might as well take it to court.....

(The honourable Judge R. Bean presiding at the bench)

"BDL, you have been found guilty of white-washing the customer. With tongue planted firmly in-cheek, I hereby sentence you to 10 years less 1 Monday, as owner/operator of a cute 40 seat Italian place.

"As this is your first offence and have asked for lieniency, the court has granted that you may serve your sentence alone---that is without the ecumbrance of a spouse or immediate family member as a working partner.

"In accordance with common public perception, you shall be held responsible for the physical, mental, and especially financial well-being of ALL those who pass through your doors. This includes staff, regular customers, dine & dashers, scam artists, and event planners....

"Bailiff!! Take this man away and issue him with the keys, a float of $200, and a terlet plunger. Order in the court!!!.....

Hey, you got off easy! Hard time would be if you had a demo clause in the lease, but you don't have that, do you?....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #38 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your spirited replies, at least I can now feel I am no longer in the minority.

Foodpump, if it makes you feel better at the other site it was easily 10:1 that he should NOT have received another beer without paying for both. The vast majority of these were plain old customers and they couldn't fathom why he should get one.

That goes along with my theory that most people are not out to screw you, sure there are aways a few but most people when they have a problem just want an equitable solution.
post #39 of 45
A Demo clause? You mean like being forced to hire or work with democraps?
Oiye that would be painful. Regrettably in MI or CA it would only be cruel but not cruel and unusual. Thus our friend BDL at least in the great state of MI would not likely have much luck with his State Supreme Court appeal.
Better make that a heavy duty plunger. :lol:
FWIW I tried a few micro brews over the last few weeks I didn't like much. Never thought of having them comped but I have no doubt if I would have asked they would have come of the bill.
My solution was to pound it down and order another........
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #40 of 45

I would probably comp the beer and drink it myself. : ) 


No but seriously, the beer should be comped, especially since the customer is a regular. Regulars keep the restaurant going, plus you wouldn't want to cause a scene over a beer. 


Personally. as a customer  I would never try to return a beer. After all, It usually takes about half a beer for me to adjust to any new beer, especially microbrews. I may not like the first few sips, but then I get used to it and start liking it most of the time.


At the last place I worked, an Irish pub, they had small four ounce sample glasses that looked like little mini Guinness glasses, and customers could ask for samples if they were trying something new. In fact, the bartenders would often offer samples if the customer expressed interest in trying something new. That way if a customer doesn't like a new beer, there is minimal waste. 

Edited by CrazyCorey - 6/24/10 at 9:21am
post #41 of 45

Before I throw my 2 cents in:

*I assume we all agree that if you have a 10 year regular, you wouldn't quibble over comping a beer. I'm assuming we are talking about the situation in general.

* We are the folks behind the curtain, so I also assume no Restaurant professional would order a micro brew without tasting it and not want to pay.

*The paint store analogy is an invalid comparison. Buying paint doesn't provide nourishment to the body, isn't a social event, and doesn't involve a palate.


As to this situation, I have to ask myself this question-,"do I want to feel good, or do good?".

Being on the front lines of serving the general public, we many times have to swallow our pride. Many other times we are the fall guy for one of our employee's, and other imes are a punching bag for some miserable person that wants to take out his misery on you. It NO DOUBT feels good to fight back, and remind someone they are playing an away game...but is that smart? I have to guard against my ego costing me money, and remember what my primary purpose is.


I say no. Every customer is a commercial. Customers (I prefer guests) are the best and only sure marketing plan we will ever have in this crazy business. I come from the old school myself. My mentor never spent a cent on advertising and did very well for himself. For instance, we opened a restaurant in an alley of a smaller sized cities almost totally vacant downtown, and he still wouldn't spend a dime on advertising. We would get a few tables a night the first few weeks, but we blew those few guests away. In 3 months we were the hottest ticket in town (granted it was a small southern town), was all word of mouth.


There is only ONE situation in which you are guaranteed to make a regular for life or an enemy for life...that's when something goes wrong (perceived or real).

React well, and make it right (making it "right" often costs little to nothing $$ wise) and you got a friend...handle it wrong and instead of having a commercial, you get an attack add.

Most of this hinges on the manager/chef approaching the guest as an advocate for them(the guest), not an attorney for the restaurant (or an angry father protecting his children *staff*). Be accountable, tell the guest what you're going to do, and then do it...If I do that well, 99% of the time that guest that was angry or disapointed before is shaking my hand and thanking me.


Why on this day of Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, and MySpace would I piss someone off over a $1 beer?

Why would I risk this guy going on a crusade to hurt my business over $1? Most people on these social networking sites have HUNDREDS of friends, many living in the same area.....its a pretty easy call for me.



post #42 of 45

Old thread....


I guess one of my biggest regrets is not having spent more time in other cities in the last 15 or so years. 


Vancouver is a "Foodie" town. (this is with rose coloured glasses)


Vancouver is a mean and dirty town when it comes to the restaurant business, on every street there is 2 or 3 of the same types of businesses for the customer.


And the customers know this and vote with their feet.


I do respect the customer,and I know which side of my bread is buttered.


I also know that almost every customer that walks through my door, or through anyone elses's door is looking for a free lunch.


Now, take for instance my "customer card", which I offer to customers at a nominal fee of $10.00 and allows them to enjoy a 10 % discount on any regular priced item in the store.  And we stress this when issueing the card.  For the most part nothing happens untill our annual vaction when we close down for 10 in August and in January, when we close down for 5 days.  Just before closing down we have a 40%  off sale. 


Guess how many customers INSIST we give them the 10% ontop of the 40%?



A true diplomat can tell you to go to he77 in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip, and I certainly try......


Does the customer actually respect the owner, respect in a way that acknowledges that the owner is entilteld to cover his costs and earn a little something i.e. a, (gasp) salary?


Does it take a P.O.'d owner to educate them?



When we first opened, we had a no-deposit policy on special order and custom cakes.  What a mess, no one honoured it, they would order and "forget" to pick up, or when picking up griping about the price, or insisting that it "didn't look like the picture" in my brochure. (hint hint, I want a discount)  After 6 mths we had enough and requried a Visa # on all special orders.  That was almost 3 years ago and we have had almost 0 complaints 


Yeah, yeah, facebook and all that.  Look, ontop of all that, Vancouver city has over 150 foodie bloggers.  A true definition of someone gone bonkers is someone trying to please everyone all the time.  I've had blooogers complain about the building I'm in, the state of the C.of Vancouver's tree's infront of my building, the fact that I claim to be Swiss but don't have an accent, you name it.


I put out a good prodcut, I charge a decent price, I offer free samples, I offer information about products, I respect the customer, and I also respect myself and my business.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #43 of 45

I once ordered a micro brew beer that was absolutely horrible. Tasted worse than any medicine I ever took, but tight-wad that I am I drank it anyway because I'd paid more than 3 bucks for it, and that's a lot of money for a tap beer around here. My reward for "sucking it up"? I looked down and saw a $5 bill laying on the floor by my feet. Figured it was a refund from God. I know where Pump is coming from though. Where do you draw the line? I had a woman order a 4 piece cod dinner with lemon pepper on it and then say she didn't like it (too bad). She could have ordered lemon pepper on one or two pieces to see if she liked it, we will do that. Then a week or so ago, I had a table of four come in. Three of them ordered batter-fried walleye, and one had planked salmon. The salmon came back with the person saying it was tough, dry and tasted bad. They had taken a very small bite of the thinnest part. They wanted walleye instead. I know what happened. There was nothing wrong with the salmon, they just decided the walleye looked better. We replaced it because the diner indicated there was something wrong with it, but there wasn't. I think in the future I should only offer to remake the same item. I had it happen with a blackened tuna where the person claimed "the blackening just totally overwhelms the taste of the tuna". (Oh? And what did you think blackening would do to it?)  They then wanted it replaced with walleye. Again, I should have offered to remake the tuna minus the blackening, although by rights they should have paid for it as it was their choice. The waitress serving it thinks we don't know how to do it right, but we do. I just hate the whole blackening thing as I think it ruins the food. I cringe when people order blackened Canadian walleye. What a waste!

post #44 of 45

I would say comped.  If it were to happen in my restaurant, it would be comped. 


I've had a few situations where I was a patron and I didn't like a beer.  Once I felt it was too flat, and it was taken away and replaced with another beer and the item was taken off the bill.  Another time, a buddy of mine didn't like the PITCHER that we purchased, and it was taken away and taken off the bill. 

post #45 of 45

In our restaurant we offer comps sometimes, and deny comps at others.  Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt and we will offer a comp if we feel that the situation warrents it. Ultimately we determine whether or not we feel this customer is believable and valuable.


In this example, this is a long time customer.  If they frequently expect comps, then we cut them off.  But if they rarely complain, then we consider their complaint genuine and will offer an appropriate comp in order to retain their long term patronage.


Why would I piss off a long term customer just because he made one bad decision?  Especially if it was an inexpensive bad decision.  Who cares who is right or wrong.


A phone company recently pissed me off.  I had been a customer for 9 yrs and never asked for anything, but really hated my most recent phone purchase.  They refused to let me exchange it.  I offered to pay a fee to exchange it.  Denied.  I tried 4 different managers in different stores.  I sent an email stating the short sightedness of saving $100 and losing annual serve fees of over $1400, times 20 years equals $28,000.  Denied.  I was insensed at the lack of customer service and the absolute stupidity of the company.  I dumped them, even though I had to pay an early cancellation fee.  Suddenly they started caling me asking what they could do for me ...Piss Off.


My point, don't piss off a good customer.  But weed out the bad ones.

Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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