Friday, April 24, 2009

What More Do You Want?

The level of assumed entitlement in this post-Yelp! world is amazing.

There was a time where a consumer and a business-owner obliged each other with this simple, basic ground rule:

If something purchased did not meet the consumer's satisfaction and that item could be reasonably returned (or was faulty, or was only partially consumed in the case of food) then the business-owner would accept the return and refund their money. That's good business.

Now it seems that only "kinda" liking something is grounds for demanding refund and sending a dish back is grounds for an entire check to be comped.

Two cases in point:

Consumerist Blog writes about purchasing a chimichurri salmon dish at Trader Joe's and finding a dead, cooked worm on the fish as he's consuming it. That's gross, sure. Fine. So he returns the uneaten fish and the worm to his local Trader Joe's and gets a refund and several complimentary items. Well done Trader Joe's. However, on the blog, Consumerist is annoyed that he hasn't received any response from Trader Joe's corporate. What possible response would they have that wasn't already addressed by his local store? What does he want? Free TJs for life over a stupid worm? Come on! Organic matter exists with other organic matter and every so often you'll find unintended organic matter packaged with intended organic matter. That's life. I'd be more concerned about finding inorganic matter like broken glass or "bleach-like" substances. But a worm on a fish? Especially a dead one? Who cares? Pick it off and keep eating.

A recent Yelp! review of Street in Hollywood had this to say:

"I ate their on Saturday night. The food ranged from good to forgettable. The left side of the menu (small plates) is MUCH better than the right side. In a city like LA, with amazing and authentic Korean and Thai restaurants, there is little reason to eat korean BBQ short ribs or mediocre Bibimbop here. My biggest complaint is that we were not seated until 9:30pm when we had a 9pm reservation. To make matters worse, they did not offer to buy us a round of drinks and only took a few appetizers off the menu when we asked them to "do something" at the end of the meal. On a $250 bill (before tip) they took of $17 worth of apps. Many of the cocktails cost above $10, so this really was not much. (BTW, the $16 cocktail is SO over in LA; just ask Bar 1912).

Overall, they need to shore up the way they run the restaurant. Relying on Ms. Feniger's hard earned reputation alone does not make a great restaurant. Unless they shore up the front of the house and focus the food on being unique, STREET will fail...and there will go Ms. Feniger's rep. It will be a long time before I spend my $$$ here again."

Oh, so you weren't blown away by the food and you had to wait 30 minutes to be seated for a reservation? Okay, so that sucks. Oh, but they comped some appetizers? Cool, so what's the problem? You could've left if you didn't want to eat there. Should they have maybe comped a little bit more? Sure. But you were the entitled prick who asked that they "do something." When I was a waiter that was a cue for not caring if you ever did come back.

So what should you reasonably expect when a restaurant fails to meet your expectations?

For egregious wait times for a reservation: comped drink or appetizer.

For unacceptable food: either comped or replaced, if replacement causes a significant delay then perhaps the entree or a drink should be comped.

For an incorrect order: replacement and, if it causes a significant delay, a comped drink or dessert.

For unacceptable service: a lot of discretion here, ranging from free drinks to gift certificates to a total refund.

Basically buddy, for having to wait 30 minutes for your table (and knowing your type it was probably more like 15) you should MAYBE get a free drink while you waited.

You're lucky you didn't get a cockslap across your face.

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