Did You Tell Your Server?

Back in the day when I started working at the restaurant, every complaint was given some sort of a free meal and the server was responsible. One night I almost lost my job when the cashier comped an $80 ticket because one person at the table didn’t get a drink refill. When I was hauled in the office, I pointed out that perhaps people were taking advantage of the cashier (I was being nice) and perhaps she should use her head and stop giving away food (I wasn’t being nice).

The Manager instituted an Absolutely, Positively No Free Food policy and while it has been in effect for almost 2 years, people try all the time. Working as a cashier two nights a week has given me an appreciation for the regular cashiers and the games people play.

The game goes something like this:

“How was everything?”
“There wasn’t enough sauce on my ribs.”
“I’m sorry. Did you tell your server?”
(Blank stare) “Okay, then.”

“How was everything?”
“I didn’t get a spoon in my silverware packet.”
“I’m sorry. Did you tell your server?”
“Did she bring you a spoon?”
(Blank stare) “Okay, then.”

“How was…”
“Fries were cold.”
“I’m sorry. Did you tell your server?”
(Blank stare) “Okay, then.”
“You gonna take anything off?”
(Blank stare) “You mean off the ticket?”
“Yes. Fries were cold.”
“I’m sorry, but your server is the one who fixes that.”

“How was everything?”
“There was too much breading on the fish.”
“I’m sorry. Did you tell your server?”
“No, we didn’t want to upset her.”
(Blank stare) “Okay, then.”

Yes, YOUR SERVER is the one who fixes your meal if it isn’t to your liking.

Oh yeah, I’m on to this angle. People know that, as a cashier, I don’t know if they licked their plate clean. All I have is their word that the food was inadequate. Customers bet that I won’t track down their server and ask if they ate all their food.

However, the look on their face when I ask if they complained to their server is priceless. They get all shifty eyed, because it is a question they weren’t expecting and they don’t have time to think up a lie, so they tell the truth. I used to work for a complete LIAR. I know the look. On the other hand, if the food really wasn’t up to standard, now they know to tell their server.

Either way, I gave out a free service. I either saved a customer from the bad karma of ripping off my employer or I let them know how to handle future complaints. Who says nothing’s free?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. whatigotsofar
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 05:38:45

    I went out for dinner on Saturday. My meal wasn’t to my liking in several ways. I didn’t complain. I just used the discretion of my wallet. The service was slow and I was brought the wrong food. I still ate it. But my thoughts were reflected in my tip and my unwillingness to return to the restaurant.

    That is the way I handle things as well.

    This is the way i see it. I live in a metropolitan area of over 4 million people. There are lots of restaurants I can eat at. I am going to focus my wallet at the restaurants with the best food and the best service. I don’t think I’ll go hungry. Also, I think it’s the polite way of getting my message across. The restaurants with poor service get less business, the ones with good service get more business. And let capitalistic nature take it’s course.

    I agree completely. If I eat somewhere and the food is substandard and the service is bad, I don’t go back. If they are really busy I might cut them some slack and give it a second try, but certainly not a third.


  2. DarcKnyt
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 09:16:12

    Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever been dissatisfied with a meal and didn’t let someone know. I have had things go very differently than you describe, though.

    Once, I went to a restaurant with a couple of friends and we ordered fried chicken wings. They had a special on Fridays or something. This would be about … hm … 16 years ago? 15 maybe?

    Anyway, one of the wings had a feather on it. The feather had been battered and fried just like any other part of the wing. I don’t know where that chicken’s been, where it came from, what sort of diseases chickens carry (especially mass-produced chickens), and yadda yadda. I complained to the server.

    He looks at us and goes, “Guys, it’s just a feather.”

    Now, the restaurant’s busy and I understand that. He’s covering a lot of tables and doesn’t want to deal with this whiny, bitch-piss-moan stuff. I get it, really. But when a client complains about the food, you really shouldn’t argue back at them. They pay your salary AND provide the tip.

    So, I folded my hands on the table and calmly said, “Since you feel that way, I’d like to speak with the manager, please.”

    He went pale for some reason (I still don’t get it) and said, “Let me go get you another plate.”

    “No thank you. I’d like to speak to the manager.”

    “No, seriously, let me take care of this for you.”

    “Honestly, I’ve lost my appetite, and for this dish in particular. I think I’d rather just speak to the–”

    “I’ll take it off your bill for you. How’s that?”

    “Oh, that’d be great, thanks. I appreciate that. And would you please let the manager know I’d like to speak with him as soon as possible please?”

    He didn’t like that. He didn’t get the manager, I had to go find someone else to do it. He also didn’t get a tip.

    Next time we went to the dive, he wasn’t there. Just sayin’.

    Yes, tell your server. But sometimes, that’s NOT the solution.

    A feather? Ewww!

    If any of us dealt with a complain like you described, we’d be canned. If any of us basically refused to get a manager for you, we’d be canned.

    You are right, customers do pay my wages and any complaint about the food is taken very seriously. If a complaint is made at the table, it is fixed either with a different dish (didn’t like the ribs, want the pork instead?) or re-cooked (cold fries? How about some fresh, hot ones that I watch the cooks take out of the fryer). In my recent experience I had a large table who raved about how good the food was, yet when they got to the cashier they complained about everything, right down to the beers not being big enough ($1.50 for a pint). They were angling for a freebie.


    • DarcKnyt
      Jan 19, 2010 @ 00:08:57

      I know, a feather! A freakin’ FEATHER! C’mon! That’s NASTY! But the guy copped a ‘tude and that’s not uncommon ’round these parts, like Falcon said below.

      I don’t know what happened to that guy. He might just have had the day off, but I used to frequent the restaurant quite a bit and just didn’t see him. That was the only negative experience I had. I moved out of the area and it became too far to keep going.

      Maybe he decided food service wasn’t for him. If you are going to get an attitude every time someone complains, you better find a different job.

      I don’t think I’ve ever asked for anything free. I’ve been comped a couple of things in restaurants, but I’ve never requested it.

      Not saying it’s not true for your establishment, but I’ve been told by every server I’ve ever met they’d be canned for giving a customer a hard time. In his defense, the guy did offer to get us another plate, but I was so put-off by the way he was I’d have none of it. I don’t think I was unreasonable, and if he didn’t think he’d done something wrong, why didn’t he get the manager when I asked?

      Oh we’d be canned for arguing with a customer or refusing to take a complaint seriously. If I feel a customer is being difficult or unreasonable, I go get a manager because I’m not going to part of the problem.

      I haven’t thought about this incident since 1994. Funny now to analyze it so much. 😀

      It’s funny how we get something stuck in our head and just can’t shake it.


  3. Sherri
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 09:27:59

    The places I eat, I don’t complain unless something’s raw in the middle. And then it’s not really a complaint, more like a heads up. Says something about the places I eat.

    Would you come and be my customer?


  4. DarcsFalcon
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 17:54:47

    I’ve hardly ever complained. And I don’t think I’ve ever complained to the cashier. I guess that just never occurred to me. If there’s a problem, you go to the server. Simple.

    I’ve never complained to the cashier either because by that time, I’ve decided I’m never coming back.

    I’d have to say the few times I’ve had to complain about something, the servers around here seem to cop an attitude about 30% of the time, like what Darc mentioned.

    Really?! I try to make people happy because I want them to come back, but I’m careful to not get taken advantage of. If you have a feather on your chicken, an egg shell in your omelette, or rot on the inside of your baked potato I’m going to fix it, but I’m not giving you a free meal. I think most people want it fixed, but it’s the few who want something for nothing that stand out.

    A majority of the time they really do seem to try to correct the problem. I’ve seen people who make life miserable for servers and I desperately don’t want to be like that. I don’t want the server to be glad to see me go!

    Haha! I know a few of those.


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