No Service - What would you do?

Jerry1

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In a recent thread, "Bad Service: What would you do?", I said I'd get up and leave. Well, that's exactly what happened today. A bit different than other times, so wondering what you would have done.

DW and I sat down and no one came to the table for long enough that we decided to get up and leave. In this case, we weren't upset. We just decided it was best to leave. It looked like a big group was there and near as I could tell, they must have asked to take the group and sit outside. I could see the activity of breaking down the tables and moving the waters and condiments outside. DW looked out and saw that the two waitresses were taking orders. Enough time had passed that we were getting antsy and when we realized that it was probably our waitresses tied up with this group, plus that our order was likely to get put in after theirs, we decided to leave.

The interesting thing, and this is the first time this has ever happened, as we were walking out, the owner saw us and asked if anything was wrong. I just said that it looks like you're too busy and kept walking. She followed us to the door, asking that we stay and even offered to comp us dinners. Sorry, we understand that it's not your fault, but it just seems like you're too busy. No hard feelings. Thank you. And we kept walking.

I'm thinking we may go back there next Sunday and let her know there really are no hard feelings. I've eaten there before and nothing like this has ever happened. It certainly wasn't my objective to get a free meal. That one surprised me. But hey, policies are policies. We got the bad vibe and we left. What would you have done?
 
I did the same thing last summer. The restaurant had far more customers than the staff could handle at the time. We waited by the hostess stand for about 20 minutes. No staff even acknowledged that we were there in all that time. So we walked out.
 
Only one weird experience like this. On vacation, stopped in a local small town restaurant for lunch. We were seated in a booth against the wall. Waited. One server was handling the booth next to us on one side, a different server had the booth on the other side. Neither server stopped at our table. At some point I stopped a third server passing by and asked if she knew who our server was. She said she would tell our server to come over. After another five minutes went by, it was clear that we weren't going to be served for some reason, and we left. No idea why they seated us and then decided not to serve us.
 
I would have done exactly the same thing.
 
In 2008, we had this happen at a wine tasting, although it didn't seem like the place was that busy (2 other groups). We (and the two couples with us) walked out. Since then, none have us have purchased anything from that winery, despite its wines having a relatively good reputation ("Duckhorn").
 
Hmm, I might have left believing they were overwhelmed that evening. But, given the owner was concerned enough to make it right, suggests she cares about her business.

Given that, I would go back to see if that was an off night or in fact they have operational concerns. If operational, I would leave again.
 
I have done the same thing in the past. It is just easier to get out before the long wait that
will really test your patience.
 
I think I would find it hard to resist the comp dinners.
 
I would take the comp dinners.
 
Yep, I would have left also if your expectations aren't meet.
 
A comped dinner would be nice but I would have declined. I can eat anywhere including home but paying to eat in a restaurant should include a stress free environment. If the restaurant is lacking with a pleasant and enjoyable venue at the moment then I would leave and return at a latter time when less busy.
 
I regularly leave without comment or intensity if I think it's not going to work out.

If I extend a greeting to an employee and they don't reciprocate or acknowledge it I also leave, and that happens a fair amount. I don't invest emotionally in it and I don't act as a consultant for the company by correcting anyone. I just leave.
 
Hmmm. Comped dinners sound nice, but not if you have to wait for them also!

A few weeks ago, DH and I went to try a new BBQ restaurant. We walked in and sat down, waited about 2 minutes. The live music/band was so loud we couldn't stand it, almost had to yell to talk to each other across the small table. It was a small place and the echo was horrible and they certainly didn't need amplifier for that area! Owner came over as we were leaving wondering why we were going. "Too loud!" Haven't been back to see if it's been toned down.
 
Hmmm. Comped dinners sound nice, but not if you have to wait for them also!
That would be my concern- they were already overloaded. My Dad said that after waiting in interminable lines in college to register for classes one at a time (class of 1953, so all manual) he resolved he'd never stand in line again. I'm sure he had to sometimes- he flew a lot on business- but I'd see him put down (non-perishable) merchandise and walk out of stores if he saw long lines. I do something similar- I compare likely wait time to how much I want that merchandise or service- and decide how long I'm willing to wait before I walk out.

So, yeah, I'd have left the restaurant, too.
 
If the owner personally stopped me on the way out, I'd probably have agreed to have them reseat me and try again. The service would have probably been attentive at that point, if she/he cared enough to intervene.
 
I was taking physical therapy for an injury. The first few sessions were great, no waiting, attentive staff. Then I went in, had to wait 30 minutes and was barely acknowledged. Finally got into the therapy area and left alone again for five minutes. Was given a few stretches to do and again left for five minutes. I finally just got up and walked out. The PT staff called and asked if everything was OK and if I wanted to reschedule. told them it was apparent today was a bad day and everyone was too busy. I didn't reschedule and I didn't return for the rest of my PT sessions.
 
If the owner personally stopped me on the way out, I'd probably have agreed to have them reseat me and try again. The service would have probably been attentive at that point, if she/he cared enough to intervene.
This, and I'd have asked for a different section/server if they've over-seated them - and I'd probably have done that before walking out. Nothing worse than wondering where your appetizer is, and seeing the server taking an order at a 12-top.

Where I live, on a weekend, leaving means going home. No chance anywhere else I'd like to go is going to be able to seat me quickly. And if I'm in the mood for what we've gone to the place for, and I'm a regular, I'd happily let them make it right. If it was my first time trying a new place I might have just bailed.

I don't go out to dinner to "eat food" as the main objective. I go out for ambience, a date, time to sit and chat with music in the background, perhaps a glass of wine.

But bad vibes kills all that.
 
I don't go out to dinner to "eat food" as the main objective. I go out for ambience, a date, time to sit and chat with music in the background, perhaps a glass of wine.

But bad vibes kills all that.

Very true!
 
I've long had a policy of "if a business is too busy to take my money I'll spend it someplace else". More succinctly, "I don't do lines". So I'd have walked out.
 
I've long had a policy of "if a business is too busy to take my money I'll spend it someplace else". More succinctly, "I don't do lines". So I'd have walked out.
Well put.
I had a really odd experience a number of years ago when we went to the best restaurant of its type in our city for dinner on a Friday evening. Welcomed, seated, and ordered. I was impressed that the waiter didn't write anything down, he just (supposedly) remembered what we ordered.

Time went on, and eventually he brought our drinks.
Time went on, and after about another 15 minutes he came by again and asked me what we had ordered. Told him, and he nodded and left.

Another 15 minutes and we went through the same thing again, "What did you order?".

Another 15 minutes and once again "What did you order?"
At that point we got up, and I tossed enough cash on the table to cover my beer and my wife's glass of wine.

Walking through the main section on our way out, the owner asked how everything was, and I told him why we were leaving. No comment, just, "Sorry about that."

When we got to the parking lot, our waiter came running out after me, and told me I hadn't left enough money, he needed another 85 cents for the bill.
Totally flabbergasted, I happened to have that much in change in my pocket, so I tossed it at him and we left, watching him gather up the coins.

Needless to say, we never returned to that restaurant.
 
When we have a bad experience I usually send an email the next day, detailing what went wrong along with a suggestion on how to improve. I don’t ask for anything and do it in the spirit of being helpful. The response, or lack of one, says a lot. Some apologize, others are challenging. About half never respond.

The restaurant business is tough and I’m always surprised when errors or bad business habits are not corrected. I also think it’s not smart to have an online presence but then not respond to internet communications.
 
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