Etiquette of Restaurant Complaining, Part 2

What to do when service isn't really service.

Trent Armstrong
6-minute read
Episode #80

If you'll remember waaaay back to episode #75 "Restaurant Complaining Done Right"-- though I can't help but think in retrospect, it should have been called "Restaurant Complaining, Well Done"-- I discussed the manners of complaining in a restaurant when you are served an unsatisfactory dish. Well, at long last the day has come for us to tackle the customer service scenario. What do you do when your service just hasn't been up to snuff?

When Restaurant Service is Unacceptable

Often our service is acceptable, but at times we--as customers--find ourselves in a situation where another person's best efforts are just not good enough, and we have no choice but to bring it to their or someone else's attention. For these scenarios, let's revisit the restaurant-- since, after all, your Modern Manners Guy does like to eat and the restaurant is a great model of social systems at work where manners are concerned. I’ll tell you how to handle a bunch of different restaurant service situations.

Always Pay a Compliment for Good Service

When in a typical "sit-down" restaurant, you the customer will be waited on by a server-- generally an affable sort, or someone with the good sense to pretend as much so as to achieve the maximum tip at the end of service. Many times their affability is combined with a level of competence that helps to create a pleasurable dining experience. In this scenario, I believe it is important to let the manager know that she has an all-star on her team. It will make you and the manger feel good and it will make the server feel great-- please don't forget to tip!

How to Handle a Competent But Aloof Server

Other times you may run across a waiter who-- though competent-- is in the midst of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and your pleasure is low on his check list. These people can generally pull off an acceptable service experience, despite being indifferent to how they come across. I believe it is unnecessary to contact the manager if you've had a mostly pleasant dining experience-- everyone has an off day. Imagine if your worst day at work was made worse by the fact that someone had "told on you" to the boss. Granted, there really isn't any excuse for doing one’s job poorly, but let's face it, sometimes it happens.