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It Pays To Complain

Someone who runs one of Birmingham’s best restaurants approached us recently, upset about a negative reader review posted on Bhamdining. Our restaurant friend was not just upset about someone posting something negative, but about the fact that the poster did not let restaurant management know about their bad experience.

Mistakes happen. Something gets overcooked or undercooked, they don’t leave out the onions as you requested, maybe your order gets lost altogether. If something’s not right, speak up – nicely, of course. If your server doesn’t get it resolved (or if your server IS the problem), talk to the manager there at the time. And if your problem still isn’t resolved, contact the restaurant the next day, or at least within a few days.

Do try to distinguish between something that’s really wrong and something that’s just not quite what you expected. And to head off potential problems with expectations, don’t be afraid to ask your server questions up front about the menu. It’s far better to ask, “Tell me more about the steak tartare” than to send it back once it arrives because you didn’t realize that steak tartare is served raw.

We often get take out from the Jim ‘n Nick’s nearby; it’s consistent and convenient. But it seems about half the time we do this, something is missing from our order. It was the last straw recently when we picked up a $100 order for a family get-together (my Dad lives in Illinois and doesn’t get to have barbecue often), and they forgot the BARBECUE SAUCE! 

A call to the restaurant actually got a quart of sauce delivered to our door, but it took them longer than it would have taken for one of us to run over there and get it ourselves. So we went to their web site and used the feedback e-mail to express our dissatisfaction. We got an e-mail back the next day, and a few days later a handwritten note arrived letting us know they had not only taken the entire tab off the credit card, they also had enclosed a gift card for our next family gathering!

Not every complaint results in such a generous make-good, of course. But at the very least you should get an apology and get things made right. There have only been a handful of times when we have complained and run up against an uncaring restaurant manager or owner. Most of the time, owners of local restaurants are very keen to make sure their customers have the best experience possible. So before you post your next scathing comment about a restaurant you feel did you wrong, whether it’s at Bhamdining.com, al.com, chowhound.com or on your own blog, at least give them a chance first to make it right.

And don't forget to let a restaurant know when they've really done an outstanding job, too!

Here are some links to some other thoughts on the topic:



Posted on Monday, November 3, 2008 at 06:59AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments4 Comments

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Reader Comments (4)

I understand the restaurant owner's problem.

Discourse is needed though.

I hope that maybe the restaurants would be allowed to comment. Then they can feel like they had their say in any negative or positive issues.

I think all opinions, if appropriate, should be published.

Great subject matter to talk about.

Keep up the food work!

Love the site

November 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfoodimentary101

In response to foodimentary101, restaurant owners are always welcome to comment on our site. In fact, someone from Jubilee Joe's just did so last week. (http://www.bhamdining.com/steak-seafood/2007/6/4/jubilee-joes.html)

November 3, 2008 | Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge

That's what I'm talking about.

The more interaction, the better experience.

Great links by the way.

November 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfoodimentary101

Jubilee Joe's worst restaurant experience ever...

After church yesterday we decided to try a new place we had heard of called Jubilee Joe’s. We had read some good reviews and were looking forward to finding a good place for all-you-can-eat crawfish. So we walk in with excited anticipation and meet a friend who was also excited about finding a good place for good crawfish. We were in for a huge surprise and disappointment.

Before spending $22 on the meals we asked to sample the crawfish and they brought out 3 which were pretty good. So we place our order and after waiting patiently for an hour I finally asked how much longer it would be before we could get the food. It was brought out with in 5 minutes of me asking. And that it is when the real fun begins.

Our guest’s crawfishalfredo was cold and the crawfish were small and chewy like they were frozen, and the dish was not seasoned. I ate two crawfish, one bite of potato, one bite of corn and my wife did the same, she may have eaten 3 crawfish. They tasted completely different from the sample ones. It didn’t taste like there was seasoning on any of it, and not good enough to eat. So I asked to talk with the manager.

A guy in nasty sweatpants, dirty t-shirt, ball cap, and dripping with sweat came out and asked very rudely what the problem was. Another reason to lose an appetite. He later said his name was Cash and he was the owner.

When I described to him what I have written above he goes nuts. He said he said no one has complained in four f***ing years. Yes, he screamed and cussed in front of my wife and guest, and his other patrons, including small children. He just couldn’t believe that we didn’t like it. I offered to pay for the drinks since we did consume them, but asked to not pay for the food since it was not worth eating.

He again, got furious and yelled and cursed in front of everyone, so we laid money on the table for the drinks and tried to leave. As we crossed the threshold Cash storms out after us and calls the police saying that we are running out on the tab. So now after waiting for an hour for food we are still starving but can’t leave because we have to wait on police.

While waiting, a very nice guy, claiming to be Cash’s brother came out to find out what was going on. Cash came out to join us, and when his brother requested to Cash that we be able to leave since we didn’t eat the food. He started yelling, cursing and screaming. Yes, this is the guy claiming he is the owner.

Hoover police showed up and we explained the story, and the law states if owner insist we have to pay for what we ordered. So, we did what we had to and paid the bill, but will never be back. I want to urge everyone who reads this, for the sake of your taste buds, wallet, time, and family, please do not go to Jubilee Joe’s, and warn your family and friends.

May 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Nelson

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