Making your complaints effective, rather than embarrassing

Imagine the scenario. There is a restaurant filled to the brim with guests and, from one table, a loud voice is telling the waiter that the food is not satisfactory and demanding that it be taken back to the kitchens and replaced. People who hear this kind of conversation end up very embarrassed and, of course, feel bad for the waiter, who merely acted as a go-between serving food that someone else prepared. If you go to a restaurant with friends and have a valid complaint, there are right ways to do it and wrong ways. Learn the correct ways and your friends will not be embarrassed.

The source of the problem

There could be many sources. Restaurants have been known to set the tables with cutlery which is dirty, to serve food which is cold and to serve the wrong items to guests. It’s part of the way restaurants run and sometimes things don’t go as smoothly as the restaurant owner may wish. Perhaps the dishwasher failed to wash the cutlery correctly. Perhaps the waiter is unaware that the soup is colder than it should be. Things happen, though the difference between eating a friend’s house and eating in a restaurant environment is that you are paying for the meal. Cash talks, and often people voice their disapproval of something too loudly. No matter what the source of the problem, there is always a solution.

Dirty cutlery

Instead of making a fuss about a dirty spoon, it’s easy to catch the waiter’s attention and to ask in a quiet voice, which embarrasses no one, for a change of that particular spoon. They know it happens and will just change it, leaving no one embarrassed at all.

The food is cold

In the case of cold food, perhaps the waiter left it too long on the counter in the kitchen, or perhaps it wasn’t hot when he/she started to serve it to you. Don’t embarrass everyone by shouting to the waiter in a loud voice. Stand up and go to the waiter station and ask calmly if there is a problem as your fellow guests have found their food to be cold. Good restaurant owner wants to please their guests. They really don’t want to serve cold food and if the complaint is made in a reasonable and discreet manner, they can address it without embarrassing either themselves, other guests or the people with whom you dine.

The wine is corked

This happens. It’s no one’s fault, but it tastes like vinegar. A good quality restaurant will pour a little wine into a guest’s glass and ask them to taste it. If it tastes like vinegar, simply tell the waiter that you think perhaps the wine is corked and does not taste right, but don’t make a fuss about it. They will always replace the bottle, so why embarrass the people around you?

The waiter serves the wrong food to the wrong people

In a case such as this, all it means is that the waiter doesn’t have a great memory. The best way to get around this is to simply swap plates. It’s as easy as that. Often people who complain in a loud voice embarrass everyone, including fellow guests. Simply take the matter under your own control and swap. If you cannot reach the place where the food should be placed, simply ask your fellow guests to pass it. It isn’t the end of the world, and it shows team spirit to simply pass the plates around, helping the waiter to get the rest of the order correct.

A disappointing meal

When you were given the menu, you chose your food. If it doesn’t live up to what you expected, don’t eat it all and then complain. Once the food is gone, you have in fact given way to your claim that the food was lousy. The best way to deal with this is simply to ask the waiter if the chef can check the meal, since the meat is tough or the sauce doesn’t taste right. Again, a calm demeanour is reasonable and won’t embarrass anyone. Most people live and learn. That means that they don’t visit the restaurant again if the meal is disappointing, but it’s the height of bad manners to eat it all and then complain at the value or the price. 

The price

This is a major embarrassment when groups of people dine together. Arguing the toss over one cup of coffee too many charged on the bill is embarrassing. The other thing that embarrasses people who eat with you is being stingy with the tip and begrudging the waiting staff a little of your hard-earned cash. If the general consensus is to tip, be a sport and join in, even if the tip is relatively small. It shows your better side, rather than arguing that the meal wasn’t worth it.

The Guardian Online came up with some very astute tips to people who are not satisfied with their meals in restaurants which may help a little. It concluded that 38 per cent of British customers did not complain even if they found something wrong with their food. The reason was, perhaps, the reserved nature the British are famed for. However, if you do complain, wherever you are in the world, be discreet, be thoughtful and perhaps the people you dine with may ask you to dine with them again. 

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