Restaurant Rumblings Part 1

In our office, a trek to Starbucks is a hallowed event.  We love these trips and before you start to worry, I’m not talking about Starbucks today.  Starbucks is still awesome.

Anyway, on today’s journey, my friend Tyler was talking about his lunch yesterday at a local hamburger shop with seven coworkers.  When it came time to pay they wanted to split the tab eight ways.  Of course the seven friends wanted to use credit cards and Tyler wanted to use cash.  Tyler bowed to peer pressure and decided to pay with his credit card as well.

Some time later the waitress returned informing Tyler that there was a mix up and they accidentally sent his credit card home with another customer.  She was very apologetic and said she would do what she could to get his card back for him.  She then offered him a beer to help soften the blow which was a nice gesture but not something Tyler was able to partake of as he was heading back to work.

Back at the office, Tyler went online and looked to see if there was any “extra” activity on his credit card.  He found that both his meal and the meal of the people who took his card home had been charged to his account.

The restaurant eventually called to let him know his card had been returned to the restaurant and he could come pick it up.  When he arrived they worked with him to removed the extra charge from his account.  At that point, no offer of recompense was made to Tyler while he waited for them to correct this.  This probably would have been a great time for the beer but instead they simply fixed this and without apology sent him on his way.

Tyler easily spent an hour of his day dealing with this inconvenience that HE didn’t cause and all he was left with was a free beer?  In talking with Tyler about this incident he felt like he had been wronged and probably will not frequent that restaurant again.  I know for a fact that in 24 hours he has easily told 20 people about this experience.

What a teachable opportunity this is for better communication.  It seems so logical that in this situation the restaurant should have comped the $14.50 for Tyler’s meal right?  The front line staff must be empowered well enough to find out what would make a situation right with the customer and if it is within reason, do it!  I daresay Tyler wasn’t once asked if he felt that the restaurant had made it right?  How do you know if you don’t ask?

Because the restaurant didn’t make it right, they lost not only one customer but more than likely every customer Tyler has talked to in his circle of influence.  Every contact with customers is an opportunity to communicate better and I’m sorry to be so blunt but there are serious ramifications if the opportunity is not handled well.

Stay tuned for part 2.  It’s a good one…

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  • WOW-what a sucky situation here! I want to know where this is so I can avoid it too! In my opinion, they should have totally comped his meal and the beer. However, to me, this still wouldn’t give me much trust back in the company. I think I’d want to have some acknowledgement from the manager and maybe “come back for another free meal on us” type deal. Losing your credit card is stressful enough but to know it’s gone home with a stranger is just ridiculous.

    I got sushi in La Jolla with a friend once; just a quick lunch (a couple rolls and appetizers). The check arrived, totaling $25 and change and since it was my treat, I handed over my card. A few minutes later, the check comes back to the table with a pen to sign and I look at the charge: $110! Needless to say, I was SHOCKED! I called the waitress over and said, “I’m sorry but this isn’t my check but it is my card you charged for it!” She apologized (couldn’t speak much English) and returned with the proper check and charge. She said that she refunded the $110 charge. An, that was it. Nothing else was said from the restaurant. I told that story to many people and so did my friend. Neither of us have returned there since. If they would have refunded my card the wrong money and showed more empathy I would have been more understanding and willing to return.

    • Wow! Great story. You didn’t even need compensation because it was corrected so quickly but yeah some empathy and a “Wow that was a close one. I am really, really sorry for the scare” would have been really nice. How many people make YOU feel stupid for calling out THEIR mistake.

      So this totally made me think of a sports analogy. Two pitchers- Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite. Both used steroids. Both got caught. Andy Pettite owned up to it and was penitent. Roger Clemens chose to fight it and still is fighting it. Guess who still is talked about publicly, regularly?

      Such a great lesson. Admit you messed up and really mean it. A little humility goes such a long way.

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