Letters of complaint!

I’m the general manager of a very successful restaurant in the area.  We are quite popular.  We do crazy busy in the summer.  We do good business in the winter.  As the general manager it’s my job to field complaints.  I get emails every so often from guests who are unhappy.  I’d say that only about 15% of them are founded in reality.  The other 85% tend to be people who are grumpy.  That being said it’s my job to respond to them and I do.  I find away to listen to what they have to say and try to spin my response in such a way to appease them.  This is not always easy and SOMETIMES I don’t say what they want to hear.  For example the guy who accused my parking attendants of stealing $100 dollars out of his car…he did not hear what he wanted to hear.  Or the woman who was angry that I wouldn’t take her reservation for four people even though she lived up the street…she did not hear what she wanted to hear.

Sometimes though, even I’m amazed at the letters I get.  Take for example the letter I got two days ago.  They complained about a number of things, one of which was the service.  All perfectly acceptable things to complain about.  EXCEPT for the fact that the woman writing the letter actually works for the company that owns my restaurant.  EXCEPT for the fact that if she’d looked around she might have noticed that the poor bartender waiting on her was in way over his head because we were doing three times the business we’d scheduled for.  EXCEPT for the fact that we are in this together.  We work for the same fucking company.  Give me a fucking break.

Below is the letter she sent.

Below that is the letter I wish I could send her in response.  In reality I did not respond.  I won’t respond.  I will however, tell my boss that I think it was completely inappropriate for her to send the letter.  That it was completely inappropriate it for her to not say something when I stopped by the table AND when I asked her how the meal was when she left.  And it was completely fucking inappropriate for her to only tip 20 dollars on her 200 dollar tab.

Hi Maddog,

Congratulations on your 50 pound weight loss!  You look great and I know from experience how good that feels!
I did want to let you know that service last night was not up to par.  The bartender did the best he could but it is obvious he isn’t trained in serving.  Our water glasses were empty much of the time, truffle oil did not arrive with our fabulous breads, and it took a while for our respective drinks to be served.
We were also a little taken aback that when a party pays over $200 for dinner that fries can’t be substituted for mash with the haddock.  The sirloin steak that was purported to be so tender it did not require a steak knife could notbe cut with a traditional dinner knife and the poor bartender had to find a paring knife for the sirloin in our party.  
The food was delicious and we enjoyed celebrating our son’s acceptance to Maine Maritime Academy at David’s, but I’m afraid the next time we have a couple hundred bucks to spend on dinner we’ll go to (one of our sister restaurants).
 Dear Ann,
Thank you for taking the time to tell me about your recent visit to my restaurant.  I’m sure that you think you are being helpful but actually you are anything but.
When I stopped by the table to ask you how things were you might have mentioned that you had issues with the service.  I might have been able to help the bartender out and make sure your needs were being met.  When I asked you how your meal was on your way out of the restaurant you might have told me then.  Instead you took the cowardly approach and hid behind your keyboard.  Shame on you.
The bartender is one of our best.  He’s great with the customers.  He gives great service.  He’s fast.  AND.  Efficient.  However, on the night in question he had 26 customers while he was serving you.  All of which were eating dinner.  All which were expecting star service.  While I’m sure he wanted to give you the best service he was stretched beyond thin.  As I told him later, at least he didn’t cry.  There are far more seasoned staff in our restaurant that would have fallen apart under the pressure.  I’m sorry that your water glass wasn’t kept full.  Since we are in the same business did it ever occur to you to look around and offer to help.  Our paychecks are signed by the same person.  Did it ever occur to you that we were understaffed or did your needs supersede the needs of everyone else in the restaurant.  Just for the record, when you were sat the hosts had asked if she should wait to seat you to allow the bartender to get caught up.  I said no because you were one of us.  If I had it to do over again you would wait the 45 minutes you should have waited, then perhaps you’d have had full water glasses.
We don’t serve truffle oil with our fabulous breads.  I have no idea where you got that idea.  Truffle oil is expensive, we’d never give it away for free.  As for your substitution, I’ll tell you what the chef/owner says in private when people like you complain.  If you want to make the rules open your own fucking restaurant.  We don’t substitute truffle fries at dinner because they are expensive.  You somehow allude to the fact that because you are spending $200 dollars you should be treated differently.  Does that mean it’s okay to charge the person who only spends $20?  Our rules are our rules.  Don’t forget that it’s our busy summers that pay your mortgage.  You might be more grateful.   As for the sirloin steak that you report is too tough to cut with our dinner knife.  I’d bet that I have eaten more steaks in our restaurant than anyone else in the world.  And yes I’ve had some steaks that were a little tough but EVERY single fucking steak I’ve ever eaten in our restaurant has been cut with our dinner knife.  EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM. So please don’t tell me it can’t be done.
As for going to another restaurant you do what you have to do.  I don’t really give a fuck.  I think you are a miserable human being.  I thought that before you came into my restaurant based on the super right wing, tea party, Republican bumper stickers on your car.  You’ve just confirmed what I already know.  So sit on your high horse, and hide behind your emails and I’ll know that if it weren’t for me and my little restaurant you’d have been laid off two years ago.  And don’t for a second think that I’ll keep our little email between us.  The chef/owner already knows about , and the person who signs our checks will know about it this week.  She’ll also know that I think you are a coward and she’ll also know that you didn’t tip the bartender what he more than deserved.  Perhaps you should do us all a favor and eat at home next time.
General Manager

2 thoughts on “Letters of complaint!

  1. Urspo January 3, 2015 / 18:00

    I don’t understand these sorts of people/letters. I would only write something to point out problems I would hope when brought to light could improve things. Wanting to be heard/respected – and responded – I would never grip but be proactive. Or so I hope.

  2. javabear January 3, 2015 / 22:11

    Good grief. Hope it made you feel better to write this letter to her here, at least. Especially if she works in the industry, she should be ashamed of leaving such a paltry tip.

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