Restaurant Gives Patron Feedback

Here’s proof that bad customer service, like haggling and buyer’s remorse, is a universal human condition. A woman in Brisbane, Australia saw an ad for 50% off the bill at Casa Flamenco, a local restaurant, so she and some friends went out for dinner. The experience wasn’t good—untrained waiter, mediocre food, small servings, long wait time, and despite the half-off coupon the meal was surprisingly expensive for the value. The woman—a restaurant marketer—wrote a polite email to the restaurant with some professional feedback and suggestions on how to improve service.

Here’s what the restaurant wrote back to the woman:

Dear Lorraine,??

your are an idiot we dont need your feedback.

(Thanks to Amelie!)

Comments

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  1. cmdr.sass says:

    “your are an idiot” indeed

  2. arch05 says:

    dear lorraine,
    we are idiots and would like to tell the internet we suck. thanks, casa whatever

    that’s a great self-pic, ben.

  3. winstonthorne says:

    That restaraunt clearly fancies itself a pitbull on the pantleg of professionalism.

  4. B says:

    Wow. What a great restaurant. Although, long wait time, expensive, sounds like they’re making plenty of money despite the lousy service, so I guess that’s why they didn’t want her suggestions.

  5. UX4themasses says:

    Is this one of those restaurants that pride themselves on their quirky customer hating as a niche market?

  6. mxx says:

    What’s the source of this story?

  7. Consumer007 says:

    Well, you know what they say, just because they ARE in business doesn’t mean they SHOULD be…

  8. DeltaPurser says:

    Short, and to the point. Very well written, if I may say so myself…

  9. Ed Debevic’s opened in australia?

  10. DeltaPurser says:

    Short and to the point. Very well written, if I may say so…

  11. snoop-blog says:

    dear lorraine,

    we wanted to call you an idoit in a run-on sentence.

  12. ClayS says:

    Restaurants that advertise 50% off the bill or a free entree generally need to do that for a reason. I’m not surprised that she didn’t have a satisfactory experience.

  13. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @DeltaPurser:
    I suppose. If you consider “your are” to be well written …

  14. Its The Beer Talking says:

    She should have went to Casa Bonita….Eric Cartman gives it a glowing review.

  15. CyGuy says:

    I had the opposite experience at the WOW Wing Cafe in Bowie,MD recently. The wait staff was bad and the food was over-priced and of mediocre quality, and the beer selection was uninspiring, but when the waitress finally broke the final straw by charging the pitcher price for my single draft beer I compained to the bartender who sent the owner to my table, I was comp’d my meal and original beer AND given a free beer.

    I’m still not likely to return there because Buffalo wings shouldn’t cost $.80 each PLUS $1.50 for celery and blue cheese, and I like beer that has a taste – but if those things don’t concern you, the owner of the WOW in Bowie “get’s it”.

  16. topgun says:

    As a restaurant owner I want to know if something is unsatisfactory. I would rather have the opportunity to make it better than have a customer simply not return, and bad mouth my establishment.

  17. zibby says:

    I wonder if she responded, “no u”?

  18. Last year, my family and I went to a new “gourmet” restaurant in Worcester [it seriously presented itself as such and was apparently believing its own image]. The food literally was lower quality than the mass-produced crap I’d just worked in a college cafeteria serving. Like the OP, we had a 50% coupon from the newspaper, which was useful as the entrees were priced at about 20 bucks each. It was actually a terrible day already for my family [cancer diagnosis] and the laughter I got from the restaurant’s absurdity was the first “relief” I’d gotten all day [although that's very relative]. We didn’t get the mockery as they did, but let’s just say such restaurant shadiness is not unique to down under. Sorry for the threadjack, it just brought back that memory.

  19. Something makes me think that untrained waiter gained access to the restaurant’s email account… I doubt any serious business owner would risk his or her business with such a petty email.

  20. Caduceus says:

    Just see if they’re open in six months.

  21. RRich says:

    Had a similar experience many years back before I became fabulously wealthy (in my dreams, anyway).

    Wife and I went to swanky place to celebrate our anniversary, taking advantage of a mid-week special.

    Food was all right, not awful, but the service was the pits, ranging from hostile to indifferent. Wrote a very polite letter to the owner, who subsequently called me and proceeded to angrilly rip me for daring to complain!

    This was many years ago but I make a point of bad-mouthing the joint at every opportunity, and “salute” them whenever I drive by.

    Arturo’s Ristoante
    6750 North Federal Highway
    Boca Raton, FL 33487

  22. matt says:

    your are stupid for going to that restarant

  23. Antediluvian says:

    @radleyas:

    Lyndsey Nagle: Do I detect a note of sarcasm?

    Professor Frink: (With sarcasm detector) Are you kidding? This baby is off the charts, mm-hai.

    Comic Book Guy: Oh, a sarcasm detector, that’s a _real_ useful invention.

    (Sarcasm detector explodes)

    ———-

    Good god, I love that scene. Probably almost as much as I love seeing it played out in web forums.

    Hey, what was that explosion?

  24. Antediluvian says:

    Oh hell.

    I just figured this out.

    It’s Australia, see? So the remarks go counter-clockwise, or _opposite_ to ours in the northern hemisphere.

    So instead of an insult, it was a polite thank you note.

    Duh! I just wish we’d all seen this earlier so we wouldn’t have wasted our collective ire.

  25. homerjay says:

    @Antediluvian: Twelve thumbs up? What the hell is that??

    ____________

    Homer, we need a food critic that doesnt immediately ‘poo poo’ everything he eats.

    Naw, it usually takes me a couple hours.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Stupid Brisbanians, always complaining about something.

  27. vdragonmpc says:

    I have a great restaurant story also. I went to “On The Border” restaurant in Northern Virginia a couple of years ago. I ordered a normal meal as did the wife. I couldnt get a drink refill for begging. Neither could my wife get anything. The salsa had an odd taste to it but oh god the food!!!
    **Have you ever had a meal that you couldnt eat? As in your body rejected it at the table? I couldnt eat it after 2 bites. I simply could not eat it I gagged the moment it hit the back of my mouth.**
    The waiter was a total jackass and refused to deal with it (after trying for 20 minutes to get some service) I ended up paying for our meal and leaving.

    We were 1.5 hours from home. That turned into a 4 hour trip as I was sick all the way home. I dont think we passed a bathroom on the way home. A trooper stopped at the Ashland Exit as I didnt make the exit and was throwing up everywhere on the side of the road. When I got home I couldnt get warm. I was having cold chills all night and was under 2 quilts and an electric blanket. I missed work monday as getting too far from the bathroom was not an option.

    I called the restaurant that monday and tried to get them to remove the bill. The manager said he would an that we should expect some ‘gift certificate’ to arrive. (I make a practice of never EVER returning to a restaurant with bad service under any conditions, this one was nuclear bad)

    I waited and called after 30 days. Nothing happened and I told them I would make a point to let it be known what happened.

    They truly were awful. Period.

  28. RRich says:

    @RRich: BTW, it’s Arturo’s Ristorante not “Ristoante.”

    I copied and pasted the (misspelled) name from their website.

    LOL!

  29. Oregon says:

    Wow the group here is going with the original poster this is a first.
    one: we didn’t get to see the suggestions she made?

    two: her professional input from being a restaurant marketer? Does she write ads for the newspaper or yellow pages. Haven’t seen that job title before.

    three: 50% off coupons are normally buy one meal at regular price get the next meal at 50% off. These are rarely for the entire bill. This looks better then it is as most of the time it comes to 20% or so off entire bill.

    four: her table could have been rude and over demanding to the point of the restaurant saying hey we don’t want nor need customers like you.

    It was the small serving size comment that made me wonder if this person was really a professional. Serving size is subjective and has nothing to do with price. Large quantity portions have little to do with quality.
    BTW: chicken wings (once a throwaway by product of the chicken industry) now often sell for more per pound then chicken breast meat.

  30. STrRedWolf says:

    Quick! Forward that article to every restraunt review mag and Zagat’s to boot. If their management is that rude, let everyone know who surfs Zagat’s that this is worth avoiding at all costs.

  31. LionelEHutz says:

    It’s obviously all her fault for being a know-it-all

  32. bbbici says:

    If you’ve ever watched “ramsey’s kitchen nightmares” you may never eat in a restaurant again. At least go around back and try to get a peek in the kitchen, or see how the trash area is maintained– that will give you an idea of the restaurant’s standards.

  33. RRich says:

    @bbbici: Or read Anthony Bourdain’s terrific “Kitchen Confidential.”

  34. junkmail says:

    @Its The Beer Talking: Not there anymore. :(

  35. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    four: her table could have been rude and over demanding to the point of the restaurant saying hey we don’t want nor need customers like you.

    @Oregon: That does not excuse the response they sent her. It would have been better for them to have not responded at all. Now they’re going to be known for calling their customers idiots, admitting they ignore customer feedback, and having crappy grammar.

    If they really felt it was necessary to e-mail the customer explaining why they aren’t going to use her feedback they could have explained it professionally: Our prices are competitive with similar restaurants, the waiter is already being trained, etc.

  36. Zain says:

    That’s pretty funny.

  37. silencedotcom says:

    When did Best Buy open a restaurant?

  38. wilmawonker says:

    [www.casaflamenco.com.au]
    There’s the website.

  39. Rando says:

    I’d reply back in the same manner, but atleast use proper grammar.

  40. MPHinPgh says:

    @matt: Wow. That was unnecessary.

  41. Buran says:

    I have a friend who lives in Brisbane.

    I’m sending this to him. Good job, idiot restaurant. You just lost more customers/potential customers due to your story showing up on a website halfway across the world and then getting bounced to people in your town.

    You should have kept your mouth shut.

  42. Erskine says:

    @Oregon:

    There’s devil’s advocacy and then there’s trolling.

    Guess which action you performed, goat-eater?

  43. @bbbici: Ever since I saw “Hell’s Kitchen”, I’ve had a mancrush on Gordon Ramsay. It’s been made worse by my FIOS cable having BBCAmerica, and I get to watch him all of the time. I used to work in a caferteria, and in a supermarket, so I am never surprised by what I see in kitchens. Hell, even mines not ultra sterile.

    @Caduceus: They probably will be. Idiots and their money part ways very often. And the people who know how to do that by serving crappy food, which no one will say is crappy, because they spent $40 on it, know how to encourage the parting.

  44. theblackdog says:

    @CyGuy: *scribbles notes*

    The BF and I love wings, so it’s good to know where not to get ripped off in PG County ;-)

  45. lemur says:

    @bbbici: Yeah, I was going to bring up “Kitchen Nightmares” (which, BTW, is much better in its British incarnation). Having watched that show, I’m not surprised by boneheaded restaurant owners or staff anymore. It is amazing how a restaurant owner who is hemorrhaging money daily, who is about to lose his business who is buried in debt can still think that his way of managing the restaurant is in no need of severe correction. Yet, such owners are apparently not rare.

  46. ??v???ë???v? says:

    @vdragonmpc: You did report this to the local health department, right? And here’s that restaurant’s page: [www.otborder.com] so we can all avoid it!

  47. Zimorodok says:

    Clearly this restaurant took their Customer Service manual straight from Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag.

  48. vision4bg says:

    I’m from Brisbane (and lived just near that suburb up until a short time ago) and I’ve never heard of this place. I had a look and it’s some new ‘themed’ restaurant in a wannabe trendy area. What are the stats on restaurants failing in their first year? Another one for the pile.

  49. selianth says:

    @BayStateDarren: What restaurant in Worcester exactly would that be? Hubby and I go to Worcester probably once a week for dinner and if there’s someplace we should avoid I’d love to know beforehand..

  50. Antediluvian says:

    @homerjay:
    [sternly] I’ll have you know, I wandered off from the tour.

  51. rjhiggins says:

    @Oregon: It’s hard to know where to begin with your absurd, misinformed post. But let’s assume you’re a troll (or an idiot) and just ignore it.

  52. scoosdad says:

    @selianth: Maybe one of those oh-so-trendy places on Shrewsbury Street?

  53. CaptainSemantics says:

    @Zimorodok: Uncle Moe, my teefers hurt…

  54. @selianth: @scoosdad: IIRC, it was the one in the Crowne Plaza hotel. Like I said, it was a rough day already so it honestly is hard to recall that detail. It was in the process of opening at the time, so I suppose it might have improved since then [it could not have gotten worse.]

  55. selianth says:

    @scoosdad: That’s what I suspected (I’m thinking VIA fits his description the best) but then it would surprise me if they had to resort to printing a 50% off coupon in the newspaper. So now I’m curious.

  56. selianth says:

    @BayStateDarren: Ahha, thanks for the tip. I’m glad it’s not someplace that I would ever actually think about going to. Hotel restaurants aren’t really my thing (although the brunch buffet at the Beechwood Hotel is pretty good.)

  57. B says:

    @CaptainSemantics: Well that’s too freakin bad!
    Rod or Todd: Ow, my freakin ears!
    Ned: I expect that kind of language at Denny’s, but not here.

  58. Hawk07 says:

    That’s actually a very funny email.

    Too bad though that she wasted her time composing an email to only get that back.

  59. mr.Man says:

    @junkmail: Wrong. Alive, well, and packed every weekend.

  60. The Porkchop Express says:

    That has to be the worst feedback response to ever be written and actually delivered. I’m sure a lot of stuff is said behind the counter/closed doors, but actually send it.

  61. StevieD says:

    So what free advice did the expert give to the restaurant?

    I am sure somewhere in her rant she made a comment that deserved the rebuttal.

  62. aquanetta says:

    A friend had a similar experience at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, some pasta dish she ordered came burnt on top and still cold in the middle. She complained to the manager on duty, the manager would not give her money back for the dish nor offer apology for how the dish was prepared (I think the words she used was, “that how it’s supposed to be”). When my friend asked for the customer feedback form and wanted to know where to send it to, the manager insisted that there isn’t a phone number nor address to send her grievances, the manager said to just give her the form and she’ll forward it to upper management. Yeah, right.

  63. jdjonsson says:

    This looks like a job for Gordon Ramsey!

  64. vdragonmpc says:

    I called a couple of places up there. Tourism and BBB along with the health department. Because I didnt go to the hospital they really couldnt seem to do much. They listened and the health department fellow said something about a note and some other issue over there.

    Heck I still have the reciept somewhere. Until then I had NEVER gotten that sick and I pledged a frikkin fraternity in college!

  65. cryrevolution says:

    @StevieD: Well, ya know, one would assume a professional establishment would find a better way to handle criticism, of any kind. So no matter what was said & done, nobody deserves that kind of response. The reply was unnecessary & idiotic.

  66. Nighthawke says:

    I’ve had my fair share of chains and Mom n Pop hole-in-the-walls in my travels to give my (un)fair) and (un)balanced report. The chains, well they are what they claim to be. The Applebee’s at Laredo made me very unhappy and very poor considering their quality of food and loong wait times. Their decor was ok, at least they had their TV on ESPN. Now I can go into a ratty place called El Charro in Corpus Christi, dingy ceiling tiles, but the tables and floors sparkle. And their food? I’ll guarantee you’ll waddle outta there with a big smile on your face. Platters (not plates) heaped with some of the finest Mexican food I’ve ever had the pleasure of demolishing.

  67. XTC46 says:

    Im wondering what the advice was.

  68. APFPilot says:

    @vdragonmpc: On the Border is Brinker International (same as Chilis and Romano’s) So there was another level of escalation available to you. Also, it is very very rare for food poisioning to show up that quickly unless it was caused by Chemicals (that makes it a bit extra nasty.)

  69. tomsucks says:

    I’m not jumping to any conclusions without a copy of the original email.

    Working in customer service has made me a bit leery of consumerist, on account of they often publish stories without verified facts (that is, consumerist sometimes doesn’t verify what people tell them), and even when they have some facts, they will often leave out context so that the only conclusion their readers can draw is that the company in question is 100% malicious in its intentions toward its customers, which is intellectually dishonest.

    Sometimes companies act deplorably. Consumers should have a voice, but there should be a stronger dedication to facts before plowing ahead full-steam.

    Even if the story is true, they present no evidence and it’s a terribly poor way of reporting it. You sort of have to disbelieve it by default.

  70. Gorky says:

    I love how she complains that the portions are too small. If they were bigger, then everyone would be complaining about how america is so fat and we always have to have huge portions and restaurants need to be regulated to provide calorie info and reduce portion sizes

  71. Notsewfast says:

    @Its The Beer Talking:
    Yeah, that’s in Denver. It’s fun for like 30 min, until you get your food. Then it sucks.

    On the other hand, if you love botulism…

  72. emax4 says:

    This is great! Finally the business is on the defense instead of the offense. I guess the restaurant marketer could dish it out, but couldn’t take it… HA! Let this be a lesson to those who post bad reviews and leave their email addresses for all to see. But, all the woman has to do is post the restaurant’s original response on the same page, and that will give potential customers an even better idea of how the restaurant thinks and acts.

    The restaurant’s response, from my point of view, seemed poor only because of the lack of punctuation. I’m guessing from experience that it was written in haste, that they could have responded more politely had they taken a step back, a deep breath, then wrote in response.

  73. yesteryear says:

    the crazy woman who owns a vintage clothing store in oakland, ca called “pretty penny” was harassing people who gave negative feedback on yelp.com. i don’t know if lots of business owners are as idiotic as she is (i guess she just figures if they already don’t like her store she has free reign to make a COMPLETE ass of herself??) but it really doesn’t seem like a good way to build business.

  74. Nice reply…not only is it childish and immature, and the person writing it obviously has no concept of capitalization, punctuation, or constructing a basic sentence.

  75. soylent2oz says:

    Revenge is a dish best served colder than the meals you received?

    @Stevied – This happened to my friend Lorraine and I have a copy of the original email she sent them. Too bad there wasn’t any room for it in the article above. She was very polite and did not ask for anything. She truly wanted to assist Casa Flamenco in improving their service.

    Guess their email response is as good as the service she received!

  76. brennie says:

    Brisbane, eh? This is a city with one casino and a few hotels and shops that calls itself “Bris-Vegas” I’m sorry her schnitzel was overbreaded.

  77. LikeYourFace says:

    @Oregon: I love the way you assume you know more about her meal than she does.

  78. erinlynne says:

    hey, at least they are honest & didn’t give her any bullshit. i think that email is totally hilarious even if it probably the WORST customer service i have ever heard.

  79. RvLeshrac says:

    @lemur:

    Off the OT a bit, but “Much Better” is an understatement. I watched all of the US S1, defended it a bit, then went and watched Season 5 on Channel 4.

    Apparently, I’d forgotten everything from S1-4. The US version is really an entirely different (and horrible) show. It barely keeps ANYTHING that made the original series good.

    Of course, this is a pattern…..

  80. frankadelic says:

    @Petrarch1603: Haahaa, I went to Ed’s while visiting Milwaukee. It was probably one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve ever had!

  81. Quasimofoso says:

    As one of the attendees I can confirm that the email to the restaurant was 100% for their benefit.

    The article is incorrect as the person is a marketing manager, not a restaurant marketer.

    I’m at home and don’t have a copy of the email here – will see if I can add some details at work.

    In regards to portion size, we picked enough ‘banquets for 2′ for everyone plus extra. However *everyone* ordered desert as they weren’t satiated.

  82. Quasimofoso says:

    @tomsucks:

    Here is the text of the emails.

    Hi,

    I saw your ad in the city news last week and dined with 8 friends last night. I wanted to pass on some feedback regarding our experience at your restaurant. As someone who has experience in restaurant marketing I applaud your concept of 50% off the total bill – it will certainly get people in the door to try the restaurant. However, if you are going to retain them as regular customers who will not only return to the restaurant but tell all their friends and family to go to your restaurant you need to make the first visit memorable. Here are my suggestions;

    1. Staff. We were the only table dining last night so the fact that there was only 1 staff member working should not have been a problem. The waiter was a sweet, friendly guy but he was not properly trained in waiting. He was unable to explain the menu when questioned. He did not regularly check back on the table to take drink orders, he left the menus on the table after we had ordered and didn’t bring out the cutlery before dessert arrived. He was obviously a little nervous which didn’t help the cause either.

    2. Food. The food was good, we enjoyed it but it was not enough and it took far too long to arrive. We had ordered the chef’s tapas selection which the waiter said was good. It was good. However, it took over 1 hour to arrive on our table after we had ordered and the dishes that were meant to be served hot were cold by the time they arrived. Also, I would consider paying $36 or so for the size and contents of the platter brought out but if I was paying $55 I would have been very disappointed (in fact I think I would refuse to pay!). I had assumed that the ‘chef’s tapas selection’ would also have included at least a salad and some breads for the price so we didn’t order any. After we had devoured the food in a very short time as we were starving we decided not to ask for breads or salad as we assumed they would take too long to arrive also. We actually assumed that the platters brought out were going to be followed by a second platter based on the quoted price on the menu. Really, for $55 I would be expecting that platter to be supplemented by 1 salad, some bread and perhaps some olives, calamari and prawns also. We also ordered dessert (crème brulees and crème caramels) because we were still hungry after the tapas- the crème caramels were okay but the crème brulees were lumpy and inedible. Again, if we were paying $15 each for them we would have been very disappointed. I was disappointed enough paying $7.50 for them. Also, the coffee was brought out after dessert was served and was not good coffee.

    3. Value for Money was awful. We ended up paying around $30 per person for our meal which was okay for what we got. However, should we have been paying full price I would not have been happy at all. There simply was not the variety or amount of food served for the money that the menu quoted.

    I am afraid that my experience at Casa Flamenco was very disappointing. I am not seeking any recompense here – I think you have a good concept in the restaurant and your website shows you are passionate about what you do. The fact that you are offering diners a 50% discount to try the restaurant out shows that you are keen to attract new customers. I do hope you take my feedback into account and use it constructively to improve your customers’ experiences. You are doing the right things in your marketing to attract customers. However, the key is to retain these new customers and keep them and their friends coming back for more. To do this you will need to improve your service levels and your value for money substantially from what my friends and I experienced last night.

    Thank you for your time,
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    And in reply:
    From: casaflamenco_restaurant@hotmail.com
    To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    Subject: RE:
    Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2008 19:50:38 -0500

    Dear XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

    your are an idiot we dont need your feedback.

  83. flatsoda says:

    I send out regular feedback to Australian beverage websites ([www.ozbevnet.com]), most of them are to afraid to answer or fix the issue without saying thanks. The internet is a powerful medium most Australian businesses fail to see how it works both ways. But I guess bad publicity is good publicity! If the Restaurant owners had a business brain they would use the negative experience and turn it into a winner. C’mon Aussie put on your creative hat on and work out something together.

  84. dischikrox says:

    I am from Brisbane and it’s getting to a point over here that customer service in all places has gone down the drain. My best friend experienced a chef abuse her at a restaurant on Valentines day because they asked for their money back because their food was inedible! These business’ don’t realise how powerful the email genre is over here. Well done to her for going about it in a professional way (a lot of people would just get abrupt in the actual restaurant) and i hope the owners of the Casa Flamenco’s take a good look at how they run their business and do something about it.

    oh and i forgot to mention… I did get forwarded this email and other people before me had left comments saying they’d been there and received the same treatment…. so she’s not just a whining b!tch

  85. rolla says:

    calling Gordon Ramsey!