Australian TV Investigates, Uncovers Pattern Of Abuse At "Rude Feedback" Restaurant

Two Australian news shows have been following up on the “Dear Lorraine,your are an idiot we dont need your feedback” email we posted earlier this month – one charged into the restaurant with cameras, and another discovered a pattern of crappy customer service at the Casa Flamenco Restaurant.

Apparently, the email has caused such an outpouring of similar customer service stories that the restaurant is actually closed.

Today-Tonight interviewed Lorraine herself and here’s what she had to say:

I’ve never ever even heard of somebody responding to customer feedback like that before.

I laughed at it at first, but then I was sort of in shock that someone could be so rude….

By the next day it had been posted on the Consumerist.com and two weeks later— I don’t know how many people have seen it but I’m getting emails every day.”

The report also interviews another customer who says the owner sent the cops after her for leaving without paying her bill. (She’d paid it, of course.) The rude email-sending-owner of the restaurant has now closed the place because of all the “bad publicity.” He told the reporter via phone that he’s apologized, but Lorraine says she never got that email.

Another show, A Current Affair, charged into the restaurant and demanded an apology for Lorraine. The owner told them that the email was meant for a relative. “Do you have a relative with the name Lorraine?” the reporter asked. “No!” said the owner. He then told them that he’s going to “take the matter to the courts because the loss of sales we’ve had is just unbearable.”

Today Tonight (Thanks, Amelie!)
A Current Affair

Comments

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  1. arch05 says:

    Good. Fuck em. There’s an asian restaurant around here (Madam Mam’s) where the servers will chase you out onto the street and berate you if you tip less that 15%. I wish this same thing would happen to them.

  2. UX4themasses says:

    “take the matter to the courts because the loss of sales we’ve had is just unbearable.”

    I didn’t know you could sue your own bad customer service.

  3. Beerad says:

    I like how the restaurant’s response seems to be “well, we’re totally screwed because of this so we’re going to the courts!” Not sure about Australian law so who knows what theory applies there.

    You would think they would simply apologize to the woman, invite her back to the restaurant with a lot of fanfare and try and salvage some positive PR out of the whole thing.

  4. theblackdog says:

    The restaurant owner must be a Consumerist commenter because he’s blaming the customer for what happened.

    Just kidding folks, it’s awesome that other media folks were willing to pay attention to this story.

  5. Copper says:

    @arch05: That place is good…I’ve never actually sat down inside, always takeout for me.

  6. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Another show, A Current Affair, charged into the restaurant and demanded an apology for Lorraine. The owner told them that the email was meant for a relative. “Do you have a relative with the name Lorraine?” the reporter asked. “No!” said the owner.

    1) Then why does the e-mail say, “Dear Lorraine”?
    2) If sending it was really a mistake then why not apologize?
    3) How can they sue if nobody’s lied about what happened?

  7. arch05 says:

    @Copper: I don’t care how good the food is. There’s too many excellent restaurants around here to tolerate their bullshit. Seriously, chasing customers out onto the Drag because they didn’t tip enough in your eyes? Place needs to go away, asap. Please, if you love Austin, don’t eat there.

  8. Geekybiker says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    Can’t be sued (successfully)for telling the truth no matter how much harm it caused. She’s perfectly fine with standing out front and handing out copies of the email, etc.

  9. econobiker says:

    They were ratted out for poor customer service and had to close down. Such a shame…

  10. Beerad says:

    (Sigh). Folks, this happened in another country. While yes, in the United States truth is a defense to defamation suits, that’s not always the case in other places. No idea about Australia, and I don’t feeling like looking it up.

    Regardless of the truth, maliciously doing things to hurt someone’s business is usually frowned upon (as handing out copies of the e-mail to “get back at them”) might be considered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s what happened, and this woman seems amazingly polite and well-intentioned in any event, given the circumstances.

  11. bohemian says:

    That restaurant must be run by people with some serious aggression and conflict issues.

  12. kc2idf says:

    They ought to send in Gordon Ramsay to straighten the place out.

    (Yeah, I know, he’s English, not Australian, but so what? He’s done places in the US)

  13. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Fine, I’ll do what my mamma told me and look it up myself.

    Also, Wikipedia is awesome: [en.wikipedia.org]

    Allowable defenses are justification (the truth of the statement), fair comment (whether statement was a view that a reasonable person could have held), and privilege (whether the statements were made in Parliament or in court, or whether they were fair reports of allegations in the public interest). An offer of amends is a barrier to litigation. A defamatory statement is presumed to be false unless the defendant can prove its truth.

    If this is the part of Australian law that follows English law then Justification should work for her.

  14. hexychick says:

    @theblackdog: Now that’s funny!

  15. forgottenpassword says:

    LOL! I just LOVE the power of the internet!

    If the owner wrote that email… then he deserves what he gets. Outrageous behavior from a customer service standpoint. Dont feel sorry one bit.

  16. enm4r says:

    I still say they need to stop on by the Weiner Circle in Chicago. The whole point is rude service…

  17. failurate says:

    Is he missing out on a fetish market?

  18. redhelix says:

    If by “take this to the courts” he means file for Chapter 11, then by all means: Bring in the lawyers

  19. Kurtz says:

    @arch05: Are you talking about the one in Austin?

  20. Kurtz says:

    @kc2idf: He’s Scottish, not English.

  21. Javert says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: As a source for legal research, try not to use Wikipedia. Trust me. Use a legal source to make your point. Using Wikipedia for research purposes is very weak.

  22. snoop-blog says:

    @theblackdog: wow too funny!

  23. rolla says:

    good…glad his restaurant is suffering. He deserves it! haha…the world is laughing at you now!

  24. yesteryear says:

    this restaurant gives small businesses a bad name. why would you go into the restaurant business if you’re not prepared to take criticism? when you’re in a business that’s reliant on the very subjective tastes of your customers, you’re going to get complaints even when you do your very best.

  25. colamit says:

    Countries where tipping is not the custom, like Australia, do seem to have much worse service than here in the USA. But that is ridiculous.

  26. plustax says:

    @enm4r: Oh yes, the Weiner Circle on Clark Street in Chicago, I remember that place well. At 2 in the morning what those girls working behind the counter there would say could make the most foul-mouthed sailor blush. I couldn’t imagine the email you’d get back from them if you said something about their service.

  27. redhelix says:

    @Javert: That’s sort of a generalization. There are a bunch of instances I can think of off the top of my head where Wikipedia has been more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica.

  28. pigeonpenelope says:

    @kc2idf: you beat me. gordon ramsey is amazing!

    ok aussies, here is a quick lesson on spanish… to pronounce jimenez, the “j” is soft.. you pronounce it “h”. so you’d really say, “hee-men-ez.” it was bugging me.

  29. pigeonpenelope says:

    @redhelix: may be so but wikipedia isn’t from purely scholarly sources. my professors would strangle me if i quoted from wikipedia. actually they’d strangle me if i used an encyclopedia in general unless i was writing about that encyclopedia.

  30. tranish says:

    @arch05: Agreed. I used to go there in my first ignorant couple years at UT, until the bad customer service from the family who owns it drove me away. On my second or third visit there, I was with friends finishing up our dinners and asked for the bill. We asked if it could be split, and the server pointed at the menu and said very rudely that it was printed on there that they do not split checks. We apologized for not noticing it on the menu (which was like, in fine print, on the back of the menu)and the server dashed off to tell on us I guess, even though we were about to pay for the bill. The owner (the patriarch of this Thai family)came out and proceeded to yell at us! He then made us line up in a single line, like schoolchildren, to pay and ended up splitting the check, but all the while, he was muttering something in Thai every time each of us came up to the counter (and I’m sure it wasn’t anything pleasant). Extremely rude and unacceptable.

    UT students get treated like shit at Madam Mam’s, even though we make up his base clientele on the Drag location.

    Never again.

    Plus it’s really not THAT great, there are better Thai restaurants in Austin with better service (like Thai Passion on Congress and 7th).

  31. Candyman says:

    @Javert:
    Oh, please. Is this a legal memorandum? No, it’s a forum post. Wiki will do fine.

  32. Tejas says:

    today tonight (where the first vid is from) is considered to be probally the biggest piece of shit on TV. A current affair isn’t much better. i live in the same city as the resturant in question and we have so many good resturants bad ones get smashed.

    BTW Truth is a justifiable defense in defamation proceedings here.

  33. soylent3oz says:

    @pigeonpenelope Aussies have a hard time pronouncing most “foreign” words. They mispronounce fete as “fate” and not “feh-t” and my favourite is Junta they say Jun-tuh and not the h for j e.g. Hoon-tah. I live in Australia now and I asked my f-i-l about this and he says that Aussies have the right to pronounce the words they way they want to?!

    Service is Australia is not as good as service in U.S. restaurants. Plain and simple when you are paid $2.50 / hour (or whatever it is now) plus tips you try harder. Most wait staff here get something akin to $10+/hr. Tips are not expected but I always leave a tip for the wait staff if the service is better than expected.

    This whole thing is so funny and shows the power of the Internet and the power of the consumer. Go Consumerist!!!

  34. ohgoodness says:

    @arch05: Didn’t realize there were other Austinites in here. Madam Mam’s is gross anyways. I make it a rule to not eat anywhere on the Drag. Common people.

  35. trujunglist says:

    Isn’t the defamatory statement by the owner himself basically saying to fuck off? How would the consumer be responsible for that? If anything, that statement is far more damning than a letter by the consumer voicing her concerns over the customer service, provided that it didn’t use inflammatory statements or language.

  36. trujunglist says:

    I remember the first time I went into Weiner Circle with some friends who were in the know because they had been living there for a while and the bitches started instantly making fun of me. I was like WTF bitches? and walked out all angry and hurt, but then one of them came around from the back and explained, while my friends watched and laughed. They stiffed me a dollar or so, saying it was their tip. I graphically described how they could easily earn another one.

    The cheese fries were good.

  37. Her Grace says:

    Small quibble: calling Today-Tonight a news show is like calling Wonkette the equal in every way of the NY Times or Washington Post.

  38. Her Grace says:

    (PS- A Current Affair is possibly even worse than Today-Tonight.)

  39. Her Grace says:

    @soylent3oz: I totally disagree. At least in Melbourne, I found service to be better than in most of the US.

  40. Charles Duffy says:

    I’ve never been to the drag location of Madam Mam’s — but have been very fond of the location on 290 just off 360; good food (though the best yellow curry I’ve had is still in Seattle), and I’ve never seen the service be actively poor. Then again, maybe because it’s because I typically go in with coworkers who look less broke than I do.

  41. Spooty says:

    Hm, about 4 months later and the restaurant’s website is still up. I wonder if they weathered the storm. I sure would love a followup story.