How To Correctly Complain About Restaurant Service

David had a disappointing experience at a local brewpub, and thanks to what he’s learned from reading The Consumerist, he was able to get the management to make things right. He didn’t do it by making a scene, emailing the entire executive board, or holding a protest rally. He just went up to his server and said how things were less than ideal, and then, most importantly, asked for a specific remedy. To his delight, he got more than he asked for. His story, inside…David writes:

BJ’s brewpub opened a few months ago at Tricounty Mall here in Cincinnati. My wife and I had been by to try it, but passed since the wait was 45 minutes. A few months later, we were taking my cousin-in-law out for her birthday, and decided to give it another shot.

I called to ask if they had call ahead seating, since we could kill some time rather than waiting. They told me yes, but between the start of the call and the end, they increased the wait time from 25 to 45 minutes. Reasonable, we figured; we’d just kill another half hour before heading over.

We got there and waited 20 minutes beyond the time we were told. It was clearly busy, and they came around with pizza samples, so not unreasonable so far.

Our waiter, Dave, reviewed the specials and took our drink orders right when were seated. Great. But then the problems started.

It took 20 minutes for us to get water and our drinks. Five minutes later, our appetizers came out, but we never saw a sign of Dave, and still hadn’t ordered. I grabbed him from a nearby register, and he quickly came over to take our order.

The food took a reasonable time to come out, and everything tasted wonderful, but the service was limited. In my head, I’d decided that if the manager came by to ask, “Is everything okay?” I would tell him about our dissapointment, but he didn’t.

Without the Consumerist’s influence, we would have sat and bitched, and never come back. Instead, while waiting for the check, I approached Dave. I told him that we were disappointed in the wait for our drinks and order, and asked him to comp one of the appetizers. (I figured that at best they’d take off the $5 one, rather than the $15 one, but at least it would be something.)

Dave apologized, explained that he had been swamped in ringing out tickets, and said he would ask the manager. After telling the manager the story, he comped both appetizers, gave me his card, and asked us for the chance to demonstrate the right level of service on another night. He was glad the food was good, and gave me his card. Dave also came over and asked us to ask for him next time, to make sure we had a good time.

I don’t know if we will go back, but I do know this. If we’d sat there and fumed, we would be done. If I’d raised my concern and they hadn’t responded, we wouldn’t go back. Now? It’s possible.

Thanks, Consumerist, for giving me the confidence to step up, and the knowledge to ask for a specific remedy.

(Photo: Getty)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.