What Should Restaurants Offer You After Serving Unacceptable Food?

What is a restaurant’s responsibility to its customers when something goes wrong? Does that change when a customer chooses takeout or delivery? Matt wrote in to ask what we think is the best course of action for a restaurant to take–especially when the problem is non-food objects in your takeout or delivery pizza.

In the past 2 years, I’ve had 2 bad experiences at my local pizza parlors in the NY suburbs.

Case #1
I found a decent sized sliver of wood baked into the large pie that I ordered and brought home. I figured it was from the pizza peels that they use to get the pizza out of the oven. I politely called the pizza parlor and explained that I found a piece of wood. They were apologetic and offered a new large pie. I drove to the store 10 minutes away from my house and picked up a new pizza. It may be worthy of noting that this particular pizza parlor was not my regular choice. I had gone there only once or twice, and they obviously would not remember me as a return customer.

Case #2
This just happened this past weekend. I brought home a large pie from my regular establishment. This place I would estimate that I patronize at least 40 times per year. They don’t know me by name, but they certainly know my face because I pick up my pizza there in person every time I order. This particular time, I found a fly baked into my half-black olive large pie. The fly was perched on the olive and I almost ate it. It wasn’t a large fly, but big enough that I saw it. Again, I politely called and explained the situation. I told them I found a fly in my pizza and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. These things happen, as unfortunate as they are. However, I did tell remind them that I am a frequent visitor and I was not happy. They offered to deliver me a new pie, which at the time I thought was nice of them. They delivered me the pie and I tipped the driver a couple bucks, so really I ended up paying more than I originally intended.

My question is…what is the proper etiquette for the offending establishment? Is simply offering a replacement enough? Should they return my money and give me a new pie? Should they go above and beyond that?

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