Some days are so stressful that a plate of pancakes for dinner sounds like the perfect way to relax. That is, until your waitress treats your fiancee’s neurological disorder like it’s the plague and then proceeds to openly mock her and call her a “junkie.”
Consumerist reader Dan’s fiancee has Huntington’s disease, which can cause her to experience muscle tremors and spasms. Add to that, she is pregnant. As a result, Dan tells Consumerist his fiancee is “sick and sore constantly, so just the fact that she even had an appetite at all, and was willing to go out in public during a bad day, was a bit of a surprise.”
Dan says that when he and his fiancee go out to dinner, it’s not all that uncommon to meet restaurant servers who aren’t terribly patient with someone who drops or spills things a lot, but says they have also had some very kind and patient servers.
“At IHOP we definitely did not meet one of those patient and kind servers.” he writes.
As the waitress took their order, Dan says she refused to even look at his fiancee. “When my fiancee tried to ask her a question about an item which she couldn’t find on the menu, the server held her hand in front my fiancee’s face to quiet her,” he writes, “So close that she actually touched her nose.”
And then, while other tables served by the same waitress got cheery and prompt service, their food grew cold on the counter.
Dan says their repeated requests for a straw — to help prevent his fiancee from spilling her glass of milk — went ignored, his fiancee ended up spilling milk on herself.
“The server yelled at my fiancee before disappearing into the kitchen,” he says. “It was nearly closing so the bathrooms had been locked, and napkins could only do so much. So my fiancee sat there for a half hour covered in milk, hormonal and embarrassed, and at that point crying.”
At this point, Dan went to look for a manager:
I walked around and didn’t see anyone, so I approached the kitchen door which has a glass partition on one side, around which I could see and hear our server, but apparently she couldn’t see me.
She was mimicking my fiancee’s tremors and laughing, and asked the other server if he could bring “the disgusting junkie” the bill, among some other interesting phrases.
I decided not to get angry and walked out from behind the partition and asked her if she would please send us the manager.
She said, “No, no, I’m printing your bill now.”
So I told her that I required the manager and she said “fine, whatever” and went into the kitchen, so I went back to the table.
When the manager came I explained the situation and how incredibly upset I was… I explained what I’d seen and heard and couldn’t believe she’d just made assumptions like that. The manager told me he couldn’t do anything because “he is just the night manager,” and that if we were unhappy we should take the survey on the back of the receipt.
Not knowing what else to do, Dan and his fiancee paid their bill and left.
At home, they filled out the online complaint form on the IHOP website, which to their surprise resulted in a call two days later.
“It was customer service wanting more information and apologizing,” he says, “then a call later that day from the daytime manager who said he was as upset and disgusted as we were, but it didn’t seem all that genuine.”
The manager offered them a free meal, but Dan pointed out he had no intention of ever going back to that particular IHOP.
The manager said he would send them a gift certificate that could be used at the IHOP of their choosing.
“That was March 26th,” writes Dan. “It’s June 13th. We have received no call, no gift certificate, nothing. I don’t know if I’m more angry with how we were treated, or how they pretended to be sorry and then blew us off. I’ve tried sending more emails to them, but all I get is an automated response thanking me my feedback and that someone will get back to me soon.”
We’re going to try to reach out to IHOP to find out what’s going on, but the “night manager” during the original incident should probably have offered to comp their meal. At the very least, that manager could have attempted to contact someone who actually has authority to make such decisions.