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Passions in Poetry

The customer is rarely right

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JLR
Senior Member
since 02-04-2001
Posts 1851


0 posted 07-09-2001 02:18 AM       View Profile for JLR   Email JLR   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JLR

I have worked in service industry's for most of my adult life.  Not only do I accept the rule that the customer is always right but for the most part...I agree with it.  If a client is willing to pay for a service/product, they should by all means get what they are paying for.  But, just for the record...that doesn't mean they're right.
Sorry, I'll get on with the point of this.  I am a chef.  Tonight, I let everyone in the kitchen go early (to their delight) and said I would finish up.  Five minutes before the kitchen closed I got an order for 2 dozen steamed oysters.  I prepared them perfectly (not a great feat--haha) and sent them out.  The server brought them back and said that the customer said they were cold.  I explained that a steamed oyster doesn't hold heat very long, but yes, I would prepare 2 fresh dozen.  I did so.  They sent them back, again, saying, 'They just weren't right'.  At this point, I bounced off the wall and the server asked me to please not kill the messenger.  I laughed, calmed down and prepared them...again.  I asked her to stay in the kitchen so that the oysters could be taken to the customer as soon as they were ready.  She did.  Again, they were perfect.  Again, they sent them back.  I'd had enough.  I went out and spoke with the customer who was always right.  I introduced myself and asked what had been wrong with the oysters.  The woman seemed apologetic and said that they were slimy.  I replied that they were oysters and by definition...slimy.  She said that when they'd had them other places they were tiny, shriveled up and dry and that was how they liked them.  I answered, 'If you had asked me to overcook them, I would have.  But you didn't.  I won't ask you to pay for all six dozen...only the last two.'  
I walked calmly away and explained everything to acting management, who agreed with what I had said to the customer.  But then the customer...did I mention they'd had a bit to drink...complained and all six dozen oysters were comped (absorbed as cost, not charged for).  
It's not my restaurant, so it's not my money.  But, it's my rep and those oysters were perfect...and the customer was not right.  They were drunk and had very bad taste in seafood.  End of my rant.  Thanks for letting me share.
I'm already laughing at my obsessiveness as I post this.  BTW---the people who ate those six dozen free oysters enjoyed them thoroughly!

[This message has been edited by JLR (edited 07-09-2001).]

Skyfyre
Senior Member
since 08-15-99
Posts 1966
Sitting in Michael's Lap


1 posted 07-09-2001 02:50 AM       View Profile for Skyfyre   Email Skyfyre   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Skyfyre

Ah yes ... the restaurant business.  A place where perfectly sane, cultured, well-mannered people go to lose all semblance of sanity, thereby becoming precisely like the ^$^^#^^%^'s that made them that way in the first place ....

Ladies and gentlemen ... do you have a perfect life?  Are you fed up with happiness and a stress-free environment?  If so, just join us in the service industry ... we guarantee to have you in therapy and on very good drugs within the first year!!  

I am with you, my friend.  I, for one, would love to be empowered to "screen" customers so as to brush this sort of chaff by the wayside ... but the sad fact is, the idiots have to eat, too.  Waste of good air AND good food ... LOL

You have my sympathies ... and you can steam up some of those "slimy" oysters for me anytime!  


Linda

Sunshine
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Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


2 posted 07-09-2001 08:55 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

I wish I had been there...I LOVE oysters!  Good rant!  You handled it with style and grace...and a great deal of aplomb.  I, for one, am glad YOU are a member of Passions!
JLR
Senior Member
since 02-04-2001
Posts 1851


3 posted 07-09-2001 11:29 AM       View Profile for JLR   Email JLR   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JLR

Skyfyre---You certainly seem to know the business!  LOL  I love what I do 95% of the time...just last night was in the other 5%.  

Sunshine---Funny thing about last nights incident was that while it was going on, part of the reason I was able to maintain my cool with the customer was because I was thinking that I could come home and rant about it here.  Thanks so much for your kind comment.

Now...oysters for everyone!
hush
Senior Member
since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


4 posted 07-09-2001 01:00 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

lol- I empathize- once at work I had a customer tell me that our food tastes better during lunchtime than at dinner time. I tried to explain that our ingredients and recipes are exactly the same throughout the day, and he launched into an explanation about his hypersensitive tastebuds, and how nobody else notices the difference because they have fewer tastebuds. I nodded politely and had a good laugh with my manager about it... lol.

everything's fine.

Ron
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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


5 posted 07-09-2001 02:30 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Since this is the Alley, I'm going to run against what appears to be a consensus.  

A large part of any service industry - and the more you charge the more true it becomes - is educating the public. People aren't born with a ready definition of medium-rare, nor do most genetically know the proper cooking time for oysters. They have to be told. That "should" have been the job of the food server. Lacking that, the third order should have gone through management, who "should" have found out what the customer wanted (as opposed to ordered). As a last resort, you should have done exactly what you did and approach the customer yourself. But not in anger, however well hidden.

Think of it this way. A fourth order of oysters, prepared the way they wanted rather than the way they ordered, would have paid for the other three with a bit of profit margin still left over (assuming a typical 17 percent food cost). More importantly, I think, the customer would have been thrilled to learn- to feel more sophisticated and confident with future ordering - and could have become the best possible promotion for your restaurant. And I suspect their compliments and sincere appreciation would have made your night much more enjoyable, too.

IMHO, of course …
serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


6 posted 07-09-2001 05:54 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Kick back kiddies, it's time for still yet ANOTHER serenity story. My friend told me this one and it still cracks me up. She was waitressing at a Pizza hut in Texas and was new to the area. One day, a woman she was serving called her back to the table, and in one of those slow Texan drawls, asked my friend,

"Excuse me ma'am? Would you feel my coca-cola?"

"Pardon me?" My friend asked, completely startled.

"I asked if you would FEEL my coke!" reiterated the woman.

And so, with a shrug of acceptance that the customer is always right, my friend warily bent over and "felt" the coke. Just as the words "It feels just fine to me, ma'am," came out of her mouth--with this genteel Texas lady now looking at her like she was insane--my friend realized that what the woman had been asking her was to FILL the coke!

Temptress
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Member Rara Avis
since 06-15-99
Posts 7276
Mobile, AL


7 posted 07-09-2001 06:27 PM       View Profile for Temptress   Email Temptress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Temptress

Thats hilarious, Serenity! LOL! :supgergrin:

Ron has a point.

Here is what I feel when I have a bad attitude about people(generally this is when I've dealth with too many morons during a day of work):  All people (no matter who or how they are) unwittingly pull the escape latch on their brain before they enter a restaurant or a drive thru.  

Here is what I feel when I have patience with the people I feel like are being morons: If it is explained to them within the first few moments the problems, question, gripe, etc arises they usually will understand. If they don't then they just need something to complain about,and there is nothing you can do to change that. Must be patient. Must be kind. Must be firm. Must try not to argue with them even when they are making is very difficult and perhaps arguing with you themselves.

Moving on to some other aspect. The customer really isn't always right. Some of them go entirely too far with that concept. It doesn't give them dictatorship over your business. If you have policies to follow and a certain way of doing things, a customer should respect those policies, etc (such as charging extra for things that arent' listed with the food)

In handling a complaint,
They don't need to know the ins and outs about inventory, lack of help, or the inner workings of your service policies, etc. No matter how much they say they want to know this, they don't really care. I have seen employees give excuses galore, and it really doesn't matter. It really makes me mad when a manager makes an excuse for a waiter or waitress's bad attitude or lack of enthusiam (read...no smile..no greeting) for their job. I just roll my eyes and tell them its not excuse.

LOL! I think I've said enough. I've worked in the service industry for a while now too. Its nerve racking.   I have many different views of all the different aspects. LOL! I'm sure you guys don't have that kind of time right now!  
Dopey Dope
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since 08-30-2000
Posts 15536
San Juan, Puerto Rico


8 posted 07-09-2001 07:29 PM       View Profile for Dopey Dope   Email Dopey Dope   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dopey Dope

JLR- I'll eat your oysters anyday  
White Wolf
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since 09-18-99
Posts 384
Somewhere in the vast wastelan


9 posted 07-10-2001 12:39 AM       View Profile for White Wolf   Email White Wolf   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for White Wolf

Most of my work life has been in the service industry and more than half of that spent in customer service.  The stories I could tell, but I won't.  I completely agree and believe that the customer is always right.  My reasoning is that they know what they want the best.  It isn't always communicated in a way that we service people can understand.  The trick is to see or find out what the underlying problem is and solve it.  As in the example above after three tries he found out what was really wrong.  It wasn't that they were not done but that they were not done the way they like them.  Someone complains.  Why are they complaining?  That is what matters, not the complaint itself.  I also add one element into the mix.  I always find something that makes them smile.  If you can get someone to smile they start feeling better and become more cooperative.  I have never had this fail.


The White Wolf

If life is just a game, when does it end cause I want to get to what is real.

Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


10 posted 07-10-2001 07:06 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron said:

"More importantly, I think, the customer would have been thrilled to learn- to feel more sophisticated and confident with future ordering - and could have become the best possible promotion for your restaurant. And I suspect their compliments and sincere appreciation would have made your night much more enjoyable, too."

Change the topic from oysters to poetry and this little quote says legions.

Just curious why no one seems to be 'up in arms' by the suppositions implied in this comment?

All in good fun.

Brad
JLR
Senior Member
since 02-04-2001
Posts 1851


11 posted 07-10-2001 11:22 AM       View Profile for JLR   Email JLR   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JLR

Thanks everyone for your stories, comments and opinions.  In retrospect, I certainly agree that I could have handled the situation more effectively.  To be honest, had the patron not been drunk, I would have offered to replace the oysters, yet again, to their satisfaction.  Though, purposely overcooking them would have caused me nightmares for weeks.
Ron...17% food cost?  Most restaurants/caterers are fortunate to maintain 30%.
Brad, you lost me.  Suppositions implied?
Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


12 posted 07-10-2001 01:55 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Most restaurants/caterers are fortunate to maintain 30%.


Really? Guess it's been a while…  

I managed restaurants for a bit more than a decade, but have been away from it even longer than that. During my tenure, combined food and labor cost ran between 50 percent (good) and 60 percent (breaking even). A fast food place would run very low labor, between 15 to 25 percent, but higher food costs. A dinner house, like yours, would reverse those numbers. Apparently, things have changed.

Brad, you're right. My scenario above IS based on assumptions, and those might prove as unwarranted in a restaurant as they often do in the forums. Some people go out to eat and could care less about how long it takes to cook oysters. Trying to educate them wouldn't make them feel warm and fuzzy, but would probably just increase their frustrations. So, yea, there are similarities. But I suspect the ratios would be somewhat different?
Paula Finn
Member Ascendant
since 06-17-2000
Posts 5525
missouri


13 posted 07-11-2001 01:49 AM       View Profile for Paula Finn   Email Paula Finn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Paula Finn

Ok my two cents here....while the customer may always be right in their wants...they are NOT always right in the way they go about getting it...I manage a fast food restaurant crewed by mostly teens...they make mistakes...we always willing replace or refund and replace any order...but mistakes dont give ANYONE the right to verbally abuse an employee...and I dont tolerate that in my store...I treat you with courtesy and respect and I demand the same towards my employees...and myself.
brian madden
Member Elite
since 05-06-2000
Posts 4532
ireland


14 posted 07-11-2001 03:18 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Come work in Ireland, as a nation we rarely complain, the only dumb behaviour to be found is by people in pubs. JLR you handled the matter well, I tell ya I would added a little something to their dinner!

"Here I am in prison,here I am with a ball and chain There is whiskey in the jar-o" Traditional irish song.

PhaerieChild
Senior Member
since 08-30-99
Posts 1829
Aloha, Oregon


15 posted 07-11-2001 04:05 PM       View Profile for PhaerieChild   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for PhaerieChild

Ron, I guess it has been awhile for you lol. Last month our food cost ran at 33.6% and they called it good.
I know just how you feel JLR. Everytime I send out a steak I wonder if it is going to come back with a complaint. Generally I will undercook a steak "just in case". Steamed mussels of any kind would be a different matter. Some people are not sure how to cook them anyway and then again some people truly enjoy rubberized overcooked food. I agree that getting angry is not a good way to deal with them (no matter how well hidden) but I would have done the same thing I'm sure. I take a lot of pride in my ability and plate presentation and to have someone not appreciate that really "steams" me LOL.

How can you save me?
When the dark comes right in and takes me,
from my front walk and into bed,
where it kisses my face and eats my head. Shivaree

 
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