Just when I thought I'd covered every conceivable complaint scenario yet another has popped its ugly head above the parapet.
Im trying not to look at Tw*tadvisor but I think I've noticed a pattern.
It seems to me that the majority of outlets serving bog standard food get very few defamatory reviews,whereas places that do 'better' food seem to prompt the occasional terrible review, indeed sometimes provoking a viciously scathing report.
There seem to be three types of complainer:

1.The Pro Complainer:-this unsavoury individual will do anything within his power to be difficult thus obtaining a discount or even gratis meal.DO NOT I repeat DO NOT accommodate his demands otherwise you may enjoy the pleasure of a return visit,thus incurring further loss.

2.The Genuine Complainer:-this is self explanatory-if you've made a mistake OWN UP and try to rectify the damage.

3.The Unrealistic Diner:-this is the most annoying and trickiest to deal with as the complaint is not valid as you haven't actually done anything wrong other than fail to provide what they thought you should which is highly subjective anyway as actually its up to you set your standard-not the customer.Its also the most common type of complaint and is most likely to flare up on an internet review site.

Sadly there are a lot of diners with unrealistic expectations.These may relate to the ambience,food,the barman's face or even the fecking table they've been allocated.
We recently entertained a perfect example within this category.
Their initial request 'can you get the Chef to knock us up some sausages' was sadly unfulfilled due to there being no sausages on the menu,therefore shockingly none available in the meat fridge.Unfortunately the inability to cater to this request coloured the rest of the visit..
From then onwards EVERYTHING was a problem- from the menu being written on a board to the sorry lack of the prized straw required to enable them to inhale their fizzy drinks more speedily producing the required wired effect, fuelling maximum disruption or alternatively exit via their cute little noses.
Conversely, the children were modicums of decorum.
Within earshot of the next table(whom we happened to know and who later related a detailed account)Pater was heard to say begrudgingly  'Im not paying 35 notes for Sunday dinner'
All four had chosen roast beef(advertised pink on the menu) and when the almost empty plates were cleared,he asked to see the Chef as the beef was 'almost walking off the plate never mind pink'.
An audience with Chef Sunday lunchtime isn't on the cards given the locust like descent of hungry diners fighting for tables in the traditional weekly meat and roast tattie binge.
The Blonde was instructed to make them aware that the way the beef was presented was the way we serve it every week,hence why it was noted on the menu.They were also advised that if they had mentioned their dissatisfaction prior to devouring the whole flaming lot save for one sorry slice we would have been happy to exchange for an alternative.
The response to this information was:
'never mind the Chef-I want to speak to the owner'
To which the Blonde replied politely:
'The Chef is the owner'
And then(following much harrumphing due to being momentarily flummoxed)
'well the issue isn't the way you serve the beef,the issue is Im not paying for it....'
Which he didn't.
This was followed up by the expected unrestrained outpouring of vitriolic verbal diarrhoea on a well known review site.The account of events bore little resemblance to the exchange that actually took place.
Particularly nauseating was the alleged comment 'what the Chef says goes'
Interestingly the couple on the next table who witnessed the whole debacle commented on how patient the Blonde had been with them and how well she handled the situation.
Which in fact was an absolute waste of her time and effort given the vigour of the negative review.
'Might as well have told them to feck orf' said Chef..

Against my better judgement Ive left a brief but fitting management response:
'Im sorry you didn't enjoy your meal but as was explained on the day it wasn't possible for the Chef to 'knock you up some sausages'..
As Chef always says 'simple is best'

Last Saturday night we had a further table which fell within this third category.
A deafening klaxon sounded as they shoved their coats at me then looked horrified as I draped them artfully over the backs of their seats.They sat down and informed us haughtily that they wanted the proper menu-not the blackboard specials..(you know that menu that we keep under wraps as we don't want to sell anything from it..)
Overcoming this hurdle we eventually managed to extricate an order from them.They ate everything they ordered but to be honest I wasn't feeling the love or any of the usual jollity associated with your average Saturday night diner.
I braced meself for the complaint which must surely come soon.
As they paid the bill I asked if they'd enjoyed everything.
'Yes it was....  fine'
In the restaurant trade 'fine' is a euphemism for 'not really but i don't want to make a scene, Ill just vent my anger later on a public forum'
Hmmm.I thought I'd try and deal, a bit of damage limitation doesn't come in wrong sometimes.
'You can be honest' I say 'was there a problem'
'Well no,not really'...'Its just we EXPECTED MORE FROM MICHELIN STARRED FOOD'


'But we don't have a Michelin star..'
'What??But our friends told us you have a star'
Their faces were an angry shade of baboon bum red,the mans lip was quivering slightly,revealing a scrap of watercress wedged pleasingly between his front teeth.. I valiantly rested the urge to repeat one of Chefs favourites 'are you keeping that bit for later?' made a mental note to purchase some toothpicks,suppressed a giggle and continued.

'Well Im sorry but we don't have a Michelin star and never have done and theres actually no chance we'll ever get one with the menu we offer.Thats not what we do'
'I can see that now.We expected a Michelin starred meal so obviously we are disappointed'
'Well I'm sorry you were misinformed by your friends,very sorry indeed..'
I could see the type of food you want when you're just going out for your tea would be a bitter disappointment compared to the gastronomic delights of a M * dinner.
They were both shaking their heads as they went to the door.As they departed the woman pointed at the Michelin sticker on the window
'I don't think you should be displaying that do you?its very misleading to your customers'
Twinkle,twinkle little star,how I wonder where you are...

So you see attracting a complaint is very easy indeed, anything-from the sorry lack of an off menu sausage to the absence of an unearned Michelin star can result in culinary disgrace.

Which brings me to this week.
We managed to get ourselves included in a list of Good pubs.
This involved a trip down sarf to the awards lunch.
'I wonder if there'll be anyone else travelling down by truck' said Chef
'I doubt it' I say 'especially not one with the remnants of the Christmas tree in the back..'
 Chef was not keen to attend.
'You owe me one for this-you know I don't like being out of me comfort zone..'
Nearing the venue as we passed this place,the truck inexplicably veered over towards the carefully manicured driveway.
'We could just pop in here for lunch instead' said Chef hopefully..
On arrival Chef gazed longingly at the heavily laden trayfuls of his favourite beverage so often in short supply in fancier places.All gratis but sadly none to be quaffed due to his ill informed decision to drive.
After luncheon the awards ceremony commenced with a count down of the pubs culminating in the announcement of the top position.
We had already spared our embarrassment by priming the other guests at the table that we'd be first out.
Surprisingly,we weren't first out.The first named pub was cited as having just undergone a 1.7 million investment programme.
Chef looked worried : 'Do you think they realise we have an outside netty???'
We kept our heads down and tried not to look shifty..
When our name was announced there was a small frisson of excitement around the table,I think someone may even have inadvertently screamed.The next few minutes were a bit of a blur-in the excitement neither of us could remember what position we'd come.I only found out later when someone posted the list on Twitter.
We managed to retain our composure until lunch was over after which-we made a sharp exit through the pouring rain with the recently received award doubling up as a rain hat,enjoying a brief but very enjoyable Fools and Horses style celebration once in the comfort of the truck  ..

Always worth a watch..

As we made our way back to the ranch Chef was unusually pensive.
'Are you planning to display that when we get back?'Pointing at the framed award.
'Of course I am - why wouldn't I?'
'Well don't you think raising peoples expectations unnecessarily is just asking for trouble??Look what happened last Saturday with those Michelin fuckwits..Far better to keep a low profile.''
'Well I suppose we did come away with more than we thought we would...'
'Thats true' said Chef 'I didn't expect to get a party bag...'

TOP TIP:If you fancy a Michelin starred dining extravaganza buy yourself said guide and make sure you book into somewhere that has one.Easy innit? 


Matthew said…
Sorry. He. Refused to pay for four plates of food THAT THEY HAD ACTUALLY EATEN?! And THEN wrote a scathing review on TitAdvisor?

Thanks, I now have the hump on your behalf. : )
"when the almost empty plates were cleared,he asked to see the Chef as the beef was 'almost walking off the plate never mind pink'."
So experienced this customer-eat the all the steak then have the audacity to say it wasn´t cooked.
Well don´t fecking eat it then is my answer.-and whats more coff up for what you´ve just eaten.
no argument sorry.
I really don't understand people with this peculiar sense of entitlement . . . I can only assume that they aren't very happy people. You do know that you're a saint, don't you?!
NickyB said…
We've 'ad worse days ... :)
Alison Cross said…
I honestly don't know how you cope with such ARSEHOLES. I wonder whether you could make a feature of making really smart, but honest comments on Tripe Advisor. Funny and written in such a way that it's clear that the complainant is a Total Wipe. It could be your USP :-D

Congrats on getting into the book - well desrved!

Young at Heart said…
well done.....I don't know how you cope with the nutters I would definately been done for assault by now!!
Wally Bell said…
next time someone cleans their plate and complains, ask them if they want a doggie bag to take the rest home.
Expat mum said…
I've just written something about complaining in restaurants and all the "etiquette" people say you should never complain about the food if you've eaten more than a third of what's on your plate.
Not that those customers care what you "should" and shouldn't do. They probably work their way round the local pubs and restaurants doing the same thing each week. Charming role models for their kids. Grr, now I've got the hump on your behalf too!
Ive decided the smart comments on TA ARE the way forward:)

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