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Should I Accept a Compensatory Comp?


Busboy
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Briefly: After a lunch for six marked by pretty decent food but marred by service glitches (below) I dashed off a polite e-mail to the manager. The manager responded, graciously, and threw in an offer of a repeat lunch for the gang, as well.

My complaints were:

1) Wrong "special" menu on the website. This was actually an old-ish complaint, (but I was on a roll) as I had been pissed off a month ago when I called to confirm that the previous special was available and they said that it had ended weeks ago. The current special menu still is not posted, but I have my sources, and I was eager to enjoy the new special with friends and family.

2) They lost the reservation. They lost the lady's in line in front of me, as well. They had a seat, but one doesn't gamble with a six-top during Cherry Blossom season in Washington, especially at a hotel restaurant. And it's bad beginning a meal as hostesses look at you like you're stupid and staffs scramble to set the table.

3) After confirming twice that the special menu -- 3 courses for $34.95 -- was available for Sunday Lunch, (as was suggested in the restaurant's press release announcing the menu, I found out afterwards) I was told -- at dessert time -- that the prix fixe was "dinner only" and I would have to pay (noticeably) higher a la carte prices. The manager was summoned, and she capitulated fairly quickly (and a couple of glasses of wine mysteriously appeared) but I remain put out that I was not offered my "regional specialty" dessert and had to settle for a rather ordinary lemon tart. Not to mention having to fuss with management in the first place.

To be clear, nothing was particularly traumatic and, had I not gotten a call two days after I ate there asking if my party of six would be arriving soon, I might have forgotten the accumulation of second-tier irritants and not even bothered to e-mail the manager.

I like the restaurant, management has responded graciously, and I honestly think that a whole free lunch for six is a little much, especially given our wine tab. (hmmmm, maybe that's why they're so nice). I don't want to be one of those schnorrers who tries to parlay a minor complaint into a big payoff. I've met them, and I dislike them.

On the other hand -- we dropped $400 and the prospect of another $400 meal for free is quite tempting. Maybe we should compromise -- just my wife and I for $200. :laugh:

Anyway, what's the "right" thing to do. And, regardless of that, what should I do?

The manager's note:

I apologize for the inconveniences during your dining experience.... I also appreciate all the details that you took the time to provide us. We take the feedback very seriously.Chef... and I would like to welcome you and your guests back... to enjoy a complimentary meal at anytime this season whereby we can turn around all these miscommunications. If you would allow me, I would like to speak with you personally at your convenience. My phone number is.... I assure you we are working to resolve all the issues you brought to our attention as soon as possible.

Thank you again for you feedback.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I smell a very nice relationship in the offing. If you plan to go back more than once, I'd say graciously accepting some reduced version of the generous offer is a great idea. That way you build on a good customer/manager relationship (forged in the fires of this mess, in fact), show you're a swell guy, and maybe get nice treats for just being your Busboy self in perpetuity.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If you have emailed the manager to complain, and he feels strongly enough about your complaints to offer you his hospitality, where does the problem arise? Where is there some implied quid pro quo in his offer that you need to buy the same ocean of wine during the comped meal or only take up a reduced offer?

From my vantage point, he obviously sees you as a valued customer and wants you to continue to be one. If you liked the restaurant, go back and keep going back.

I'm not suggesting that you should take him to the cleaners on the comped meal, but I don't see why there seem to be feelings of quasi-guilt creeping into this.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Since you're asking, I would call the manager and basically repeat what the what is. Tell them that you think an additional dinner for six at their expense would be unfair given that you were actually taken care of (reasonably so, with a nod to your inconvenience in the form of the extra wine), but that you appreciate the gesture on their part. I think they'd be ultra-receptive to you and your wife being treated, and you'd go a long way toward not being "one of those people".

Just like always, treat them well and they'll treat you well. Plus, they'll remember that you treated them well.

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Why look a gift horse in the mouth? I guess if it's a struggling mom-and-pop place, or if the cost of the meal is going to be charged against the manager's salary, that should give you pause, but otherwise I say go for it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was discussing this with the family last night and was treated to a list of other offenses, as well -- no one asked my daughter how she wanted her steak cooked, and it came out overdone (though not inedible), the waiter could never seem to get the right plate in front of the right person, unfortunate wine service, etc....

They are filled with righteous anger and pressing for a do-over.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Why look a gift horse in the mouth? I guess if it's a struggling mom-and-pop place, or if the cost of the meal is going to be charged against the manager's salary, that should give you pause, but otherwise I say go for it.

Since it's a hotel restaurant, they likely have a big purse that can handle this sort of thing. I agree with Fat Guy. Why not?

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I was discussing this with the family last night and was treated to a list of other offenses, as well -- no one asked my daughter how she wanted her steak cooked, and it came out overdone (though not inedible), the waiter could never seem to get the right plate in front of the right person, unfortunate wine service, etc....

They are filled with righteous anger and pressing for a do-over.

My suspicion is that a second dinner, even if comped, would be as unsatisfactory as the first meal. There is no on/off switch for competency.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I was discussing this with the family last night and was treated to a list of other offenses, as well -- no one asked my daughter how she wanted her steak cooked, and it came out overdone (though not inedible), the waiter could never seem to get the right plate in front of the right person, unfortunate wine service, etc....

They are filled with righteous anger and pressing for a do-over.

My suspicion is that a second dinner, even if comped, would be as unsatisfactory as the first meal. There is no on/off switch for competency.

This is a possibility. But I've eaten here before and service was never an issue, so this might have been a one off.

And, the company will be good and the price is right.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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