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gmi3804

How Would You Handle This?

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A patron of a restaurant checks in at the host stand and the host offers to take the patron’s coat. The patron declines, is shown to the table, then places the coat on the back of the chair with the lining facing outward. The meal is going well until the waiter accidentally spills a glass of red wine on the coat. The usual remedies are offered; club soda, clean towels, etc. The restaurant manager apologizes for the incident and offers to have the patron’s coat dry cleaned. The patron declines the gesture and decides to have their own dry cleaner perform the service. The patron has the coat cleaned and the stain does not completely come out of the inside lining. The patron contacts the restaurant manager and informs him that the stain did not come out completely. The restaurant manager offers again to have the patron’s coat cleaned by the restaurant’s preferred dry cleaner. The patron complies with this request. The stain is not completely removed again, but is hardly noticeable due to the pattern on the inner lining of the coat. As a goodwill gesture, the restaurant offers the patron a $100 gift certificate. The patron refuses the gift certificate, demands complete reimbursement for the cost of the coat ($400), and if the patron’s demands are not met, the patron states that they will never frequent this restaurant again and will tell all of their friends to take their business elsewhere too.

How would you, as the restaurant manager, have handled this situation?

As a customer, what would be your expectations regarding compensation?

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I'm usually of the "customer is always right" school, but in this case I believe the restaurant has offered, and done, more than enough.

SB (suspects even the patron's "friends" will understand :rolleyes: )

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If I was this guy's friend, I would have taken his pulse already and known to take his ungracious behavior with an upended salt shaker. To say it nicely, he's being silly. As a customer service pro, and if I worked for the restaurent, I would recommend that he contact the BBB and complain. If he did it, that would open the door so I could also document my good actions for all time and eternity.

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I think the restaurant attempted to and did in my opinion "Fix and over fix" the

situation which is what we always did in the stores I ran. I would think their

preferred dry cleaner was very good at stains of all types from their repeat

business with said restaurant. I have a good friend who is GM of a very popular

rest. here and she wears these incredibly expensive designer tops on the floor

and has them dry cleaned and I am sure that where she gets it done has seen

it all from her work related incidents. I agree that the patrons friends would not

follow suit and stop dining there the patron sounds like some people I have known

that no matter what something would happen to them wherever they were and

whatever the outcome wasn't right. I think the place did a good job of handling

the situation. Where is it? I'll go when I come to Illinois! I think they could

handle anything! :biggrin: a hui hou!


"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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It would be interesting to hear an informed legal opinion on this (okay maybe not)

Here goes: (I am not a legal authority but I watch Boston legal a lot so--let's see what would Denny Crane do hummmmmm......

Actually, I think the restaurant is at fault. One would have reasonable expectation that food or wine will not be spilled on one's person or possessions when dining in a professional establishment.

If the coat being on the back of the chair caused said waiter to trip and...

well that's another issue.

I would give the patron the $400 bucks but I would also insist that the patron check their coat if they ever return, or sign a waiver!

Wait--maybe offer four hundred dollars in meals and have them sign a waiver--the ol store credit only scheme!!!

I wouldn't have a problem if the restaurant owner called all the other owners in the area and warned them about this patron!! --sneaky--yeah--like something Denny would recommend!

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The owner of an Italian place where I waitressed would occasionally tell a particularly annoying customer, "Please, do me a favor: Don't ever come back here."

The patron here is being extortionist. The business has already repeatedly offered to make good, on a situation that was partially *caused* by the patron.


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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It would be interesting to hear an informed legal opinion on this (okay maybe not)

Here goes: (I am not a legal authority but I watch Boston legal a lot so--let's see what would Denny Crane do hummmmmm......

Actually, I think the restaurant is at fault. One would have reasonable expectation that food or wine will not be spilled on one's person or possessions when dining in a professional establishment.

If the coat being on the back of the chair caused said waiter to trip and...

well that's another issue.

I would give the patron the $400 bucks but I would also insist that the patron check their coat  if they ever return, or sign a waiver!

Wait--maybe offer four hundred dollars in meals and have them sign a waiver--the ol store credit only scheme!!!

At this point; " The patron declines the gesture and decides to have their own dry cleaner perform the service.", without having anything in writing, the patron puts themselves in a pretty weak bargaining position by their failure to attempt to mitigate the damages.

SB (NOT a lawyer either)(No, honest I'm not!)(nor am I a drycleaner)(nor do I own a fancy coat)(I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night) :laugh:

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The owner of an Italian place where I waitressed would occasionally tell a particularly annoying customer, "Please, do me a favor: Don't ever come back here."

The patron here is being extortionist.  The business has already repeatedly offered to make good, on a situation that was partially *caused*  by the patron.

The restaurant has gone above and beyond to remedy the situation.

One wonders if this patron makes a habit of this kind of behavior.

I mean, why wouldn't you want your coat checked? (It would be fun to to some investigation into the patron's background.)

Or the restuarant to take care of the cleaning?

One person - and friends - business isn't going to mean much in the long run.

You did all you could. Face it, you're dealing with a jerk!

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The patron refuses the gift certificate, demands complete reimbursement for the cost of the coat ($400), and if the patron’s demands are not met, the patron states that they will never frequent this restaurant again and will tell all of their friends to take their business elsewhere too.

If this were a court case, the customer would receive the depreciated value of the coat, which would depend on the life-expectancy of the coat and its age. This assumes, of course, that the restaurant acted negligently.

But the restaurant didn't. They offered to check her coat--she declined. She also knew (or should have considered) that she would order red wine, a liquid which can (and often DOES) stain. Let her exercise ordinary care in taking care of her coat, not just drop it over a chair near her food.

Also consider that the LINING is stained--the side of the coat which is rarely seen. Were I the restaurant owner, I'd tell this self-absorbed extortionist to take her coat AND her busines elsewhere. If she wants to tell her friends, let her. We could use the publicity. :angry:


There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I'm with the majority here. I think that the restaurant acted not only appropriately in the situation, but beyond expectation. The customer us trying to milk this situation for all that it’s worth.

Fresser beat me to it. It is on the INSIDE of the coat. The only people who will know that the stain is there is the said owner of the coat and Superman.

I don't have FOH experience, but I have fallen victim to a similar food mishap. We were dining at a jazz club with VERY tight seating (no coat check) and the waiter managed to spill some cocktail sauce on every piece of clothing that was exposed — the cardigan, inner sweater, pants, even my socks. (BTW, I still refer to that cardigan as my cocktail sweater.) The ironic thing is that I noticed that the waiter seemed a little nervous, and actually predicting something like that would happen. When we brought the incident to the manager's attention, she offered to pay for my dry cleaning. (I actually felt bad for the waiter at this point, because it was his first day.) We politely declined, since everything was machine washable, but they did comp my meal. Case closed.

If I were the manager, I'd probably tell her politely that I'm sorry she felt that way, but would secretly be thrilled that she and her friends would never come again.


Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Classy restaurant response. Unclassy customer. First the owner declined the coat check. Mistake number one particularly since the coat owner displayed awareness of the risk of something getting spilled on his/her coat by placing the coat lining side outward. Not something you would ordinarily do unless you recognized the risk and were interested in mitigating your damages (legal alert :cool: ) in the event a mishap occured.

Second the damage to the lining of the coat, after two cleanings, in no way renders the coat unusuable or unwearable. Its' value may have diminished slightly in an almost purely subjective way. And that's what the customer is entitled to. Deminimus compensation probably covered by the cost to the restaurant of the cleanings.

That the restaurant offered to give this lout a $100 gift certificate was really laudatory. I wouldn't want this customer back!

Kate <-----lawyer

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It would be interesting to hear an informed legal opinion on this (okay maybe not)

Here goes: (I am not a legal authority but I watch Boston legal a lot so--let's see what would Denny Crane do hummmmmm......

Actually, I think the restaurant is at fault. One would have reasonable expectation that food or wine will not be spilled on one's person or possessions when dining in a professional establishment.

If the coat being on the back of the chair caused said waiter to trip and...

well that's another issue.

I would give the patron the $400 bucks but I would also insist that the patron check their coat  if they ever return, or sign a waiver!

Wait--maybe offer four hundred dollars in meals and have them sign a waiver--the ol store credit only scheme!!!

I wouldn't have a problem if the restaurant owner called all the other owners in the area and warned them about this patron!! --sneaky--yeah--like something Denny would recommend!

How would the restaurant be at fault? Yes, one has reasonable expectations that something like this won't happen but being humans, accidents do happen.

Even in professional establishments. By the way, is there amateur establishments? :huh:

I wouldn't have even given this putz a gift certificate never mind 400.00 for the coat.

There are already more than enough "con artists" coming into restaurants as it is and to encourage this jerk is just inviting more trouble.

The restaurant did everything right and went above and beyond their responsibility for the accident to make things right.

If the person wasn't happy after that, I would hold the front door open for them and tell them that I am missing them already.

Keep on shucking

Oyster Guy

P.S. I doubt that a person like this has any friends anyways and would you really want people like that into your place to begin with?


"Why then, the world is mine oyster, which I with sword, shall open."

William Shakespeare-The Merry Wives of Windsor

"An oyster is a French Kiss that goes all the way." Rodney Clark

"Oyster shuckers are the rock stars of the shellfish industry." Jason Woodside

"Obviously, if you don't love life, you can't enjoy an oyster."

Eleanor Clark

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From a customer's perspective---I think the spillage is indeed the restaurant's fault. Clumsy waiter, spilled wine. It could just have easily slopped onto the patron's shirt as opposed to the coat and if the coat weren't on the back of the chair it might well have hit the patron.

However, it's obvious that the restaurant performed all the necessary service gestures and now the outcome if the patron's fault. If the patron had accepted the dry cleaning offer and the wine didn't come out I can see a case for the restaurant replacing the coat, but now that the patron has tampered with the stained coat (thus arguably affecting the cleaning outcome in a way the restaurant can't control), AND the restaurant has offered the goodwill gesture, I don't see why the restaurant should be further liable. Unless the patron is J.Lo. I think a "I'm so sorry, but we can't do anything further" is all that is required from the restaurant.

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He's is already out there talking trash, despite everything they tried to do, I'd defend the claim.

Its on the inside. It wasn't new and if it didn't come clean, the cost to reline the coat would most likely be less than the depreciated value of the coat. Also there is the fact the customer took it to his cleaner first which, if they did not handle the stain properly set the stain, which is not the restaurant's fault.

You could drill the amount of the potential recovery into the floor in this case.

Sometimes you just have to say enough already.


**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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Lor' love a duck! I spill things all the time, and pay for my own dry cleaning when I do. The restaurant has behaved honorably here.

Some peeps don't have enough stress and tragedy in their lives, I guess. The lining of a coat? Pfui.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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As a restaurant manager myself, I believe the restaurant has done enough and if the owner/manager is dipomatic enough, will be able to inform the patron that every measure was taken to prevent or remedy the situation from the beginning, but that they declined (coat check, first offer of dry cleaning, etc). If the guest still feels slighted, that is their perogative (sp?), there's not much you can do.

I would NEVER offer to replace the coat-either pay for the cleaning, or offer gift certificates of up to half the cost of the coat-there are limits.

There's a concept called "due diligence" that not many people understand these days-that's what the restaurant has done.

Another suggestion (after the fact) would have been once the guest placed their coat on the chair and it was obvious something may happen, have the manager go by and offer to check the coat "I just want to offer you our coat-check service once again. This is a very nice coat and I'd hate for soemthing to happen to it while it's on the back of your chair" or some such.


"have a sense of humor about things...you'll need it" A. Bourdain

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Ah...for the good old days before political correctness.

The manager did everything possible and still the patron was not satisfied?

The customer is usually always right, but if he became verbally abusive and threatened to defame my establishment, I would go toe to toe with him and tell him to get the hell out and do not come back.

What do you have to lose?

Maybe you can get him to take a swing at you.

Then, there's the Vinnie solution.

"Mr. Patron, we have done everything we could to resolve this problem.

The only thing left is to turn it over to our customer service manager Vinnie.

"Yo Vinnie, we got some jamoke here who says he's gonna trash our rep, would yoose have a chat with him?"

"Please sir, would you and your coat accompany my associate to the back room?"

:laugh:

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I'm not so sure a court would award damages, especially the price of a new coat.

As mentioned earlier, the coat is not a new coat, and therefore not worth a new price.

The stain is on the inside and barely visible.

The restaurant has already spent substantial bucks trying to remedy the situation.

The customer had the opportunity to check the coat, thereby keeping it out of harm's way, but refused. Customers understand that accidents sometimes happen, even in the best of establishments, and there is some risk when one hangs his/her coat over the back of a chair. So it's not like the customer could not possibly have understood that his coat could be damaged. He could have spilled something on it himself. (That would have been hard to do, but I'm a lifelong klutz and you must trust me on this.) :wink:

I think a good lawyer would tell the customer (nicely) to grow up and move on.

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Classy restaurant response.  Unclassy customer.  First the owner declined the coat check.  Mistake number one particularly since the coat owner displayed awareness of the risk of something getting spilled on his/her coat by placing the coat lining side outward.  Not something you would ordinarily do unless you recognized the risk and were interested in mitigating your damages (legal alert :cool: ) in the event a mishap occured.

Second the damage to the lining of the coat, after two cleanings, in no way renders the coat unusuable or unwearable.  Its' value may have diminished slightly in an almost purely subjective way.  And that's what the customer is entitled to.  Deminimus compensation probably covered by the cost to the restaurant of the cleanings.

That the restaurant offered to give this lout a $100 gift certificate was really laudatory.  I wouldn't want this customer back!

Kate <-----lawyer

i put my seat belt on when i drive my car because i know there is a risk of being in an accident. when i'm stopped at a light and some drunk driver plows in to my and i end up in the hospital, could the drunk driver argue that by putting on the seat belt, i absolve him of liability because i know there was a risk of an accident? of course not

it sounds to me that the customer was being protective of his coat by wanting to keep it with him and turning it inside out. maybe this is abnormal, but it's also his prerogative. the restaurant condoned this action by allowing him to dine with his coat. even if the manager came over to offer to check it and the man still refused, the fact that he would have been allowed to dine in the restaurant presumably in this hypothetical situation still does not absolve the restaurant.

nothing in the original post made it sound like the customer did anything to contribute to the spill. he didn't bump into the waiter. didn't spill the wine himself. this was the fault of the waiter, and thus the fault of the employer.

the customer had no requirement to allow the restaurant to perform the dry cleaning. by taking the coat to his own cleaner, this only confirms to me that the customer was protective of it. at this point, if the customer wants reimbursement for the jacket, he is entitled to it. the restaurant does not have the right to tell him to reline the coat or anything else.

presume a similar situation, if the customer did check his coat and the wine was spilled by the waiter--would the restaurant still refuse to reimburse the cost of the shirt, trousers, and perhaps belt that were stained? is it the customer's fault in this case because it was a risk of dining out? i don't think many people would blame the customer in this situation.

if i were the owner/manager of that restaurant, i would have comped the whole meal, offered to take it for dry cleaning *or* reimburse the customer for the cost of his own cleaners and i would have told the customer that if the dry cleaning doesn't take care of it, then i would assure him that the cost of the coat would be promptly paid. if this were done, there is a chance that the customer would have not even demanded the replacement cost and been happy with just the cleaning.

as this is an old thread, i am curious how the situation turned out...

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The restaurant did what they should have. They offered a secure location for the coat in order to protect it from damage.

Once wine was spilled, which is the restaurants fault 100%, they took all standard steps to have it corrected. They offered club soda to help lift the stain and to have it professionally dry cleaned. The owner of the coat declined.

This is where she looses the argument that the restaurant should pay for the coat. Had she left it in the restaurants possession to be cleaned or taken it herself next day to the restaurants prefered cleaners and the stain was still not satisfactorily cleaned she would have a case. However, she took it to her own cleaners and while in her possession it is possible her actions, or those of her cleaners, impacted the ability to get the stain out. For all the restaurant knows she waited a few days to get the coat cleaned, she tried to do it herself and set the stain, or the cleaners she choose was inept. At this point the restaurant is liable for a reasonable and standard fee of the customers dry cleaners.

However, they choose to now go above and beyond that still accepting to send it to their preferred cleaners and also giving a gift certificate. When she took the damaged coat into her own possession she also took responsibility for its correct and total cleaning.

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It was the restaurant's fault, and the customer absolutely had the right to have the coat cleaned at the dry cleaners of their choice. When that failed, the customer did agree to have the restaurant's cleaner attempt to clean the coat, which again failed to totally remove the stain. Therefore, the customer should have some sort of recompense. But the customer is hardly ever entitled to the full value of the item of clothing -- even if the article was destroyed -- they only have to be recompensed the depreciated value of the garmet, i.e., what they could sell the item for at the time of the accident.

This is where The People's Court would do a little rough justice.

The stain is on the inside of the coat so no one would see it.

I would award the customer $25.

They should have accepted the restaurant's more than generous offer of $100.

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The customer had the opportunity to check the coat, thereby keeping it out of harm's way, but refused.  Customers understand that accidents sometimes happen, even in the best of establishments, and there is some risk when one hangs his/her coat over the back of a chair.  So it's not like the customer could not possibly have understood that his coat could be damaged.  He could have spilled something on it himself. 

It's obvious that from now on, restaurants should make customers sign a 'release of liability' form should customers refuse to check coats.

:cool:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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