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Sixth: Sometimes, there is no resolution.

Maybe there is no clear cut solution – I can’t think of an example right now, but imagine that the manager is trying to be reasonable, but his version of reasonable doesn’t match yours.

Well, tell us about it. Open up a debate on our bulletin board!

Realistic Expectations

I suppose one major difficulty for a diner is what to expect in reparation: what would be a satisfactory outcome after making a complaint.

Personally, I think that the problem is that complainers are worried that they’ll be “fobbed off” and not receive as lavish compensation as a more successful complainer would. We’ve all heard stories of someone complaining about an undercooked steak and receiving free meals, bottles of Champagne, bouquets of flowers &c… and we worry about how to achieve (at least) the same.

Let’s take a scenario I’ve personally experienced. My wife and I tried to get a meal in a well-known chain of steak restaurants in London. The place was busy, but was severely understaffed. What staff there was could barely speak English. Some twenty minutes after being shown to a table, we still had not succeeded in ordering – even though a waiter had tried to take our order (he couldn’t understand the “One rare, one well done”!). We stood up and left. We had wasted half an hour, and now had to try to find an alternative. My rationale for not complaining was that I could see no outcome that would satisfy me: I no longer wanted to eat at an establishment that had demonstrated such inability to run a restaurant, so no offer of free meals would have enticed me. It was evident that the cost cutting which induced such poor staffing would preclude any financial compensation – and in any case, “life’s too short”.

What could a Restaurant do to address a complaint? The following, of course, depend on the degree of error...

Apologise. Probably enough for the majority of complaints?
Offer an alternative dish in the event the original selection was "inedible"
Replace the dish with the error corrected - not forgetting to "synchronise your partner(s) dish(es).
Offer a complimentary course, or bottle of Wine
Refund the cost of a dish, meal, or whole evening.
In the event of a bungled booking, offer an alternative date and/or time for a complimentary meal.

 

Some sources of information and assistance:

Citizens Advice Bureau
http://www.nacab.org.uk/

Office of Fair Trading
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square
London
EC4Y 8JX
Tel: 020 7211 8000
Fax: 020 7211 8800

Consumers' Association
2 Marylebone Road
London NW1 4DF
Tel: 020 7830 6000
Fax: 020 7830 6220
http://www.which.net

Food Standards Agency
http://www.food.gov.uk/
UK office
Food Standards Agency
Aviation House
125 Kingsway
London
WC2B 6NH
Switchboard: 020 7276 8000
Out of hours Emergencies only: 020 7270 8960

Scotland
Food Standards Agency (Scotland)
St Magnus House
6th Floor
25 Guild Street
Aberdeen
AB11 6NJ
Tel: 01224 285100

Wales
Food Standards Agency (Wales)
1st Floor
Southgate House
Wood Street
Cardiff
CF10 1EW
Tel: 029 20 6789 18/9

Northern Ireland
Food Standards Agency (Northern Ireland)
10C Clarendon Road
Belfast
BT1 3BG
Tel: 02890 417711

Environmental Health
http://www.ehweb.co.uk/food.htm

Office of Fair Trading
http://www.oft.gov.uk/
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square
LONDON
EC4Y 8JX

+44 (0)20 7211 8000 (switchboard)
08457 22 44 99 (general enquiries)

 

Sandro

 

 

 

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