Last week I had a family of 9 sit down in my section. I gave them my usual friendly greet and got everyone’s drinks and appetizers in a timely manner. I wasn’t very busy, so I even took the time to converse with them a little, and learned they were celebrating a birthday.
Everything was fairly normal, until I came to collect the payment for the bill. A gentleman at the table was paying the tab, and I hadn’t heard anything from him at all throughout their meal.
“Did that manager of yours ever do anything about that expired barbecue sauce?” he snapped at me. Confused, I asked him what had happened. Apparently he didn’t like the way our bbq sauce tasted (it’s vinegar-based) so he checked the date printed on the bottom of the bottle. The date read 7/23, about three weeks prior to the present date.
Disgusted, he had asked a different server to send over a manager. My manager had explained to the gentleman that the dates on our sauce bottles are actually bottling dates, not expiration dates, and that the sauces are actually good for up to a month after being opened. This is 100% true.
Well, I had no idea that any of this was going on until he brought it up to me at the end of the meal.
“That manager of yours tried to tell me that the dates on your bottles are born on dates, but I’ve been working in distribution for several years, and there is just no possible way that can be true.”
“Sir,” I said, “I understand how it can seem a little confusing, but I was actually taught in my training here that the date on our bottles are actually bottling dates…”
He cut me off, saying that the date on the other bottle on the table was from three days ago, and argued that there was “absolutely no possible way” that the sauce could be made, packaged, and sent to the restaurant and placed on a table in three days.
I explained to him that, since we are a locally owned company, we make and distribute all of our sauces and products at the company commissary, which is about ten minutes down the road from our restaurant.
Before I could even finish talking, he interrupted me again.
“I don’t appreciate your manager lying to me; just do your job, stop lying to my face. I know how the industry works and I wish you all would just pay more attention to your products.”
Again, I asked him what he would like me to do about the situation (the whole time I’m still holding his bill and his credit card in my hand) and he just huffed, “Nothing now, I’ve already eaten it. I just hope I don’t get sick. This is just awful.”
I left the table and confronted my manager, who told me he had already sent an email to the commissary, asking them the details of our bottling and labeling protocol. I asked him what to do, and, like me, he too was at a loss. He told me he had already taken off the cost of the man’s meal, and that until he heard back from the commissary, he didn’t know what else to do.
So I ran the man’s credit card (Still $150 tab for the table), walked back to the table, and set the card back on the table.
“He took off the price of your meal, sir. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you. Have a great evening. ”
I got a $2 tip on a $150 tab, from a group that took up 2 of my tables for 2 hours.
Ten minutes after they left, the commissary emailed us back, saying the exact same thing my manager and I had told the guy at the table.
I lost a significant amount of money because someone refused to be wrong.
As a server, I often am forced to subscribe to the “customer’s always right” philosophy, which is hard enough even when I CAN fix the problem. If a guest believes his/her steak is overdone, I can easily have it recooked. However, if a man swears up and down that our sauces are expired when they’re not, I can show him every date on every bottle in the entire restaurant, but it won’t change his mind, and I’ll still leave empty-handed.
Submitted By Andie