How to Complain in a Restaurant
It is a typical trait of the British that we don’t like to complain. A classic example of this wimpish behaviour is our pathetic inability to protest about a rotten meal in a restaurant.
- Eating out is not just about the food. If the service is horribly slow or rude or if you have been forced to sit under the air conditioning unit, these issues are every bit as irritating as cold carrots or burnt beef. By law, the meal (including the service, the ambiance and everything else) should be of “satisfactory quality”. So what should you do if your romantic Saturday night dining experience is ruined?
- What you should not do is simply walk out without paying. That could constitute “making off without payment” for the purposes of Section 3 of the Theft Act 1978. If the meal is an absolute disaster, the best thing to do is to give your name and address to someone in charge and pay whatever you think the meal is worth – the dispute then becomes a civil rather than a criminal matter. That is obviously a very aggressive but effective course of action.
- If the restaurant is part of a big chain I find that the best route is to complain in writing to the head office of the organisation – you are then dealing with the organ-grinder rather than the monkey.
Similarly, if the restaurant is an up market establishment with say a celebrity chef – write to Marco or Gordon – in my experience they really do care.
- The hardest restaurant complaints are those involving a small place – perhaps a Chinese in the suburbs. With them, correspondence is not going to work and on balance, the best way for you to express your anger, will be to vote with your feet and never return.