Sunday, October 19, 2008

Restaurant Service - The NON-OBESERVANT SERVERS

What is it today with some servers in restaurants that act like they are blind or something when they bring you your food? Also, what is it today with servers not APOLOGIZING for their mistakes or even blaming the kitchen staff for a mistake that could have been easily caught by them? I understand it's time consuming to check over the food, but, it's more time consuming to make more trips to fix the mistakes. Since they happen SO VERY OFTEN when we go out to eat, the servers should check over what they are taking to the table for any obvious mistakes such as a wrong entree or a side of ranch that isn't there. I am more understanding if these mistakes hardly ever happened that they would say they are wasting their time, but since it happens so often to us, I seriously don't understand why they don't check over the food or drinks BEFORE they bring it to the table? The only reasons I have come up with is LAZINESS and being UNCARING.

1. Ordering condiments with an item. I ordered an appetizer that comes with sour cream and salsa, which I added a side of ranch to it. My husband and I's waitress brings the appetizer out without the ranch. I remind her "I ordered a side of ranch" just like that I had said it, not mean or anything. No apology was given when she left to get the ranch and no apology was given when she got back with it, meanwhile I was waiting to eat some of the appetizer with the ranch I originally ordered. The thing that makes me angry the most is it's only ONE plate of food, so I cannot understand WHY these servers feel it's the "KITCHEN STAFF'S FAULT" when they can plainly *SEE* with their EYES the container of ranch is NOT on the plate? It's not like you have to touch any part of the food to notice a container missing. I also feel WHY give the server the order in the first place when they do NOT CARE WHAT is in their hands they are bringing to my table? I might as well have given my order to the kitchen staff MYSELF and WENT to get it from the kitchen MYSELF. There's no point in doing something if it's wrong. Sometimes things get looked over, which I can understand, but when you forget something you APOLOGIZE. I feel there was NO EFFORT she put into getting that appetizer to our table correct. I seriously doubt she actually took her written order and verified the plate, meaning that she just made a mistake. She didn't take one second to verify the plate BEFORE bringing it to our table. I feel if she would have verified the food and just simply overlooked that due to feeling overwhelmed with being busy she would have APOLOGIZED. The thing was, these servers want to blame the kitchen staff. It makes me so ANGRY when they have that attitude. Sure, there are SOME issues that are the kitchen staff's fault like if my server put in the order correctly, but my steak is undercooked or overcooked where it wasn't obvious that it wasn't correct meaning not one extreme to another like black steak vs. a red steak. Issues like a pickle under a bun cannot be caught by the server, because they'd have to TOUCH my food to notice it's wrong. I am talking about all of these OBVIOUS mistakes that come to our table. Can servers tell me WHY no apologizes are given when something is forgotten and WHY servers aren't verifying what they have in their hands? Don't they realize that the kitchen staff's mistake with not plating the ranch on the appetizer plate doesn't have to be THEIR mistake by bringing it out without the ranch? It's certainly not the kitchen staff's fault for my server that wrote down my order to bring it out without the ranch. The kitchen staff is NOT the person getting tipped here and is NOT the people I told my order to. The kitchen staff is also not BRINGING me the food. I just don't get WHY is it so DIFFICULT to get condiments in restaurants? It's not like I waited for my food to arrive to order the ranch. I ordered it when I placed my order for the appetizer.

2. The server can OFFER to bring the condiments that were ordered BEFORE the food comes out regardless of WHO brings the food to the table. If the customer declines the offer, then when it's not with the food, the person they have to really blame is themselves for not taking the server up on their offer. The server shouldn't ever just bring the condiments without asking first, because some people do not want the condiments ahead of time. The main reason why the server should offer to bring the condiments ahead of time is because it's forgotten so much that it makes more sense to make sure they aren't forgotten about by getting them right after the order has been put into the computer system unless of course the customer doesn't want them ahead of time.

3. Not noticing there are no utensils or a napkin even. I truly don't understand this? It seems like a lot of servers today don't act like it's THEM in the customer's seat. To serve you bread w/butter(no knife) or even your entree without a napkin even is just stupid. I understand that hostess or host didn't do their part, but in order for the customers to be able to EAT their food, they need at the very least one napkin and more than likely forks or knives. Even if I order a burger, I use a knife to spread mayo and mustard on. I understand servers are busy, but this is getting RIDICULOUS this keeps happening A LOT. I shouldn't have to ask for something to eat with or at least ONE napkin. That's ridiculous!

4. Not writing down orders, then forgetting. If you cannot remember even the smallest things like a refill request, WRITE the order down. At the table, you should be ready even when you greet the customers with your pad of paper READY to WRITE down what the customer wants. You have no clue what they are going to tell you and how complicated it could be. Even non-complicated orders get forgotten about. You should also take the written order and reread it, because it does no good to write it down, then not go back to it to TRY to remember it.

5. Not asking if a customer would like a refill when a glass is just about empty. To me, it's like DUH, if you see an empty glass to at least ASK the customer if they would like some more drink. For some weird reason, I have gotten many servers that just aren't observant. I don't know if it's because they are too lazy to ask for more work or are they just that stupid that the customer more than likely will want more drink?

6. Bringing out the completely wrong food or an entire side dish is wrong or missing. I don't get WHY this happens when the SAME server that took the order delivers the food except for pure LAZINESS? Then, we've had some servers that didn't apologize. I feel they felt it was the kitchen staff's fault THEY FORGOT to bring it from the kitchen to our table.

7. When another server delivers the food, WHY most of the time does your server fix a mistake if there is one? I don't get WHY they have another server bring out the food if they aren't going to make sure it's correct or even fix the mistake even(which a few times another server has fixed the problems, but rarely this happens)? I know the reason why other servers or food runners run the food to your table, because so your food doesn't get cold, but if the food is wrong, there's truly NO POINT in bringing it to the table. WHY can't the other server have some of the tip money that the server's earns instead of them being tipped out of sales? WHY is it if someone doesn't tip, the server still has to tip out the other server when more times than not, it's the other server's fault that the food was obviously wrong? Why doesn't the server that delivers the food fix the mistake? I understand they have their own customers to contend with, but, if there is an obvious mistake, the person responsible is the person that brought out the food(excluding containers of condiments, because that can be brought out by the main server ahead of time). So it should be the other server or food runner to correct THEIR mistake since THEY messed up. Now, if the order was not put in correctly by the server, then that's the server's mistake, so the main server should fix the mistake.

8. Another server delivering food should OFFER to get refills or anything else such as A-1 steak sauce or condiments or anything that is needed instead of just "SERVE N' RUN" without being CARING enough to ASK if something is needed or looks wrong. I had once I asked a waitress that delivered our food for a refill, she said "Your server will get it" and didn't even relay the message to our waiter since he came to our table empty handed. See how there was no TEAM WORK and how UNCARING that waitress was about customers. All she was worried about was her own tables. I feel WHY deliver our food to us if you aren't PART of OUR SERVICE? WHY BOTHER? Another time, I asked a waiter that delivered our food to us for a refill, which he said he would, which he didn't nor did he tell our waitress. There should be team work involved and servers should act like they know what it's like to be a customer. I had one waiter at Outback OFFER us refills even though he wasn't our waiter and he only brought us our food, now THAT'S how customer service should be. TEAM WORK is what should happen, but most don't want to work as a team today. That's why the servers sometimes doesn't know WHY their tip was bad, well people tip based on their SERVICE, NOT solely on what their server does only, so when those other servers decided to not get the refills or even tell our servers, guess what happened to tip? It went down some. Customers tip based on their SERVICE as a whole, so if that other server or food runner was lazy and uncaring, that tip got lowered due to THEM. If everyone worked as a team like the other waiter at Outback, restaurant service would run a lot smoother and nicer for everyone. WHY do these other servers that run the food act like customers can't ask for things or tell them something is wrong with their food? I feel if you aren't my server, you shouldn't be in my service to begin with, but you are due to getting us the food hot to our table. I feel if you are bringing me food, I have EVERY RIGHT to ask for a refill or anything from you since YOU are a PART of MY SERVICE. Just think if that were YOU, would you like it if another server did that to you by refusing to get you a refill or fix a mistake(which I have had that happen before when a mistake happened)? I seriously doubt you would, so WHY in the world would you treat someone else like that?

9. Not knowing the menu by bringing out for instance cheese fries that state come with a side of ranch without the ranch when the customer never stated they didn't want the ranch. This has happened a couple of times at least to us from the server that took the order and happened at least once from another server that delivered our food. Unless the customer stated they didn't want the condiment the food comes with or wanted to substitute another condiment for the one it comes with, if the menu specifically states it comes with a certain condiment, the server should either know or grab a menu(preferably a to-go menu would be faster to have in their apron) to compare the menu description with the plate of food. Once at Denny's, they even had a PICTURE menu on the side of the tables with the appetizers, which my husband had ordered the cheese fries that was supposed to come with ranch. The DINGY, STUPID waitress just brings out the cheese fries without the ranch. I don't care if they don't plate it right in the kitchen, because the person at fault for BRINGING the food out wrong is the SERVER in this type of situation. My husband didn't order it any differently than what the menu stated. He ordered it "AS IS" exactly from the menu.

If the menu states it comes with a certain condiment, the server should notice if it's on the plate.

Also, you shouldn't ask the customer if they order an extra condiment do they want the condiment it comes with unless the restaurant charges for condiments, because the customer is PAYING for the original condiment in the price of the item. An example would be, a waitress asked if I would like marinara with mozzarella sticks that automatically come with marinara just because I had ordered ranch with it. This was at Chili's where they do NOT EVER charge for condiments, so WHY irritate the customer with stupid questions? It's not like if the customer doesn't want it, they can't simply move it. It doesn't ruin the food, because it's on the side. If the customer was "SUBSTITUTING" they would have said so or would have said "I want ranch instead of marinara." Something to that effect they would have said. If they meant it, but didn't say it, then it's the CUSTOMER that doesn't know how to order. The server should NOT be asking if both is wanted if it's not being charged for. There's no reason. The marinara I am already paying for in the original price of the item. WHY wouldn't I want both? Some servers don't think about that if you are sharing an appetizer, that another person at the table may want the sauce it comes with and the other person the ordered it wanted ranch or maybe both people like both sauces. There's NO REASON to ask such a stupid question unless they will get charged for the extra condiment or condiments, because if the customer didn't want the marinara(the original sauce) they would have said so. This is a DUH situation. If they didn't want it, they should order it like that. The condiment is on the side, so there's no real reason if it's not being charged to both asking a dumb question like that. The menu states it comes with marinara, so just because the customer orders it with ranch has ZERO to do with that they don't want the marinara unless they say so such as that they are substituting or they want ranch instead of marinara. It's irritating for the server to ask stupid, unnecessary questions and waste time. WHY wouldn't I not want what I am PAYING for already if the other condiment is free and it isn't going to affect the food in any way, because it's on the side if I didn't say I didn't want the sauce it came with? This is a DUH question if you ask me.

10. Bringing out the check with extra items, wrong items, wrongly priced items, on it or even the wrong check. Hasn't happened too often, but has happened at times. When it's the wrong check, that's a DUH, which has only happened once to us. Extra items or wrong items have been charged on our bills quite a number of times. Each time, we noticed within less than 10-15 SECONDS. I feel the server should care about the customer's money in order to expect the customer to care about their money.

11. Asking if you want change or not bringing all your change back when you never told the server to keep it. We don't have this happen often since we hardly EVER pay with cash or paper gift certificates, but it has happened to people we know that do pay with cash. Especially, to me it's a duh when you pay with a 50 dollar bill on a $30 check that you want change. The customer isn't going to tip $20 more than likely for a check of only $30. The servers need some common sense that ask this. Even if it's a small amount of change, unless the customer states they don't want the change, OF COURSE they want their change. Being lazy causes this type of situation. I feel if you want a good tip, MAKE the extra trip even if it is for nothing. So what if the customer leaves it all on the table. That's part of the service is to COMPLETE the service. If the customer states they want their server to keep the change, that's different. The best way to handle the situation is to just say "I'll be back with your change." That gives the customer an opportunity to say "Keep it" or to say ok or nothing even. You expect your change back at a store or a fast food restaurant, WHY because the server makes tips that somehow gives the server a right to assume the change is theirs? The server should NEVER assume the money is theirs until the tip is given. Until that time is, you don't assume a thing. GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT. Remember that saying, well, in this case it is the TRUTH.

12. Bringing out drinks correctly. For example, once I ordered a Mr. Pibb, our waiter brought me a sprite. Now come on now, ONE IS CLEAR, the other is DARK, well DUH, are you stupid? Another thing such as asking for salt for a margarita when the rim of the glass doesn't have salt on it, like DUH. Also, you can tell by looking at a dark colored soft drink to notice if the syrup needs changing without even tasting it. I was given by a server a much clearer looking coke. I tasted it to make sure that I wasn't wrong, sure enough I was right just by looking at it. Another unobservant server who has no brain to speak of. You have to think "Would you drink it if that were you?" Also, bar drinks should be brought out correctly as well. If I order a margarita without salt, don't bring me a margarita with salt. Don't blame the bartender for YOU BRINGING me something you can see without having to touch or taste the drink to notice something was no correct. You have ONLY YOURSELF to blame for YOU BRINGING it to me wrong instead of telling the bartender it's not correct to make it over. You are going to have to do that anyways when I send it back, so get it right BEFORE you bring it to my table, which this will save trips and most importantly TIME.

13. Bringing out any drinks that are in the server's control first before any bar drinks unless there are no soda stations(which most restaurants do have soda stations). It's like DUH people are thirsty. WHY would ANYONE want to wait 10 minutes for a coke just because another person at the table wanted a margarita on the rocks with salt? If anything, the server could ask if that person that ordered the margarita wanted a glass of water. Then if they said they did, the server could bring out a water and a coke. Then, when the bartender was finished making the drink, by then, an appetizer order could have already been put into the computer even instead of coming to the table 10 minutes later, they could have came back to the table 2-4 minutes later. Also, the customers may even know what they want already by the time the coke and water was delivered, you never know. They also may need to ask some questions before they decide what they want. Coming to the table sooner can ease the customer's mind about deciding what to get. Not every menu has complete descriptions on the food. An example would be side salads. Not every restaurant makes side salads the same. So I have had to ask servers at times what they have in their side salads, because it's not on the menu normally. To me it's a DUH that customers want their soft drinks, water, tea, or lemonade BEFORE the bar drinks. They don't want to wait 4 more minutes just because the bar is backed up. There's NO REAL REASON to make customers wait 5 minutes for a coke and a water unless the syrup needs changing or they are out of clean glasses. A coke and a water shouldn't take more than like 2-3 minutes, even less.

14. The server should ASK if the customer wants lemon with their water or tea. My server shouldn't ASSUME I want a slice of lemon on my water glass or with tea. Especially NEVER, put the lemon in the water or tea if only ordering only water or tea without specifying they wanted lemon, because that ruins the drink if the person doesn't want that.

15. ASSUMPTIONS can cause SERIOUS problems in a customer's dining experience if they are assumed wrong. WHY is it that servers act like EVERYONE is the SAME? I have had 3 different times from 3 different servers at 3 different restaurants when I asked for a box, they brought the check WITHOUT EVEN OFFERING US A DESSERT, which it was only me and my husband. I don't get that? A dessert means bigger check, means bigger tip from the bigger amount, so it's in the server's best interest to make the check bigger by selling more than to assume like that. WHY assume you are full? WHY not think outside the circle by thinking some customers MAKE ROOM for dessert by bringing home leftovers? That's what we did. 1 of the times we wanted a dessert, the other 2 times I had ordered another bar drink.

Another thing is that you want the same drink that you started with even with bar drinks. I have had 2 servers assume that when either I or my husband had mentioned I wanted another drink, the servers automatically started walking away ASSUMING I wanted the first drink I started with. WHY? WAIT TO GET MY ORDER. HOW HARD IS THAT TO JUST SIMPLY **ASK** what I want instead of ASSUME?

I have also had servers bring soft drink refills without being asked or being able to order them when sometimes people may not want a refill or may want something else, even if it's just a glass of water. The server shouldn't be ORDERING for their customers, because that's NOT THEIR RIGHT!!

Another time, my husband and I ordered 2 appetizers and 2 entrées. He ordered first his appetizer, then his entrée. I ordered my appetizer and my entrée. My husband's appetizer came out, but not mine. Time went on, no sign of mine. We asked our waiter where was mine and this is what he responded with " I thought you wanted it with your meal." I was like "I NEVER said that." I finally got it 2 minutes before my food instead of much earlier. He assumed ALL couples SHARE appetizers ALL THE TIME and there's NEVER a possibility that a customer wants to bring leftovers home even. My point is, no server should be ASSUMING things. I had a good server once that had asked when I had ordered a dessert at Chili's "One of Two" just to be 100% SURE we weren't sharing the dessert. We were sharing it, but the point is, THAT is what the server should be doing. They should make 100% SURE this is what the customer wants.

A couple of times I had ordered 2 sides of EXTRA bbq sauce at 2 different restaurants. The servers ASSUMED I wanted my ribs dry and that I wanted the bbq sauce "ON THE SIDE", NOT "EXTRA."

A few times had DINNER(not a required time to bring the check too soon unlike lunch time), was brought the check too quickly. One time with delivering the dessert, the waitress ASSUMED that's all we were getting, which it wasn't, because I usually get another bar drink after a dessert, which I did. Two times, in the middle of eating dessert, our check was brought without us asking for it or being asked. BOTH times we weren't ready for it. So what if MOST of the time most people are ready for the check at a certain time, you have to ASK to make 100% SURE of this instead of just ASSUME something.

Another time, I wanted a side salad and my husband ordered an appetizer. I didn't want the appetizer. I didn't receive my side salad until AFTER the appetizer. At another restaurant, we did the same situation. In both situations, we did not tell the server we weren't sharing the appetizers or that I wanted my side salad before his appetizer, which that time I received my side salad BEFORE his appetizer instead of after or even with the appetizer. The waiter in the first situation ASSUMED we were SHARING the appetizer not to bring the side salad BEFORE the appetizer just incase if I wasn't finished eating the side salad before the appetizer arrived.

My point is, WHY servers **ASSUME** ALL THE TIME THAT EVERYONE IS THE SAME ALL THE TIME? Sometimes we share appetizers, sometimes we don't. We don't always do the same thing ALL THE TIME. WHY isn't there any VERBAL COMMUNICATION ANYMORE? WHY make mistakes if you could easily PREVENT THEM by simply ASKING some questions? It's better to get it right, than to be wrong just so you don't ask too many questions.

My main point of this blog is to find out from SERVERS WHY some of them are so lazy and uncaring to do these types of things? I understand for instance asking for change CAN save time for other customers, but what about those customers you just asked that question to? They don't matter or something? You have to care about ALL your customers, not just think about the other people's time and your time you are saving by not bringing back change. I also understand it's more time consuming to make 2 trips to bring out drinks(such as soft drinks before alcoholic drinks), but it can save time by getting an appetizer order or even entree orders if you go back sooner to the table and the customers will be happier getting something to drink faster so they will tip you better more than likely the faster they can have SOMETHING to drink, even if it's just water. I understand the servers want to consolidate steps by bringing all the drinks on one tray, but sometimes consolidation makes customer wait longer for things unnecessarily. It may be quicker for the other customers, but not quicker for the current customers you are bringing drinks to. I understand it's time consuming to verify the plates of food, but servers have to understand it's time consuming to make extra trips that are unnecessary when mistakes happen that were obvious to the server's eyes that they didn't have to touch the food to notice something was wrong. It would be better to bring the food out correctly by taking 15-25 seconds per plate depending on the order of course, than to bring it out obviously wrong. Your tip depends on the mistakes you make and how you handle the mistakes as well. Don't let the kitchen staff's mistake be YOUR mistake if you can help it. I had a waiter bring me quesadillas when I had ordered bbq chicken nachos, which this was our waiter, not another server. Don't you think that made him look stupid or look like an idiot considering he had 3 other tables, which only 1 had 4 people at the most, which we were only a party of 2? Turns out he put in the order wrong as well. So not only did he bring out the wrong thing by not verifying the written order, but he also put the order in wrong. He could have easily CAUGHT his own mistake IN THE KITCHEN, but was TOO LAZY and UNCARING to do that. He didn't even notify a manager nor did we. A stiff was deserved. I had to get up to find out what had happened since he took the wrong food away and didn't even tell me what had happened to my food. I got this tiny sorry out of him, but I had to get up to get it. How pathetic was that? It just shows how LAZY and EXTREMELY UNCARING of a human being he was to do that to us. ANY CARING server would have told their manager to get something either comped or could have gotten a free dessert offer for our inconvenience since HE was supposed to try to make up for HIS mistakes he made. ANY caring waiter would have just given us the wrong food for free instead of either throwing it away or letting co-workers eat it, because I doubt they would have tried to resell it. Anyway, I am writing this blog to find out WHY service today is so TERRIBLE? WHY isn't the $2.13/hr an INCENTIVE to BUST ASS? WHY when a mistake does happen with my condiments being missing which I only repeat my order NICELY by saying for example "I ordered a side of ranch", they do NOT apologize 98% of the time? WHY servers think that they always deserve at the very minimum 15% when they make mistakes or be unfair or unattentive? WHY do they feel no matter what they do they deserve a good tip? I understand it's a VERY, VERY, VERY HARD job, but the server should know in their heart of hearts that what they truly deserve or not. You know what you deserve or don't deserve. Don't act like you busted ass for your customers if you could have put more EFFORT, but was truly too lazy to. I want to know WHY I have so many servers serve us that are completely STUPID when serving the pubic by being so UNOBSERVANT and UNFEELING? I feel you've got to be stupid to serve food with no utensils. WHY don't servers act like it's THEM in the customer's seat? Don't they EVER go out to eat themselves? Don't they understand what it's like to get mistakes at their table? I don't get if they do, WHY are they doing it to others on purpose by being too lazy to verify things or TRY to be observant? Customers, you can reply also to find out your opinions. I would like to hear from servers the most to see WHY they are treating the dining public like this yet, I know they wouldn't want all of these mistakes getting to them? I understand we all make mistakes, but most of the time, it's not mistakes, it's mostly about being uncaring and lazy to not take ANY EFFORT in verifying WHAT is being brought to the table. Most servers it seems act like most food mistakes aren't their fault, but in actuality most mistakes CAN be caught by the server bringing out the food if they took the order. I am just tired of the servers blaming the other co-workers for THEIR mess ups. Take some responsibility for what YOU ARE TAKING TO THE CUSTOMER if it even remotely LOOKS like what the customer ordered. A waiter brought my husband fried shrimp with fries when he ordered crawfish au gratin with a baked potato. It was only me and my husband at the table. I did notice that the waiter was delivering other table's entrée orders as well. I also noticed NO EFFORT on the waiter's part when I saw he never once took his written order that he wrote our order on and verified that pad of paper with what he was handing ANY of the customers. He had to go back to the kitchen, because he didn't even grab the entrée out of the group of entrees he had. I thought to myself, HOW STUPID and HOW LAZY he was. I mean seriously, he COULD have gotten that pad of paper out that had the written order and verified each plate BEFORE giving it to the customer. He should have verified the entrées in the kitchen FIRST to begin with. He also could have brought out fewer entrees and made 2 trips instead of one like he was trying to do. He was trying to do too much at once and that's what happens when you do that, you get mixed up. He didn't truly get mixed up, because it's the fact that he had an OPPORTUNITY to verify the food he had put in front of my husband, but decided to be lazy about it. That's not getting mixed up, that's taking NO EFFORT into the service to get the correct order to the customer. WHY don't servers VERIFY what they hand you for the obvious mistakes? I understand it's time consuming, but mistakes cost you money in the tip, so it's better to get it right than to get it wrong by taking 15-25 seconds to verify what the plate has on it. Some extra seconds 15-25 seconds of wait can save you embarrassment, trips, and money by getting a better tip for better service. Can I have any servers that will tell me WHY all these "DUH" situations happen SO MUCH? I know it's overwhelming to have like 6 tables or so, but doing the job wrong will not get you to make much money, so it's better to get things done right the FIRST TIME AROUND by taking some extra time to verify things. Some servers will say they don't have time; well they have the time to run back and forth with the mistakes that keep happening SO VERY OFTEN, so they DO HAVE THE TIME IF THEY WANTED TO MAKE THE TIME.