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Dr John Hawkins

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Posted on 2004/01/22 08:57:30 (January 2004).

[Wednesday 21 January] Me and Chie decided we ought to get out of the flat tonight, so we got in the car not long after she got back from work and drove off in a fairly random direction. We thought we probably ought to go to some form of supermarket, but decided en route we ought to get something to eat first.
We decided on Italian, as we both fancied pizza. The food was all good actually, but between our starter and main course there was a really long wait - getting on for half an hour. I'd always thought part of the reason for having a starter is that it gives the kitchen a bit of time to prepare your main course. So probably all in all from the point at which we ordered our main course, it took 45 minutes or so. It only takes 10 minutes to cook a pizza.
Now, of course, being English I would rather not have made a fuss about it, I'd just look at it as one of those things, shit happens, etc. Chie however got really annoyed, which made me feel like I had to complain. I really don't like complaining in restaurants, and I don't think I'm very good at it. So I tried very hard to be polite and not agressive in any way. I think my comments were just "Was there any reason for the delay, we seemed to be waiting a long time there...?", and then a bit later on, when asked if everything was OK, I replied "The food's great, but it spoils it a bit when we have to wait half an hour for it". Looking back, I don't think either of these criticisms are particularly vindictive or anything. Still though, one of our two waiters seemed a bit upset by it, and I felt really bad. I wanted to get across the point that I wasn't angry with anyone, just that this is an aspect of their service they could improve. I think that Monty Python sketch where the guy complains about the dirty knife sums it up really well. We're just not used to complaining in restaurants in this country, so when it does happen it seems like quite a big deal.
In the end they gave us a 20% discount, which I thought was really good of them. I didn't totally feel like we deserved it - we'd paid for food, and we'd got that food (eventually), and it was actually quite nice. There was no promise in the menu about how long it would take. I felt wracked with guilt the rest of the evening. I guess that's the curse of being British.

Comment 1

Half an hour? We are living in a service industry economy and any good businessman knows that. If the service is not prompt and the customer does not feel cartered for, they will go somewhere else next time.

It's in the restaurant's best interest to give you discounts and the like - they want you to return. I bet that restaurant didn't have a monopoly or anything!

Posted by Rob Lang at 2004/01/23 09:11:47.

Comment 2

Monopoly - you mean to pass the time while you're waiting for the food to come? You'd never get a game of monopoly over and done with in just half an hour, and typically restaurant tables aren't big enough for the board anyway.

Posted by John at 2004/01/23 09:21:50.

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