Yet another list of annoyances. I must be getting old. This time it’s restaurants. I LOVE eating out, and while I’m no Jay Rayner, there are some things that some restaurants do which really piss customers off. Well, they piss me off so I suppose that counts.
1. Having the phone in the main restaurant area with the attendant noise so when you call to book it goes something like this:
‘I’d like a table for two at 7.30, please.’
‘YOU’D LIKE A TABLE FOR TEN AT 8.30?’
‘No, a table for TWO at SEVEN THIRTY.’
‘WE CAN DO SEVEN.’
‘OK, no problem, can we book that?’
I then have to spell my name four times and repeat my phone number three times, with increasing volume each time. It’s especially entertaining if the person answering the phone has a limited grasp of English or a strong accent.
2. Put bread and/or olives on the tables without actually asking customers if they want them but charge for them. Customers will assume that they’re complimentary and eat them, only to find a mysterious £4.50 charge on their bill at the end. This is hugely irritating. There’s a restaurant near my house which I refuse to visit precisely because it does this. A number of people on TripAdvisor cite the same thing, yet this restaurant continues to do it. Just fucking ask your customers if they want bread and olives or make it complimentary. Tricking your customers into paying more is just wrong.
3. Bring out the food for some of a party of customers but then leave the rest waiting. So awkward. The ones with food want to eat it, the ones without food feel obliged to say, ‘No, please go ahead and start’ when they actually mean, ‘Wait, you rude bastard’. The really socially inept ones may dribble longingly instead.
4. Wait until the customer has a mouthful of food before asking if everything is OK. Seriously, they must do it to prevent you complaining. I cannot name one restaurant I’ve been to where I’ve been able to answer this question posed by the waiting staff. Try it. You’ll see.
5. Optional service charge added. No. No. No. No. No. You’re basically telling your customers that you really don’t give a shit about their opinion of the service. It’s also not ‘optional’ if you automatically add it onto the bill, is it? Because unless the service really really sucks, very few customers will go to the bother of deducting it and then explaining to the waiting staff that they have deducted it. So it’s actually a shame tax.
6. Get the bill wrong. Last week, I was in a restaurant and found a £25 bottle of wine added to our bill which we hadn’t had. I’m not in the habit of combing through bills, but on occasion I’ve picked up things like starters which we never had, a round of soft drinks, side orders and double charging for items we have had. I can’t work out if this is just carelessness or a deliberate attempt to hike the bill as it only seems to happen when dining with larger groups.
Other things which have annoyed me: