This is a behaviour that has perplexed servers for centuries! Sometimes it‟s clearly a scam, but other times its a complete mystery. Let me break it down so maybe you all can help me understand.
A person orders their meal. I bring them their meal. I check back two minutes later to make sure everything is as it should be. I check back every five or six minutes thereafter, providing an occasional coffee warm-up, another loaf of bread. At each of these solicitous visits I inquire after how everything is, can I get you anything, do you need anything, etc. Each time you assure me that everything is fine, you don‟t need a thing. Your plate is clean, I come to clear it and offer you dessert. That‟s when you get a complete attitude with me:
You: “No, I wouldn‟t risk having dessert here!” Me: “I beg your pardon?” You: “I‟m sure the dessert is just awful here, if the food is any indication!” Me: (looking at your empty plate in confusion) “I‟m afraid I don‟t understand.” You: “The lettuce in the salad was old and wilted, the ranch tasted like it was about to turn! (NOTE: I had removed an empty salad bowl prior to bringing the main course.) The steak was tough, the potato was mealy, and the coffee was bitter! So no, I don‟t want dessert, it will probably be gross!”
Folks, this happens a lot more often than you would think. I don‟t understand what would possess a person to finish every last bite of a tough steak, a mealy (whatever that is) potato, a salad that sounds like a health hazard, etc, etc, etc! Two bites into a tough steak and I‟m sending it back! Nicely, of course, but if I ordered it medium, I‟m not going to suffer through a well done steak and pay for it!
Because at this point, that‟s exactly what‟s going to happen: you‟re going to pay for that meal. See, you‟ve destroyed the evidence!
There‟s no way I can get my manager to do anything about your bill when you‟ve eaten your entire meal! Had you informed me that the salad was gross, I could have brought you another one, or soup instead, or just had it comped off of your bill! Had you told me the coffee was bitter I could have dumped the pot and made another, or provided you with one of our delightful herbal teas! A mealy (whatever that is) potato could have easily been replaced with something else from our wide array of side dishes! And a tough steak? I‟m incredibly sympathetic. Definitely would have had that remade, probably with a little something taken off the bill for your inconvenience. But now? Good heavens, it looks like you licked the plate! All I can do is apologize, and that‟s all my manager will do at this point, if you ask to speak to him/her.
I mean, unless you throw a complete temper tantrum. We have customers that finish the alleged “horrible meal”, demand to see a manager, and then completely nut up when they refuse to take everything off of the bill. This is a Sheister in all of their glory, a true professional when it comes to scamming the system, any system. These people will work themselves into such an irate state, that the managers only choice is to comp the meal, or call the police. But this wasn‟t a true emotional display; this was an Oscar Worthy performance, a person who missed their true calling to the silver screen.
For the rest of the people who eat the “alleged horrible meal”? They sullenly pay the bill. They don‟t even ask for compensation, they just stick their lip out and skulk away. And of course, they don‟t leave a tip, because clearly their lack of dining satisfaction was my fault. Yes, I checked on them five times, and yes I asked if everything was okay five times, and yes they told me everything was fine five times, but gosh darnit, waitresses are supposed to be psychic, right? Mind reading is part of the job description! I mean, part of the job interview is the Zener ESP Card Test, right? All waitresses are friends with Dionne Warwick!
Wrong! We‟re not psychic, if you tell us everything is fine, we assume you mean fine! Can anyone tell me why anyone would put themselves (and their poor server) through this kind of mind game, or whatever it is? Bottom line is this. If you don‟t like your food, I need you to help me help you by telling me you don‟t like the food. I‟m just saying.