So here’s the scenario:
You’re in one of the more prestigious commercial developments in the Philippines, enjoying the cool breeze and bright sun. It’s lunch time and you are just enjoying being alone in your thoughts and admiring the scenery. The smug smile in your face is infectious.
You decide to sit down al fresco style in a known restaurant while the air is crisp with the rays of the sun kissing your cheeks. You see that picture of a thick, juicy, succulent burger that’s calling you to dig your teeth in that well grilled meat patty. You order without hesitation, and the waitress pleasantly agrees that it’s the best in the list. In no time, it is on your table. You admire the presentation and so you take that modern-day-inevitable Instagram photo. And as you are about to pack it together, you thought you saw the lettuce leaf move a bit…
And there it was. A baby caterpillar.
Click the image to enlarge it and see for yourself. The little dude was still wiggling around, very much unharmed from the lettuce patch that it probably called its home until it became an integral ingredient of a customer’s order.
You can begin playing in your head some horror stories from friends or Facebook feeds. But when this was brought to the attention of the staff, they acknowledged it immediately, began with an apology, and then a new order came with the manager herself serving it, and then another apology for such a bad experience.
No need to name the restaurant since the problem has been acknowledged and resolved, and the situation was handled quite well with sufficient damage control.
Check to see for yourself if it was a new order. From the pics alone, it is definitely new. The bun is positioned differently, the beef and bacon are cooked differently (and it still sizzled), and the fries and vegetables were all new. By this time, though, your al fresco me-time lovely blue day has been ruined even if they offered to have your meal for free.
Which, is the next point. It wasn’t.
The wife, when told of this story, said that it should be free. By the time this was discussed with her, though, the burger was already being processed by the digestive system. But in hindsight, she is right. It should be free, even if the customer doesn’t demand it.
Putting this into comparison:
- If this was in America, the normal approach of the restaurant would be to offer everything for free, with no further questions or conditions. And then they give you a voucher for a free meal next time.
- In some Hong Kong places, if you show that your rice chop has some hair, the cook would just sometimes carefully pinch it, throw it away, and say “hair gone already” and set you on your way to finish your food.
- If in the European region (particularly in Italian family restaurants), they would act the same way as Americans. But if you just plainly complain that you don’t like the taste of the food, you will get them infuriated and then lecture you on how you have insulted a family recipe passed on before men were even able to teach Philosophy.
- If you were a European in America and you complain of the food and they give you free vouchers for your troubles, you probably will decline and say in your native language: “Oh wow. More terrible food and now it’s for free.”
Different cultures, different approaches. But it does show that there are various perspectives when it comes to the interaction of the restaurant and the customer. So depending on what hat you wear, you probably will answer things differently.
- If you were a customer – are you the one who is easily forgiving and be fine even with a slight bit of hair in your food? (Caterpillars, of course, are a totally different story). Or are you the kind who will create a scene ( and sometimes, for media practicioners, begin throwing your weight around to demand more free goodies?)
- If you were a restaurant owner – would you give the meal for free even if the customer doesn’t demand it, knowing very well how profit margins are in the food business? Would you just brush it away? Let’s be real. The profit margins on food businesses are really low. You can remain anonymous (unless you are very confident to name our restaurant and that you have pleased every customer that has gone your way 😉 )
- If you were a restaurant owner who experiences this in your rival restaurant – how would you react, or would you exploit it?
- As someone who has influence with how people will act towards a restaurant– will you expose them immediately without giving them a second chance (Big Bad Blogger, who are you, really?)
Type in your thoughts (and feel free to add a new point of view). If this becomes a dialogue between restaurants and customers to make the industry more known, the better.
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