There’s a golden rule in catering that the customer is always right. No matter how demanding or unreasonable their complaints might seem, failing to give them a fair hearing reflects badly on your business and so tolerance and consideration bust always come first.
Other customers in your café, restaurant or bar, might not pick up on the nuances of the conversation you’re having with that red-faced diner who’s just blown his stack because his carrots weren’t uniformly sliced.
But if you hunker down for an argument because you don’t think his complaint has merit, all anyone else will remember is the argument that disturbed their meal and they won’t be bothering you with their custom again.
There may be many advantages to working in the catering industry, particularly if you’re a people person and you get pleasure from giving good service.
But you need to be prepared for the nit-pickers, serial complainers and downright bampots who will, occasionally, test your patience to the limits.
It’s important when dealing with a complaint to be polite and friendly even if you’re being told by a vein-pulsing diner that he won’t be paying his bill because his gazpacho was cold or that his salad was too green.
A recent study found six in every 10 Britons have complained about a meal at a restaurant at some time. Among those who have never complained, some 44% said they hadn’t done so for fear of their food being tampered with if they make a fuss.
So, if you’re considering a career in the catering industry, be prepared for complaints, some of which may be more unusual than you bargained for. Here is a selection of the most bizarre customer complaints supplied by British restaurateurs.
- ‘The plate colour clashed with my food and was wrong colour for Instagram’.
- ‘I sent the chicken back as I asked for it medium rare’.
- ‘There’s not enough jam in this jam doughnut’.
- Sending fish back because it was ‘staring’ at the diner
- ‘The cutlery is too small’
- The food was served on a patterned plate and the diner insisted they change it to a plain white plate
- Diner said he’d been given a right-handed cup and asked for a left-handed one.
- The ‘ice was too cold – it should have been left out for a few minutes before serving’.
- A diner thought that the table numbers were in order of service, so when table 22 got their food before her, she was not impressed.
- ‘The mushy peas were not mushy enough’.
- ‘The bread was too cold’.
- ‘Tapas dish was too small’
- A vegan couple complained that the table next to them were eating a whole duck; which meant they had no respect for vegans.
- ‘You put my drink down too aggressively, I don’t want it anymore’.
- ‘The water jug is too full’.