Bothered By Slow Service & A Well-Done Burger

July 2, 2010

in Server Stories

In the town I was in, there was a bar that just opened that was supposed to have great burgers. I went there, and this is where the fun got started.

Once entering the bar, I was seated by a waitress that was obviously in a rush. I looked around and saw there was only one waitress working the entire restaurant on such a busy weekend (Fourth of July). I sat down and ordered a drink and an appetizer. The waitress went to her computer and was there for about 10 minutes. Finally, she went to place my order to the kitchen.

In about 20 minutes she came out with both the the drink and the appetizer. Then she took my dinner order. I got a burger medium-rare. She then went back to her computer and stayed there for another 10 minutes. At this point, about 5 other waiters and waitresses came and were dealing with the other customers, so it wasn’t like she had 50 other customers to deal with. Again, she went to the kitchen with my order. 

One-half hour later she came back out with my burger and it was well-done. I then continued in the most polite tone possible to say can I please have my burger medium-rare. She then snapped back to me that she was busy, and went back over to her computer.

When the bill came, being the nice tipper I am, I gave her 15% and not once did I get a thank-you or a sorry. Never again will I eat there.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Peace Lover July 3, 2010 at 2:34 am

No offence but you sound like an impatient person. Working in the restaurant business myself it can be very hectic and stressful if a restaurant is short staffed and when customers start ranting and raving it does not make things any better.

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rerere July 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Hi peacelover- I am the OP, and No, I don't take offence, and I am an impatient person, but as NayNay summed up below, they were short staffed on a holiday weekend, and i POLITELY asked if she can go and have it re-cooked, but she was rude about it, and at that point, wasn't takeing care of anymore customers!

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Hugh July 6, 2010 at 2:42 am

PeaceLover…try READING the post, she stated "in the most polite tone possible to say can I please have my burger medium-rare." This doesn't sound liek ranting and raving. I also did a stint as a waiter in college, things go wrong, but snapping at the customer is almost never the correct response. A simple, "I'm sorry, we're so busy and short staffed, the computers are acting up, or Sorry, I messed up, I'll get that for you right away" would have done miracles to correct the error. In your rush to be such a PeaceLover, you often make ridiculous claims and statements, this one is right up there.

I have to side with the poster on this, and say the waitress was wrong…Also, I would have NEVER tipped 15% for such poor service, this poster is much nicer than I would have been.

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rerere July 6, 2010 at 7:04 am

Thanks Hugh! Actually though, I am a man.

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Hugh July 6, 2010 at 10:05 am

I'm sorry. 🙁 My bad.

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rerere July 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm

That's alright 🙂

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NayNay July 3, 2010 at 8:16 am

@ Peace Lover: How is it the customer's fault that a restaurant is short staffed on a holiday weekend? Not once did this guy demand to know why it was taking so long to get his food. He didn't flag down another waitress or bother the hostess. He simply asked for the food that he ordered and would be paying for. I don't think that's too much to ask, and I wouldn't have tipped that bitch 15%. You can bet your ass that I would have had words with the manager, because there is no excuse for a server to behave like that.

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Les July 3, 2010 at 5:50 pm

You sound quite patient to me! I would've left after waiting that long, a total of 50 mins….for a burger?? As a server, I would be so embarassed if my customers waited that long…you really shoud've been comped. Good for you for not going back.

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rerere July 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Thank You!

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Jack July 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

That kind of service is inexcusable. Evidently she was having problems using the computer, a sign that she wasn't well trained.

A simple "I'm sorry", goes a long way in making a customer feel a little better, when service is deplorable. Yet most people in the business will not say those simple two words. They would rather snap at you, and make you feel the problem is your fault. Once again a sign of poor training.

An example my wife goes to a specialist (RA Doctor) who is located about 40 miles from our house. This past Thursday we had an appointment, and made the trip arriving exactly on time, only to be told the Doctor was not in. The receptionist, who could barely speak English, told us she had left a message a week before, that we needed to change our appointment. We never received such a message, there was nothing on our answering machine. I was furious, an 80 mile roundtrip for nothing. Upon investigation she had left the message on a cell phone, my wife rarely uses. Our information sheet specifically says not to leave a voice mail on the cell phone. We never got an "I'm sorry", nothing. Two things should happen, the receptionish should learn to speak English, and she should be reprimanded for not following instructions.

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Kristen July 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Or, perhaps she was putting in MULTIPLE orders? I highly doubt she was there a full ten minutes each time — exaggeration.

She should have apologized, but the guest should have done more and inquired as to why things went the way they did, and should have spoken to a manager.

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Jack July 4, 2010 at 8:43 pm

The guest has no obligation of any sort. He received bad service, and he was nice enough to leave 15%, I would have stiffed her. Not just because of the bad service, but for the bad attitude.

Being a waitress (or waiter) is very hard. Not everyone can handle it. If you're not cut out for it, you should leave the business. If customers would learn to "tip" for service, and not feel it's an obligation, the sorry servers would move on.

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Kristen July 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Maybe not, but I would hope he has the common sense to ASK if he thinks something is WRONG.

You might also consider (not related to this story, obviously) that every server cannot give every table perfect service during every shift. Multi-tasking, by nature, means some quality is sacrificed, and customers should alert the server if something is wrong…because the server might not even know. We can't read your minds.

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At Your Service July 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I think it's a real sign of the times that restaurants are so short staffed these days! I am a waitress and I am more and more often these days finding myself at work as the only server on. It didn't used to be that way. And going out to eat I am noticing more and more frequently that restaurants are understaffed.

I know in my case the restaurant I work for is family owned and my boss can't afford to hire more people. I am understanding about that because their family has been good to me. But it's frustrating! I am a great waitress but it is so hard to provide proper service when you are being stretched too thin. At times it's not unusual for me to be at the computer screen for 10 minutes at a time catching up. And just because more servers come in, it's still a rush to get back on track when you've been slammed with tables.

Either way, this waitress was obviously angry at her situation. Everybody has their bad moments, but it's still no excuse for rudeness. I know firsthand how absolutely insane a server can go when over stressed… especially when things that are out of their control go wrong, such as the quality or accuracy of food coming from the kitchen.

I commend you for tipping her so well, which I also would have done. My husband and I have a rule of thumb in that we always tip 20% unless someone is downright rude. They can spill soup in my lap… they're still going to get 20% out of me. But rudeness is unacceptable in almost all circumstances. I wouldn't have tipped my usual 20% for that kind of attitude… 15% would have seemed appropriate to me.

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Jack July 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Why in the world would you leave a rude server 15%, and one who is professional who does a good job only 5% more? When a server is rude, I leave a dollar or even less, just to show my displeasure. If a server is stretched to thin but working hard, I may leave 15%, even if I got less then acceptable service. But rudeness, will only get contempt from me.

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At Your Service July 15, 2010 at 7:18 am

Because, as I explained in my comment, I'm a server and I can empathize. Personally, I can understand how a server could slip up and be rude every once in awhile. Especially if I could see that she was stressed out.

The person who posted didn't imply that she had been consistently rude throughout his meal, just that she had snapped at him once. That's unacceptable to me either way. However, if she had been rude from the get-go, and not as a result of being over-worked, I would have left her a penny… the ultimate "insult tip".

It truly pains me to leave less than %20. Leaving her %15 would have been a big deal to me. But that's just because I'm a server, as I said before.

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Kirsten August 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

I don't understand why so many people order their starter and eat it and then order their main course. Is that normal practice in the US? In the UK you'd order your starter and main course and once you'd eaten those you'd order your dessert.

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Mona August 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Yes, in the US those who order an appetizer finish it first before the main course is brought out. I would think that would be the better way so that the food stays warm.

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Alina September 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Well, where I live, we order all at the same time, but the appetizers get brought out first, then, when those plates are removed, the next course follows 🙂

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Erin May 13, 2013 at 11:09 pm

OP, you didn't actually expect a restaurant to break health safety protocol to give you a medium-rare burger, did you?

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Amy May 18, 2017 at 6:48 pm

How is a medium-rare burger "breaking health safety protocol"???? I have friends that order theirs rare. I really hope you were being sarcastic with your comment….but HIGHLY fear you were being serious.

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