I suppose I should begin by saying, I don't always blog about negative customer service experiences because I generally believe that no one, especially a company who is represented by so many different faces, is perfect. In nearly every situation I think a brand or product should have a chance to redeem themselves, provided the customer offers criticism in a helpful manner. This being said, I have had two cases of raw poultry served to the public over the holiday season, one being on Thanksgiving Day (but that is a tale for another time). If you are a restaurant, ensuring proper food handling should be, at all times, your number one priority; whether you are the cook, or the manager, and even the server. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing more important than safe food handling, especially when your establishment deals with raw poultry. And, should an instance of undercooked poultry be brought to your establishment's attention, the information should be, in my opinion, handled with the highest of concern and immediate action.
The lack of opening announcement or advertising clearly impacted the turnout of customers, we were one of three tables seated in this over 50 booth restaurant, at dinnertime. While the staff far outnumbered the customers, an indication we should expect a flawless meal, we waited near an hour for our meals to be delivered. Not only were our pre-meal ad-ons (salads, etc) delivered with our hot entrees, but the breakfast item I had ordered was blackened and hard as a rock. Ironically the only other seated table was across from us, and had arrived after; they were almost done enjoying the very same item that was grossly late and blackened on my plate. We quickly discovered that our orders were also incorrect, and noted how the same specialty beverage had been refilled 3 times, and each been sent to the table looking indistinguishable from the last. We informed the manager of our experience and received a 15% discount off our check, very underwhelming.
We were doomed from there, as I made that fateful cut into the center of my chicken breast to reveal a semi-translucent pink. I waited for the server, who took much longer than she should have for us being her only table, to return and check on us. I explained the situation and sent the food back, refusing to have a replacement meal made. When the general manager arrived I told him about our previous experience, and mentioned that my dinner salad on this date had been browning and primarily the butt of the lettuce head (yuck!). Then I mentioned the undercooked chicken. He was a young gentlemen and seemed to be a bit jovial about the situation. There were a few casual remarks about checking to ensure the kitchen is preparing food properly, and another offer to replace my dish.
I'm sorry, but I worked several years in restaurant management for a very large family chain, and in no case is it ever a reasonable response to tell the customer to simply 'go somewhere else' on the heels of your own failure. Where is the, "We're sorry, we will do everything possible to make sure these issues are fixed immediately"? Where is the concern for the fact that, while I may be the first to notice, your chef is sending out undercooked food, including chicken? Where is the concern that this goes beyond incorrect orders and poorly plated food, to a serious health risk? And what on Earth could posses this new business to turn away it's, very minimal, customer base over actually trying to improve it's operations?
I have since contacted the company who puts their brand on this restaurant, and learned, not surprisingly, it is a franchise location. As is typical, when I learn these things, the parent company lends its name, images, and recipes, but washes their hands of the actual locations actions. I have been told by the parent company that they cannot assist my concerns and I must wait to speak with the general manager/owner, who I already spoke with on my first visit. I find it absurd that these big name companies can lend their image to people so willy-nilly and claim no responsibility for the outcome. As of this post I was told I should wait up to 4 business days for contact from the establishment, this is day 4 in accordance to a 24/7 operation, but I'm told to sit tight a week and maybe get a response. Franchise operations should be a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs who otherwise couldn't start their own business, but examples such as this spoil it for everyone. What a shame!
What Daughter Says: I think Corporate America needs to take a lesson from Momma!