Momma Told Me: Undercooked Chicken And Undercooked Management- The Franchise Disconnect

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Undercooked Chicken And Undercooked Management- The Franchise Disconnect

Momma Told Me: If you put your name on it, it's your responsibility.

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.
undercooked chicken
Now, I suppose, I should share this particular tale of undercooked customer service- At the end of November, heading out to do some holiday shopping, Jay and I passed a restaurant building that had been abandoned for several years. There was a construction crew buzzing about and a freshly posted sign mentioning that a beloved restaurant chain would be arriving here soon. We only have one other competing restaurant nearby us, and have quite honestly given up on dining there altogether, so we were quite abuzz about this discovery. For weeks we drove by, hoping to see an opening date announcement, until, on December 21, we happened to notice the front doors were at last open. As it turns out, this was their second day in business, and we promptly made a beeline to enjoy the new restaurant.

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.
A week later, on December 23, Jay and I returned, hoping some of the initial opening kinks had been ironed out and we could at last enjoy this chain we had so eagerly waited to open. Once again, there was far more staff on hand then customers, during what should have been a busy shift. The staff was friendly, but we were about to walk into one of the strangest situations I've encountered in my restaurant-going history. Our meals arrived in about 16 minutes; Jay's a simple breakfast plate, mine the healthiest item I could find on the menu- grilled balsamic chicken breast with veggies. The plate looked nothing like the pristine images in the menu, the glaze was a watery mess that spread beneath my side, along the plate bottom. The chopped onions and sliced mushrooms atop my chicken were as raw as they'd come off the truck. This was the first indication of trouble. Jay, jokingly, remarked "If the vegetables are that undercooked, I hope the chicken's not raw!"

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.
Then the doozy of a comment arrived, "Well, it seems like we've failed you twice, so, maybe you shouldn't come here anymore." My mouth hung slightly agape, what had I just heard? Had the representative of this location, neigh, the chain itself, just told me to take my business elsewhere after they'd failed twice in a row?

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!

8 comments:

Ellen said...

Wow what horrible service. I would definitely never go back again.

Patty Woodland said...

I doubt they will be there very long with service and attitude like that

Shelley Zurek -- Still Blonde after all these YEARS said...

Shakes little blonde head, this is appalling. I recommend you tweet this and let us all retweet you!

SavingsInSeconds said...

That is just unacceptable. Considering the state of the economy and in appreciation for customers spending hard-earned money at their restaurant, the manager should have bent over backwards to make it right. I agree with Shelley--let us retweet you!!

PS--if I'm not mistaken, we had a problem at a restaurant in this franchise, too. They gave my child outdated yogurt and the server was upset when I pointed it out, hoping to prevent another child from getting the potentially spoiled food.

Jenn Mitchell said...

What a horrible experience. I don't know why anyone enters the service industry if they are not truly interested in serving customers with care and consideration.

Lena B said...

WOW, really? That is unreal! GRR!

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

What a terrible experience! I am so sorry!!!

Holly said...

Oh gross! I can't believe they handled it that way either. I've had some really awesome restaurant service in my day, but it's always disheartening to be treated like crap when you're a paying customer.