I need help with this, Please... [work/customer issue] - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-04-2008, 09:39 AM
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First off, this may be a little long. Second, Thank You So Much to those of you who take the time to read this post, as it is something that has given me so much angst for 3 days now. I really need help moving forward from it.



Anyways, I work in a restaurant, and Saturday evening, towards the end of my shift, I still had two tables sitting side by side. One table, a married couple, paid their bill with cash. I went back to make change, and returned with their check and a coffee pot (to refill their coffee) in the same hand. The man said, "No, that's fine (meaning his coffee), though I thought he saw the check book as well and thought he meant I could keep the change. *Now, here is a mistake I acknowledge I made: I should've put the bill down anyway. I just didn't want to seem like I wasn't "with it," since the issue of my being a newbie at this restaurant was already brought up.

A few minutes go by, and the wife says, "Hun-- we need our receipt." So I go back and bring them a receipt from the batch of receipts that I'm supposed to keep.

Then, the husband comes up and says, "You know-- it's customary to bring change back to the table." I answer, "Oh-- I'm so sorry. I thought you said it was 'fine.' My misunderstanding," and I calmly and politely made him his change. The busboy was next to me, looking on. The man proceeds to begin taking money from my book, saying, "Here- I'll just take this and you can keep the rest." To which I reply, "Please wait. Let me count it out first for you so that there's no mix-up and I don't get confused."

He walks out with his $3 and says, "Well, we wouldn't want you to get confused." That didn't sit well with me. I had inklings that something bad was going to happen.

Anyways, I was called into a meeting with the managers yesterday, because the man called in to complain. Our entire meeting was prefaced with this: "They are the sweetest, warmest customers. They are good, good people, but they said that, since they care about this restaurant so much, they thought we should know that if they were new customers, they would not come back."

I replied, that, yes, I thought that they were nice, too, and noticed that everyone who worked there was talking to them, etc., etc. I thought I was careful, and that what happened with their change was a misunderstanding. I didn't think it was that big of a deal.

Well apparently, the customers thought it was a VERY big deal, and said that I was very rude, and that when he went to "help me out" and help himself to my money I snapped, "DON'T TOUCH MY MONEY!" FURTHERMORE, he said he overheard the table who was sitting next to them (remember I mentioned them in the beginning of my story) asking each other where on earth their itemized receipt was!! Here's another thing, those people at the other table didn't pay until after the married couple was gone-- in fact, the busboy, who was witness to my exchange with the man, brought me the other table's book to pay. I even asked them how everything was when they left and they replied, "Wonderful!"

So the thing that irks me about this is the following:

At the beginning of the meeting with the managers, they prefaced it with "These are the sweetest, warmest customers..." So right there, anything I said to defend myself had to measure up against THAT! The other thing is, Why on EARTH would that man say those other things about me?! Because he was trying to paint me as a rip-off artist, snapper-head, money hungry bi^*h, so that I would lose my job. And I am anything BUT that! Maybe he was just embarassed that he made a big stink about getting $3 back, I don't know. I mean, I know there is the principle, and that servers need to bring change back, no matter WHAT, and I do that. I'm racking my brain trying to figure out any reason someone would do that!! Meanwhile, my bosses shake my hand and say, "let's just move on from this." Except that, how can I when a picture was painted about me that I'm a dishonest, rip-off artist?! In closing, I asked them to PLEASE ask the busboy what he witnessed and they will be relieved to find that I did not snap at the customer-- that what he said was a fabrication. I somehow doubt they will do that.
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#2 Old 11-04-2008, 09:52 AM
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In the service industry there are 2 rules:



1) The customer is always right

2) If the customer is wrong, see rule #1



The real issue isn't about what exactly happened but is now about how the customer feels about their experience. Even if they were completely wrong, or embarrassed or whatever, they have come away from the transaction with a negative experience. These things happen and will happen again. Its human nature to have communication mix-ups.



But it seems the customer is willing to move on, and more importantly, your manager is willing to move on. I would seriously suggest that you don't waste your time and energy diagnosing what happened and just chock it up to a 'bad day' and move on. You've learned some lessons about how to handle customers change which you will no doubt do in the future so these communication issues don't arise again.
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#3 Old 11-04-2008, 10:04 AM
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Thanks Mr. Falafel. I understand what you are saying.

As I mentioned, I acknowledged to the customer that I had made a mistake and misunderstood them.



I really do want to move on. I do, but...

what's bothering me is that there is a false picture painted of me now that will always be in the back of the manager's minds. And that picture is THE ONE picture that I've never ever wanted to be portrayed as. I uphold politeness and honesty above all other qualities.
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#4 Old 11-04-2008, 10:16 AM
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I'm sure your manager has seen more difficult customers in their career than just this incident and is probably why they're happy to move on.



People are funny with waitstaff. Some customers will play all sorts of power games, even the 'nice ones', as its part of their restaurant experience. Don't try to get into their heads because if you do you'll go crazy to try to think like them



I don't recommend it, but if you are still worked up about this in a few days, perhaps approach your manager at a quiet time and ask how you could have handled the situation better and that you really want to learn from the experience. Don't go in their with a 'I made a mistake and apologised and they should accept that' mentality, rather, go into it with a 'customer is upset about something how can I handle the customer' mentality.



In the end, its not about 'right or wrong' its about customer management.
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#5 Old 11-04-2008, 10:20 AM
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I think all you can do is be yourself and the managers will hopefully come to know you for who you are.



It's not right that the customer lied about you, but other than stating your truth and telling the managers where they can get more information, I don't see that there's a lot you can do.



Because I think you sound like a sincere person, I would say the man in that couple is a petty person, to try to cause trouble for a new waitress who made a mistake. He probably has issues with a lot of people.

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#6 Old 11-04-2008, 10:40 AM
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Thanks you two. You're right. I need to just be myself and all this will dissipate, like a bad dream. Another thing, I need to stop ruminating about WHY the customer made up those two things, because it's making me so bummed, I've even lost my appetite (that's when I really know I'm upset). Trying to get into their heads is making me crazy and you're so right when you say that I don't want to start thinking like them.
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#7 Old 11-04-2008, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elanor View Post

He walks out with his $3 and says, "Well, we wouldn't want you to get confused."





He sounds like a sarcastic arsehole who has no patience for newbies.
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#8 Old 11-04-2008, 11:39 AM
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I have no advice but I just wanted to say, "man, what an aresehole". I'd be steamed if a customer did that, too. I'd be way more steamed if my manager chose to believe a customer over me, too, newbie or not.

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#9 Old 11-04-2008, 11:49 AM
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That sucks. I don't know what to tell you, but I know I would be upset if someone complained to my boss about something that never even happened
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#10 Old 11-04-2008, 11:55 AM
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I was a server for a while and both of my sisters are now. I have found that regulars aywhere, particularly at restaurants, like to think that they know more about your job than you do. You are new and make a good target.



Don't worry about it. Maybe appologize once more next time he comes in (as long as he isn't with a different group of people). Say somethng like "I am so glad to see you back tonight, I want to appologize for my missunderstanding last time." Just make sure you seem confident and happy rather than nervous or afraid.



Your managers will get over it, you are still working there so it must not be that bad.
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#11 Old 11-04-2008, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sally429 View Post

I was a server for a while and both of my sisters are now. I have found that regulars aywhere, particularly at restaurants, like to think that they know more about your job than you do. You are new and make a good target.





Yeah....sometimes it seems as though because they know they spend a bit of money there, they get a powerhead from it.
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#12 Old 11-04-2008, 12:17 PM
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oof. Apologize again? That would be so hard. I'm just hoping that next time he comes in I'm not working that night. I work at the kind of restaurant where, if he does come in when I'm working, the managers will likely make me go apologize again, and watch that I actually do it.
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#13 Old 11-04-2008, 12:18 PM
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That would upset me, having to apologise again.

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#14 Old 11-04-2008, 12:54 PM
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I didn't read all the replies, but that guy sounds like a major jerk. Regulars do seem to think they know it all, etc... When I was a server there were a group of regulars (from my high school) and they were a lot like that. I cringed whenever I saw them. Anyway, I don't see the big deal- you made a mistake, you admitted it, you apologized. That should be the end of it. I could understand him making a fuss if he didn't get his money back (regardless of the amount) but he did. I feel sorry for his wife if that's the kind of person he is.



However, as someone said- the customer is always right. Which that sucks with situations like yours, but that's how it is. All you can do now is do your job as you normally would, if your managers make you apologize again, that would suck, but of course you'd do it, and hope that'd be the end of it. ...Maybe give him a copy of the movie Waiting!
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#15 Old 11-04-2008, 01:20 PM
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Customers are wrong about a lot of things.
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#16 Old 11-04-2008, 02:26 PM
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I could turn this thread into the VB appreciation thread. I appreciate all of you who read my op and responded. I knew I could count on this great community to make me feel better. never have I been more appreciative of VBers. Thank You!
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#17 Old 11-04-2008, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Elanor View Post

oof. Apologize again? That would be so hard. I'm just hoping that next time he comes in I'm not working that night. I work at the kind of restaurant where, if he does come in when I'm working, the managers will likely make me go apologize again, and watch that I actually do it.



That is just what I would do. More than anything else, to show him that I am still confident and not afraid of him. I would make it seem like "it was no big deal to me but if you wanna make it a big deal then...uh sorry" I think you should definately not try to avoid him.
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#18 Old 11-04-2008, 05:18 PM
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I absolutely would have thought he meant the tip. I only ever worked in food service in fast food where they don't tip, but I have been out with a lot of idiiots (like the one who left the "change" of a nickel and thought it was a "good thing"! and last year someone in a party of 12 who decided he wanted an individual bill after everything had been rung in on the busiest day of the year (in our favourite restaurant and I still slink in there!). I sincerely hope your manager understands that the customer is not always right, but hey are the customer so sometimes you have to make allowances, but he should not hold this against you.
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#19 Old 11-05-2008, 02:48 AM
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Elanor,

I'm very sorry to hear this happened to you. That guy sounds like a real jerk.



Here is what I think happened based on your story:



I think he crossed the line when he grabbed money from your book and perhaps on the way out his wife told him so. He probably then figured you would tell the manager (and they would always feel akward coming back there) so he beat you to it and put up a smoke screen to cover his tracks.



Its unfair and complete BS but there isn't much you can do about it (although it would be nice if the busboy gave the manager his perspective).



If the manager ever makes you apolgize to them, you can do it with a nice big grin while making a motion to move your book well away from him in a protective posture. This will send him the clear message that you remember how he crossed the line and he'll be the one walking on eggshells, not you. At a minimum, his wife will notice for sure and probably keep him in check. Just be very slick and don't overdo it.



Otherwise, I'd let it go and see how many regulars you can win over.



Hope this helps.





Peace,



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#20 Old 11-05-2008, 07:25 AM
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The thing about working with the public is that you're always going to encounter jerky people who feel they have the right to make your life miserable. It sounds like you learned something from it (just put the change down and let them re-leave a tip if they are going to), and you haven't lost the job, so just press on and if you have to deal with those people again, be extra annoyingly helpful and friendly so hopefully they'll see that YOU are a nice person and THEY are jerks.

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#21 Old 11-05-2008, 08:57 AM
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Sorry that you're going through this... when I was younger and working my way through school, I worked as a server in one of the worst places in the world - Denny's on the graveyard shift. These people were the worst when it came for tipping - if they tipped at all. The only time I ever received normal tips is if some Amway convention or something similar let out late and they came to eat & celebrate how successful they were. This was only because there was nothing else opened after the bars closed at 1am.



I also worked as a maid at a local nicer hotel and ran in to some issues there where people left change/bills out like it was a tip (and how I was trained that if a customer left a tip this is where they'd normally leave it) - but then they said it wasn't so I was accused of taking their money. So I agree it isn't always very clear at all.



One thing that I learned and it always worked for me after this was that I always took the high road with other people's money. Never assume anything - make sure it is absolutely crystal clear - if they leave a tip after they leave table/check out of the room, then you know it's actually yours. If they say specifically keep the change, always ask if they're sure. Sometimes people get confused with how much change they're supposed to receive apparently. They don't remember what or how much the gave you.



After a these incidents at Denny's and this hotel, I never assumed anything again about a tip, as it is a senstive topic for a lot of people apparently, and I never had any other tip issues. Other issues, yes... tipping, never again.



Some people are literally are on the look out to pounce on the slightest little misunderstanding. I am honestly not sure how they make it through life being that miserable and so ready to assume that folks working as servers or maids are so greedy/untrustworthy.
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#22 Old 11-05-2008, 09:03 AM
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I'm sure there are a lot of people that you may tell this to that cannot empathize because they have always sat on the other side of the table.



I feel terrible that this has happened to you. When I worked at Hooters, I had a similar issue when an old woman who already had a bad attitude when she sat down at my table with her grandchildren report me to corporate. Among her complaints was something about the consistency of the mushrooms...basically she had a complaint with just about everything. I got written up and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.



A lot of people who get serviced at restaurants have never waited tables and they don't realize the gravity of complaining about absolute nonsense.



Sad fact but true.



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#23 Old 11-05-2008, 10:11 AM
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Thanks again, all. As far as some of your advice to just apologize again and be extra accomodating, it helps to be reminded that doing so will make HIM look like the jerk.



You gotta do what you gotta do. That's why I make the big bucks.
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#24 Old 11-05-2008, 10:28 AM
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I wouldn't apologise again, unless you're forced to. Just be polite and professional, like nothing happened.
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#25 Old 11-05-2008, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatFreddy'sCat View Post

I wouldn't apologise again, unless you're forced to. Just be polite and professional, like nothing happened.





That's what I do.





.
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#26 Old 11-05-2008, 11:37 AM
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again,
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#27 Old 11-06-2008, 09:37 AM
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I've had similar experiences before... Some people are just spiteful and dishonest. I'm lucky enough to work somewhere where the managers know and trust the employees, and 9 out of 10 times if a customer raises a stink they'll stick up for us, regardless of the "The customer is always right..." crap.
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#28 Old 11-07-2008, 12:19 AM
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I'll chime in to say that I agree with what everyone has said.

This is the restaurant industry and misunderstandings like that happen all the time!



I manage a restaurant and I can tell you that I don't believe 96% of what customers tell me with regards to service and my employees. I know what's going on by watching and hearing both sides of the story.



If you continue to do your job professionally, your bosses will probably forget about this incident completely. That's just how it goes.

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#29 Old 11-07-2008, 08:20 PM
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I wouldn't apologize again. If you see them again, KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS!



Even if you're not waiting their table, at least go by, say hello, ask how they're doing, and tell them how great it is to see them back.



If you're waiting their table, definitely be SUPER-nice, almost to the point of being annoying, but be subtle, that way they can't say anything about it! I'm a huge advocate of this.
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#30 Old 11-08-2008, 08:31 AM
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Dont let it get to you.
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