Muffin problem

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If You Have a Terrible Meal, Don’t Yelp About It — Do This Instead

There’s a right way and a wrong way to complain about a crummy meal
Muffin problem

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If something's wrong with your food, be polite.

We’ve all been there: You’re trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, but something goes terribly wrong. Your server is grossly incompetent, your food is ice cold, you find yourself waiting forever just to get your drinks, you’re forgotten about altogether, or any combination of the above. While it might make sense in the moment to get angry and shout about the restaurant’s missteps, there’s actually a much better way to communicate your unhappiness. Don’t vent on social media; that will do nothing to actually solve your problem and won't make you feel any better about the meal. Instead, start by finding the manager as soon as the problem arises, then remember these tips.

Stay Calm
Ask anyone who’s ever had a customer service job, and they’ll tell you that it’s much more pleasant to deal with someone who’s keeping an even keel than someone who’s yelling. Even if you’re extremely upset, the manager will be far more inclined to help you out if you politely and respectfully communicate exactly what the issue is. Talk to him or her on a human level instead of as a sounding board to vent all your frustrations and you’ll have a far more successful interaction.

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Suggest a Solution, Within Reason
A good rule of thumb, in life as well as in dining, is to never present a problem without also presenting a solution to said problem. In many cases, the solution to your problem in a restaurant will be obvious — if your steak is undercooked, for instance, just ask for it to be put back on the grill for a couple minutes. But by leaving it up to the manager to figure out a solution to a more complicated issue on the spot, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. For example, if a cockroach crawls out of your salad, a free dessert won’t do much for your spoiled appetite; you’re within your rights to ask for the offending dish to be removed from the bill, at the minimum. In extreme cases, if you feel that your meal should be fully comped, communicate that to the manager along with your reasoning. Managers deal with people demanding free meals for the most minor of reasons, ranging from small imperfections in the dish to the customer not thinking to ask what bottarga is before ordering. Meals are only fully comped when something goes horribly wrong (like gallons of sewage spilling from the ceiling onto your table), so if the manager doesn’t agree that your meal should be comped and suggests something else instead, remember rule number one. And for a list of things you might be saying that are really annoying your server, click here.