Author Topic: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?  (Read 5582 times)

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whiterose

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How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« on: December 16, 2012, 06:13:45 PM »
Background info: I am a strict vegetarian. I cannot have bacon under ANY circumstances.

Well, today it is the second time it happened. I went to a bakery cafe and ordered the spinach artichoke souffle. I even made sure to remind them that it was the spinach-artichoke vegetarian one. They were not ready yet, so they delivered it to me. It smelled smokier than usual- but that could have been the way it was prepared. I asked to double check to make sure that it was not the bacon one- she said bacon ones were labeled with a strip of bacon on top (I can vouch for that- when they are ready and on display, the bacon on top is obvious). I begin digging into it- nothing suspicious yet. I taste a bit of it- uh-oh! I threw etiquette out the window, spit it out into my napkin (hopefully I did not ingest or swallow any bacon), and asked them to please give me another one. I dug a bit deeper in front of the cashier- yup, bacon indeed (very well hidden). They gave me another one and apologized. I would have paid for the second one joyfully- but they gave it to me for free.

This is the first time this happened- at this particular unit. Two years ago, the same thing happened at a different unit.

How do I word a complaint about this? Should I just call on the phone? Send an email? A letter? How should I let them know that due to their kitchen staff not properly labeling the bacon spinach souffles, that they have been given to me by accident twice- and I found out too late. Other than the bacon strip on top, it is extremely difficult to tell them apart by sight- unless you dig in, and then you still have to dig in quite a bit.

Physically, I am fine- guess I did not ingest enough, if any at all. Emotionally, I am not. I was as careful as possible, and still managed to accidentally come in contact with something that I do not wish to eat. I may be overreacting due to Friday's events,  a sick boyfriend, an unexpected home repair bill, and other things adding up.

What would you do in this case?
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Winterlight

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2012, 06:38:46 PM »
I think I'd wait a day or so, then send a polite letter to the cafe explaining what happened and asking that they come up with a better system, since your food looked innocuous until it was too late.
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Deetee

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2012, 06:47:59 PM »
Vegetarianism and especially avoidance of pork products (for serveral religions) is common enough and serious enough and easy enough to keep track of that I do think it is worth complaining.



Mental Magpie

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2012, 07:03:21 PM »
I would file a complaint, but I would leave out the incident from two years ago because it was two years ago.  Focus on coming up with a better system, offer solutions (like a different color wrapper or something), and do tell them how much this upset you.
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Precarious Armada

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2012, 08:18:50 PM »
And maybe remind them (or inform them) that as strict vegetarians often cannot digest meat properly, it can make them ill.

As an omnivore, I didn't know this until recently. Up until then I had assumed that while eating meat could be very emotionally upsetting for vegetarians, no physical harm occurred.

nuit93

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2012, 08:48:50 PM »
Vegetarianism and especially avoidance of pork products (for serveral religions) is common enough and serious enough and easy enough to keep track of that I do think it is worth complaining.

I'd say it's worth complaining about too.  If something is labeled vegetarian, whoever is making it should be using appropriate precautions to make sure no trace of meat ends up in it.

Hunter-Gatherer

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2012, 10:03:22 PM »
I'm going to disagree here.

They made a mistake.  They apologized, gave you the correct item, and comped it.   

You said yourself that the bacon version of the item is usually marked by a strip of bacon on top and what you were given wasn't.  It would be pretty easy for that to confuse a server.

This is the fist time that something like this has happened at this particular location.  There's no evidence here that it was anything more than an honest mistake, and mistakes happen.  When the mistake was pointed out, they were not rude, and did everything anyone could possibly expect to correct their mistake.  What is sending a complaint going to accomplish at this point?  They already have a system to distinguish the bacon version from the vegetarian version.  Somebody screwed up, and didn't mark the bacon version as a bacon version, and it got served to the wrong person.  No system is foolproof.  They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 

For those who are suggesting that a complaint is appropriate, I have to ask, what if the dishes were reversed and someone had ordered the bacon version and gotten the vegetarian version, the staff had been apologetic, replaced it with the correct one, and comped the meal?  I have the distinct impression that the only reason people think this is worthy of the complaint is that it's a vegetarian, and that rubs me the wrong way.

nuit93

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2012, 10:04:56 PM »
I'm going to disagree here.

They made a mistake.  They apologized, gave you the correct item, and comped it.   

You said yourself that the bacon version of the item is usually marked by a strip of bacon on top and what you were given wasn't.  It would be pretty easy for that to confuse a server.

This is the fist time that something like this has happened at this particular location.  There's no evidence here that it was anything more than an honest mistake, and mistakes happen.  When the mistake was pointed out, they were not rude, and did everything anyone could possibly expect to correct their mistake.  What is sending a complaint going to accomplish at this point?  They already have a system to distinguish the bacon version from the vegetarian version.  Somebody screwed up, and didn't mark the bacon version as a bacon version, and it got served to the wrong person.  No system is foolproof.  They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 

For those who are suggesting that a complaint is appropriate, I have to ask, what if the dishes were reversed and someone had ordered the bacon version and gotten the vegetarian version, the staff had been apologetic, replaced it with the correct one, and comped the meal?  I have the distinct impression that the only reason people think this is worthy of the complaint is that it's a vegetarian, and that rubs me the wrong way.

A non-vegetarian can eat vegetarian food without negative side effects.  A vegetarian, on the other hand, can become very ill if they eat non-vegetarian food.

Mental Magpie

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2012, 10:12:13 PM »
I'm going to disagree here.

They made a mistake.  They apologized, gave you the correct item, and comped it.   

You said yourself that the bacon version of the item is usually marked by a strip of bacon on top and what you were given wasn't.  It would be pretty easy for that to confuse a server.

This is the fist time that something like this has happened at this particular location.  There's no evidence here that it was anything more than an honest mistake, and mistakes happen.  When the mistake was pointed out, they were not rude, and did everything anyone could possibly expect to correct their mistake.  What is sending a complaint going to accomplish at this point?  They already have a system to distinguish the bacon version from the vegetarian version.  Somebody screwed up, and didn't mark the bacon version as a bacon version, and it got served to the wrong person.  No system is foolproof.  They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 

For those who are suggesting that a complaint is appropriate, I have to ask, what if the dishes were reversed and someone had ordered the bacon version and gotten the vegetarian version, the staff had been apologetic, replaced it with the correct one, and comped the meal?  I have the distinct impression that the only reason people think this is worthy of the complaint is that it's a vegetarian, and that rubs me the wrong way.

I think you misunderstand my post if you think we're all advocating a complaint, or maybe that I didn't explain myself properly.  It was an honest mistake, and they weren't rude in apologizing for it, that's part of the reason I said leave out the incident two years ago.  I think the nature of the complaint should be that it is too difficult to tell the vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals apart, not that the location screwed up.  That's why I suggested offering solutions.
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WillyNilly

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2012, 10:20:41 PM »
A non-vegetarian can eat vegetarian food without negative side effects.  A vegetarian, on the other hand, can become very ill if they eat non-vegetarian food.

In very few cases this is true.  But actually as a broad statement its absolutely not true and perpetrating this myth does no one any favors (because it prompts evil folks to test the theory).  Almost all by-choice vegetarians can go back to eating meat with no issue whatsoever, and even the people who do have issues, only a small percent of them would get sick over a small amount of meat (a 12oz steak might do them in but a few bits of bacon in an otherwise non-meat dish wouldn't).


But of course that doesn't make it ok to serve someone an ingredient they don't want for whatever reason, even if it doesn't make them ill.  OP I think you should write a complaint, but stick to the facts.  I get you are upset, but your OP is too full of emotions (absolutely appropriate for here, just in your letter be more direct).  I think to a great extent it was simply an honest mistake, and it was corrected as soon as you brought it to their attention.  But perhaps they could have a better system of labeling the dishes other then something added after its cooked - too easy to loose track.  Veggie dishes maybe should be is a different color baking dish, or the bacon strip should be added before its cooked, not after. 

Hunter-Gatherer

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2012, 10:22:31 PM »
I'm going to disagree here.

They made a mistake.  They apologized, gave you the correct item, and comped it.   

You said yourself that the bacon version of the item is usually marked by a strip of bacon on top and what you were given wasn't.  It would be pretty easy for that to confuse a server.

This is the fist time that something like this has happened at this particular location.  There's no evidence here that it was anything more than an honest mistake, and mistakes happen.  When the mistake was pointed out, they were not rude, and did everything anyone could possibly expect to correct their mistake.  What is sending a complaint going to accomplish at this point?  They already have a system to distinguish the bacon version from the vegetarian version.  Somebody screwed up, and didn't mark the bacon version as a bacon version, and it got served to the wrong person.  No system is foolproof.  They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 

For those who are suggesting that a complaint is appropriate, I have to ask, what if the dishes were reversed and someone had ordered the bacon version and gotten the vegetarian version, the staff had been apologetic, replaced it with the correct one, and comped the meal?  I have the distinct impression that the only reason people think this is worthy of the complaint is that it's a vegetarian, and that rubs me the wrong way.

A non-vegetarian can eat vegetarian food without negative side effects.  A vegetarian, on the other hand, can become very ill if they eat non-vegetarian food.

True.  It's still exactly the same mistake though, and the simple fact is, a complaint was made in person at the time of the incident, and the complaint was appropriately addressed at the time.  Why does the OP need to complain again?  What is it going to accomplish?

I think you misunderstand my post if you think we're all advocating a complaint, or maybe that I didn't explain myself properly.  It was an honest mistake, and they weren't rude in apologizing for it, that's part of the reason I said leave out the incident two years ago.  I think the nature of the complaint should be that it is too difficult to tell the vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals apart, not that the location screwed up.  That's why I suggested offering solutions.

But you do think that there should be a complaint.  What I took from the OP is that there normally is a system for telling the two apart, but in this one instance (and apparently one other time two years ago in a different location), that system broke down because someone didn't put the distinguishing piece of bacon on top of the bacon version.  That's what I see as the mistake that happened.

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2012, 10:35:12 PM »
I'm going to disagree here.

They made a mistake.  They apologized, gave you the correct item, and comped it.   

You said yourself that the bacon version of the item is usually marked by a strip of bacon on top and what you were given wasn't.  It would be pretty easy for that to confuse a server.

This is the fist time that something like this has happened at this particular location.  There's no evidence here that it was anything more than an honest mistake, and mistakes happen.  When the mistake was pointed out, they were not rude, and did everything anyone could possibly expect to correct their mistake.  What is sending a complaint going to accomplish at this point?  They already have a system to distinguish the bacon version from the vegetarian version.  Somebody screwed up, and didn't mark the bacon version as a bacon version, and it got served to the wrong person.  No system is foolproof.  They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 

For those who are suggesting that a complaint is appropriate, I have to ask, what if the dishes were reversed and someone had ordered the bacon version and gotten the vegetarian version, the staff had been apologetic, replaced it with the correct one, and comped the meal?  I have the distinct impression that the only reason people think this is worthy of the complaint is that it's a vegetarian, and that rubs me the wrong way.

A non-vegetarian can eat vegetarian food without negative side effects.  A vegetarian, on the other hand, can become very ill if they eat non-vegetarian food.

True.  It's still exactly the same mistake though, and the simple fact is, a complaint was made in person at the time of the incident, and the complaint was appropriately addressed at the time.  Why does the OP need to complain again?  What is it going to accomplish?

I think you misunderstand my post if you think we're all advocating a complaint, or maybe that I didn't explain myself properly.  It was an honest mistake, and they weren't rude in apologizing for it, that's part of the reason I said leave out the incident two years ago.  I think the nature of the complaint should be that it is too difficult to tell the vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals apart, not that the location screwed up.  That's why I suggested offering solutions.

But you do think that there should be a complaint.  What I took from the OP is that there normally is a system for telling the two apart, but in this one instance (and apparently one other time two years ago in a different location), that system broke down because someone didn't put the distinguishing piece of bacon on top of the bacon version.  That's what I see as the mistake that happened.

Yes, a complaint that the system is inefficient and needs to be modified, that is all.
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Deetee

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2012, 10:44:17 PM »
Not quoting but just clarifying that the complaint should focus on the system of labelling and preparation, not how the staff handled the mistake afterwards. The apology and comping is good, but the error should not have been made.

Yvaine

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2012, 10:44:28 PM »
What I took from the OP is that there normally is a system for telling the two apart, but in this one instance (and apparently one other time two years ago in a different location), that system broke down because someone didn't put the distinguishing piece of bacon on top of the bacon version.  That's what I see as the mistake that happened.

I'm going to agree here. I have often wished there were different words in English for "actually completely forgetting something and having it completely gone from your head" vs. "having something slip one's mind in a rare moment of distraction, but on the whole you still know this thing." It's like the TPS reports in Office Space--the guy actually knew what he was supposed to do, he just didn't do it that one time and got nagged incessantly throughout the movie. Mistakes happen. It sounds to me like mistakes are rare here, and that when they do occur, the business responds with an apology and free food. I think it's resolved and that they already know the procedure--there's nothing intrinsically inefficient or wrong with the system.

Mental Magpie

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Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2012, 10:49:54 PM »
What I took from the OP is that there normally is a system for telling the two apart, but in this one instance (and apparently one other time two years ago in a different location), that system broke down because someone didn't put the distinguishing piece of bacon on top of the bacon version.  That's what I see as the mistake that happened.

I'm going to agree here. I have often wished there were different words in English for "actually completely forgetting something and having it completely gone from your head" vs. "having something slip one's mind in a rare moment of distraction, but on the whole you still know this thing." It's like the TPS reports in Office Space--the guy actually knew what he was supposed to do, he just didn't do it that one time and got nagged incessantly throughout the movie. Mistakes happen. It sounds to me like mistakes are rare here, and that when they do occur, the business responds with an apology and free food. I think it's resolved and that they already know the procedure--there's nothing intrinsically inefficient or wrong with the system.

I think the problem with the system is that it is very easy to screw up.  A piece of bacon or not a piece of bacon, something easily forgettable or knocked off or grabbed to supplement something else rather than a big ol', very obvious sign that they are two different menu items, something that can't be easily changed, misplaced, or forgotten.
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