Author Topic: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?  (Read 5256 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

PastryGoddess

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4525
    • My Image Portfolio and Store
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2012, 10:59:35 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.

Not only vegetarians refuse to eat bacon.  Both the Jewish and Muslim religions do not ingest pork either. (excuse me if I've missed a religion)  Most likely the cafe gets all of their food from a centralized kitchen that delivers to either the whole city or region depending on size.  Commercial kitchens are held to much stricter standards both in cleanliness and in food labeling.  If the "vegetarian" version of an item is labeled as "no bacon/meat/animal products" then it needs to not have any of those things.

I think wording the complaint to point out the broader ramifications on not only vegetarians but on other groups that don't ingest meat or pork would have more of an impact.  I hate saying this, but people will sue for looking at them wrong.  Some Special Blizzard of a person would have no problem making it all about them and ruining it for everyone with a lawsuit for every bite of the food they took.

lisen

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 115
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2012, 11:06:43 PM »
I have a severe allergy to caffeine. I often go to a café by my workplace and order one of those fancy steamed milk drinks with a decaf teabag in it. Earlier this year, the barrista was not paying attention and chatting to a friend and put a shot of espresso in my drink. I didn't notice until I had a few sips of it, and I suffered several hours of uncontrollable muscle tremors. I called the management of the café and explained the situation. I said that I wasn't angry because I knew it was an accident, but I hope that the manager/ owner would talk to the employees about paying attention to orders and about people with allergies. I got a very sincere apology (such that for months I had to refuse free drinks from the staff) and they were much more conscientous about labeling the drinks as "lactose-free", "caffeine-free", etc. Sometimes your complaint actually helps the business!

stargazer

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5454
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2012, 11:45:02 PM »
I'm going to disagree here.

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

 They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 


I'm only quoting part of your post, as I think you might have misread part.  The souffle was not comped.  She paid for the first one, it was the wrong one, and she got the second one free (as she should, as it is the correct order).  She just mentioned she WOULD have paid for the second one (not sure why you would do this OP) but the souffle was not free from what I read.

They gave me another one and apologized. I would have paid for the second one joyfully- but they gave it to me for free.

Hunter-Gatherer

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 918
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2012, 11:58:49 PM »
I have a severe allergy to caffeine. I often go to a café by my workplace and order one of those fancy steamed milk drinks with a decaf teabag in it. Earlier this year, the barrista was not paying attention and chatting to a friend and put a shot of espresso in my drink. I didn't notice until I had a few sips of it, and I suffered several hours of uncontrollable muscle tremors. I called the management of the café and explained the situation. I said that I wasn't angry because I knew it was an accident, but I hope that the manager/ owner would talk to the employees about paying attention to orders and about people with allergies. I got a very sincere apology (such that for months I had to refuse free drinks from the staff) and they were much more conscientious about labeling the drinks as "lactose-free", "caffeine-free", etc. Sometimes your complaint actually helps the business!

For me though, there's a big difference between your situation and the one in the OP.  The OP complained, in person, at the time of the incident, and the complaint was satisfactorily addressed at the time.  She's now contemplating registering a second complaint about the same incident.   Your complaint may have been at a later time, but it was still only one complaint.  If you'd have realized while you were still in the cafe, complained at the time, gotten the same sincere apologies and a free corrected order would anything have been served by you calling later and complaining again?

I'm not saying that the incident wasn't worthy of a complaint.  It most certainly was.  I'm saying that the OP already complained and the complaint was addressed, so there's no need for the OP to register a second complaint over the same incident.

I'm going to disagree here.

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

 They already comped the souffle, so it would be unreasonable to expect any further compensation from them. 


I'm only quoting part of your post, as I think you might have misread part.  The souffle was not comped.  She paid for the first one, it was the wrong one, and she got the second one free (as she should, as it is the correct order).  She just mentioned she WOULD have paid for the second one (not sure why you would do this OP) but the souffle was not free from what I read.

They gave me another one and apologized. I would have paid for the second one joyfully- but they gave it to me for free.

Different interpretations, and without clarification from the OP, I still think my reading of it is more likely than yours.  Having not seen anything that said she paid, I am assuming that it operated like a restaurant and she'd placed an order and had it delivered, but hadn't paid for the first one yet.  I figured that no one would joyfully pay for the second one when they'd already paid for an inedible first one.  Under that reading, she hadn't paid for the first one yet, but would have been willing to pay for the second one, since she was going to eat it.  Instead she paid for nothing, and was therefore comped.

delabela

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 585
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2012, 12:33:09 AM »
I don't know that a complaint letter is warranted.  Perhaps I'm thinking of more of a suggestion letter with a heads up that the items they sell as vegetarian are so similar to the non-veggie items as to potentially pose an issue.  I feel like a complaint letter is appropriate when your issue isn't adequately addressed, and yours was.  If you do choose to write a letter, I would certainly note that the employees responded to your problem well. 

I was veggie for many years, in some places where it was not particularly common.  I ran into this issue more than once.  I chalked it up to human error and moved on.  Had I a religious objection, I would not order a menu item that could be so easily confused.  I'm frankly surprised they serve two items that are so similar with such an important difference.

Queen of Clubs

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1789
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2012, 07:42:37 AM »
I think you should send a letter, simply because I think they'll be more likely to take that seriously.  As other PPs said, including suggestions on how they can make it easier to tell the products apart would be good too, and they might be more likely to listen if you're not just complaining.

As for vegetarians being able to digest meat/meat products, I think that depends entirely on how strict a vegetarian they are and how long they've been vegetarian.  I'm a long term vegetarian (20+ years now) and I do my darnedest to avoid meat/meat products.  The one time I slipped, I had *one* mouthful of a product, and spent most of the afternoon in the bathroom paying for it.  When I started feeling sick, I thought I was imagining it.  No, I wasn't.

I think of it like people going to other countries and being told to avoid drinking the water.  The people in those countries can happily and easily drink the local water, because their systems are used to processing what's in it.  Visitors aren't, so either only drink bottled water or spend a good few days suffering until their system adjusts.  So a strict vegetarian eating meat is likely to suffer the same side-effects until their system gets used to it.

whiterose

  • From the good old US of A!
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4438
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2012, 08:12:25 AM »
Clarifications:

I paid for the first souffle. Food is paid for upon its being ordered.

All the souffles have the same brown wrappers.

From the top they all look nearly identical- unless properly labeled with a piece of bacon on top.

I can no longer have meat. Due to spiritual and scientific reasons, eating pork accidentally is a bigger problem than eating say, chicken or tuna accidentally. I am not infringing on anyone's right to eat meat- I just do not wish to eat it. Ever again.

I remember when I first traveled by airplane at age 7 1/2. My system was certainly not used to the new water- even though it was probably cleaner than the one where I first lived.

I did write an email in their Contact Us page. I put it under Food Products- since the service was fine. I like the suggestions that the vegetarian items have different wrappers and labels than the non-vegetarian ones. Should I write a snail-mail letter as well? I do not know if a phone call would be a good idea.

I have pet mice!

Mental Magpie

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5025
  • ...for the dark side looks back.
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2012, 09:25:44 AM »
I don't know that a complaint letter is warranted.  Perhaps I'm thinking of more of a suggestion letter with a heads up that the items they sell as vegetarian are so similar to the non-veggie items as to potentially pose an issue.  I feel like a complaint letter is appropriate when your issue isn't adequately addressed, and yours was.  If you do choose to write a letter, I would certainly note that the employees responded to your problem well. 

I was veggie for many years, in some places where it was not particularly common.  I ran into this issue more than once.  I chalked it up to human error and moved on.  Had I a religious objection, I would not order a menu item that could be so easily confused.  I'm frankly surprised they serve two items that are so similar with such an important difference.

This is towards what I was leaning as well,  a suggestion letter.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Hunter-Gatherer

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 918
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2012, 11:04:03 AM »
I did write an email in their Contact Us page. I put it under Food Products- since the service was fine. I like the suggestions that the vegetarian items have different wrappers and labels than the non-vegetarian ones. Should I write a snail-mail letter as well? I do not know if a phone call would be a good idea.

So, you've now brought this to their attention once in person, a second time via e-mail, and are considering a third time via letter and possibly a fourth by phone call.  Honestly, I think the in person complaint was completely warranted and 100% justified.  I think the e-mail was a little bit overkill, but acceptable in lines of what people have suggested along the lines of how to avoid this sort of thing in the future (though nothing will ever be completely foolproof, and twice in two years isn't exactly a huge rate of error).  Contacting them more over the same incident to me seems like beating a dead horse and runs the risk that instead of them continuing to respond in a positive manner you'll be dismissed as the person who just won't let go.

I really do understand that you were very upset, and you were perfectly justified in being so, but you've now complained both in person and through e-mail.  It was a mistake and an accident and they've apologized.  It's time to let it go.

Zilla

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6506
    • Cooking
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2012, 11:19:55 AM »
I think the in person and the email complaint was perfect.  And they can hopefully make it easier to tell apart the two.  What bothered me about your situation was that they had to make a new one for you and still gave you the bacon one.  That is unacceptable.  I have a friend who is highly allergic to pork, and that simple mistake would have cost her hours of pain.  In person which is handled locally but who knows if they will ensure that the kitchen will be more careful.  An email will get a District Manager involved and ensure that the kitchen will be more careful.

Judah

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4769
  • California, U.S.A
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2012, 11:20:08 AM »
I did write an email in their Contact Us page. I put it under Food Products- since the service was fine. I like the suggestions that the vegetarian items have different wrappers and labels than the non-vegetarian ones. Should I write a snail-mail letter as well? I do not know if a phone call would be a good idea.

So, you've now brought this to their attention once in person, a second time via e-mail, and are considering a third time via letter and possibly a fourth by phone call.  Honestly, I think the in person complaint was completely warranted and 100% justified.  I think the e-mail was a little bit overkill, but acceptable in lines of what people have suggested along the lines of how to avoid this sort of thing in the future (though nothing will ever be completely foolproof, and twice in two years isn't exactly a huge rate of error).  Contacting them more over the same incident to me seems like beating a dead horse and runs the risk that instead of them continuing to respond in a positive manner you'll be dismissed as the person who just won't let go.

I really do understand that you were very upset, and you were perfectly justified in being so, but you've now complained both in person and through e-mail.  It was a mistake and an accident and they've apologized.  It's time to let it go.

I agree. You've already complained twice; a third complaint would be over the top, and the only thing it would accomplish  is to irritate the recipient. 
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one:
Subtle hints don't work.
Strong hints don't work.
Really obvious hints don't work.
Just say it!

-The Car Talk Guys

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12217
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #26 on: December 17, 2012, 11:31:56 AM »
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?

How to complain ( I would send this to corporate, but also talk to local management in person)

"Dear Restaurant:

[Say how long you are a customer and how you love it usually]
I am a long time customer of your restaurant and enjoy getting a spinach artichoke souffle at least twice a week.  I particularly enjoy this as I am a vegetarian and am happy that you have vegetarian options. 

[Add how surprised you are at this rare mistake and how management handled it]
However, I was so surprised when the following incident happens that is not up to your quality standards at all.  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.  As this souflee did not have the bacon on top, I began digging into it.  However  I taste a bit of  bacon and had to  spit it out into my napkin (hopefully I did not ingest or swallow any bacon).  I asked them to please give me another one which I did receive along with an apology.

[Add how this affected you]
Physically, I am fine- 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.

[Add what you want them to do about it]
Unfortunately, this has been the second time that this has occurred, albeit at a diffferent Cafe.  The kitchen staff is not properly labeling the bacon spinach souffles all the time. Other than the bacon strip on top, it is extremely difficult to tell them apart by sight.

I am writing to you to let you know that this has happened, and to suggest that perhaps a different marking system could be employed. For example, for the vegetarian options, could they be placed in a different color container? Could they be processed in a different process such that it is clear that this is a vegetarian process? For example, separate cookware used.

Although I enjoy coming to your establishment, I am not sure if I can or can recommend your cafes to my vegetarian friends  if I cannot rely on vegetarian items actually being vegetarian.



 

snowdragon

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2200
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2012, 11:34:15 AM »
I did write an email in their Contact Us page. I put it under Food Products- since the service was fine. I like the suggestions that the vegetarian items have different wrappers and labels than the non-vegetarian ones. Should I write a snail-mail letter as well? I do not know if a phone call would be a good idea.

So, you've now brought this to their attention once in person, a second time via e-mail, and are considering a third time via letter and possibly a fourth by phone call.  Honestly, I think the in person complaint was completely warranted and 100% justified.  I think the e-mail was a little bit overkill, but acceptable in lines of what people have suggested along the lines of how to avoid this sort of thing in the future (though nothing will ever be completely foolproof, and twice in two years isn't exactly a huge rate of error).  Contacting them more over the same incident to me seems like beating a dead horse and runs the risk that instead of them continuing to respond in a positive manner you'll be dismissed as the person who just won't let go.

I really do understand that you were very upset, and you were perfectly justified in being so, but you've now complained both in person and through e-mail.  It was a mistake and an accident and they've apologized.  It's time to let it go.
mi
 This. You've complained twice after this mistake, and it was a mistake, since your OP gave no indication of malice or trying to trick the vegetarian into eating meat antics...anything more and you run the risk of not only making them less likely to listen to other issues - but might even decide that special diets are too hard to accommodate and dropping the vegetarian line all together. I know that if I made one mistake in one location and one mistake two years earlier in another, I'd be reconsidering a lot more than changing how things are marked.
 
  If it still bothers you this much that you need to make a THIRD complaint - drop the restaurant.

pierrotlunaire0

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4145
  • I'm the cat's aunt!
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2012, 12:09:36 PM »
This sounds a lot like Panera, a place where although I love their product, I have to watch any new employee like a hawk.  It got so bad that I did write their corporate office.  Many new employees tend to be very young and inexperienced.  Not only have I received something other than what I ordered, I have also: had a loaf of bread shoved through the slicer resulting in one side of the loaf all chewed up (she was going to hack the rest with a knife until I stopped her, and made her get another employee to slice a fresh loaf); a loaf of bread shoved and pushed down into a plastic bag until it resembled a mushed ball of bread; when I said that I didn't need or want plastic silverware, the clerk made up for it by filling my bag with a 2 inch wad of napkins.

I addressed it as a training problem, and I have learned to doublecheck my order before I leave.  I also refused any compensation.  I think your email to corporate is sufficient.
I have enough lithium in my medicine cabinet to power three cars across a sizeable desert.  Which makes me officially...Three Cars Crazy

DottyG

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18204
Re: How to word complaint? Is it even worth it?
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2012, 12:58:54 PM »
Quote
This. You've complained twice after this mistake, and it was a mistake, since your OP gave no indication of malice or trying to trick the vegetarian into eating meat antics...anything more and you run the risk of not only making them less likely to listen to other issues - but might even decide that special diets are too hard to accommodate and dropping the vegetarian line all together. I know that if I made one mistake in one location and one mistake two years earlier in another, I'd be reconsidering a lot more than changing how things are marked.
 
  If it still bothers you this much that you need to make a THIRD complaint - drop the restaurant.

I agree with this and Hunter-Gatherer.  You've complained twice now (appropriately).  But anything more will just backfire on you and water down what you're trying to accomplish.