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How to tick off a bumby 
14th-Dec-2007 08:52 pm
Spouse & I like the Outback Steakhouse. A lot. Due to time, money, and diet considerations, we've not yet spent $300 there this year. Due to today's events, we'll likely not come close for the next several years.

We had 3 events we were trying to fit in tonight, and with the first one being located so close to the Outback (the 2nd event) we didn't think to duck out of the first one part way through and do call-ahead seating. That, I'll grant was a mistake on our part.

When we arrived, they told us the wait was 30 - 35 minutes. We originally thought that was too long, but, realizing that every other restaurant would probably have a wait, we agreed. It was quite unfortunate that this estimate on their part was quite wrong.

At about the 40 minute mark, the spouse went up to ask how long before we'd be seated. Already we were pushing it to get food done and get to our 3rd event before it started. "Oh, just a couple more people," she said. Ok. Fine. We'll wait.

Unfortunately for them, (1) we can count, and (2) I have no patience with lies ... or with stupidity for that matter.

After about 10 minutes, they'd seated 8 people. Other people. I went up. I mentioned that 8 people ago my spouse had been told that there were only a couple people to go. Oh, she smiles, there are only a couple people to go. (grrrrr!) I point out that that is what she said 8 people ago, and pressed her for an exact number. There were still 3 people in front of us at that time, assuming she could really count that high. "We're doing the best we can to get you seated as quickly as possible," she whined.

Not my point. I understand busy. I understand that table turnover is not an easily predictable rate. I, however, have no patience with someone who will look at a number that is clearly larger than 6 and say "a couple". (And as literal minded as I am, giving them that much lenience is a concession.) If they had told us sooner that "gosh, it'll really be about half an hour longer" or "you have a dozen people in front of you" we could have left *then*, maybe gotten something fast to eat somewhere, and gone on to our event. My stress level continued to rise, and at the 54 minute mark, we agreed that we just didn't have the time. I turned the pager back in to them and we left. We'd have left if they'd admitted sooner how bad the situation was, but we'd have left planning to go back, and probably soon.

As it was, when we got to our stop number 3 (I arrived 15 minutes before it started, spouse about 7) we were both hungry enough that we hung out under 10 minutes, and then decided that we really needed to just go somewhere and eat, blowing off the meeting.

I'm annoyed enough that I'm naming names. If I were less annoyed instead of saying Outback, I would likely have just said "A local restaurant that both the spouse and I like quite a bit".
15th-Dec-2007 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh grr. :(

Last time my mom and I went to Outback, we were *really* disappointed with both the food and service, and we won't be going back, either.
15th-Dec-2007 02:20 am (UTC)
*sigh* I really like the food, and the service is _usually_ fine. Sorry to hear you had issues with them too.
15th-Dec-2007 02:24 am (UTC)
Aiee. That sucks. I have noticed that the service at Outback is usually pretty good, but the greeters/table-assigners seem to be selected for Teh Boobage. In every sense.
15th-Dec-2007 02:33 am (UTC)
They do seem to have gone downhill over the last few years. At this point there are plenty of restaurants we like better.
15th-Dec-2007 02:43 am (UTC)
I would recommend writing a letter to the management explaining how (a) they were wrong in their estimate, (b) they lied about it twice, and (c) they are unlikely to get your business in the future because of the double lie. Bonus points for specifying the frequency of your visits and your average bill (e.g., whether alcohol's involved or not). You might get a gift certificate out of the deal — if you do, use it at a different store, though.
15th-Dec-2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
We don't usually get booze -- although when I'm in *that* mood and the spouse is driving I've been known to get two. And the frequency has already gone down quite a bit, (I don't eat out a lot on my own, and the spouse was gone for 1/3 of this year) but yeah -- a letter is in the works.

The 2nd time might not have been a lie -- there hadn't yet been three people seated when our "we need to leave now" point came.
15th-Dec-2007 03:21 am (UTC)
The one here in A2 is massively overloaded and overwhelmed.

Advice I've been given is to drive to the one in Jackson; you get seated reasonably and the food's better, and it can take less time.
15th-Dec-2007 03:55 am (UTC)
The real crime here is that hosts and hostesses (those people that seat you) are trained to tell you LONGER than they think it will actually be by about 5 minutes.

My very first not-working-for-my-dad job was as a hostess (for about 3 months) and it is more of an art than a science, sure. But you get pretty good. And you add 5 minutes, at least, to whatever you think it'll be. Yes, a few people will leave, but they probably wouldn't have been happy with the wait anyhow. Instead, what you end up with is people who were told it would take 25 minutes getting seated in 20, and they leave bragging about how they got seated more quickly than they thought they would.
15th-Dec-2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
That's not a crime. That's just being realistic. It allows for unforeseen circumstances.
16th-Dec-2007 12:41 am (UTC)
It's not a crime that they do that - it's a crime that in this case they DIDN'T do that.
15th-Dec-2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
I won't eat at Outback because the corporation's a big Republican donor.

The hostess being unable to comprehend or unwilling to acknowledge that giving people the wrong information pisses them off is a good reason to avoid that particular restaurant.

I agree with the the advice already given, to write a scathing letter to The Mgt. If I'd been in your situation and didn't have to get to another event, I've have pitched a very large fit in front of all the other people waiting for tables, beginning with demanding to talk to the manager.
15th-Dec-2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
I hadn't realized that they were that big a Republican donor (and the spouse probably doesn't mind).

I do fear that if I were to boycott every organization that had ever done anything I disagreed with, I'd be living in the forest in a house built from trees I chewed down myself.

(That's not to say I don't agree with or haven't participated in organized boycotts.)

I'm a lot more... um... able to rationalize and beat myself down than people who have contended with me think. I'm not good at pitching a fit without looking stupid, and I never learned to ask for a manager. I think the times I've tried I've gotten a sarcastic "I am the manager" or I've gotten told off by the real manager as a jerk who is trying to cause trouble for his people without cause. So I'm currently more likely to slink off and be unhappy. (I've read some lovely "Dear idiot company" letters on LJ in the last few days, and wish I could write like that.)
15th-Dec-2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
Outback is one of the restaurants that we'll not go to unless it's either an off hour or we can do call-ahead seating. The behavior you're talking about is typical of every one of them that I've been in for four states (MI, OH, MN, CA).
17th-Dec-2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
The scary thing is that I can actually picture this scene, and every expression on your face and tone in your voice perfectly in my mind ....

(I think we've eaten at OB twice in our lives, because yes, they don't take reservations and the line is always out the door, and I have better things to do with my time that wait 2 hours for an ok steak that I can make myself in 1/10th the time for a quarter the price.)
17th-Dec-2007 07:19 pm (UTC)

Sometimes, if we went at off-times, there'd be no line. And when we thought to use the call-ahead seating the wait could be minimal.

And honestly, one of the reasons we liked OB is that at least the ones around here tend to get GOOD meat. I could name another restaurant that people seem to like, but I've always been disappointed with any steak I've gotten there. Plus we like Medium Rare, and OB knows what that means. And we like their spicing. If I'm getting steak there, I'm usually getting Prime -- and I don't know how to make that (so *I* couldn't do it in under 6 minutes), although I can't argue with your price point. Plus if I get it there, I'll get veggies which I won't do at home.
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