Who’s Picking Up the Bill?

“We returned to our regular restaurant for the consistently good food and friendly service.
I ordered a medium-well burger.  It arrived charred and dry. I pointed to the burger and asked the waitress if this is considered ‘med-well’, and she said yes.  I told her to ask the manager.  Manager comes and says, “Yes, you were right. The burger is overcooked.  Let us make another one for you and we will comp this one on your ticket.

He asked us if we would like anything while we were waiting, and I couldn’t think of anything…  I waited 15 minutes. My husband had finished his dinner before my second burger came.

 When our bill came, it was ‘comped’ out.  I was charged for the original burger, and when the waitress put in the order for new burger, charged for that one also, and then subtracted the amount for one of the burgers.

We call the manager back.  We explained that ‘comp’ in our minds meant ‘the cost of the burger is removed and the second one is not charged either.’  In other words, we don’t pay for my meal at all, because of the wait,  and  not being able to enjoy  the dinner because my husband and I could not eat our meals together.

 The manager explained, “No, comp means we still charge you for serving you a burger, you just don’t have to pay for the burger we remade for you.”  We were dumbfounded–we have never heard of comp used in this way before.  What do you think?”

~ Jinny

Well,  Jinny, I think you are absolutely 100% right. I have never heard of a ‘comp’ being handled this way. It was the restaurant’s error, and the manager & waitress admitted to that. Had it been an undercooked burger they could have simply put it back on the grill, but their mistake was overcooking, which meant that they would have to cook another burger in order to get it right.

That’s not your fault as a guest.

It is also an oversight that they left you with nothing to eat while your husband had his food.  Ideally, your server should have asked if your husband would like for them to hold his burger and bring it back with yours so you could enjoy them together, or they should have brought your side items (french fries or salad) on a separate plate so you could enjoy them while waiting for your re-fired burger. At the restaurants where I have managed, we typically always have some item that we can send out quickly as a small complimentary course in these cases (salad, ceviche, bruschetta, etc.).

There could a couple of operational things that might have contributed to this kerfluffle, though.

There is a good reason to re-ring the burger on the check in the first place. In a busy kitchen, it cuts down on mis-communication to ring in the order, rather than verbally order it from the chef. Many restaurants won’t allow any verbal orders in the kitchen, and must have a ‘ticket’ for everything that leaves the kitchen. Both the original burger and the re-fired burger should have come off your check, however.

This manager also sounds very new to me.  It doesn’t make sense to split hairs over a single burger when the outcome is likely to make the guest question whether to return to that restaurant again.  You’ve also probably shared this negative experience with friends, thereby keeping them from patronizing this restaurant, as well.

If you do wish to return to the restaurant (you did mention it is a regular spot for you), I’d try to get in touch with the general manager or owner, and tell him about your experience.  As restaurateurs, if we don’t hear about these experiences, we cannot improve. If this manager really is a little green, then sharing your story with the general manager will likely help him in his further training in hospitality.

Thanks for sharing, and keep me posted on the outcome!

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4 thoughts on “Who’s Picking Up the Bill?

  1. Interesting. In a company with a solid corporate structure like that, you can definitely get the ear of the general manager, or the district manager to take another look at this. Unless this is the Cheesecake Factory comp policy– I’ve sent them an email and will let you know what I hear back!

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