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In a pickle: What to do if you don't like your restaurant meal

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

The proper way to complain

For some people, it's easy to inform the waiter you don't like your meal and get something different. But what about those of us that have a hard time speaking up?

Unhappy woman at restaurant

You just ordered a meal that looks to-die-for from a well-known restaurant. The food comes out, and unfortunately your meal is not at all what you expected. Whether it's cold, has a strange flavor or you simply just don't care for it, it can be hard to muster up the courage to let the waiter know. After all, it's not his fault and you don't want to cause any trouble. So, what's a gal to do? Here, we look at what you should do if you don't like your restaurant meal — and don't like to complain.

1

Let the waiter know right away

Amy, a server at a breakfast restaurant, had a customer who ate his entire meal before letting her know that he didn't like it. If you eat the entire meal, it can be hard to convince the server that it wasn't prepared properly or you just didn't care for it. Let the server know as soon as possible so they can fix the situation. All restaurants want to have excellent customer satisfaction ratings, so allow them to make it up to you by bringing you a different dish or giving you a coupon to get a free meal.

2

Take them up on their offer

If you don't like your meal, we can almost guarantee the restaurant will insist on making it up to you (via a new meal, a free meal or a combination of the two). Take them up on their offer and have a good attitude about it. Even if the poor meal was completely the restaurant's fault, they're human and mistakes happen. Roll with the punches, put a smile on your face and accept whatever it is they offer you.

3

Be friendly

Your bad meal is not at all the fault of the server, so remain friendly and appreciative. Servers deal with complaints — often from rude people — all day long. Having someone complain who is polite can make all the difference in the server's day. "I'll go above and beyond for those who are polite, patient and understanding," Amy says. "If someone is rude, I typically let the manager handle the problem and go about my morning. Rude customers definitely put a damper on my day."

What not to do

Even if the poor meal is completely the restaurant's fault, you still need to remain calm and realize that mistakes happen. Here's what you should never, ever do if your meal is bad:

  • Make a scene. There's never a need to be loud, rude and obnoxious. The table next to you is most likely enjoying their meal — allow them their peace!
  • Yell at the waiter. The waiter brings you your food, he doesn't prepare it for you. Don't ruin his day by placing the blame on him.
  • Write multiple negative reviews online. Unless you've had a bad experience more than once, cut the restaurant some slack and skip the online bashing. If the restaurant went above and beyond in this situation and exceeded your expectations, consider writing them a positive review on customer satisfaction.
  • Refuse to pay for the meal. The majority of the time, the restaurant will offer to give you your meal for free. Wait to see if this happens instead of refusing to pay for the meal from the get-go.

Tell us

What did you do the last time you didn't like your restaurant meal? Did you speak up? Share in the comments below!

More on etiquette

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10 Mealtime etiquette tips
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