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Rude Food

I hate it when I find hair in my food. The only thing even more disgusting than that is finding a cockroach in your food.

And that's exactly what happened yesterday. I found a hair in my Malaysian Chilli Noodles. Anyway, to start at the beginning, I went out for lunch to the FiveSpice restaraunt in Colaba with a bunch of people, none of whom I know too well.. It's one of my favourite restaraunts in Mumbai. Not too expensive. Generous portions and delectable desserts.

But I doubt I'll be going back to the branch in Colaba after the way they behaved when I pointed out the hair on the food.

First off, he tells me, "There's nothing I can, you guys are almost done." Thereby insinuating that I'd done it just to get the damn thing for free. At which point I said, "I don't care whether I'm almost done. There's a hair in my food, for crying out loud."

To which, and I don't know how the hell this guy got to be manager, responds with "What do you expect me to do?". I pretty much lost it and snapped "I expect you not to put hair in my food." The asshole then turns around and says to me, "This happens very rarely."

To be perfectly honest, I don't give a f*** if it's happened for the first time in a million years. It's happened to me and I want to see you do something about it!

I'd have probably pursued the matter a little further and argued some more, but the diners with me began to look a little embarassmed making me seem like the bitch, who's creating a scene, and so I let it go.

And I'm regretting it ever since. I should have probably let the manager know what exactly my problem is.

Now, not once throughout the entire conversation did he apologise. Not once did he say I'm sorry. Not once did he express regret that my meal was ruined. It wasn't about him not charging me for my food or sending over a free replacement, but just about being decent and doing the right thing, without getting defensive. Yes it could happen to anyone, but that doesn't mean I'm going to accept finding a little black hair, thankfully not curly, at the bottom of my bowl. How hard is that to get.

If he'd just been decent about the entire incident, I'd have said that I understood and let it go and I wouldn't have said anything else.

Instead, he made the entire matter worse and has probably turned me off ever going there again. Why would a restaurant purposely damage its reputation?

A lot of people I know would rather eat a bad meal and pay for it, rather than mention a problem to the waitstaff. I would rather try to address the problem and have a meal that I can enjoy and not resent paying for and this has often led to problems.

It's not that I'm a rude person. I'm unfailingly polite, saying please and thank you all the time and leaving behind a more than generous tip, if I feel the service has been particularly exceptional. And I wasn't rude in this case either. I didn't raise my voice, I didn't shout. I didn't create a scene and make faces, so if I'm being nice, why can't they?

It's rare that I complain about food, but on this occasion I was treated as if I'm the problem, rather than the food. I know that I'm not a complainer by nature and don't appreciate being treated as one for a valid criticism or request for replacement. It's unfortunate that the only places that consistently do better than this are the very best, most expensive restaurants. But how often can someone's who only just begun to work afford to eat there.

For that matter though, I've found several small restaurants to be very accommodating too. Their service is hard working, friendly and sincere.

What is it about mid-level restaurants that they have so much ingratitude towards to the paying customer?

One of my other pet peeves is when waitstaff remove a plate as soon as, or even before, the person has finished eating. I feel that if the slowest eater in a group is the only one left with a plate and all others have been cleared, it sends the discourteous message of 'hurry up, you slowpoke'.

At the end of the day, I'm paying for the food and I believe in constructive criticism.


homecooked said…
Why dont you write to the manager? If its a mid-level restaurant perhaps the manager will look into it. Its basic customer service. I know it gets embarrasing when you go out with people who are new and then cant creat a scene.
Gentle Whispers said…
@ Homecooked: The idiot was the manager. What more can I say?
Ersa said…
arrrrrggggghh, that is disgusting...and they didn't even care? damn that manager...i don't understand how he can be so careless about treating a paying customer...anyway...
Gentle Whispers said…
@ Ersa: I guess all he thought was one less customer doesn't really make a difference.
SMM said…
I totally agree...when the food is unacceptable to me at any decent resteraunt, I create a fuss. I have spent my time, energy and money to come there - the least you can do is provide me with proper clean tasty food which is what your basic USP is.

We'd gone to this place called Gola Sizzlers in Delhi on Christams eve and the food was unedible and they said that's cuz it was Christmas Eve. Sorry, but Christmas Eve doe snot justify bad food. I'd get better food in the dhaba.

Why don't you send a written complaint to the Manager with a cc marked to Midday/ TOI/ HT so that he will be forced to revert to you with a better answer?
Gentle Whispers said…
@ SMM: At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, I am a journalist working with DNA. A trainee albeit.

And yes, I could have flashed my press card. But I'd hate getting preferential treatment just because I belong to the press.

Why shouldn't I be entitled to good, clean food that meets even my tolerably low standards as a member of the normal paying public.
arrgggghh cockroach...bleh!

now that done with :), I'd say that you should have dump that food on his face. You should have asked for the manager's manager. grrr i hate such places where they make you feel that they are doing you the favor for giving you food. I'm totally with you on criticism where needed.
complaint to the owner
Suki said…
Probably my first comment on your blog :)

I once found a fly in my firni. Rahmania refused to admit that it was a fly.
I never went back there again.

But you're right - customers are so very easy to come by in India(I suppose) that most establishments seem to make it a point to be rude or at best indifferent to them.
I tend to see this as a problem of economics - too many people availing of products and services, so the seller can afford an "attitude of ingratitude", if you pardon the bad wordplay. In countries where customers are scarce and at a premium, salesmanship is absolutely the key.

That said, there's a roadside dhaba in Kolkata, in front of the new Mani Square mall, which has absolutely the best customer service I've seen outside five-star places. I am quite sure that that, and the good food, is why that dhaba is as big as the rest along that area(it's a stopover for long-distance travellers, near a major junction) put together. Feels good to get good food and good service, on a budget!

PS: I think the captcha read your mind about the manager - it proclaims him to be a "coundral". Suitably close to "scoundrel", isn't it? :)

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