How To Complain at a Restaurant

Christopher Pitts

In F&B, Food Musings Posted

Have you ever gone into a restaurant and felt let down by the food or the service? If not, you’re either exceptionally lucky or extraordinarily well-tempered. Today, I want to look at how to get your complaint across in China while being respectful and straight to the point.

Step One: Don’t Make It Personal

Don’t make it personal; everyone makes mistakes. The restaurant wants the same thing you do—happy guests. If a dish comes back to the kitchen with the complaint that it was too salty, I will taste to confirm. Even if that’s how the dish was supposed to taste, I know it needs to be remade to the guest’s preferences. I’m not going to send the server back out with the message that it’s my way or the highway. Be upfront with expectations. If you like less salty food, say so beforehand.

Step Two: Respect

One of the first things to consider when making a complaint is maintaining a respectful tone—you’ll have a much less receptive audience if they can’t stand your guts. Listing your CV or the fact that you took a three-day wine tasting course in Napa Valley doesn’t magically give you more clout when complaining about the sad state of your carbonara.

Listing your CV or the fact that you took a three-day wine tasting course in Napa Valley doesn’t magically give you more clout when complaining about the sad state of your carbonara.

Step Three: Find The Right Person

Remember that it’s also important to speak to the right person. If you’ve voiced your concern and see that nothing has been resolved, ask to speak to the manager. Too often junior staff either aren’t trained to handle certain requests, or simply don’t understand if you’re not speaking in Chinese. A manager will be more accommodating and have the authority to quickly process your request.

Step Four: Don’t Be Passive-Aggressive

Avoid being passive-aggressive. If you cannot handle an adult interaction in the restaurant, then please avoid the temptation to go keyboard warrior afterwards and lash out on review sites. There’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to fix a problem we weren’t aware of in the first place. We are adults and most restaurants will admit fault. Let us know where we can improve, ideally in person, and we’ll almost certainly appreciate your feedback.

Step Five: Post Your Experience—Were Your Requests Honored?

Assuming your problem has been resolved, post about it. Give fellow diners the confidence to see that you ate at such and such restaurant and that they rectified any problems you encountered. Show that we are all human. Didn’t fix the problem? Post anyway. If you followed all the tips above and still didn’t get your desired results, maybe the restaurant simply deserves a bad review.

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