This story got me writing this morning. Social media and online reviews are out of control in many cases. I takes a certain mentality to be part of that scene in order to satisfy an agenda or need.
I was once having dinner at a farm-to-table restaurant and noticed a bug in my salad. I very quietly and discreetly called the server over and pointed it out. She apologized and replaced the salad. I knew they used fresh, local greens and that sometimes produce might sometimes have an undetected critter. Rather than record it in order to gain my 15 minutes on social media I made the rational and grown-up decision to work with the establishment. I got a new salad and enjoyed my meal.
When a difficult situation occurs in a restaurant it is the responsibility of the management to resolve the situation to the reasonable satisfaction of the guest. When the guest cannot be consoled, the onus typically falls on the guest who in most cases refuses to be satisfied and is generally irrational and/or failing to see things from the restaurant’s side.
If the individual or group is not happy there’s sometimes nothing that can be done about it. It’s not preferable if they decide not to return and perhaps tell a few friends their version of the experience. What I see however as a growing issue is when the unhappy party uses social media to attack a restaurant with a long-winded and slanted or even false account of an event to retaliate against the restaurant with an “I’m going to get you back” mentality.
A friend who owns a restaurant was recently called a racist on social media because he asked a table to lower their noise level as they were disrupting the enjoyment of other guests. No, you were not singled out because of your race, you were singled out because you had total disregard for the other diners. Being asked to lower your noise level was not an attack on who you are, but a request to alter your behavior and in no way justifies you spreading false accusations on social media.
Often enough a diner will tell their version of an event and omit their actions that led up to the situation or they’ll give a version based on their post-alcohol consumption and self-serving bias. Their eyewitness account is too many times an inaccurate version of what occurred nor is it a fair assessment of the situation. Failing to consider all the facts and circumstances only creates a story that did not happen as reported.
While it’s true that all stories (especially in today’s social media and “everyone can be a restaurant reviewer” landscape) are seen through the eyes of the story-teller, it’s clear to me that those told with an agenda of retaliation and anger are as useful as sand in your underpants.
To the guy who ate 90% of his entrée before declaring it was too salty and refused to pay…. There may not be such thing as a free lunch, but you certainly showed us that there is such thing as a free dinner.
A restaurant that wants to survive has the task of providing a positive experience and delivering to the public what is promised as part of their business model. When an establishment fails to provide that, the responsible thing to do is to work with management to solve whatever issue comes up. If you as the diner are going to refuse managements attempts to find a resolution, and if you’re going to act in an irrational manner and spew out an inaccurate account to the public then you are the problem, not the restaurant.
When you see these rants on social media and in online reviews then you need to ask if this person described the account accurately, responsibly, and without an agenda. You should consider that perhaps their behavior was unreasonable, and the restaurant tried to satisfy a difficult guest without success.