Complaining in restaurants gets results

5 November 2010

I’m going to put it out there – I love eating. I love finding new places to eat, or just grabbing a curry from the local. Even as a skint graduate, I still spend more than I should on restaurant bills.

And so, last week I found myself in the UK’s best-known Spanish chain, La Tasca - not that I’m a restaurant critic, but its food is about as Spanish as Santander is reliable – for dinner, as my friend had a half-price voucher.

It all started off so well. The wine was half price and so were the paellas – so we ditched the original voucher and ordered a three-person meat paella. Normally £30, at only £15.

We ordered at around 7.30, and were still waiting an hour and a half later with only dismissals from the waiters. By this time we’d quaffed another bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a plate of hors d’oeuvres. Not cool if you’d only planned on spending pocket money on a meal deal.

When the paella came at 9pm, it was chewy and not overly tasty. I didn’t care that it was horrible because by that point I was hungry enough to eat both my dinner companions for starters and the waiters for dessert, but I couldn’t ignore the fact we had been waiting for so long.

Putting aside the chorizo and chicken sweats, we were perturbed that a short meal and conversation had dragged on way past our bedtime – all due to the lateness of our food. Catching the attention of the waiter, we queried if we could have a discount on our meal. He responded that a £30 bottomless pit of paella had cost us £15. We stood our ground and said that regular customer service still applies – and we’d had to spend extra money on wine. In the end, he gave in and gave us a discount on the wine and free bread and olives. Result!

Complaining in restaurants has got me a long way in the past. Or at least, a free bottle of wine. In a restaurant in Nottingham for my 20th birthday, all the meals came out at different times – meaning a rather odd birthday meal experience. Most ate their steaks cold, out of politeness. Needless to say I queried this, and the manager offered us three free bottles of wine, which - while not the best move for a group of alcohol-addled 20 year olds - was good customer service.

Going out for a meal is so much more than just the food, it’s about the atmosphere and the customer service as well, no matter how little you pay.

Oh and if you’re wondering about La Tasca, I paid £9 for paella, bread, olives and two-thirds of a bottle of white wine. Plus we took the extra home in a doggy bag. Now THAT is good value.

Have you ever complained at a restaurant and got money off? Let us know below.

For more on this read: How to complain in restaurants