Sunday, November 17, 2019

Should restaurant owner track down person who left negative review?

A reader we're calling Millie wasn't about to let a reservation miscue nor a soggy pizza get in the way of a long-anticipated night out with a half-dozen friends she hadn't seen for a while. "We had a good time," Millie writes.

But the night didn't start off well. One of her friends had made and confirmed a reservation at the agreed-upon restaurant, but when they arrived, the hostess informed them that the restaurant didn't take reservations. The estimated time for a table was about 15 minutes, they were told. There was no bar for them to wait so they milled about near the entrance to the restaurant. Finally, 30 minutes later, they were seated.

And they waited some more. The server arrived to take their orders and Millie and two friends decided to share what was described as an artisanal brick-oven pizza with a mozzarella and basil topping. They and their friends placed their orders.

Twenty minutes later their dinners arrived. When Millie lifted her first piece of pizza, the bottom crust was soggy and, as a result, chewy. Millie didn't finish the pizza, but she enjoyed the time with her friends.

When she got home that evening, Millie decided to leave a review of the restaurant and recount her experience on Yelp. Millie commented on the reservation miscue, that her pizza was soggy, but that some of her friends enjoyed what they had ordered.

The next day Millie got a call from the friend who had tried to make the reservation letting her know that the restaurant owner had called her and asked if he could speak to the person who left the review. Apparently, even though the restaurant doesn't take reservations, he had looked up the number of the person who had made the reservation and called her. After Millie gave the go-ahead to give him her phone number, he called.

"He asked me why I hadn't asked for a new pizza if the one I had was bad," writes Millie. He went on to tell her how important online reviews were to him, but he continued to tell her that she was wrong to not have said anything if her food didn't meet her expectations.

"He was telling me it was my fault for not saying anything while I was at the restaurant," writes Millie. Millie writes that she occasionally has sent back food at restaurants, but that she chose not to this night because she didn't want the evening with friends to be more disrupted than it already was.

"Was it wrong to post a mixed review when I didn't say anything to the server?"

Millie did the right thing by posting what was good and bad about the meal. She had no obligation to send the meal back or to ask for a refund. The restaurant owner could have responded directly to the Yelp review if he had an issue with it. That he hunted Millie down to berate her for not speaking up was wrong.

Millie writes that he ended their conversation by telling her that she should come in again so she can try another pizza. Given her prior experience and his call, she prefers not to do so. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Missing wedding invitation creates consternation

Almost four months ago, a couple I'm calling Jack and Diane received a save-the-date card for a wedding. Aside from the date of the upcoming wedding, there was no other information about a wedding website or a gift registry. It was simply a thoughtful announcement to save the date and to expect a forthcoming invitation.

Unfortunately, Jack and Diane already had committed to attending another event on the same day. While they live in a different city from the couple and didn't know them well, they looked forward to wishing the engaged couple well on their marriage.

As the wedding date drew closer, Jack and Diane grew a bit concerned that they had not received an invitation. Even though they wouldn't be able to go, they did want to do the right thing by RSVP-ing with their regrets. But they decided to wait to see if anything showed up.

Finally, with two weeks to go before the announced wedding, Jack and Diane still had received nothing. They decided that they must have been sent the save the date by mistake or the guest list had gotten cut down since the original cards were sent out or that the invitation had been sent but never arrived.

Jack and Diane are torn about the right thing to do. But since it was Jack who knew the couple the longest, it was decided that he should make the final call.

"We're concerned that if we don't say anything and the invitation was sent that the couple will think we're just being rude by not responding," writes Diane. "But we don't want to make them feel awkward by telling them we'd gotten the save-the-date card but no invitation in case we ended up not being invited after all."

Neither she nor Jack wanted to do anything to put a damper on the couple's wedding day or their plans leading up to it.

"Would it be wrong to just let the event come and go and say nothing?" asks Diane.

Strictly speaking, it's nearly impossible to respond to an invitation you never received, so there's no rudeness or ethics lapse in doing nothing. But, given their receipt of the save-the-date card, Diane and Jack are thoughtful to be concerned that something might have gone awry.

The right thing to do is for Diane and Jack to let the couple know that they had received the save-the-date card, hadn't received the formal invitation, but wanted to let the couple know that they would be unable to attend their wedding.

If it's possible to call to speak to one member of the engaged couple rather than text or email that might diminish the awkwardness a bit because tone and intent are offer lost in texts or emails. No matter how awkward, it's likely the couple will appreciate being able to get an accurate head count for the wedding reception. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

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