Over the weekend, four of us went to dinner at a local restaurant that is pan-Latin. It’s one we like and have eaten at frequently. The service was as slow as sap in January in Maine. But that’s not what this is all about. We ordered a bottle of a particular malbec, one that we’ve ordered many times here. After quite a delay (the poor service thing), the waiter told us the wine was no longer available. He tried to steer us to a wine that was $51 a bottle as compared to the $39 for the wine we wanted. We said we’d rather try other wines in the same price range as our original choice. The waiter said he’d bring us a taste of another malbec.
Time passed. The waiter returned with a malbec which none of us liked. He went away again. Time passed. He brought another malbec that none of us liked. And we’re not that picky about wines usually. All through this, he was trying to get us to buy the $51 bottle of malbec.
After all this, one of our party said to the waiter that we thought since the wine we wanted was not available and that none of the others in the same price range were acceptable to us, they should sell us the $51 bottle of wine at $39. Let me add at this point that on a particular night of the week, every week of the year, you can come in and buy any wine on the list at half price. We weren’t asking for this, but it’s part of the background on the transactions.
The waiter told us he couldn’t make such a decision and would get the manager. So the manager comes, we tell him the same thing we told the waiter. The bottom line in his response was that he wouldn’t sell us the $51 wine for $39, but had other wines he would sell us that were not on the wine list at about the same price or lower than the original wine. He brought one over. We tried it. By this time, our food was arriving and we were not happy to be negotiating on the wine and settled for what he brought. We didn’t finish the bottle, which is very rare for the four of us altogether.
Customer service opportunity #1 missed: “Oh, sure. No big deal. Glad to sell you the wine at a lower price since you’re loyal customers and we’re out of what you usually order.”
The next day, I wrote the manager an email recounting the entire story. His answer merely said he was sorry the service was so slow and sorry they were out of the wine we had wanted. See the customer service opportunity #2 that was missed?
That night, Marian and I went to a local Indian restaurant. When we ordered our entrees, I asked the waiter if naan came with them. He said, “No, but tell me what you want and I’ll bring it as an appetizer.” We did. He did. It wasn’t on the bill. Big customer service points for this guy. He understands.