Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

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mac_guy
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Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by mac_guy »

Last week, I had a lunch with an old friend who I haven't seen in quite a long time. We decided to eat a local restaurant that was somewhat more expensive than where I typically dine.

My friend ordered a roast beef panini that cost $20. When the panini was served, my friend took one look at it and told the server that it wasn't what she was expecting. She told the server she didn't like way the cheese was melted on it. So, my friend ordered a hamburger.

The server had no problems with this. They took the panini away and brought out a hamburger. At the end of the meal, I was given the panini boxed up to take home and we were NOT billed for it.

I was somewhat shocked by this. I have never tried to return food at a restaurant that I ordered just because I didn't like the look of it. If there is something wrong with the meal (undercooked or overcooked for example,) I've sent it back, though. I guess my friend is a very picky eater as she told me that the look of the panini just turned her off. I am wondering if maybe this is accepted practice at restaurants - maybe there is nothing wrong with this?

So, for my future restaurant eating reference, I am wondering if restaurants are OK with diners sending food back and asking for different items? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks
Last edited by mac_guy on Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Rainier
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Rainier »

Some people do this all the time, I'm not religious, but I believe in karma.

I have only done this once in my life and I have literally never complained about any other food order.

I ordered an egg and when it came out it looked absolutely disgusting. I said sorry, but also explained this as politely as possible. They did not charge me.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by adamthesmythe »

There is very little reason to return something because it's "not what you expected" because you have plenty of opportunity to read the menu and if necessary question the server. In rare cases the menu may be wrong or the server misinformed.

I can imagine cases in which things have gone so badly wrong that it is appropriate to return the food. I can only think of one or two occasions when this has happened to me. Otherwise- I would find it improper behavior to return food.
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ObliviousInvestor
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

I have to do this on a fairly regular basis -- probably one out of every twenty times we eat out.

I have celiac disease, which means I get super sick if I eat anything with wheat. So when I order I often end up explaining that I can't have gluten, then asking them to leave off a side that ordinarily comes with a dish (e.g,. toast/roll/pita). Every so often, the dish comes out with the toast/roll/pita, and I have to ask for a new one. I have never been billed for the returned dish -- though perhaps this is because it's a food allergy rather than simply "this looks gross."
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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee »

Some restaurants will go along with it, and some won't. In this case, because it wasn't charging for the first dish, it cost the restaurant nothing to provide the food as a take-out. The only alternatives were to throw it in the garbage or feed it to the staff, and I should think the latter would be illegal. If it helps create a better reputation, then why not? They can't serve something to somebody else once they're already served it to one's table, or at least I hope the local health department prohibits it and fines heavily for any violations.

One of the many reasons restaurants cost more than grocery stores is sent-back food. I certainly wouldn't feel guilty about doing so under reasonable circumstances, recognizing we won't all agree on the definition of "reasonable."

I remember, several years ago, eating lunch alone at a Chinese restaurant around here, and another patron, dining alone at a different table, sending back their dish after putting a condiment into it, then discovering the condiment was spoiled.

The waiter took the plate away to replace it. Then, not more than a very few minutes later, brought the substitute out. It was the very same food with the very same spoiled condiment already in it. They were faking.

The other patron, in the end, had to stand up and loudly call for the manager, in order to have the bill zeroed out.

Their food was nice, and their lunch specials inexpensive, but I've not eaten there since.

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GerryL
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by GerryL »

I have returned a dish only on a few occasions. The reason would generally be a spice like cayenne. I cannot eat hot/spicy food and always check the menu for a warning. When I get a dish that is spiced up with no warning, I will speak up. I mean, seriously, New England clam chowder or linguine with white clam sauce? Or sometimes I order a dish I've enjoyed before at the same place only to find that the cook on duty this time around thinks it would be better with a hot surprise.

If I can't eat it I speak up and almost always get satisfaction and an apology.
island
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by island »

I would never ask for something else because it was not what i expected.

I have returned food if cold or something wrong with it and it would be replaced with the same. If took a riduliously long time so that everyone else was probably going to be done I'd say forget it and please take it off my bill. We eat out a lot and that's rarely happened.

I can recall a few times ordering something I didn't like. Nothing wrong with it, just a spice, texture, I dont recall, just not for me. I didn't return them since it's not the restos fault.
My husband has a more adventurous palate and sometimes will swap dishes, or I'll eat the sides or parts I do like.

A few times the server noticed meal not touched and asked if anything wrong. When told nothing wrong just don't like it some have asked if I'd like something else instead. Only remember taking them up on it once because it was noticed right away and said they'd replace it quickly and did, but other times said no because too much time passed. Still paid for them and brought home leftovers if husband thought he'd eat it, otherwise not. Those were expensive restos not $20 sandwiches.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Mudpuppy »

Besides returning obviously wrong orders, the closest I've come to this is similar to GerryL, where an ingredient I cannot digest was not listed in the menu and was not normally expected with that sort of dish. I've never had such dishes boxed up to be sent home, but that's understandable given why they were returned. I try to avoid such surprises now by asking the server if the item has "xyz" before ordering, or by calling the restaurant ahead of time.

Once after asking the server and consulting with the chef, I did get a free sample of the item to see if I liked it before ordering, and it was a generous portion for a sample. That was for a dessert item though, so they already had it made up and could dish up a sample.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by ScooterBob »

I used to work in restaurants- some higher end- when I was in school. My advice: never send anything back. If it is really bad (can't eat it) ask to speak to the manager- pay for your drinks if necessary and leave. The things I saw people do when food comes back is unreal. If the restaurant is busy it seems to really piss off the kitchen staff. My parents used to go to dinner with a couple every Saturday back in the day and the lady of the other couple would send back EVERY meal. My dad used to get so embarrassed. No matter what she got back it went until I told them my experiences in the kitchen. I think it made her feel like she "knew" food better than everyone else... If you get the wrong meal then it most likely was the manager or the waiters fault but returning it because it is not what you expected will backfire. I wouldn't have eaten that burger.....

I know things may have changed since I was employed at restaurants but maybe not....

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tim1999
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by tim1999 »

I will only send something back if it's undercooked or has an ingredient that was not disclosed and that I wont eat. Usually happens when they bring out a salad with egg on it.

If the meat is overdone, I will tell them but eat it anyway. Sometimes that will get me a comped dessert or drink.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by runner9 »

I don't eat red meat, ever. If something says it comes with bacon, or bacon bits, or anything that's red meat I ask for it without and make sure the waiter or waitress acknowledges this fact. If it comes out with it on I ask it to be remade, not taken off (I don't want anything that's touched it) but remade. Otherwise I keep whatever.
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bottlecap
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by bottlecap »

Yes, most restaurants will probably do this without any questions asked. I'm sure they build it into the cost for everyone.

JT
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blueblock
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by blueblock »

My brother is GM for a semi-upscale chain restaurant. He says that they are happy to replace an entree with another choice, even if the reason is that the guest didn't like the look of it once it was served. He also said that this is a pretty common occurrence. As he explained it, it's their job to make their customers happy.

What raises eyebrows is when the entree is half-eaten (or more!) before the guest says anything, which is also fairly common. So while their aim is to make customers happy, they also need to protect themselves from scammers. (He told of one lady, who consumed a good portion of her meal, then said she didn't like it and wanted something else... three times; they didn't charge her extra, but they did advise her that, regrettably, she would not be served again, since their best efforts fell so far short of her expectations.)

But that's rare. As my brother said, you really can't get into the logic of the unhappy customer. It's much better simply to wow them with your flexibility and courteousness. Or try to.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by ResearchMed »

If there is a food ingredient (major or minor like a spice), it seems that the "right" thing to do is to announce up front, before (or perhaps when) ordering that one has an allergy to "x".

It really doesn't seem fair to wait to see IF that ingredient shows up (or is detected by taste) and *then* announce the allergy, and send it back. (Same thing if it's just a "preference", like no mayo or mustard on a sandwich.)

Also, especially these days, many menus have a notation asking that patrons announce any food allergies.

I always announce one specific food allergy, although sometimes with a sort of laugh and a comment something like "... although I'm sure that isn't relevant to this order"... and a smile (something like ordering a strawberry milkshake and announcing an allergy to "bacon"...)

Nevertheless, there have been times when the "allergy item" has been included anyway, which we find astonishing, given a few high profile episodes of someone dying, such as from anaphylactic shock from digesting shellfish or peanuts despite announcing the food allergy when placing the order.

Starting several years ago, we noticed a sudden increase in having the chef personally come out to discuss *exactly* what the allergy is, to make sure there is no misunderstanding.

But to wait to announce a known food allergy until *after* the food has been served, and then send it back?
I don't quite get that.
[Well, okay, in the silly example of the strawberry milkshake and a bacon allergy, sure... when it's really beyond belief the ingredient would be include, even as a side garnish.]

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Watty
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Watty »

At the end of the meal, I was given the panini boxed up to take home and we were NOT billed for it.
At that price point I am not surprised that they let you order something else because not doing that could have resulted in a bad online review.

It does sound unusual that they would give you the panini to take home though when you didn't pay for it. After all it was "yucky".
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by sarala »

bottlecap wrote:Yes, most restaurants will probably do this without any questions asked. I'm sure they build it into the cost for everyone.

JT

Yes definitely. I'm working in a casual high dining resto and we take back food, no question asked. We focus on customer experience. We factor in comps and that being said we also train our server extensively in menu development so they can describe the food accurately to our customers.
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JoMoney
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by JoMoney »

I worked in a restaurant a long long time ago. The policy we were instructed to follow was that if the customer ate the food (or most of it) there was no refund. We would offer apologies, try to assure we would try to correct any issues from occurring in the future, offer coupons or maybe a free dessert, but if you ate the food you were expected to pay for it.
If you didn't eat the food, we would make every attempt to avoid a refund offering to correct issues, etc... but there were circumstances where the issue just couldn't be corrected (or not in a timely fashion - so it ruined the 'dining experience'), in those circumstances there was no charge. Any time ordered food wasn't paid for the manager had to be involved, there were a few rare cases where they would take food off of someones bill even if it had been ate.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by dolphinsaremammals »

Years ago it was not unusual for me, after I had asked if an entree was vegetarian and told it was, to be served a dish that was not. Often it had chicken broth or somesuch in it, and the reply was, it's just chicken or its just fish. :oops: Now that vegetarianism is more common, that doesn't seem to happen. I used to leave it, pay my bill, and never return, primarily because I could never trust them to do it right in the future.

Otherwise, as an adult, I have never been served food that I thought should be returned. I do remember as a kid on road trips with my parents, encountering way undercooked fried eggs more than once. I sort of ignored them. I don't remember my parents ever saying anything about that.

Of course, I've never eaten in a high class restaurant in my life :D
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Fallible »

mac_guy wrote:Last week, I had a lunch with an old friend who I haven't seen in quite a long time. We decided to eat a local restaurant that was somewhat more expensive than where I typically dine.

My friend ordered a roast beef panini that cost $20. When the panini was served, my friend took one look at it and told the server that it wasn't what she was expecting. She told the server she didn't like way the cheese was melted on it. So, my friend ordered a hamburger. ...
I'm curious - in what way was the cheese melted that she didn't like? There must be only so many ways to melt the cheese.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Mudpuppy »

ResearchMed wrote:If there is a food ingredient (major or minor like a spice), it seems that the "right" thing to do is to announce up front, before (or perhaps when) ordering that one has an allergy to "x".
I've been told to never use the word "allergy" unless it would be a medically threatening condition to consume the ingredient. Many restaurants will go into "avoid cross-contamination" mode on the mention of the word "allergy", and the kitchen staff really don't like that due to the amount of work involved. When you have had the chef come out to ask about the issue, he/she was probably trying to determine if the kitchen staff needed to go into that mode or not.

I usually just say I can't stomach xyz and follow up with the joke of "it won't kill me, it'll just make me wish I were dead" if it seems like the server is moving towards activating the allergy protocols. But usually I'll do my research ahead of time to expedite the experience and then ask about anything that was unclear from their website or phone calls.
ResearchMed wrote:It really doesn't seem fair to wait to see IF that ingredient shows up (or is detected by taste) and *then* announce the allergy, and send it back. (Same thing if it's just a "preference", like no mayo or mustard on a sandwich.)
But asking ahead of time or researching ahead of time doesn't always help. Let's say your research and prior phone calls determine the dish, as advertised, is within your parameters. So you order the dish and don't mention the dislike since it should never be in the dish, based on research and/or prior experience. Then you receive the dish and find out that it has the disliked item.

This has happened to me frequently. In most cases, the undigestable ingredient could be fished out and set aside. Some servers would ask, others would not. The causes of these unexpected ingredients varied. Sometimes it was confusing my order with a similar order (understandable). In one case, one of the chefs liked to "experiment" even though the restaurant has a "full ingredients" list on their website. I just don't go there anymore because it's too much of a hassle to rattle everything off to avoid the chef's experiments.

And the worst example was when they changed the ingredients and did not announce the change. I used to regularly order chicken noodle soup for lunch at one local place. One would think there is not much they could do to chicken noodle soup. But to save money, they decided to use the same chicken bits for the southwest chicken soup and chicken noodle soup. Instead of opting to use plain chicken for both, they opted to use cilantro chicken for both. There is something about the cilantro that just does not sit well with me, and I would not expect it in plain chicken noodle soup.

I shouldn't have to announce bacon for ordering milkshakes, to use your example. If the restaurant is going to change things, they should update their associated media, like websites and allergy warnings.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by island »

blueblock wrote:
What raises eyebrows is when the entree is half-eaten (or more!) before the guest says anything, whichSo while their aim is to make customers happy, they also need to protect themselves from scammers. (He told of one lady, who consumed a good portion of her meal, then said she didn't like it and wanted something else... three times; they didn't charge her extra, but they did advise her that, regrettably, she would not be served again, since their best efforts fell so far short of her expectations.)
But that's rare.
OMG I can't believe someone would have the nerve to ask for a different entree 3 times or eat most of a disliked entree before telling the server they didn't like it!
Wow those behaviors takes nerve. Bet she was a lousy tipper too.
Just awful.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by downshiftme »

In my experience, restaurants are unreliable and even high end places can make mistakes. I've not experienced the deliberate sabotage some other posters have described, but I have seen plenty of foolish mistakes. A vegetarian friend reports that she fairly frequently finds bacon in dishes that waiters described as vegetarian. Another friend with a very specific nut allergy used to describe very clearly what he could and could not eat, but no longer dines at any restaurant he doesn't have past good experience with. Too many close calls. He packs his own food in and simply doesn't take the risk.
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munemaker
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by munemaker »

I know a woman who does this frequently. She is out with a group, orders a meal, says it was not done to her satisfaction. They offer to replace or provide an alternative. She responds that her group is well into the meal and just remove it from the bill. She has pulled this at various restaurants and it always works. It is her way to socialize with a group of people and not spend any money. They never give the food to take home though.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by daveatca »

runner9 wrote:I don't eat red meat, ever. If something says it comes with bacon
Pork - the other white meat.
Bacon is not meat. Bacon is in a category by itself: food of the gods.
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black jack
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by black jack »

The only time I've ever sent food back was if it was not prepared as I specified in a way that was not reparable (e.g., if I said to leave the cheese off the hamburger and it came with cheese melted on it). I would not expect to pay for a dish that was not prepared per my instructions (I'm not picky, any instructions would be along the lines of "leave off the sauce"). But sometimes I've eaten it anyway rather than make a fuss.
ObliviousInvestor wrote:I have to do this on a fairly regular basis -- probably one out of every twenty times we eat out.

I have celiac disease, which means I get super sick if I eat anything with wheat. So when I order I often end up explaining that I can't have gluten, then asking them to leave off a side that ordinarily comes with a dish (e.g,. toast/roll/pita). Every so often, the dish comes out with the toast/roll/pita, and I have to ask for a new one. I have never been billed for the returned dish -- though perhaps this is because it's a food allergy rather than simply "this looks gross."
I was puzzled by your example, or perhaps I misunderstood it. It sounded like you send back an entrée if it comes with a wheat-based side dish that you've asked to be omitted. Wouldn't you just leave the side dish uneaten, or get a replacement side dish?
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

munemaker wrote:I know a woman who does this frequently. She is out with a group, orders a meal, says it was not done to her satisfaction. They offer to replace or provide an alternative. She responds that her group is well into the meal and just remove it from the bill. She has pulled this at various restaurants and it always works. It is her way to socialize with a group of people and not spend any money. They never give the food to take home though.
Just curious. If this is known by the people she's out with, what is their reaction?
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

black jack wrote:
ObliviousInvestor wrote:I have to do this on a fairly regular basis -- probably one out of every twenty times we eat out.

I have celiac disease, which means I get super sick if I eat anything with wheat. So when I order I often end up explaining that I can't have gluten, then asking them to leave off a side that ordinarily comes with a dish (e.g,. toast/roll/pita). Every so often, the dish comes out with the toast/roll/pita, and I have to ask for a new one. I have never been billed for the returned dish -- though perhaps this is because it's a food allergy rather than simply "this looks gross."
I was puzzled by your example, or perhaps I misunderstood it. It sounded like you send back an entrée if it comes with a wheat-based side dish that you've asked to be omitted. Wouldn't you just leave the side dish uneaten, or get a replacement side dish?
Well, perhaps "side dish" was the wrong term. If it were literally on a separate dish, that would be no problem at all. I'm talking about, for example, going to brunch and ordering an omelette and the toast (which I've asked to be left off) shows up on the same plate, touching the omelette. Given my degree of sensitivity, if I were to just take off the toast and eat the omelette, I'd still get very sick for several days.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by hmw »

I have never returned food because I didn't like the look of it. I have returned a "well done" steak when I had ordered medium rare.

I also returned a dim sum dish at a Chinese restaurant once after discovering a hair in it. The waiter didn't take off the charge off the final bill. I told him that I wasn't going to pay for the dish I sent back. They took it off. I was pretty mad and complained to the local health department. The result: a number of health violations were found in the kitchen and the restaurant was shut down for several days. I never went back to that restaurant.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by triggerfish10 »

I have only sent food back to the kitchen once. I was eating at a chain restaurant known for their steaks, and I ordered mine medium rare, thinking that they would err on the side of medium. The steak was pretty much rare. The bartender (I was alone and sat at the bar) asked if I wanted to send the steak back a few times, and I kept telling her no, that it was ok, but as I got further into the steak it was too underdone for my taste. I apologized several times (I have heard horror stories of what a kitchen may do to food that is sent back) and asked if it would be asking too much to have the chef put the steak back onto the heat for just a few minutes. After the steak came back out the bartender told me that I was the nicest customer they have ever had eat there. I would like to believe that my approach prevented the kitchen staff from doing anything, shall we say, unappetizing, to my meal.
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munemaker
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by munemaker »

TomatoTomahto wrote:
munemaker wrote:I know a woman who does this frequently. She is out with a group, orders a meal, says it was not done to her satisfaction. They offer to replace or provide an alternative. She responds that her group is well into the meal and just remove it from the bill. She has pulled this at various restaurants and it always works. It is her way to socialize with a group of people and not spend any money. They never give the food to take home though.
Just curious. If this is known by the people she's out with, what is their reaction?
Never noticed a reaction. I personally feel a bit embarrassed. Probably the others do too.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by mhalley »

I have always heard stories about things happening to foodwhen it is sent back. If i get food that i can't eat, i eat bread and stop at micky Ds on the way home. I might get a box if it is something my wife could eat, or asteak that is underdone.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Mudpuppy »

mhalley wrote:I have always heard stories about things happening to foodwhen it is sent back. If i get food that i can't eat, i eat bread and stop at micky Ds on the way home. I might get a box if it is something my wife could eat, or asteak that is underdone.
Mike
I think this fear is overblown, particularly if you're returning the dish because instructions weren't followed. Most kitchen staff at even a moderately priced restaurant are not going to risk a health department violation because the server didn't properly relay the order to the kitchen staff or the kitchen staff didn't follow the order.

My mother is the extreme on this one. She's been known to eat a steak when she had ordered chicken rather than "risk" letting the server know that wasn't the dish she ordered. And she is not a fan of steak. I just don't get that.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

A young man I know recently moved into his own apartment. His mother, with whom he lived until recently, was demanding of servers and very often rude. He mentioned that one of the things he was looking forward to was that his restaurant meals were now less likely to be messed with. :sharebeer
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Cheyenne »

I used to work in restaurants- some higher end- when I was in school. My advice: never send anything back... The things I saw people do when food comes back is unreal.
Many restaurants now have cameras in their dining rooms to spy on their patrons. I believe they should be required by law to also have cameras in the kitchen so patrons can watch their phones and see what is going on there.
jaqueisse
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by jaqueisse »

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:
I remember, several years ago, eating lunch alone at a Chinese restaurant around here, and another patron, dining alone at a different table, sending back their dish after putting a condiment into it, then discovering the condiment was spoiled.

Just as an aside, some Chinese restaurants that serve dumplings have Black Vinegar in a jar which may have been mistaken for Soy Sauce. I'd suspect that's what the "spoiled" condiment was---it will smell off and taste sour. But mixed with chili sauce it will make dumplings superb.
likegarden
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by likegarden »

I can't remember that any of us returned food and did not pay for it. We always read menus well, ask any questions, have no food allergies and eat what we get, though sometimes only partially. I grew up poor and am not a picky eater.
mxs
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by mxs »

I ate at a Famous Daves a couple years ago and overheard patrons at a table near us complain to the waitress that they didn't like the food they received. The waitress fired right back and asked why the didn't complain until they ate nearly the entire meal. I can't blame the waitress for asking that question, and I think if it was a legitimate complaint a good reason could be given (found something wrong in the dish?). From what I overheard the patrons didn't get a refund or different dish; it sounded like they were trying to get a free meal.

I don't think I have ever sent food back. I have gotten the wrong dish before and I just didn't want to hassle anyone and I certainly didn't want risk getting food messed with. I am not picky at all about food, and I suppose I have had some decent luck with food.
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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee »

jaqueisse wrote:...
Just as an aside, some Chinese restaurants that serve dumplings have Black Vinegar in a jar which may have been mistaken for Soy Sauce. I'd suspect that's what the "spoiled" condiment was---it will smell off and taste sour. But mixed with chili sauce it will make dumplings superb.
It's a reasonable thought in general, but it wasn't the case that time. It was a little jar of pickled sliced hot peppers, a type I often use. When the other person complained, which was before my meal-sized spicy beef noodle soup arrived (that place makes good soup and I miss it but I'm not going back) I opened the jar at my table, and not only did it smell off, it was mushy in a way that particular condiment just shouldn't ever be.

And yet, your caution about black vinegar is a fair one to keep in mind, as a general matter. If one were expecting soy sauce that stuff would indeed come as a shock.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by jabberwockOG »

Over the years in the course of my career I traveled on business extensively. Ate way too many fancy restaurant meals over those years. When traveling on business I was typically traveling on expenses so my meals were chargeable to my company to direct to client. Restaurant managers want to make a grand gesture of "comping" a meal when a customer complains but many don't realize the meal is free anyway. What most people want is a decently prepared meal per the description in the menu. I rarely send anything back if I can help it, but will send back serious flaw items as in well done steak ordered medium rare, or a piece of fish that is way far gone, etc. In some cases if the item was seriously bad I actually don't want anything else in its place - just want to get out of there.
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wilpat
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by wilpat »

I was eating at a well known seafood restaurant many years ago with a couple of friends. When one of my friends order arrived he looked at it and it looked very bad -- green/black etc. He asked for the manager and when the manager came he said "If you will eat it I will pay for it" The manager said "Not Me!". He gave us whatever else we wanted and charged us for nothing!
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by ScooterBob »

Mudpuppy wrote:
mhalley wrote:I have always heard stories about things happening to foodwhen it is sent back. If i get food that i can't eat, i eat bread and stop at micky Ds on the way home. I might get a box if it is something my wife could eat, or asteak that is underdone.
Mike
I think this fear is overblown, particularly if you're returning the dish because instructions weren't followed. Most kitchen staff at even a moderately priced restaurant are not going to risk a health department violation because the server didn't properly relay the order to the kitchen staff or the kitchen staff didn't follow the order.

My mother is the extreme on this one. She's been known to eat a steak when she had ordered chicken rather than "risk" letting the server know that wasn't the dish she ordered. And she is not a fan of steak. I just don't get that.
The folks in the kitchen really don't care why the food came back all they usually care about is that their manager thinks they screwed up... It happens- and that is back when people had better morals and standards. I cringe to think what people would do now.. Being a chef or a line cook or whatever in a restaurant is hard work. Those folks bust their butts in hot stressful conditions and work long hours. I have respect for ALL restaurant employees. I always tip well- even if the waitress is having a bad day- I've seen how people treat them.

Bob
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by fareastwarriors »

trebordet wrote:
I used to work in restaurants- some higher end- when I was in school. My advice: never send anything back... The things I saw people do when food comes back is unreal.
Many restaurants now have cameras in their dining rooms to spy on their patrons. I believe they should be required by law to also have cameras in the kitchen so patrons can watch their phones and see what is going on there.
I worked in some lower-end restaurants for a few years. We didn't care if the food came back. No one did anything to the new order (not that I know of/seen). It really depends on the place/people I guess.
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JoMoney
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by JoMoney »

It's been a long time since I worked in a restaurant, but I can say that I was way to busy to be concerned about trying to be vengeful against a unsatisfied customer. Most of the time, the last thing I wanted was to do something that would cause them further dissatisfaction.
I do remember hearing other workers talk as if they somehow felt wronged by a customer being unsatisfied for perceived illegitimate reasons, but I never once heard or saw anyone do anything to anyone's food on purpose - but I have seen horse-play, accidents, and shortcuts being taken to save money or laziness (i.e. watering down soup because they didn't have time or want to get more prepped).
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by 4nursebee »

I worked in many restaurants over the years. Fast food, fine dining, fast casual, ran the complete spectrum. Generally as a waiter, a very good one.

While restaurant workers might talk about and fantasize about doing bad things to food of customers, IT NEVER HAPPENED.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by Durzo »

With food i have gotten eggs scrambled when I ordered over easy, steak well done when I ordered medium rare, and completely different menu items. Every single time I just chowed down whatever was put in front of me. Not worth the hassle factor for me.

I did work in a restaurant for some time during high school/early college. People rarely returned food. The policy was to give them whatever dish they wanted, box the one they didn't like and charge whichever had the lowest cost. They also got a free dessert. I can see why some people might be tempted.
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archbish99
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by archbish99 »

Almost never -- only when it's a clear error on the part of the restaurant.

I don't eat pork. One restaurant we ate at offered a calzone on the menu with pepperoni, green peppers, and onions. I asked if they could make it without the pepperoni, and the waiter assured me they could so I ordered that. When my calzone came, it had pepperoni. I sent it back, and continued to eat salad and bread while everyone else started their meals. The waiter brought me another calzone, also with pepperoni. I sent that back as well. I don't remember now whether there was a third attempt, but I do remember that by the time the others were finished and I still hadn't gotten a calzone without pepperoni, I told them not to bother trying again. I wasn't charged, obviously, and they brought us a free dessert.
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Re: Can you return food at a restaurant and not have to pay for it?

Post by leonard »

I didn't make it past the $20 sandwich. $20? Really?
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