Sunday, 21 March 2010

A month late and $167 short.

This post is about Valentine's day.
Initially I didn't blog it because there was unresolved issues and I wanted to see how it all panned out first.
Then I didn't blog it because it was too late, and just weird.

But I feel like discussing.

Valentines day. Mr Wonderful and I always agree on not doing gifts for V-day. Then W goes and gets me a gift anyway. Every year I don't, so that he won't feel like a heel if he hasn't. You'd think I'd learn.
This year's gift, I'm still working on.

I am making that shit last! Oh Lush, how I love you. I take the bags out and sniff them every now and then. Sigh. It is pure happiness.

Generally, we make a big fancy V-day dinner at home. This year, we were invited to attend a friend's 30th birthday party at a ritzy, novelty-esque restaurant in Toronto. We went. Here is the letter I sent when we returned home:

My husband, daughter and I have just returned home from what we hoped would be a memorable and enjoyable Valentine's day. Unfortunately, our experience at *** was less than satisfactory, and certainly not even close to acceptable.

We knew going in that dinner was going to be expensive. We accepted that idea. We were meeting friends for a 30th birthday party and had arrived at the conclusion that certainly it would be well worth it. I asked the woman arranging the gathering to call and ensure that *** is a family friendly restaurant - our daughter is 1 and a half, as is their son. We were assured that toddlers would be most welcome, and high chairs provided. I asked her to call again and look into the children's menu - she did. We did everything we could to ensure that our children would not be a burden, or a bother.
Our party was split up over 2 tables - understandable in a small space. What I cannot understand is why the children and mothers at one table received our meals within minutes, while the remainder of our party waited one hour and forty five minutes between appetizers and entrees. No, I am not exaggerating. I wish I were.
Whoever you are reading this email - if you have children of your own, you can understand the difficulty in keeping a toddler engaged, quiet, well-behaved . . . for over 90 minutes. In a high chair. Eventually the children got restless. They started getting noisy. We let them out of the high chairs. This is where things really get aggravating for me. My daughter wanted to walk. There is nowhere to walk in this restaurant with the sole exception of the middle - the circle. So I took her up and let her walk. The wait staff and bus staff really need some lessons in manners. REALLY. Excuse me goes a long, long way. 'Watch it', 'behind you' etc is just plain rude. And when I was told that *** wasn't a safe place for my daughter to play, I had to really work to hold my tongue. I'm sure it isn't an optimal place for a child to walk - but she was tied down in a high chair for over 90 minutes while we sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited for her father's meal to arrive. (He was at the other table - lovely Valentines for us.) You could have avoided this. Fairly easily, I might add. See to it that your patrons are served in a timely fashion, and their children won't need to stretch their legs mid-way through their meals. Simple.
When I returned to my table I was shaking with rage. I took my daughter down to the observation level and told her father to call my cell phone when his food arrived. He did, and we returned to our table for dessert and our bill. The bill and payment took over half an hour as well.
Our dinner reservation was at 5. We were prompt and punctual. We didn't leave *** until 7:35. And that was after advising the staff that we were in a rush and couldn't wait any longer to pay for our meal. (To that, I got a 'yeah, yeah'. Pleasant, right?)
I'm writing to tell you about our experience because after paying $168 for our meals, $27 for our elevation tickets (yes, they would have been refunded IF we were willing to stand in a line that exceeded the stanchions, and didn't move in the 10 minutes we stood there) $23 for parking and $40 for gas, we feel extremely . . . well, ripped off. And I can tell you right now, none of us will ever be returning to ***, or recommending it to anyone. The view from *** was lovely. And I didn't need 2.5 hours to take it all in.

It was a colossal waste of time, money and energy.
Take your staff, and train them in customer service. Please.

I got an email apology the next day, asking for some further info. I provided it. A week later, I got a phone call. A week later, I got a cheque for the cost of our meals. Sometimes complaining is really worth it. We won't get the lovely Valentine's dinner we were hoping for - but at the very least, the compensation took the sting out of the whole thing. I still won't recommend the restaurant to others, but I certainly won't smack talk them either.


Fnkygreenmama said...

I'm so glad that it worked out with the response from the restaurant! The $ doesn't really make up for all the hassle but it's something. Great letter!

Mel said...

Good for you for saying something! Having gone to the trouble you did to ensure your kids would be welcome/understood, you should have experienced much better. Classy of you not to discuss the restaurant name, and definitely the right move on their part to compensate you. That's a win for the "good guys"! :)

Batty said...

Good for you!
We have a restaurant around here that's a one woman business (she's the chef-owner-waitress), so you don't go in unless you're willing to spend 2-3 hours, and you need reservations. But this is a known fact, and I wouldn't take kids (OMG, a toddler would starve!). I'm sorry you had a crummy experience, but happy they tried to make it right.