The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Customer, right?

Well, here’s a first for Insane Waiter, I’m going to side with a customer instead of the house/employees.

I came across this on bitter waitress and there is a nice discussion on their forum which I find interesting.

Now I may snicker when someone orders a well done filet and then asks for ketchup, and I bitch about shitty wine and the mother of all fuck-up, ranch dressing.

However, at the end of the day I’ll get it for you, I may make fun of you on here or perhaps have a laugh over a shift drink on how someone ordered lamb chops well done with a side of 57 Sauce, but I’ll get it for you.

This whole debate comes from a barista that refused to give a man a simple triple shot over ice. Apparently it ruins the integrity of the coffee.

It wasn’t something that was hard or impossible to due, but apparently espresso has become more sacred than the Holy Sacrament and deserves a higher level of veneration than the Lord of Hosts.

Here’s both sides, for fairness sake.

I Am Not Lying




At 3:50 AM , Blogger amy said...

Thanks for the links and the laughs. This is "funny" in a ridiculous, sad way.

At 4:52 AM , Anonymous Rain said...

Their policy seems bizarre and rather stupid to me. I do believe the coffee shop owners when they claimed the guy said it was Not Cool because of the way he`d gotten angry at the barista, not the way he was drinking his coffee. Still, they should have given them his damn coffee in the first place. If someone wants to drink the taste equivalent of horse manure that`s their own business. Who really cares? Just don't make me drink that crap.

At 10:31 AM , Blogger Shikoku88Henro said...

I am glad you say that even though you laugh behind the customer's back you still do what they ask.

Who are you to judge whether or not I like some fancy red wine demiglaze or western dressing. Itt is retarded and just for the sake of being all uppity that they even try to have some policy like that. People thinking that their establishment is something far greater than it is. If you want to install some rules like that, then have the atmosphere for it, not just some random shitty coffee shop. I would expect that kind of behavior in some haute boutique chic shop in NYC where the coffee is $20 a cup but not some $3 a cup shit place.

At 2:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

He got ANGRY because of that pretentious, bullshit attitude that so many "upscale" establishments adopt. I put upscale in quotations because I believe that's more a sign of their shallowness blinding them, but I digress. He had every RIGHT to get angry, as who the FUCK walks in a coffee shop to get JUDGED? You're a fucking BARISTA, you stupid sack of shit. And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us.

At 3:18 PM , Blogger Eric said...

The owner of the shop posted a response that I read on Consumerist to the Customers post on his blog.
the Customer did say that the next time he visits the shop it would be with gasoline and matches. Sorry but that kind of talk is unacceptable. Particularly on the intertubes where it could be percieved as a threat.
The owners second and most compelling reason for the policy was that customers were getting the shots over ice and then using up the half and half to make a 'ghetto latte'.
When your margins are as tight as they are in the restraunt business that can really cut into the earnings.
Having said that the kid still came off as a pretentious little shit.

At 8:46 PM , Blogger 6th Floor blog said...

Okay, I'm fully on the side of the customer. I know people like to knock 'the customer is always right' motto, but this is exactly what is meant by it. You're selling the product, not the enjoyment.

his comment about matches wasn't a threat, it was a simple statement that he's more likely to burn the place down than buy coffee from them, and I don't blame him.

I also still think a sommelier is a completely absurd job, I don't need someone to tell me how I should like things.

'Ghetto Latte' is such a lame excuse, and I'm surprised a place that only wants you to enjoy their product the way they do, would even let you put your own milk in.

If I was near that coffee house, I'd probably make it my goal to misuse coffee in every way imaginable as a customer.

At 6:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, I totally respect your opinion. I do think that if you read And I Am Not Lying regularly, however, you'd realise that when Jeff said the only time he'd go back to the store was with matches and a bottle of kerosene, that he was saying this completely tongue-in-cheek. He's a really great satirist and always very sarcastic. Sure, it's probably not the best choice of words but I think you need to put it in context.

I really think that customer service should be paramount, and that no customer should be judged for what they order, even if the service staff do think it is ridiculous.

At 2:01 PM , Anonymous TheStrangeAngel said...

I'm actually on the side of the barista and coffee shop in general.
They didnt serve what this guy wanted... he could just do what the rest of us do when we cant get what we want... act like an adult and choose something else.
if he didnt like it, he had the option of leaving, rather than carry on like a petulant child and making a scene.
its STORE POLICY! if you dont like it, dont go back.

this is just some more 'the customer is always right' bullshit.

At 6:21 PM , Anonymous david said...

I don't think for a minute that the customer is always right but I will say that the customer deserves to be treated with a modicum of respect.

If they had simply explained to the customer that while their policy didn't allow for serving exactly what he requested, that they could offer him something very similar but which would be better, for the reasons of the expresso, ice and water, would not be sour and they felt he would enjoy it...please let me offer this to you and if you don't like it, we won't charge you. What a win-win.

The business has exposed themselves to be judged as a bunch of intolerant arrogant elitists rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to educate and convert someone to their point of view. What a shame. what a waste.

I'm really glad I don't like coffee and stick with a can of diet coke for my caffeine fix.

At 4:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"offer him something very similar but which would be better"

David david david who are you to decide what is "better". The guy wanted a few shots of coffee over ice, it's a very simple order. It seems that if you give a coffee-jerk the title of barrista they suddenly think they know what you like better than they do.

And if people are using too much half and half then serve the shots and ice in a smaller cup that way they are limited in how much stuff they can add.

"educate and convert"? As for intolerant arrogant elitist start with the man in the mirror. It's just coffee. The kid is staving off real life for a few years in a coffee shack not saving the world or curing cancer. He should just be a good waiter and get the man his coffee.

At 9:30 PM , Blogger cdees39 said...


At 10:51 AM , Anonymous Kizyr said...

I've been to that particular coffee shop several times (Murky Coffee in Arlington). I've always found it to be pretty good, if a bit crowded (I can never get a damn table in there). "Latte Art" is nothing new to me, though, so I don't rank them that highly above any other independent coffee shop.

Anyway, I'm not siding with either the customer or the server--they were both jerks. It could've been a simple exchange, i.e.,

Server: I can do what you want, but I should warn you that it's going to taste really bad.
Customer: That's fine. I still want it just how I asked for it.

Instead, the server did a whole high-and-mighty "Not Okay" line, and the customer fumed and swore in response. Neither of them needed to be jerks about it. KF

At 12:52 PM , Blogger goodness gracious! said...

I do get the “ghetto latte thing” though that term is awful. We have customers come in and try to “get one over on us” all the time.

+Ordering medium coffee, trying to pay at our mom and pop shop with a cc, asking to just run around the corner to go to an atm, and never coming back (the same customer has tried this multiple times, and others have actually snuck back in with sunglasses to put more cream or sugar into their stolen coffee, so I know it’s not just forgetting).

+Taking advantage of our cheaper prices when you bring your own mug and bringing insane 24 ounce contraptions and then getting mad at us when I charge more than a dollar for it.

We are a small local business run by and staffed and frequented by people from the neighborhood, so when folks try to cheat the shop they are cheating their neighbors. It’s a small percentage of our customers, to be sure, but it is frustrating.

As another commenter wrote, we have such small margins for profit, especially now with all the economic troubles, it is really bullshit to try to take advantage of the goodwill of a small local business. Most of our customers are awesome, but if more folks pulled shit like that we’d have to raise prices, not due to the economy but due to assholes (I’ve worked in other, spoiled yuppie neighborhoods where this has been a serious problem, despite the wealth of our customers).

I never, never snigger at what a customer orders (I’ve baristaed, waited tables, and bartended at a wine bar), and I hate when servers do. Who is anyone to judge anyone for what they want to eat? It’s at least as shitty as making fun of how someone dresses or what music they like, a bully mindset. I've had customers order things i consider so gross (a sandwich made of eggs, ham, hot sauce,avacodo, tomato, cheese and pesto on an almond croissant comes to mind) but you know what, i love pickled herring and malaysian dishes that feature lots of shrimp paste. I’ve always felt that, in service, my job is to be a host, and a host does their best to help their guests have a good time, and never mocks their guests or judges them.

Having said that, I do not want guests who steal from me, who do not respect me, my job, or the other customers. Unethical behaviors like trying to get out of paying for a drink really feel like they are symptomatic of a larger culture of entitlement, and I’m not supporting it.

At 11:19 AM , Blogger Bee said...

I definitely agree that regardless of how weird or gross the condiment they are asking for may be, it's our job to get it for them. Maybe I haven't been a waitress long enough to be totally bitter about this.

The funniest request I've had has been when someone asked me to sub their balsamic vinagrette dressing on their salad for "just plain mayonnaise". They wanted their salad tossed in mayonnaise. Hey, whatever floats your boat I guess...

At 2:27 PM , Anonymous Bosco said...

6th Floor:

"You're selling the product, not the enjoyment."

That's one of the best quotes I've ever seen. I'm going to remember that one!

I had a boss once tell me "The customer isn't ALWAYS right...but they ARE always the customer."

Those who say "the customer is always right" have likely never run their own business.

At 2:28 PM , Anonymous Bosco said...

OOPS...Those who say "the customer is always right" is bullshit, have likely never run their own business.

At 5:34 PM , Anonymous banquet manager said...

Another great post. I'll be back!
So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager

At 8:47 PM , Anonymous slag said...

here's a question: why is this site linked up on the infamous waiter rant blog, as well as numerous other well read sites, when the allpro here posts all of twice a year, and the stories are short, lame, and pointless to boot?

any opinions?

At 9:02 PM , Blogger weare138 said...

I've wondered that too. When listing waiter blogs to my friends for reading enjoyment I usually mention "Insane Waiter" as a foil for WaiterRant, because to me IW demonstrates a misinterpretation of WR. It's all of the snark and none of the literature-like qualities. It's also a large reason I avoid hiring former servers at work.

At 3:31 AM , Blogger The Hungry Traveler said...

I had a co-worker (who also happens to be a good friend) who would not give people a new cup if they asked for a re-fill and were still drinking out of their (plastic) cup at the moment. I'm all for saving the environment and everything, but she would actually lecture people about how she is not going to waste another plastic cup which will go into a landfill, just to get them a re-fill, that if they want one NO they can't get a new cup, they must stop sipping and hand over the tumbler. And then she wondered why she never made good tips!

At 2:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guilty of ordering steak well done. I just like it when they don't smell like corpse (I once had an incredibly rare steak... turned me off of pink meat forever) BUT, I never complain about the wait time or the miniscule black spots on it.

As such I've never had a conflict with a waiter, go figure.


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