I can’t believe that actually happened. Disturbed customers recalled a shocking moment that ruined their experience. Content has been edited for clarity.
“My husband and I went to a sushi restaurant we frequented. Our server was a younger Asian fellow, with spiked-up, oddly colored hair, and a detached disposition.
After we had been seated with our menus by the hostess for about two minutes, he came to our table and said, ‘What do you want?’
We told him we needed more time, so he came back in another two minutes. We knew what we wanted by then, so we just ordered. Our food came and we ate. He did not come back to the table to refill our drinks or to see how we were doing. Not once.
When we finished, he brought the bill, set it on the table, and stood there. Right there.
My husband and I looked at him, at each other, then back at him again. Then my husband said, ‘Uh, can we have a minute?’
‘Okay,’ said the server before taking a single step back from the edge of our table and proceeding to stand in wait again.
We gave the card, and when he returned with the slip repeated the same. We asked him to give us time, and again, he took a step from the table and waited for us to fill out the receipt. We strongly felt like he was trying to bully us into tipping more by watching us fill out the tip line.
I got up from the table and went and spoke to a manager. Upon seeing this, our server went to the back of the house. As I was speaking with the manager about how bad the service was, another server overheard and chimed in that he was terrible and had no business being in the service industry. I returned to our table, retrieved my husband who had rightly left no tip, and proceeded to walk out.
As we made our way to the door the server walked by after having seen the credit card slip and said ‘Fudge you guys!’
I turned on my heels and immediately screeched, ‘Excuse me?!?’
But he was already retreating into the back.
I turned and looked at the now horrified manager, who had witnessed the whole ordeal. The other manager chimed in and told us the server was ‘done.’
They gave us a refund on our meal, a discount for our next meal, and I never saw him there again. Every single time we went after that we had the best service possible. It doesn’t hurt we were excellent tippers, provided the service didn’t monumentally suck.
As a fun side note, the excellent manager and I became friends, and occasionally emailed recipes from time to time.”
“Some lady thought I didn’t need to diet. I spent the rest of the morning vomiting.
I’m lactose intolerant, so I generally got almond or soy milk in my coffee. I went to a coffee shop in South Carolina, ordered a latte with almond milk, and sat down with my friend. About halfway through the drink, I started to feel a little bad. I sped walked to the bathroom, frantically asked for the code, and spent 20 minutes throwing up in a public bathroom.
It definitely wasn’t my first time around, but I wasn’t having a great time. I didn’t suspect anything malicious, so I walked out, grabbed my friend, and headed toward the exit. A barista stopped me and asked if I had a dairy allergy.
She explained that her coworker had assumed I was on some silly diet and subbed my almond milk for whole milk.
Luckily, it was just an intolerance. I was frustrated and sick, but everything turned out fine. I also had a severe tree-nut allergy. If she had switched out my milk for walnut milk instead of dairy, I might have been hospitalized.
I had been in food service for a long time, and I’ve had coworkers joke about messing up customers’ food.
Recently, I ended up on the opposite side of the counter. Some skinny lady ordered a latte with sugar-free syrup. She wasn’t very nice about it, and my coworker was grumbling about putting real sugar in her drink and letting her put on a pound.
It is absolutely never okay to lie to someone about what they were eating. People had different reasons for avoiding foods, and they shouldn’t have to disclose personal information in order to be taken seriously.
Someone may be following halal or kosher and not feel comfortable disclosing their religious status. Someone may be diabetic. They might have a sensory issue with certain textures.
They may have a severe allergy or intolerance. They might be in recovery from an eating disorder. They might have any of a host of medical issues that limit diet.
Or they may just not like a certain food.
It doesn’t matter why they don’t want to eat something and they shouldn’t have to tell someone. Serving people food means that they were trusting you.”
Until Further Notice
“Buckle up, things are about to get really ridiculous.
So up until about a year ago, there was a nice little Indian restaurant in our small southern town. My boyfriend and I both loved Indian cuisine and the closest other than this one was about an hour away. We used to eat at this place all the time until what I refer to as ‘the incident’ occurred.
We arrived at about two pm on a weekday because I used to work as a manager at a fast food chain and would work weird hours. Now granted, they did close at three pm and reopened at five pm as most Indian restaurants do. But we went anyway because we had plenty of time to finish our meal before they closed.
When we got there, we stepped inside and waited at the host desk to be seated. We waited for about ten minutes before we saw anyone. They didn’t have a bell up front, but the door rang when someone opened it, so I figured someone heard us. Just as we were about to leave, a server came up and pointed to a table we could sit at, and quickly got our drinks.
Now for lunch, they have a buffet open. But I have never really trusted buffets, and I prefer to order from the menu because you get exactly what you want. The server didn’t come back for another 20 minutes. So at this time, it was about two thirty and they started closing down and mopping floors.
Our server came back and asked if we needed refills. We told him we would like to order. He literally rolled his eyes at us and left to get something to write on. We put in our orders and it took about ten minutes to get out to us. It was about standard for them. As I took a bite of my food, I realized it was ice cold. Literally freezing, like they had turned the warmer off and put it in an ice bath. It also tasted really off, but I couldn’t tell if it was because it was cold. He also didn’t give us any rice, or the naan we ordered. My boyfriend was also given the wrong type of curry.
I wasn’t going to say anything, but my boyfriend insisted I send it back. I was going to ask the server to bring me whatever he had that was hot, and I would take it. I wasn’t picky, just hungry.
However, the server was nowhere to be seen. We could clearly see the kitchen from where we were sitting. And at one point he walked out of the back, and we looked up, smiled, and waved slightly to get his attention. Now I do not normally do this, but we wanted to get his attention because I knew they were about to close. He promptly turned around and went right back into the kitchen. We were baffled. He had clearly completely ignored us.
We waited until three pm and he still hadn’t come out of the back. We actually thought he had forgotten about us. My boyfriend never touched his curry either, and at a certain point, we figured the guy wasn’t coming back out. We didn’t have any cash on us, so we didn’t know what else to do, other than leave.
Skip ahead about a week, and my boyfriend received a call at work. It was the manager from this restaurant, demanding he paid for the food we ordered a week ago. He said if we didn’t pay, he would call the cops and press charges. My boyfriend tried to explain what happened calmly, but the manager kept threatening to call the police. Finally, my boyfriend agreed to pay for the meal, because he didn’t know what else to do.
After this incident, we ripped this restaurant apart on Yelp. Within a month they closed down. They were never that busy, to begin with, and they lost their best customers that day. I was sad to see them go downhill, and I really do miss having a curry restaurant near me. But you can’t treat your customers like that.”
“My wife and I hadn’t been on a date for quite a while, so we were kind of pumped to finally have time together. My wife asked me where I would like to go for dinner, and me being a simple gal, I chose Olive Garden.
We were promptly seated and we ordered our food shortly after. We had just begun eating our salad and breadsticks when a five-year-old boy, easily 150 plus pounds, walked halfway to our table, stops, and proceeded to projectile vomit all over the floor and the empty table beside us. I just sat there in shock, while my wife was about to lose her dang mind. The kid’s mother quickly walked him towards the bathrooms to get him cleaned up.
Two waitresses came out with a broom and dustpan, almost immediately. I thought ‘oh good, a speedy cleanup’. Wrong. These trifling excuses of waitresses swept the vomit into a pile, put a yellow wet floor sign over it, and walked away. I sat there in literal disbelief. It sat there for ten to fifteen minutes before I finally had enough and went to find our waitress.
I told her what happened and her response was, ‘The throw-up is contained. We don’t have any extra hands right now to pick it up. We will get someone to pick it up when the restaurant starts thinning out.’
Are you kidding me? I explained to her this was disgusting and it was right by our table. We could smell it. By this point, my wife was dry-heaving and had lost her appetite. I walked over to the front of the restaurant and asked for a manager. The hostess sucked her teeth at me and reluctantly went to fetch the manager. When the manager finally emerged, I explain to him what was going on. It amazed me how he didn’t already know.
He looked at me and asked, ‘What would you like for me to do?’
Uh, I don’t know. Maybe clean it up?
The waitstaff was still walking around serving tables as if nothing has happened. The manager walked me back to my table, moved our seating to the back of the restaurant, and comped our meals. We waited 20 minutes for our meals to come out and requested to-go boxes. As we walked out of the restaurant, we noticed the sign and throw-up were still sitting on the floor, and people are still eating like everything was normal.
We haven’t been back, and this was four years ago.”
A Touch Too Far
“This happened way before the internet. We went to an Italian restaurant that was near my apartment. My whole family and a lot of friends had been there and said it was great. Not so much for me and my husband.
We entered and stood waiting to be seated for a good ten minutes. I checked my watch while there were two servers on the floor who made eye contact with us and yet made no move to seat us. Finally, the bartender came over to us and asked if we wanted to be seated. In my head, I said ‘well, duh.’
But out loud I said, ‘Yes, thank you.’
It was a full 15 minutes before anyone came to take our beverage order. I had already gotten up and grabbed some menus on my own. Now, this was a Thursday night in the early evening. The place was about a third full and it seemed like all the other tables had a ‘personal’ relationship with the servers that we appeared to lack. One by one the place was nearly cleared out when a server came to our table and asked if we were ready to order.
I tried to maintain a cheerful demeanor and said, ‘Yes.’
I placed our beverage order and before I had a chance to tell her the rest of our order she turned and walked away. I was pretty sure she ignored me trying to call her back. Darnnit, I was hungry.
Again I looked at my watch. It was twelve minutes before she returned with our iced teas and told us she would be right back to take our order. Well, we finished our teas and she still hadn’t returned. We noticed none of the staff was on the floor. I got up to look for somebody. Anybody. I had a chance to talk with two other tables that were also waiting for a long time.
Thirty or more minutes later, we were able to flag her down. My husband hated confrontations. I disliked them also, but I was not about to accept this treatment. I told her how long we had been waiting and told her that her service was poor and neglectful.
She looked affronted and said, ‘Well, what do you want from me?’
I took a deep breath and we just got up and left. On the way out, I spotted the owner and took the time to tell her what happened. She was aghast and promised to make things right. But I told her I could not trust the food or the server at that point. Why take the chance with an angry server and whatever she might tell the kitchen staff? No, we went to a fast food place instead.”
” ‘I only have two hands.’
I was at my favorite breakfast joint to get their signature blueberry pancakes.
I had been there many, many times, and each time the service had been kind of spotty. We showed up and saw that the place wasn’t super busy, but busy enough to keep the waitresses moving. The elderly couple that came in behind us got seated first. Ok, not cool, but I could handle it.
We sat down and I ordered my usual, blueberry pancakes with a side of eggs. As a side note, each time I went, I ordered the same thing. Each time, the waitresses forgot to bring the side of eggs.
Flash forward to my pancakes coming, she put them down and I said, ‘Oh, and I had an order of side eggs.’
She looked at me, threw her hands on her hips, and said, ‘I only have two hands.’
She walked away and I felt terrible. She came back and I immediately apologized and explained my previous ten experiences. Then apologized again.
Normally I thought I would get another answer, but she repeated, ‘I only have two hands.’
The apology was not accepted.
I felt even worse. This was when I found my blueberry pancakes didn’t have blueberries. So, this time, my husband called her over and explained the pancakes were missing the blueberry components.
She said, ‘Are you sure? I don’t see any blueberries marked on my pad.’
And she walked away.
The last straw of this horrible visit? I saw she was making the rounds for the coffee, so I put my cup on the edge of the table. We made eye contact. I gestured I would like more. She walked right by. After that, my husband has had enough. He paid the bill, gave her like one buck tip and we walked out.
Two days later, I still felt rather bothered and decided to write the manager a letter. I explained who I was, my history there, and my sincerest embarrassment for having insulted the staff until her chilly ‘two-hand comment.’ I felt better and simply wrote how she should be checked on. Obviously, I must have struck a nerve, or she wasn’t ok. But my experience shouldn’t be repeated.
One week after that I got a call. ‘We are sorry. We fired her.’
No, I didn’t want that.
She, apparently, had a rather long history of making customers feel less than awesome with her ‘two hands.’ My letter was simply the last documented proof they wanted to cut her loose.
I still felt very hesitant to complain if my order was ever wrong. I also learned to really appreciate good service and to have manners. And not to just assume they would forget my eggs. I still think of her often and wonder where she is, with ‘just her two hands.'”
Half Past Late
“Oh, there was this one my boyfriend and I like to tell.
There was this cute, hip-looking place close to my work that always got my curiosity. It marketed itself as a place to get cool, different fruit juices, and also served sandwiches and some hot dishes for lunch. I had been there once or twice for the juice and it was good and not overly pricey. The food looked like it would be ok, so we gave it a try.
Just as we thought, the food was okay, not too expensive, and enough for both of us to share. It was a bit slow to serve, but who never stretched lunch hour once or twice, right?
I went back alone once and ordered the salad that bore the name of the restaurant, only to be told it wasn’t available. Oh, dang, now I had to go back another time to try it. We also wanted to go back for the Nutella crepe. So, we went again.
When we got there, the place wasn’t completely crowded, but we didn’t get a table on the main floor, so we went upstairs. Which was fine since all tables had this button system to call the waiter. We sat and soon our waitress gave us the menu and left us to choose. We chose, but she was taking her time coming back. Another table sat right beside us, a four-person table, and here the waitress came and took their order almost immediately after leaving the menus. So we called her, placed our order, and waited. And waited. And waited some more.
About ten minutes later, which was almost half my lunch hour, she came back to tell me that, again, the salad I ordered, the one that bore the restaurant’s name, was not available. I was mad. So we settled for something else and re-ordered. And there she went. She came back and served the other table. We waited. And waited. Nothing.
The other table finished and got up. You paid on your way out of this restaurant, so they didn’t call the waitress again. A cleaning boy came up and started cleaning tables around us. By this time we were probably there for well over 40 minutes with no hint of our food. We decide to call off the order and just grab something quick and unhealthy to eat on our way back to my building, so I could make it back in time and not starve. So, naturally, we started pressing our button to call the waitress. We pressed once and waited. Nothing. We pressed again. Nothing. We could hear the alarm going off on the counter downstairs, but still nothing. So my short-tempered boyfriend started pressing the button incessantly like once a second. And still no waitress!
Suddenly the cleaning boy came up from the table he was cleaning. He didn’t even look at us to let us put a word in to ask for help. He swiped his employee’s card on our system to cancel our calls. Then he went back to his table, gathered his things, and went down away, leaving us alone.
About two minutes later our waitress showed up on the stairs, looked at us with a very surprised face, and said, ‘You still haven’t got your food?’ and rushed back down.
In less than two minutes we had our food, but by then all my one hour was gone and I was already late to get back to work. We had been trying to cancel our order for 20 minutes and nobody gave us a chance. So when she finally came to give us our food, that I would have to swallow in five minutes, I very calmly, while keeping my boyfriend quiet, told her it wasn’t her fault, but we weren’t going to pay for the meal. We would talk to the manager on our way out, so she shouldn’t be surprised not to get her ten percent tip.
We ate quickly and only because I wasn’t about to send back food to be thrown away in the garbage just because they didn’t give me a chance to cancel when I was actually starving. Then we got down, went to the cashier, and told the man there we weren’t going to pay. We started telling him how it had been a very slow service and he started to justify how they were short on waiters. We told him how that wasn’t the problem, but the attitude of passing other tables in front of us. It had also taken over ten minutes to inform us a dish wasn’t available, and not only ignoring but overriding our calls. He nodded and took our tickets and we left. We never went back, which was a shame, because the juices were pretty good and that Nutella crepe is still very tempting.”
More Than I Bargained For
“I have had two particularly unfortunate restaurant experiences.
The first was on my 19th birthday. I loved discovering new cafes and restaurants all the time. So I found a small cafe midway between my college and my house and went there to celebrate with a bunch of my friends.
The food was okay, nothing great but we were having fun so I didn’t really bother. When it was time for dessert, I ordered something that said ‘Death by Chocolate.’ It intrigued me. When the food came, it was a very average-looking small chocolate cake topped with gems. I started eating it anyway. It tasted very weird and then suddenly I could feel something sharp and metallic in my mouth. I immediately spit out whatever was in my mouth to discover a broken piece of a knife was in my cake. I guess they took the name of the dessert too literally.
My friends and I called the manager and complained and he still insisted we pay for the food. So we paid for the rest of the food except the dessert and left.
The second was just last year. My friends and I had taken a mock exam at our coaching center and decided to go and grab a cup of coffee to forget the abysmal scores we received. We ordered three iced lattes and were sipping away happily when one of my friends gasped and stared wide-eyed into her glass. We peered in over her shoulders to see ants. This coffee shop was a well-known franchise and they were serving coffee with ants in it. Quickly we checked our drinks and found ants in them too. We went to the counter and complained and they seemed too familiar with the situation. They just told us to not pay for the drinks and to leave. After yelling at them some more about how terrible they were, we left and never went back to any of their outlets again.”
I Couldn’t Bare It
“There was a very famous diner near my house. On weekends, you had to stand in a line for 30 to 45 minutes to get in. It was that good. I was a regular at the restaurant and the owners treated me extra special, given how I would go there every other day.
So, one day, I came in and ordered pancakes with no butter. Ten minutes later, the waiter came with pancakes and a huge scoop of butter right on top.
Me: ‘I said no butter on my pancakes.’
Waiter: ‘Oops, sorry.’
He scooped up the butter with his bare hand and walked away whistling.
Yup. That happened.”
“There were quite a few, but this one was recent.
Yelp showed a new scintillating Thai restaurant within a five miles radius and my husband and I went to try it.
The ambiance and menu looked fine. I happily ordered basil chicken fried rice with the spice level medium. After an adequate number of minutes, the waitress showed up with basil chicken and rice.
After an invisible eye roll, I told her about my correct order. She checked something and confirmed yes she brought the wrong order and would change in no time. I went back to my ‘food’ mood.
She came back with a full plate surprisingly fast. I without any doubt dug into my basil chicken fried rice in no time, only to find out, in the kitchen either she or the chef just mixed the previously made basil chicken and plain white rice, simple mixing, no added spices or no extra cooking. Of course it tasted nothing like the fried rice it should have been. Sadly it even did not occur to them that people might not be that gullible to fool.
Anyway, I survived that day and never went back.”