I’m not one to complain … honestly I’m not. I hate doing it, it makes me feel really uncomfortable. However, there are occasions where I feel it is totally the right thing to do. This is one of those such occasions.
This post, therefore, is a complaint about a restaurant, but also an example of how good customer service can go a long way and how, when it doesn’t exist, a mildly irritated customer becomes an angry one.
A few weeks ago, I had a second date with a jolly nice chap I was seeing and we decided it would be nice to go out for a meal. There are only a handful of decent restaurants where I live and so I did a bit of research and crowdsourcing before recommending Eight Restaurant in Rainham, Kent. He was happy to go with my suggestion and so I booked a table for 8.30pm on the Saturday night.
We had a couple of drinks in the local pub beforehand then walked across to the restaurant.
Rather than re-type my issues again in this blog post, I’ll paste the exact email I sent the management the day after we ate there. I addressed it to a lady who had promised to pass it onto the management:
There were just a few things that I wanted to address privately rather than leave a bad review.
Firstly, I chose Eight after checking out the online reviews and not having been there since it was the Olive Tree, thought it would be a good idea to check out a restaurant I live round the corner from. I was on a second date with someone I wanted to impress so wanted to take him somewhere special.
I was disappointed from the get go when, even though we had a table booked for 8.30pm, we were ushered upstairs. Upstairs has no atmosphere, is rather sparse and there was certainly nothing that stood out for us.
I’d already checked the menu online and thought the prices were exceptionally pricey for Medway but felt that if the food was exceptional quality, it would be worth it. Honestly? It wasn’t. The crayfish starter tasted and looked just like a prawn cocktail (although the potted shrimp was tasty) and the fishcake hadn’t been seasoned at all (I had to actually ask for salt to try and inject some flavour into it.)
It wasn’t a good start but I was excited by the lobster roll I’d ordered. Except I wouldn’t be having lobster because there wasn’t any left. At 8.30pm on a Saturday night. OK, I’ll order the steak. You can’t go wrong with steak. Except there was no steak left either. I ended up ordering mussels, that I didn’t really want, that contained chorizo that looked like it had been bought from the Tesco deli counter. Half of the shells were closed and inedible but the chips were delicious.
My friend’s duck came served on top of a massive pile of lentils and again, it was all under-seasoned and the duck was pretty indistinguishable from any other meat – extremely bland.
We didn’t stay for dessert. We didn’t want to risk another disappointment if I’m honest and quite frankly, my friend had already spent £60 on a really disappointing meal so far and I was so embarrassed by now that we were there on my suggestion and it had been a disaster, I couldn’t wait to leave.
The whole experience wasn’t helped by a couple sat behind us that were obviously drunk, far too loud and swore every couple of minutes. I understand that it’s difficult for you to patrol but I think if your young waitress had perhaps mentioned this to a senior member of staff or manager (who, incidentally, we didn’t see upstairs all night) perhaps it could have been addressed.
Overall, it felt like we were forgotten upstairs. My friend couldn’t even drown his sorrows in the pint of IPA he wanted because, you guessed it, you didn’t have any. The toilets were horrendous (I think I heard someone mention they were staff toilets) and overall it was just such a disappointing experience.
I was too embarrassed to complain on the night. Had I been with family I would have but I didn’t want to cause a scene so we just left.
I debated whether to email you or not but it put a dampener on our evening last night so felt I had to. As I said earlier, I didn’t feel like this was something I wanted to say on TripAdvisor and just hope that the management take my comments on board and reply accordingly.
I think you can see (I hope so anyway,) that I was polite, I pointed out positives as well as negatives (even if it was just that the chips were nice) and also that I had wanted to address this matter privately – I don’t think I was too harsh in my criticisms, merely honest. I even managed to reign my gripe about cold, stale rolls.
When I didn’t receive a reply after six days, I was disappointed but, ever the optimist, chased for a response in the hope that it was just an oversight that I hadn’t been responded to. Five days after that … I still haven’t received a reply.
And so here we are. Writing a whole blog post about the whole debacle AND leaving a negative review on Trip Advisor.
I hate doing this … BUT if I’m not happy I will always stand up and say ‘this isn’t acceptable.’ I had hoped to do so privately, but ignoring me is really the worst thing you can do. Don’t get me wrong, this review isn’t to ‘get back at them’ for ignoring me. Moreover, it’s to make the point that good customer service, especially in this day and age, is CRUCIAL. The £60 it cost my date doesn’t come easily – he had to work hard for that money and I resent just handing it over to someone that clearly doesn’t care about its customers. It really, really bugs me.
Will they reply? After this amount of time, I very much doubt it. Would I go back? No. I just wanted some acknowledgement from the management that they had dropped the ball, that it wasn’t acceptable and that they were sorry.
Watch this space.