The Customer Is Sometimes Right

I’m not sure I’m being unreasonable or unfair here but I was a bit miffed after a telephone conversation I had this week

My youngest daughter is one at the end of the month so we decided to have a family gathering and naming ceremony all on the same day

The plan was that once the ceremony had finished our friends and family would retire to a local pub/restaurant where we could all get something to eat, chat and generally have a good time. The place we had in mind is some where we go to quite often and we’ve seen people reserve tables for these sort of circumstances

I made the call and explained we may have 30 to 40 people coming so we wanted to give as much notice as possible

The person I spoke to said they needed to speak to their manager and disappeared for a few minutes. When she came back I was told that they can’t make table reservations at a weekend, only during the week

I explained again that we have a lot of people coming and we wouldn’t want to turn up only for the place to be full or have all our guests at various different tables across the restaurant

She told me they have a roped off area that they only open when large parties arrived but she wouldn’t be able to reserve it for us.

I asked what would we do if we turned up and area had already been taken?

Her reply was

“You could call about an hour beforehand to see if we’re busy or not”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

We’re arranging a large group of people to arrive which takes a lot logistically anyway as most people aren’t local to us and they expect us to turn up and hope that they can fit us all in.

What if i called an hour beforehand and they were full? Do i just send everyone home?

I like to be a little bit more organised than that so we won’t be visiting their establishment.

I can’t get my head around why we couldn’t make a reservation and they were willing to throw away custom over it.

Maybe if they were worried about us making reservations and not turning up which would have caused problems for seating other guests I can understand but surely the answer there is to ask for a deposit?

Any other thoughts?

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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5 thoughts on “The Customer Is Sometimes Right

  • I’m with you on this one Andy. What it sounds like is that they may well have been bitten with a reservation in the past. However a deposit would seem reasonable though the reason may well be because their systems do not allow for that type of booking. The only other reason could be that you reputation proceeds you…..just kidding. Sounds to me like the management in this establishment need to go one a customer service course. I would recommend finding some leaflets for some courses and dropping them in, consider it a public service!

  • Andy

    I think in this case you are expecting too much from this particular establishment.

    It is obviously the restaurants policy not to take bookings at the weekend, this is usually because they want to be known for being able to pop by anytime at the weekend and having a reasonable chance of getting a table within the next 30 mins (for 2-4 people not 30!).

    Obviously the nonsense options offered to you after that was established by the call taker at the restaurant were just a waste of a few minutes of both of your lives!

    Keep up the good work on the blog, and have a good naming ceremony!

  • Sounds like you were a victim of ‘rules for the sake of rules’ methodology that normally is popular with those we compare to ‘monkeys’ rather than those who are organ grinders. Did you ask if you could speak to the manager?

  • I used to work for a restaurant that operated a similar policy back in my youth. In fact we never took bookings or reservations, regardless of the time or day of the week.

    The reason was quite simple, we were a busy and popular restaurant. We could make more money and do more covers by serving tables of 3 or 4 people at a time. The problem with large parties is you have to block off the tables quite some time in advance to make sure you have enough space by the time of the booking. These empty tables are costing the restaurant money.

    When the party arrives they will spend far longer in the restaurant than a small group in for a meal. We could probably turn over a normal table twice in the time a party would be there.

    Of course if large groups arrived and we had the space we wouldn’t turn them away. However our turnover was much higher on the couples and families. As we knew we would be busy anyway we’d rather stick to those customers than take several tables out of action.

  • Thanks all for the comments

    Opinions are always welcome as I don’t have all the answers 🙂

    One thing I didn’t mention in the post

    Everytime I’ve been to this place I’ve seen tables reserved. Now obviously with the hours I work this is generally weekends and bank holidays. I’ve never noticed the days when I’ve seen tables reserved so don’t think it’s unreasonable to think it would ok to do at a weekend

    I understand the points Ian and Luffer made

    I can also understand the point about having quicker turn around on smaller groups but they have a specific roped off area which is only used for larger groups. How many large groups do they get at a weekend that randomly drop in? Surely larger groups need that little bit more organisation

    It was probably the strange suggestions and the fact that from a customer perspective they were turning away business that irked me a little

    No hard feelings and I’m sure I’ll go back again

    Susanne, I was going to ask to speak to the manager but decided against it because at time I felt like I was trying to talk them into taking the business.

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