If customers have unpleasant dining experiences, chefs and restaurateurs also get their fair share of horror stories from difficult clients, as industry insiders tell us.
The Pastry Cart’s Camille Ocampo, who’s known for her crème brûlée cake, always gets her order slots filled come peak season. Customers who don’t order ahead of time often complain.
“They get mad and say, ‘Pero lagi akong umo-order sa ‘yo,’” Ocampo says. “And then some customers don’t pick up their cakes at the specified time and sila pa yung galit because they paid naman daw and they are busy, so bukas na.”
What people don’t realize, she says, is that storage space is valuable for home-based businesses because they lose money from new cakes they can’t store properly.
Locavore’s Tin Matic has a beef with diners who post restaurant reviews on social media, instead of speaking with the manager or person in charge.
“We are right there to address the issues, but they would rather just put the restaurant down,” Matic says. “We’ve gotten comments like the lechon belly was too fatty. Lechon belly is a fatty cut of pork. If you don’t like fat, don’t order belly. Or reviews where our sizzling sinigang was mistaken for a pork ribs dish. The least they can do is know what they’re writing about!”
At Pino Restaurant, says chef Ed Bugia, “We had a sinigang na ulo ng salmon in the menu. There was one customer who complained that fish head is what she serves her cats, so why was I serving it to paying customers?”
Tracy Wei, who owns and operates Chino, says they often encounter customers who give her the attitude.
Wei recalls: “Once, our restaurant was full and we didn’t have any tables available. I told the new arrivals that it would be a 30-minute wait. I gave them the option to hang out at the standing area to have some drinks.”
One of the customers put up an attitude and said she didn’t want to wait. She told Wei to ask the other guests to leave. When Wei said she couldn’t do that, the customer replied with, “Do you know who I am?”
“To which I said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t. I’m not from here,’” Wei recounts. “‘But even so, I can’t force the guests to leave. I hope you understand.’”
The customer’s reply: “No, I don’t understand and you should ask your staff who I am.”
Wei says that went on for a bit, until they were eventually seated. They had a great time and felt a bit embarrassed for throwing a fit.
At the Chino branch in Hong Kong, Wei recalls another incident: “We had a guest who wanted to alter an existing cocktail. We told her that the drink would be completely different if we do that, and she said that she was okay with it. She got the drink and wanted a refund because it didn’t taste good. She continued to tell her friends that she could make better drinks than our bartender.”
Chef Tatung Sarthou also has stories to share, but the one that stands out is the guest who screamed at the receptionist because he found a small particle in his yet unused glass.
“He refused to complain to the server who was standing beside him,” says Sarthou. “Instead, he walked to the main dining area at the ground level [he was seated at the second level] and started shouting to get people’s attention. He did it again even after his glass had been replaced with a new, cleaner one. When the manager approached him, the customer demanded a discount for his meal or he would walk out.” —CONTRIBUTED