Food, Musings

The Art of Effective Complaining

My mother-in-law turned 90 recently. She didn’t want a party or celebration, but family members kept asking for one until Greg and I told her she should consider changing her mind … peer pressure? She gave in and we decided a small gathering in her senior living facility would be the perfect solution. Her friends and family could gather to fete her with minimal fuss.

Maggiano’s is a family place.

Mom loves Maggiano’s. Almost every time we get together as a family, we end up there for a big dinner. It seemed an easy decision to use a Maggiano’s catering option. The pasta bar fit the bill perfectly and I called the restaurant closest to her to arrange for not one, but two pasta bars. We planned to pick them up the afternoon of the party with time to get the food back and set up before the guests arrived.

Fast forward about a month. I had called to confirm the order three days before the party and everything was set. Greg and his brother-in-law went to pick up the food while I stayed back with an impromptu decorating team of my sister-in-law and niece. That’s when things started going wrong.

The pasta bars weren’t ready. In the end Greg and Brian waited 45 minutes for the food. By then everyone was in such a rush we didn’t notice all the missing items … it was a lot!

The food arrived with the guests and despite the kerfuffle, the small party went off without a hitch. Only those in the know had any idea anything had gone awry. Greg and I, however, were seething inside. 

I am not usually one of those people who makes a fuss, but this was different. We’d paid a lot of money and received significantly less than we paid for. We waited until the party was over, still stewing on being shorted. We decided to hop in the car, drive back to Maggiano’s and say something. Both of us knew we had to get this off our chests.

We walked in and immediately asked to speak to the manager in her office, wanting to keep our complaint for her ears and not those of other patrons She took us into her office and we explained what had happened. We managed to stay calm and simply stated the facts. We told her why we had chosen Maggiano’s, how we called, showed up early, waited too long and failed to check our order because by then we were in a hurry.

Before we’d even finished filling in all the details she interrupted. This was utterly unacceptable! She was NOT happy with what had happened. We had expected an apology. We did not expect her reaction. She offered to refund the entire bill! We were gobsmacked, stunned, completely floored! 

She told us a reasonable complaint with facts and calm details was the exception rather than the rule. She wanted to keep us as customers and told us the service we had received was well below her standards and those of Maggiano’s. She hoped we would accept her offer and return again in the future. We thanked her profusely and assured her that the reimbursement was not only unexpected, but generous and rare. 

We’ve been back to the Maggiano’s in Woodland Hills only once. We would have been back more but our visits to Mom have been slowed by Covid restrictions. It’s on our short list of favorite places to eat when we’re in the area and will remain a favorite.

There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. You shouldn’t have to be treated unfairly or unreasonably while you’re exploring them, but when you do, speak up … nicely!

© The World A to Z, LLC 2020 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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