Are we harassing Restaurants in name of Social Media? – A Restaurateur’s side of Story

Here is a mail that I received for a restaurant owner, who is also a friend and I thought I will put it up on the blog. As we always have a customers end of story, its important to hear a restaurateur’s side as well. 
Hey Shashank.. There’s a deep matter of concern that’s bothering me as a restaurateur, i wanted to take your and your fellow’s advice on it. All the foodies are always up to share their good/bad/worst experiences through such a strong community of yours, which is commendable, but theirs a flip side to it as well. A restaurant like mine bears the cost of losing business if they are being pulled down to extreme levels for slightest of mistakes. Though we are always up to accept the genuine, learn from them and re-correct it. But now we have started facing harassment due to it. Please spare some time to read the below story:
We have recently started home delivery after thorough research of the target market, few trial runs and with well executed SOP’s. 
Today we got a home delivery order from a posh residential colony( 2 km from our place) around 5.45 pm worth 3100/- (Order details: 4 chicken club sandwiches, 3 veg club sandwiches, 4 chicken pizzas, 2 veggie pizzas and few mock-tails and shakes) We got it delivered by 6.30 pm. 
We got a call from the same customer around closing time of 11 pm, and she complained that your sandwiches r  tasteless, pizza’s were under baked, we “didn’t consumed” the food apart from the drinks. You take it back and pay our money. we apologized for the bad experience and we inquired why dint she called us near the delivery time, to which she claimed that she was busy with guests, and she continued yelling at us to demand her money and harassed us that if we would not do so she will write about it everywhere online, be it zomato, eatlo or any other food blog per se. She even blackmailed that her folks are food columnists, bloggers, so she wouldn’t spare us anywhere. We would lose our name, our brand image. 
The operating owner calmly reacted to it and said politely that we will return the money, you return us the food. He said so bcz he genuinely thought that the kitchen team did the fault, he accepted it gracefully just keeping in mind that customer is d king! He wanted to see the food quality and understand what went wrong.
The bad end of the story is the delivery boy went there, returned 2300/-  to which the customer returned practically only 2.5 out of 13 unsatisfactory items. the customer consumed 5.5 of total 6 pizzas, 2 sandwiches out of 7. The delivery boy asked for more items to which she bluntly refused. He reached back, and we called her back but now she is not picking up the calls. 
The unanswered questions are:
1. why did she complained so late? 5 hours nearly after delivery time?
2. why did she consumed the faulty food items, if she dint liked it, if the pizza’s were under baked, if the sandwiches were tasteless?
3. Wen she was trying to claim her money, why was she taking shelter of all the esteemed food blog like yours?to build undue pressure?
he picking the calls now?
4. why on phone did she said that they dint consumed  d food, when practically she finished 80% of the total food order.
5. why isn’t she picking the calls now? 
As a restaurateur, I am feeling cheated, harassed, blackmailed  by the name of social media. I would have accepted the food consuming if she would have said that unfortunately we have all consumed the food, and it dint suited our health, or any other genuine reason. 
I want to know your opinion on it, what should have been done ideally with such customers? is it time to not just bother about the social media scenario so that we can work peacefully,strive to be better without much stress? or do we keep taking every damn person ( be it competitors, insecure counterparts who try to pull us down by taking the shelter of social media) We as owners know every genuine and every made-up mistake. 
Sorry Shashank, it would have taken a lot of your time to read it, but along with me i guess a lot of my respected counterparts are under scrutiny always to either perform or suffer for even a tiny winy mistake. 
Let me know what do you feel about it. If you think that the Eatlo community would understand my concern, I am open to put it up on the page as well, but as an anonymous owner to get an unbiased feedback.
Personally I did not have any answer for her, do you have an answer? Do share your opinion in the comments below.

Author: Shashank

CFE – Cheap Food Enthusiast Entrepreneur by birth, hippie by heart he is here just because he loves to eat. This adventurous biker is constantly looking for new avenues to satisfy his insatiable hunger for food & life. Though he loves sugar dense food, there is nothing sugar coated about him- brutally honest with his words, he often ruffles feathers with his stark naked opinions about food, fancy restaurants & orthodox ideas.

12 thoughts on “Are we harassing Restaurants in name of Social Media? – A Restaurateur’s side of Story”

  1. 1. Your choice of returning the money after so much time itself was wrong.

    2. If you're still to oblige, you should have asked her to come to your restaurant so that you could discuss the problem with food evidence and see the genuine consumption before returning whatever amount.

    3. If your food and services are top class, you shouldn't be afraid of negative reviews. I've seen restaurants with bad reviews but people still make a waiting beeline as their food is great.

    4. It's a rarest of rare case of blackmail rather than anything else. I suggest you forget it and move on with a solid lessons as to how to react in future to such complaints. A solid lesson learnt for mere 2300 rupees. Not bad.

    1. sir, no offense, but i disagree. had they not obliged to return – this customer would have actually done what she was threatening to. as you yourself observed – rarest of rare blackmailers….

  2. I can totally understand your situation, being a reviewer myself and being associated with so many people from this industry, it is completely unacceptable for any person to ask their money back for the food they ingested and even digested. If you are sure about your product/food and the consistency you are delivering, you don’t have to return the money. What you can ask is for the replacement of the dish in the way they like. Moreover, a good or genuine reviewer will never black mail or ask refunds.

  3. Same thing happened to me also. We got the order we delivered it on time but I don't know what the customer is upto she called after 3 hr said that your food sucks we didn't even touched it. So as a responsible person I said to her I am sending a guy please return the food so I can check where we got wrong will pay the money. The guy went she just gave just a quatre of the food. But still she placed a review on zomato even on eatlo. I feel cheated just to save my brand. We lost the money and a rating also. Still we believe customers are always be treated as kings.

  4. Consuming food after hours of being delivered is a normal practice. But this blackmail is totally unacceptable.
    I second Mr. Rajeev Gulati's suggestions.

  5. This is totally unacceptable, obviously you can't blackmail a restaurant owner on the basis of social media posts. Yesterday I went through a bad experience in one of the newly opened pizza joints nearby my area, being a vegetarian they served me non vegetarian starters by mistake but ultimately when i got to know and raised this issue then the restaurant owner came to apologise, though I was feeling bad but this was not his fault at all. He also offered us not to pay any bill for all our food and not to write any comments on social media but ultimately i was very sure that this is not about money and paid there bill. Social Media is a tool to aware and connect with other people on relevant topics and share some information, so any misuse has to be clearly overlooked.

  6. Finally… A glimpse at the other side and the grass is indeed not as green as we thought. Sabotage through social media happens in the west using sites like Yelp and now the disease is spreading here too. It amazes me how bent on revenge some customers are when their perceived experience is just below par. It seems as if nothing less than putting the restaurant out of business would suffice for them.

    Hope this works as a wake up call for reviewers and people who read those reviews, to take everything with a pinch of salt. With great power, comes great responsibility.

  7. From the customer POV – go ahead and write your reviews, and dont use that restaurant again. Money goes to learning curve.

    From the restaurant POV – record the conversation and if it sounds like extortion, use the recorded conversation to respond to the reviews. If it becomes a serious issue, consider filing a complaint with the Police about extortion – but make sure your own restaurant documentation and adherences are totally in order.

    From a neutral POV – I dont think any restaurant in India, barring a few, are totally 100% fully compliant, and so they are wide open if they get tough with customers. The day and age of free home delivery is over, in my opinion, so that is another aspect. And finally, like some advanced app based taxi companies, restaurant owners should also build their shared database of "suspect" customers, identified by phone number and address, and refuse delivery and/or service and/or entry.

  8. If your food is good, let them blackmail. The customer will always hear 20 good things and 2 bad things. But if your food is not good no amount of good PR can help you

  9. A suggestion , Please call your client for feedback every time you deliver so you know your Forte. This will help a great deal in developing a loyal client base.

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