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August 20, 2019

Ah, where would we be without angry TripAdvisor reviews and the withering responses of wounded restaurateurs?

Over the last couple of days, the papers have picked up on a TripAdvisor review of a Coatbridge restaurant and the manager's angry reply.

In a nutshell, the customer felt that his three course meal was poor value at £3.50.

The restaurant owner did not hold back in response. Opening with the line '£3.50 for 3 courses, have you no shame ?', the owner went on to say that, 'Judging from the waistline of most of your party I could have served them a whole cow and they would have still left hungry'.

His response concluded, 'Don't bother coming back!!'

The restaurant's approach to customer relationship management is not one recommended by most experts.

Personal insults and telling customers not to come back are not tactics at the top of most conflict resolution manuals.

However, one can see why the owner may have seen red.

Of course, lots of other people have waded into the argument on TripAdvisor and many seem to have swung behind the restaurant.

The restaurant has gained the kind of publicity that money can't buy but this blogger can't help wondering if the owner, at least at some level, regrets being quite so forthright.

Give peace a chance

Our advice for dealing with problems in a restaurant is simple: give the restaurant a chance to sort it out while you are having your meal.

Every decent restaurant manager would prefer to know about a problem and deal with it there and then rather than have a customer go away feeling aggrieved.

The problem is that we're not very good at complaining. We don't want to create a scene so we simmer silently and then vent on a review platform.

Doing so may make us feel as though justice has been done but we've still had a bad meal and the restaurateur may feel as though they have been blindsided by a problem which no-one had made them aware of.

The solution is that complaining doesn't have to create a scene. Shouting isn't necessary. A quiet, polite word with the waiting staff will resolve most issues.

Legal action on the menu

Demanding rebates and threatening to write terrible reviews shows poor manners and will just needlessly antagonise the situation. Especially if the staff feel as though they are being blackmailed.

By contrast, calmly and clearly explaining the problem will help everyone resolve it.

It is also worth bearing in mind that many restaurateurs feel that customer review platforms are being misused.

Competent managers, chefs and waiters will put their hands up when they know they have got it wrong.

But they quickly reach boiling point when they feel that criticism is unjustified.

Earlier this month, one restaurateur threatened a customer with legal action over a TripAdvisor review which she felt was unfair, untrue and damaging to the business.

One to chew over.