Monday 23 January 2017

Save us all from the complaint culture

What do you think of Tripadvisor?  Out of curiosity I was looking at a few reviews of some of my favourite places to eat in London. I found it to be a truly depressing experience. I saw one review for a restaurant I've been going to for years. It is typical of the idiotic and mean spirited tyoe of review that people seem to think it is rather clever to leave.

My friends and I had visited this restaurant once before and I had thought the food was good. I had not seen the prices. This time I was paying. Three of us drank water, we had no pudding and ate extremely modestly. The bill for four was £118.14, including an imposed 10 per cent service charge. That would have been just about acceptable if the food had been good and plentiful. But three basic soups at £6 each, egg fried rice at £5.40 ( with no visible egg ) sesame prawn toast at £7.80, chicken in black bean sauce at £14.80 and a quarter of a duck with pancakes at £13. Pu-leese. (The other things we ordered were noodles £6.40, vegetable spring rolls £6.80, and satay chicken, one skewer each £10.80 - or £2.90 a skewer.) My friend who drank was charged £16.60 for one gin and tonic and one glass of sauvignon blanc and the Perrier was £3.50 a bottle. We arrived at 1.30 and at about 2.15 or so were asked if we wanted dessert as the kitchen was closing. Shortly afterwards when some of the few fellow diners had left, ( perhaps word has already got round ) a member of staff used a powerful noisy carpet sweeper to clean the carpet adjacent to us, rendering conversation impossible for several minutes. There were plenty of staff but when one elderly member of our party made the considerable ascent to the first floor loos ( steep marble stairs ) after we had asked if there were facilities on the ground floor, no one thought to accompany him until we requested that someone did so. The whole experience was just awful. I eat often in restaurants. I was quite disgusted by the profiteering here. 
If there is one thing I can't stand it is people who moan about the price of restaurants. As fr as I am aware, the price of all of these items was clearly printed on the menu before the items were ordered. If you find a menu too expensive, don't go to the restaurant in the first place. It seems a bit rich to expect the restaurant staff to take and elderly relative to the loo. I know that when my mum became old and needed help, a family member would always assist her if she needed a comfort break. For one thing, she'd be embarassed to expect a stranger to help her.  Often reviewers such as this give a little glimpse into the dishonesty of what they are saying. In this case, it is in the opening sentence, where the restaurant is fine. It only becomes a problem when the author had to pay. Suddenly the portions became small and the food average. AS validation of the comments they say they "often eat at restaurants". Oddly for someone who "often eats at restaurants" this is the only review they have bothered to leave.

Another favourite place of mine attracted the following place. This review was left.
the food was very poor just loads of sauce and a couple of pieces of meat..environmental health should check the kitchens and should really be closed down 
As someone who has eaten hundreds of meals from this restaurant, it is clearly malicious and dishonest. Like many places, it has its faults, but dirty kitchens and small portions are not one of them. Given that kitchen tours are not usually offered, one wonders where the comment about the kitchens should be inspected comes from. 

 Another favourite gets both barrels.
This restaurant masquerades as a buffet of exceptional quality in leafy suburbia - nothing could be further from the truth - you sometimes need to book in advance - the rational quit why escapes me. It could be sooo much better - staff is the real issue - rude, slow and arrogant - if you want to eat BBQ then the east end ie Dalston E8 is far better - the same price but quality thru the roof - a plethora of caf├ęs and very informal restaurants that the Turks Steve up Devine dishes - do yourself a favour and give this restaurant a wide birth ! 
 This one is truly bizarre. They complain that sometimes you have to book in advance and questions why. Surely you don't need to be a genius to figure this one out. They then suggest an alternative on the other side of  London. Not quite sure what "Turks Steve up Devine dishes" means.

As far as I am concerned, whinging about the  price, when it is printed on the menu is ridiculous. If you are that bothered about price, check the menu before you go. Complaining about kitchens, when you haven't been in them is unfair and dishonest. If you did go in and there was an issue, then detail what the problem is.  I suspect that in all of these reviews there is a back story that we don't know. Of course all restaurants have bad days and sometimes get it wrong. Sometimes restaurants do deserve a bad review. For me, these should be fair and honest and highlight properly what was wrong. Generally this should be because somethiong was promised and not delivered, or specific incidents occurred. If an incident occurs, it should be accurately reported. I am always  very suspicious of reports that say staff are rude, without specifics. I was at a restaurant where a family were letting their children run wild and disturb other diners. The owner asked them extremely politely to have their children sit down "please would it be possible to ask the children to sit down as the waiters are carrying hot dishes and we don't want an accident". The mother went absolutely nuts and claimed that she'd never been so insulted. They trooped out in high dudgeon, shouting that they would be leaving "bad reviews everywhere". After they left, I made a point of telling the owner that he was totally correct in his actions and that they were obnoxious. He said he was really upset that he'd handled it so badly and felt he'd let everyone in the restaurant down. I made a point of checking the site and no Tripadvisor review was ever left. I rather hoped that the woman realised she'd behaved deplorably.

I've come to the conclusion that reviews are generally not that helpful. I suspect manybad reviews  are left by rival institutions, or people with an axe to grind unrelated to food or service.Many seem spiteful and purely designed to hurt businesses struggling to get by. When they are institutions I frequent and that are big assets to our community, I find it hard to sit back and lat these saddoes put the boot in.

1 comment:

Mrs Angry said...

I wouldn't use tripadvisor for restaurants, as I agree the reviews are pointless and often silly. But I always check out any hotel I am planning to book, as from the range of reviews, good and bad, you are able to form your own opinion as to whether or not the place is ok. Plus the travellers' photos are always valuable ... I've left reviews that are positive, but rarely negative because I've usually avoided the worst places by reading up beforehand ...