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Sending a Meal Back

by  Tina Hayes on August 31, 2012
Sending a Meal Back

Is it appropriate to send a meal back in a restaurant?  What will happen if you send your meal back?  If you are dissatisfied with a meal, should you expect to receive it free?

It is definitely acceptable to send a meal back if it was not what you ordered or not prepared as requested.  In a situation where you are served an incorrect meal, served an over or under-cooked dish, spoiled foods or dish with foreign objects, do not hesitate to return the meal.

If a dish does not taste the way you expect it should or you incorrectly ordered your selection, I suggest you think twice before returning it.  Can you tolerate it? Is it really that bad? If you decide to send it back, apologize for your error and offer to pay for a substitute meal if it was just not to your liking.  Most restaurants will not charge you to change your meal, therefore show your gratitude by leaving a generous tip.

Notify the wait staff as soon as you realize there is a problem with your selection.  Never eat more than one or two bites before you decide to return it.

The way in which you send food back is important.  Stay calm, be polite and use a friendly tone.  When notifying the wait staff of a problem, let them know exactly how you would like the problem rectified.  Do you want another complete meal cooked from scratch, your meal fixed or a completely different dish?

Even though orders that are sent back take priority in the kitchen, insist that your dining companions begin eating their meals.  If you are ordering a different meal, I recommend requesting a dish that is quick to prepare.

The top priority in most restaurants is customer satisfaction.  Satisfied customers result in increased profits.  Again, don’t be afraid to send food back for legitimate reasons.  It is a myth that restaurants encourage or allow their staff to sabotage food.  The restaurant would not be in business long if it was discovered that this type of practice was permitted.  Most restaurants want to meet or exceed their customers’ expectations regarding food and service which will leave them wanting to come back again.

Tina Hayes

Tina Hayes

Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Northern California (Antioch). full bio



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