It’s no secret that Brits love to complain and UK restaurants can often be on the receiving end of these grumbles. Our recent research revealed that 6 in 10 British diners admit they have made a complaint in a restaurant, though interestingly almost half (44%) confess they sometimes shy away from complaining, for fear their food may be tampered with. In addition, while seemingly happy to complain themselves, almost half (48%) confess they feel uncomfortable when other members of their dining party complain.
Food critic Giles Coren shares some of the most outrageous complaints received by restaurants.
UK diners believe raising any issue they experience with a waiter/waitress is the most effective way to complain; more effective than social media. They feel the most ineffective way is shouting at the staff. Research also showed that on average, Brits spend 7 minutes complaining about a bad dining experience – to either the wait staff, family or friends.
A survey of restaurateurs revealed that diners’ complaints range from the music (or lack thereof) to the restaurant layout and noisy neighbours on nearby tables. When quizzed about the most entertaining grumbles, responses included the ice being too cold, Champagne being too fizzy, and chips tasting like potato.
So what do British diners expect when they complain? Well, over half (51%) expect money off their bill should they have to complain, while almost a quarter (22%) are happy with a simple apology.
It seems diners in the South (64%) tend to complain more than those in the North (56%). However, when looking more closely at the city divide, Coventry folk are the UK’s biggest complainers, with 76% admitting they complain. York complains the least (44%). The older generation complain more than the younger, with 69% of over 55’s admitting they complain, compared to 53% of 18-24’s.
Restaurant critic Giles Coren comments, “As someone who has made his opinions about food loudly known over the years, it comes as no surprise to me to learn than 6 in 10 Brits are not afraid to complain in restaurants. From ice cream that is too cold to interior décor that doesn’t look quite right in our Instagram shots, we all know that things can go wrong when we eat out. It is very important when complaining, however, to be polite and friendly to waiting staff at all times. After all, it is not their fault if there wasn’t enough jam in your donut or – horror of horrors – your salad was too green.”
Adrian Valeriano, Vice President, Europe, OpenTable, comments, “The majority of restaurants deliver high quality hospitality day after day, but on some occasion the experience may not be to everyone’s taste. Receiving feedback from patrons is paramount to any business within the hospitality sector as this feedback is vital in maintaining a high standard of service. Our advice to any diners that have feedback on their experience would be to express it at the time to the wait team or management as most incidents can be sorted quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction. Although we would ask diners to think about their complaints, as the wait staff cannot be responsible for the temperature of ice or the fizziness of the Champagne!”
Do you find it easy to complain in restaurants? Let us know in the comments.