Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Olive Garden Update

Here's Ian's fabulous complaint letter:

This was our first time visiting the Chandler Olive Garden, we usually dine at the Mesa location. We were shocked at the poor service received during our visit to Chandler and now know to ALWAYS go to the Mesa location.

I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the two servers we had - one male and one female, they may have said something about being brother and sister in law?.., both were heavy set and I think both wore glasses. We were in the back of the restaurant where it seemed they hosted the larger parties. I think the last name of the male server was Lucero. I also didn't keep a receipt so can't supply you with a check number - but I know that my check was just shy of $50 and the other party with us had about the same size check.

While both servers were very polite to our party, both of them and the other employees who attended to us seemed very lacking in their service abilities. The following are examples of poor service received:

1. In our normal Olive Garden experiences, the entrees are politely served from behind and servers try to stay out of the way. Each time food or drinks were served to our party, items were placed in front of our faces and we were to grab them and pass them to the appropriate person. This was even the case for plates so hot that the servers used mitts or napkins to protect themselves while handing us a plate to pass down the table with our bare hands.

2. We ordered two Stuffed Chicken Marsala entrees, asking to hold the mushrooms on both. Both came out with mushrooms. Once this was pointed out to the servers, the male started pointing blame immediately to the female who took the orders. She then told us we only ordered one without mushrooms but that they could fix the problem. We decided to just pick off the mushrooms instead of waiting for another plate.

3. After the servers left and the mushrooms were removed, my wife cut into her stuffed chicken and found black burnt cheese covering the inside of both her pieces of chicken. We then waited for the servers to come back and asked for a new entree.

4. When we were getting ready to leave, we handed a bowl of minestrone to one of the servers and asked that it be placed in a take home bowl. The minestrone was never brought back. I asked the male server about it and he said he didn't know what happened. I asked him for another bowl and he said that would be fine and then walked to the next table and started taking orders. The minestrone never came. I explained the situation again to the female server, again asking for another bowl and she promptly took care of the situation.

5. When I received my bill, I noticed that the gratuity was already included which I figured was standard as it is at most restaurants for a large party. The interesting thing was that with the checks being split, we actually had two parties (5 people & 5 people). I was already exhausted enough with frustration, so I simply ignored this matter and paid with my gift cards. When returning my gift card, the server had the nerve to suggest that I leave the remaining balance on the card as a tip.

6. Upon leaving the restaurant, we came to the front door where typically an Olive Garden employee would kindly open the door with a friendly goodbye. There was an employee there and she was cleaning the windows. When she saw us coming, she moved to the side and started cleaning another window instead of opening the door for diners whose hands were already occupied with take-home boxes and children.

7. After leaving the restaurant and venting our frustrations with the other party who joined us, I said something about about "included gratuity" for the poorest service we'd ever seen. The other party advised us that their check didn't have an included gratuity. Needless to say, that only raised our frustrations further and we swore to never visit the Chandler location again.

Here is their response so far:

Dear Ian:

Thank you for contacting us concerning your visit to Olive Garden. We really value feedback from our guests. It is particularly important for us to know both what we do well and what we can improve. This knowledge helps us to deliver a delightful Olive Garden dining experience with greater consistency.

We are sorry we disappointed you on your visit to our Gilbert restaurant. Your experience has been shared with our management team, and we have asked that you be contacted in response to your email. You should hear from one of our managers within five (5) business days. If you do not, please feel free to call us at 1-800-331-2729. Our regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET.

After speaking with our manager, we hope you plan to give us another opportunity to serve you. We realize that delighted guests are the key to our success and we want to continue being your choice for Italian when dining out.

Olive Garden Guest Relations

I'd say I'm pretty happy. I'm glad they're taking our claim seriously, and it sounds like something is being done to ensure that kind of service isn't given again. :) Thanks honey!


Shannon J said...

It really does pay off to voice your opinion. I wanted to write a letter of complaints to American Airlines (I think it was them), after we had a horribly long night at LAX after our Mexixo trip...but I never got around to it. I probably could have gotten some free tickets though. We always evaluate our classes at the end of each semester and I try to take them really seriously because I know it does help.

Anonymous said...

Does Ian want to write some letters for my work??

Unguren said...

That is smart that Ian wrote a letter. I am glad that they responded. When ever we have wrote a letter about something that we think is important it always seems to be ignored.

Jessica said...

I am proud of you guys for writing a letter, we always mean to but never get around to doing it. I think when they call you deserve a gift card for sure.

Rebekah said...

That sounds like something Ben would do. Does Ian have plans on attending law school? ;) Way to go on speaking up. I'm usually too timid to do that, though I think I could write a pretty good letter if I was steamed enough.