Am I this out of touch

Joined Oct 16, 2009
On another food (non-professional) forum a question was raised by a long-time patron (10 years).

He was there on a regular evening with a group eating and drinking, one of his friends ordered a micro brew tap beer and didn't like it. He had only consumed a couple of ounces and returned it for something else. At the end of the night they were charged for both the returned beer and the replacement.

The OP said he was startled and asked if this was normal.

To my surprise 17 people (all non professionals) stated that the OP was wrong and should pay for the beer.

3 people (2 owner/operators and 1 non professional) stated that the beer was not drunk and should have been comped.

A lot of words were exchanged but virtually of the non-professionals customers felt that if you order a drink or food in a restaurant and you don't like it (nothing wrong with it, just don't like the taste) it's your tough luck.

I was one of the owner/operators that said the cost of the beer is pennies compared the amount of ill will it created. This was a no-brainier in my mind, he didn't drink it, he didn't like it, take it back and get him something he likes.

Am I that out of touch with the professional side of the world for thinking the un-drunk beer should have been comped?

What would you think if this happened to you in a restaurant?
Joined Aug 21, 2009
If he took two sips of it and sent it back because he didn't like it for sure it should be comped. If he had drank most of it, left two sips and complained, well that's another story and in that case he should pay.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I forgot to add that if I had ordered a beer, tasted it, hated it and asked for something new, I would expect to be comped for the sendback. In the event that i was charged for it... well I would be finiding another establishment to give my business to.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
That's why I ALWAYS ask for a taste of new to me beverages.....
whole beer, I'd comp as an owner but pay for as a customer.
Joined Sep 29, 2009
As an owner/manager, I'd comp it. As a patron, I'd pay it and be okay with it. I would like to see it comped because, if I won't drink it, it's dish water but would still pay for it because I would have, after all, ordered said dish water.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
What's the difference between a paint store and a restaurant?

You go into a paint store, choose a custom colour, a specific type of paint, and have it made up for you. Very few, if any, customers will try to return custom paint, especially if some of it has been used. Flat out refusal, and it says o right by the cash register, "No refunds or exchanages on custom paint".

Restaurant owners are saps, eejits. Order something, try it, and if someone looks at you cross eyed or your shoes are pinching you complain and demand yuor money back. If they don't, well then they're eejits and they won't get your business again. (p.s. I own my own place)

Look, the scene plays itself over and over again: A customer orders something, eats half of the protein, and sends it back. No refund here. If they took one nibble, yeah, sure, but half of the protein gone, no dice. The key words in your opening post was, I believe: " Took a couple of ounces". Not one sip and spit out immediately, a couple of ounces, from what, an 8 or 10 oz glass? No dice.

Theother key words were, I believe " Beer csots pennies, but the ill-will....." Beer may cost pennies but MY overhead doesn't, neither does my labour cost. Even to throw out a partially consumed beverage will cost you money
Joined Mar 16, 2005
As an owner I'd probably have no qualms about replacing the drink or dish in question free of charge, but as a customer I honestly think that it's unreasonable to expect comps for mistakes I myself made. I guess I was raised to take responsibility for my own actions so I don't feel comps are necessary when I made a bad choice, just suck it up and drink/eat it.
Joined Sep 16, 2009
Well that's a tough job. If I were a costumer of course I would pay for it if I take a zip on it. Because I am responsible for ordering it. And as for an owner I would tell them the detail so that they will be able to think which is which and change it if they don't like it.
Joined Oct 16, 2009
I am not trying to argue - rather trying to understand your point. To be honest this Internet debate on the other forum has flabbergasted me and my friends/colleagues. We are all older (60's & 70's) have worked in this business for 30-40+ years and there wasn't one of us that would not have immediately comped the beer.

Could this be a generational thing?

Maybe regional (all of my colleagues are west coast and HI)?

Anyhow here are my comments and a question.

You can go into any Lowe's or Home Depot and find the custom paint return bin that is loaded with paint marked down that customers have returned.

These stores realize that the ill-will it creates is just too great, so while they do have the sign no returns, they always take the paint back, they find that in the long term it creates good-will and saves them money.

I just want to make sure I understand your logic:

Are you saying it is better to take a gamble losing a long-time customer that obviously brings in business to your establishment for a 1 time gain on a un-drunk glass of beer?

Or do you think that the chance of losing this customer over this issue is infinitesimally small?
Joined Oct 16, 2009
Responsibility for you own actions is great, but how do you know if you like something until you try?

Would you order a $25 dish featuring a unusual fish prepared in a way that you have never heard, using a combination of strange flavors, knowing that you had to just suck it up if you didn't care for it?

Or would you play it safe and get something that you are familiar with so you won't waste your money?

The reason I ask is that for most of my career I tried to get diners to adventure out of their comfort zone, maybe it's just a weird philosophy I have. But I would be much happier knowing you tried something new and found out you didn't like it rather than order the same old dishes every time.

I am trying to judge MYSELF here, do I hold a philosophy that is in the minority.

Any insights would be appreciated.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Would you order a $25 dish featuring a unusual fish prepared in a way that you have never heard, using a combination of strange flavors, knowing that you had to just suck it up if you didn't care for it?

That's why chain restaurants's all the same slock no matter where you travel. Olive Garden's salad in MO is the same in CA or MI or WI....
It's a mind set that has driven the economy for a while and the pendulum is starting to swing the other way toward local food.

Looks like the mass majority of owners agree with you. Comp it. :rolleyes:

And the owners also would pay for their choices. That by the way is very different than something poorly prepared.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Check with the store manager, the returned custom paint is usually the mistake of the paint dept--wrong colour or type. Paint costs $30-$40 a gallon, and there are literally thousands of custom colours

You also never said that the customer was a "reg". This is an important point and explains why the customer expected a comp and why he was so dissapointed when he didn't get one.

O.k now, quality control:
1) Was the product of inferior quality?
2) Was the product the right size? Underpoured, larger/smaller than ordered?3) Was the product exactly as ordered? Right type?

All of the answers are no. If any were yes it would suggest the resto was at fault and the intelligent thing to do is to replace or refund.

The customer decided he didn't like the product he ordered and wants a refund/Replacement. Returned product can not be resold, and what ever happens to it will cost the resto money

Why?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why is the sky blue?

You don't pull a stunt like this in a paint store, and try returning an opened can of product at a supermarket--no quality issues here, just that "You didn't like it".

Why does a customer feel he has special rights in a restaurant and insist he be compensated for making a decision he regrets?

Back to reality.....
Why didn't the server inform the customer that he would be charged? Situations like that must crop every now and then. Deal with it now rather than tack it on the bill at the end of the night which certainly will create "ill will".

Why doesn't the place sell a "sample set", trial sizes of unknown beers that cost less than a buck each. If the place does sell a sample set, why didn't the customer order it?

Just yesterday I had a walk-in who demanded "Your strongest coffee" This was served to him and he then proceeded to empty out half of the contents and fill up with coffee cream. He then complained that the coffee was weak. I asked him to pay up, and he did so -very grudgingly. He then remarked that he would never come back ever again.

My reply?

"Can you guarantee me that?
Joined Feb 2, 2009
this really is a no-brainer... comp the drink, and as a customer I'd expect it to be. If I order food and it tastes bad Id expect to have a new entree too. Its called the service industry for a reason. Just make the guest happy.

Obviously if theres only the dregs left in the glass then thats a different story. However if theres 75% of the drink left then just comp it. If its less Id probably just ask "Hey man i saw you drank a good chunk of there something wrong wrong with it?" ..and if they persist im probably still going to comp it! I mean seriously theres not like an army of patrons ready to scam free drinks... it happens rarely, at least in my area.

It might take labor cost to dump the drink but what aboput the labor cost it takes ot argue with the customer as well as the ill will of that customer, as well as the scene you'll make that might make new customers not come back?

In the end its not worth it....comp the drink and enjoy your good deed. You never may have just have created a regular.

Even if it wasnt me effected id never go back to a place that would say that to a customer.

Crappy customers happen....but just because you are right doesnt mean that your level of service and respect should ever change...not one bit. Thats professionalism.
Joined Apr 2, 2007
There is a big difference between an establishment that is owner managed and one that is just managed by staff. I have worked in places where the General Manager will have to account for every ounce of flour and every pint of beer, if his/her stocktake is out he/she will then have to justify it at a manager's meeting.

If it was my restaurant of course I would comp the beer but a manager would perhaps be more interested in his stocktake than goodwill. I think it depends on where you decide to try out a new beer and send it back because you don't care for it. Seems a bit petty to me.
Joined Apr 17, 2009
Said to me long ago, "you don't sell food, you sell the experience."

Not comp'ing a beer is telling the customer to go somewhere else.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Let me put it another way....

WHY do you comp?
Because if you do he'll be happy and bring more guests and if you don't he'll bad mouth you or worse.

Am I right?


Those are consequences. The carrot and the stick. It doesn't explain WHY the guy wants to be comped.

WHY does he want to be comped? Because today is Thursday?

Any intelligent and caring owner will comp if the product or service isn't up to snuf.

But this isn't the case.

Guest made a choice then changed his mind. He made a bad decision.

If he wants to be comped and you agree, magic happens....

By doing so, you have acknowledged that somehow you are at fault.

And this is not the case.

All this fuss over a $5. beer? Beer is cheap

Absolutely correct

Pay the 5 bucks, it's not a 25 year mortgage, just a bad decision. Take your mistake in stride and offer it/trade to one of the other guys at the table.
Joined Oct 18, 2007
Were I the customer, I would expect to pay for it.
As such, were I the manager, I wouldn't automatically comp it, but wouldn't hesitate to do so if the issue was brought up.
I don't see why it should be an automatic, it's the guests mistake.
Like ordering Ahi for the first time and deciding you don't like rare tuna, not the establishments fault.
If so, where would it end?
But, if the customer was determined to have an issue with my policy I would have no problem comping it.
Not just to placate that customer, but also to avoid an unpleasant experience for all other diners.
Joined Oct 16, 2009
Exactly, I don't really see how anyone can miss this point.

Very small short term gain vs much larger long term loss.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
It depends on a couple factors. If there was actually something wrong with the beer you should comp it, no questions asked. If he merely didn't like it, well that's a judgment call. As a guest I would have just drank it unless it was attrocious. For instance, I'm not fond of IPAs- just don't care for that style. If I ordered your house IPA and didn't like it I wouldn't have much room to complain. As a manager I'd probably comp it anyways, depending on the circumstances.

However, you have to bear in mind that the customer isn't always right. You can bend over backwards for some people and still get badmouthed. You probably know the guy I'm talking about; the blowhard that bitches no matter what he gets, threatens to never come back, to tell everyone what a lousy joint you run, yada yada yada. It's just sound business practice to fire customers like that- they're slow poison. Their $5 isn't worth the aggrevation they cause you.
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