Bad Customer Service in Restaurants

Closing earlier than advertised is one sign of bad customer service.
Closing earlier than advertised is one sign of bad customer service. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Just about everyone has had a taste of bad customer service. Some unpleasant experiences are more notable than others; for example, it's one thing for a server to take his time presenting the check, but entirely another when he is blatantly rude. A delay in bringing a check can be a fine line of sorts. Are you being unreasonable, or is the service really that poor? No matter the restaurant, a few key factors tell you that you are being treated poorly.

Slow Service

Slow service is a characteristic of bad service that can happen in all phases of the meal. You may get promptly seated only to learn that the server takes upwards of 20 minutes to greet you, much less get your drink or appetizer order. Then again, you may get prompt attention throughout the meal, then the server could take 30 minutes after dessert to get you the check.

Meaningless Discounts

If you take matters into your own hands and notify a manager, be wary of the laissez-faire discount correction. Many times, a manager or supervisor with not enough time on his hands will offer a canned, half-hearted apology and simply throw a discount your way, which begs the question. After your bad experience, what makes him think that you would want to eat there again to redeem the discount?

Overly Attentive

On the flip side of lackadaisical service is the well-meaning, yet meddling and invasive server. No matter what she's doing, she strictly adheres to the "two bites/two minutes" customer follow up, and throughout the course of the meal, she never really leaves you alone. It can get to the point where it becomes difficult to simply carry on a conversation. This can be tricky in that if you politely let her know that she can back off a bit, you run the risk of her overcompensating and ignoring you.


Impatient behavior is a byproduct of even the best servers from time to time. For instance, on a busy Friday night when the server has more duties than he can handle, it can become all too easy for him to get a bit short with customers having a hard time making up their minds. Also, the stress of the situation can lead him to be a bit more defensive when it comes to any suggestions you may have.

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