February 27, 2009, 6:00 am

How NOT to treat customers – Lesson from Baton Rouge restaurant in Laval

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous
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I’m always amazed when businesses don’t treat their customers with the best possible care and it happened to me last weekend while I was having dinner at Baton Rouge, an excellent steakhouse that has a few restaurants. I personally had a reservation for the one in Laval (15 minutes away from Montreal). It started off quite well as we made a reservation for 6 a couple of weeks in advance through the internet website, very convenient!

We then received a call confirming the reservation and notifying us that we would have the table from 5:30PM to 7:30PM, not ideal but understandable for a Saturday night. That’s when things turned bad.

First, the day before, we got a call asking to confirm the reservation. Is it me, or does confirming a reservation twice start to become a bit excessive. They also had another message… here is the conversation:

-Good morning, we wanted to confirm that you would still be 6 for tomorrow night’s reservation
-Yes, no change, thank you.
-Please note that you will not have your table until all 6 of you have arrived
-Ok, but one of us is 83 years old, would we be able to get a table if something happens?
-I’m sorry but no.
-Ok but he also has diabetes, he might need to eat at a specific hour
-We will reconsider if an urgent situation occurs

Urgent situation? How about having my grandfather dropping dead in the restaurant? Would that be considered an urgent matter?

Ok, seriously? Not the type of conversation that makes it very exciting. Either confirms only the day after the reservation is made, or only the prior day. And if you confirm that we will be 6 people, no need to keep us standing if one of us runs into traffic or some other problem, I’m sure the 5 others would wait while ordering a few drinks.

On Saturday, we get to the restaurant, announce ourselves, and are told once more the two conditions (must be 6 to be seated and must be out by 7:30PM). And yes you guessed it, one out of us 6 arrived 15 minutes late… So finally, when the six of us had arrived, we were shown to our table, while once more being told we had the table until 7:30PM… Are they going to give us the time to cook each meal in order to not be late if we order the ribs?

How many times do we need to be told that we need to get out of here? Oh and did I mention that a minute later we were asked to change tables, because apparently we had been shown to the wrong table. It’s understandable, after all, there must be a reason why a table for 6 cannot sit a group but can site another… People who have designed their table assignment process probably have PhD in rocket science!

Once we were seated everything went well and we had great food. The good news is that they didn’t kick us out by the sound of the alarm at 7h30 ;-).

But considering the poor service and experience surrounding our evening, we were left with a very sour taste and certainly did not feel like Baton Rouge had lived up to its name. Don’t you think it would be easy to find a solution? I live in Montreal (15 minutes away), and when restaurants are expected to be full, instead of taking reservations and then hassling the clients, they simply do not take reservations… simple enough?

In this era of social networks, blogs and internet, one simple bad experience can reflect poorly and reach a much larger amount of current and potential customers, something to consider strongly….

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Wow, that’s intense! Eat, Pay and Get out!! Enjoy the food the time you get!! Ohh and don’t forget to relax!! You’ll experience something unique!! Yeah right!!! You are not paying for fast-food!!

“urgent situation occurs”… what? I can’t believe they said that. That’s for me laughing in your face!!! 🙂

I would definitely avoid that type of restaurant. Cause I want to enjoy my time with friends and family… without rushing!!

Share your opinion here too 🙂

I was expecting bad food/service, but I guess it’s more of a misunderstanding and bad communication

It’s quite normal to only seat when everyone’s there, I was told by a Toronto japanese teppyaki restaurant just last Saturday, good thing we gathered beforehand already

As for kicking out, I wouldn’t expect it, this is not a 2 hour buffet place and every customer should be treated fairly. They can politely ask if you can accomodate them while they make efforts to accomodate you, but not a threating way

I am sure there are other good restaurants in Montreal areas, no loss for you

by: Answer This | February 27th, 2009 (2:24 pm)

You think that’s bad. In Air Force bootcamp, We had to stand at attention until the last person came to the table. If I remember it was about 5 people. We had I think it was 15 minutes to eat. If you wanted seconds you had to scoff it down, go back for more and be done within 15 minutes..Oh did I forget it was required that we drink TWO glasses of water with every meal?

To top that off after getting back to our bunks (morning, we got up at 5am and had to muster for breakfast.) we had 30 minutes to S____, Shower, Shave and make our beds….LOL

Well I guess that’s not the same as the story above, but I had a flashback..I would think it’s probably different now.

I was in the military as well (Canadian Army). During basic training we often were told that we had 45 minutes to eat. The problem was not that we would take 45 minutes to eat a meal, but that there was 150 soldiers a head of us waiting to eat.

I’d say that any restraint that limits how much time you can spend there should be boycotted.