Service of Unexpected Outcomes: Shout-out to Chase Bank & Morton Williams & a Dud

June 2nd, 2016

Categories: Banking, Food, Responsiveness, Restaurant, Retail, Service

There’s a surprise associated with an unexpected outcome, mostly happy, but not always.


I am grateful when a grocery store cashier gives me the discount when I buy only one in a promotion offering a fantastic price if I buy two. It happened when I bought a giant Tropicana OJ at Morton Williams this week. I didn’t want, nor could I use, two. Her decision put me in a good mood and the store on my “I’ll be back” list.

Check it out

I put a stop-payment on a check when I learned that a hefty May payment never arrived. The USPS let me down. I went nuts. When I arrived at Chase Bank in Pleasant Valley, N.Y. the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I was rattled. I saw my stellar credit rating going up in smoke.

Stacia Zimmerman, bank manager, greeted me pleasantly and was sympathetic. She made a copy of the new check and late notice for my records and gave me an extra copy of the stop-payment confirmation to include with the check. She even gave me an envelope so I could go immediately to the nearby post office to zip the replacement check by Priority Mail! To my astonishment, she waived the $30 stop payment fee as well.

I also noticed that Ms. Zimmerman called almost every person who entered the bank by name. She merged a charming, small town feeling with the benefits of a very big bank.

Dining Disaster

Then there was the dinner that we’d happily anticipated at a restaurant we’d visited for brunch and lunch, marveling at the food and cheery service. When we arrived the place looked fairly full but not jammed, however there were only two waitresses in view. We were seated  promptly by a pleasant server—the older of the two–and then ignored. We waited and waited. Eventually, after perhaps half an hour, the other waitress took our order. Then we waited again.

An hour after we had arrived, having asked three times for two glasses of white wine, only one arrived half full in a diminutive Champagne glass and the second, 10 minutes later. Meanwhile, staff was handing out beer and wine to those waiting for a table.

Did I mention that the AC wasn’t on and it was 80+ degrees outside? People tend to eat–and order more–when not roasting.

Our main course and one of two appetizers arrived together half an hour after the wine. They tasted fine, but still. We never saw the bread; no spoon came to capture the sauce in one dish. We’d given up by then.

The course we didn’t get remained on the check. My husband had to send it back a second time so the tax reflected the reduced total. He’s a generous man, but he was irritated.

At the next table when food arrived for a graduate and five celebrants, there was nothing for one in that party. She slapped her head in exasperation. Once they’d eaten the grandmother said, “The food was good but the management severely lacking.”

What had happened? The restaurant didn’t realize that it was graduation weekend for a local college, [a waitress admitted], and wasn’t prepared. By not turning away the unexpected  customers to handle only the number they could manage, they ruined the evening for everyone.

Can you share unexpected outcomes, both good and bad? What else might the restaurant have done to salvage its disaster?

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8 Responses to “Service of Unexpected Outcomes: Shout-out to Chase Bank & Morton Williams & a Dud”

  1. hb Said:

    I don’t know about your first example, but the second two I’d chalk off to experience. There are some things they can’t teach you at Harvard Business School or the Culinary Institute.

    I’ll bet that branch manager had been around for a while. She was smart and knew the telltale signs that it would not be a bad idea to “go the extra mile” for you. You can only develop that kind of skill if you’ve spent time in a business. Now, instead of griping about that fee, you are raving about her, and who knows who is listening.

    Conversely, that cook could probably cook beautifully, but I’ll bet he never spent much “apprentice time” in the real world restaurant business. If he had, he would have learned how good restaurants succeed. From working his way up the ladder he would have seen how things are done over time and known how to deal with an overflow of unexpected customers. Instead, no doubt, he lost himself a slew of repeat business.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I could hardly gripe about the bank fee because I knew that fees existed [though $30 is more than the $10 it probably should be, at least the first time or two a person needs the service], though I wouldn’t welcome it one bit and was relieved that I didn’t have to pay.

    I checked out the restaurant on YELP. One review written in April had nothing but complaints about the lack of service, heat and care that made the food not worth it. Another acknowledged that the service is iffy but the food so unusual and good it nevertheless is his favorite restaurant. We’ve written on this blog how bad service can kill a restaurant as much as bad food. It’s a shame that the service issues were so horrendous. Like the second reviewer, I thought the food was sophisticated and great but like the first one, I’m not up to the discomfort of the dinner experience I had to risk another visit.

  3. Nancy Farrell Said:

    I agree with the grandmother in the restaurant–the management was lacking. The best restaurant managers see a need and they fill it. They can and do cook and wait tables and serve drinks and clear tables and wash dishes when needed. They keep in touch with departing staff so that when the staff returns home from college break or is ready to return to work for a day or two a week after having a child or while doing through a divorce, then they have that extra help when they need it. And they train their staff respectfully. I agree with hb that the second two have everything to do with experience.

  4. jmbyington Said:


    You identified all that was lacking at the restaurant. I get the feeling that they roped in the younger waitress who was somebody’s friend or daughter….she didn’t know what we were talking about when we ordered our food which was a clue. They should have had three more like her to pour wine [you only need to know how to read a label and find a glass], clear tables and smile.

    Nobody said “good bye,” nobody offered us a second glass of wine on the house, we wanted to get out so I don’t recall if we were offered dessert…It was one of the most unprofessional exercises I’ve ever had to pay for. Sad, as one of the legs of the chair–the food–was good in spite of the rest falling apart.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    I experienced memorably slow service in Atlanta, but found this was customary, and that should one move there, one gets used to it. After nearly two weeks of cultural torture, I’m not going back.

    Most stores bend rules w/discounts, and when it’s a “one per customer” deal, a friendly smile usually inspires the checkout clerk to sneak the second through. Must have saved a ton of money on oranges that way.

    Restaurant horror stories abound, but the wise customer has the “no tip” weapon with which to hit back, and should use it. Stern words directed towards the manager/host, usually goes a long way towards greatly improved service the next time. If a regular customer, a free drink also helps.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There was nobody to complain to–just the two waitresses, one of whom was really more of a bus person pulled in to full server duty. You could say that whomever was in charge (nobody apparent to the guests) was being greedy, capturing as many orders as possible, but the strategy, if you could call it that, was short-sighted as the potential regulars there were lost forever.

  7. Hank Goldman Said:

    What if you and Homer had been food critics? Or any kind of raters of restaurants publicly?
    You would have given them a very poor rating.

    As far as restaurants, years back we had a multi couple celebration at Le Cirque. One glass of red wine was spilled. The whole staff jumped to attention, we were asked to temporarily go and sit at another table where full glasses of our drinks were waiting. Our entire table cloth etc. was changed when we got back to our table. Sirio Macchione knows how to run a restaurant.!!!!!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Had we been food critics, this place would have received a minus one on a scale of one to 10 because a guest’s comfort is as important as the food. A headline might be “What Were They Thinking?”

    This was no Le Cirque, by a long shot nor was it trying to be though it could do well to emulate the memorable care you received. Such an experience makes the bill, when it comes, as big as it must have been,digestible. Years ago we landed in a tiny hole of a place for breakfast. We were in a suburb of Albany in a semi-commercial neighborhood on a Sunday. There was one woman behind the counter cooking the food and handing it out. Homer said she’d served the best sausage he’d ever eaten–she’d made it–and the toast and eggs and muffins were all fresh and tasty. He spoke of the place for years. She had no help, the place was spotless, her regulars clearly adored her. The trick: She handled the number of guests she could.

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