Service of Thanking Before Dining is Over

June 10th, 2021

Categories: E-Commerce, Restaurant, Technology, Tips

Last weekend I sat outdoors at a restaurant in the Village. The only way to get food was by downloading the menu, signing in to their website, ordering online and paying by credit card. No smartphone, no luck.

As with any restaurant credit card purchase there was the TIPS line which I filled in. I know, I know, I should have left a cash tip. But I didn’t. Next time.

I wasn’t thinking clearly. My mind was spinning from the unusual–for me–ordering process. After I clicked our choices, my first attempt didn’t go through; it took me forever to find ice tea–only coffee choices were evident. Intensifying by the second were my feelings of being a super all thumbs Luddite klutz which slowed me even further.

So I wrote in a generous tip–the percentage I would calculate at a standard restaurant. In retrospect all the wait staff did was to deliver the order and clear the plates. Turned out that they were forgetful in delivering our standard requests. We were sharing a giant luncheon salad and asked for a second plate. We had to ask two waitresses a few times. With temperature in the 90s, the water in a bottle left on the table, soaking up the sun as were we, warmed quickly. We asked for ice–several times too.

I’ll be better prepared the next time, with reading glasses at the ready, immediately locating the SEARCH icon [which is how I found iced tea as it wasn’t one of the upfront choices]. And I’ll have cash–which I don’t carry in significant amounts–on hand.

I suspect the do-it-yourself ordering process is in our futures at less expensive watering holes especially if the staffing shortage persists. It’s not a new concept. I have belonged to clubs at which the member wrote the food and drink order in the casual venues. It seemed easier.

Have you been tripped up by technology? Do you feel foolish when it happens? Have you, too, encountered such an ordering process at a restaurant? Is this a welcome trend?

Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

 

16 Responses to “Service of Thanking Before Dining is Over”

  1. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Jeanne: You should not feel foolish. The person who thought up that awful experience should feel foolish. More and more, businesses are finding ways to not interact with people and it is taking a toll on customer satisfaction. I recently called for a appointment for a vaccine for my child. I was asked if I used the patient portal. I told them the patient portal never works. I went on the patient portal and an appointment for the vaccine wasn’t a choice. So I called back, explained what happened, and was told they weren’t scheduling vaccine appointments until the following week and that I had to call back. So if the intent of the system was to make things easier for the staff, it failed. If it was to make it easier for the patient, failed. If it was to save time, allowing more appointments to be scheduled, it failed because I went elsewhere. They did not get my business.

  2. BC Said:

    We always order by phone, and pick up the items.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancy,

    I get shivers thinking of what I went through in NYC trying to get a vaccine online. Ended up pleading for a link, in person, at a drug store that was giving vaccines weeks before most such stores did in these parts. The kind woman wrote down my name, called me that night to make an appointment and two days later I had my first shot. It took weeks for websites here to work seamlessly and yet the state kept opening up the profession and age eligibility when the system wasn’t ready to accommodate the earlier group.

    As for the hip new ordering routine, in addition to losing the connection between waiter and customer, which for some people is the only contact the customer has with another human, the system discriminates against people without smartphones and credit cards. “Who cares about them?” some businesses may say, “they are probably too old or too poor to think about.” I care.

    Years ago we were heartbroken when a neighborhood restaurant went out of business. It was a tiny bistro and we’d visit at least once a month, sometimes more. Each time we’d see many of the same people. One older woman came in with her briefcase, looking exhausted, and almost before she’d reach her seat, a waiter had put a drink–Scotch and water maybe?–on her table. She would nod and sometimes speak with a couple who were always there too. The man could hardly walk but he’d make it with effort. We worried where these people could go for a moderately priced warm dinner “where everyone knew their name,” after that.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    There’s a takeout Chinese place–no tables–about six blocks from me. I always pick up the food and last time I ordered by calling. I am not sure that they take orders over the phone anymore. There’s an ominous sign outside their door that tells people to log in rather than call.

    The bags of food delivered to my apartment building daily, slated for 20 and 30-somethings too lazy to walk a few blocks, is astounding. Obviously I don’t live in the lobby but I haven’t ever seen anyone 40+ pick up a food delivery.

  5. lucrezia Said:

    I haven’t been tripped up because I don’t use these services. They give businesses too easy an opportunity to screw up, as shown in lead article. I’m not much of a foodie, but like to enjoy my food, so I’m sticking to old fashioned ways thus being spared aggravation.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I imagine businesses save money on labor by using the customer-order-via-smartphone technique because they can hire a person with zero experience working a restaurant’s billing computer, learning the menu or taking orders etc. A computer keeps track of all orders making bookkeeping and food re-ordering easy. Plus if there continues to be a shortage of people willing to take low-paying jobs at modest to inexpensive eateries, the owners will have to resort to such labor-saving options.

  7. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Used my phone today to get he menu & a separate login for contact tracing.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    I don’t mind downloading a menu.

    I do mind having to do all the rest. I might as well go to a cafeteria and even then I slip my credit card in a gizmo–I don’t have to fill out all the info as though I’m buying shoes or a book online.

  9. Hank Goldman Said:

    Slightly off topic here… But as regards Tipping.

    I remember decades ago reading that originally there was a jar when you walked into a restaurant, that said ““to ensure promptness“. That turned into tip, supposedly, and then came after the meal was done to reward good service, instead of anticipated.

    Told you it was off-topic!😎

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    Your comment is spot-on–as you will see when I post some comments from Facebook after this one. I’d not heard this before nor do I remember seeing such a jar.

    Back in the day I had a friend whose uncle would come to NYC from the Midwest once a year and invite her to lunch at Four Seasons that at the time was one of the most expensive places in the city. She wanted to crawl under the table because he’d enter with a wad of cash that he’d flamboyantly place in the handshake of the maitre D. He told her he did that to ensure good service.

  11. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: it does save on paper and it is a contactless option for patrons to read the menu on their phones (inconvenient perhaps) but it makes sense (and $$ sense).

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    No argument and safer germ-wise.

    As I wrote previously I don’t object to the menu: doing the restaurant’s work is ridiculous. I don’t eat out to work. Plus, I often know what I want and don’t need a menu for a grilled cheese with tomato yet I’d have to go through the rigamarole including filling out credit card info—more than irritating. If with a friend I especially resent the distraction.

  13. Phyllis Stier Said:

    Phyllis on Facebook: I’m going to step out here out on that limb….I think it’s a generational thing….the ‘millennials’ & younger have no issue..they’re ready to order, pick up, know how to tip,etc….me, I’m with you…but also, ‘tips’ are shared with all workers, usually…so everyone benefits from a tip,not just waitstaff..

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Phyllis

    While math error would be about the only reason I don’t tip generously, when service is poor and I’ve done the tasks of a traditional waiter I feel taken by being fooled to tip before I’ve seen a crumb or drop—hence the post. I only get taken once. I can’t imagine that a young person wouldn’t mind feeling bamboozled either.

    A comment on the post points out that “more and more, businesses are finding ways to not interact with people and it is taking its toll on customer satisfaction.” Good point.

  15. Phyllis on Facebook Said:

    Phyllis on Facebook:

    Jeanne,

    what is your opinion re using the European model & eliminate tips.. I also think it’s sad that we’re a (business)society not as interactive..people who email in their office instead of walking to a co worker..?? I hear that all the time at work.. & think why didn’t someone just TELL me

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Phyllis,

    I like the European tip model. Traditionally we, and most, always gave a bit more. Only wait staff could tell us how it works for them. Some diners are stingy and others generous. At shift’s end what would the totals be? The answer would be crucial.

    One friend worked in a ROOM with her boss who insisted she ask questions on email. It’s a shame. But the more you isolate yourself behind texts and emails the harder it is to interact face-to-face. I suspect the pandemic made things worse. Some friends still work remotely, one goes in to work once a week and I saw a stat that soon 60 percent of workers in NYC will be back. A recent grad —son of a friend—got a (great) job which is remote. Now THAT must be hard!

Leave a Reply