Discourteous Restaurant Owner

09/08/2013 08:11

Consumers become the judge when it comes to selecting a restaurant, its services and the food provided at these eateries. A consumer’s verdict on whether a restaurant is good or bad spreads quickly when many consumers depend on word of mouth suggestions on restaurants by their families and friends. If a consumer has a bad experience at a restaurant, it is highly likely that he/she will not recommend the same to another consumer.

The last thing a consumer wants to experience at a restaurant is eating cold and tasteless meals while paying a premium price.

Unfortunately, when consumers come across such situations, restaurant owners show no remorse towards the consumers and fail to accept that the food is insipid.

From 2010 till 30th June 2013, the Council has registered 57 complaints against restaurants and other eateries. Consumers have lodged their complaints after they were served cold, half cooked and stale food, found cockroaches and hair strands and found no salt in their meals.

Many consumers are unable to voice their frustrations with fear of getting embarrassed in front of others through aggressive confrontations by the restaurant owners.  

Case Study 1

Ms. Tina and her friends decided to try out the food at a newly opened restaurant within the vicinity of Suva.

To begin with Ms Tina and her friends received their meals after waiting for 30 minutes. When the food finally arrived, Ms Tina found that the potato wedges she ordered were cold and appeared to have been cooked the previous night. Apart from this, she found hair strand in it.  Ms Tina’s friend had ordered seafood chowder which had excessive salt in it.

Ms Tina decided to notify the restaurant owner of this. The restaurant owner bluntly informed them that she was busy and very rudely asked “what the problem was?”.

When Ms Tina informed the restaurant owner that there was a hair strand in the meal, the owner refuted it saying that it was just a “fluff”. The question that arises then is what did the owner actually mean by “fluff” and what was this “fluff” doing in Ms. Tina’s plate of food? 

The owner become very aggressive and started arguing loudly with Ms Tina and her friends. She acted as if it was Ms. Tina’s fault and that she was complaining for nothing. She simply refused to take any responsibility and remained hostile about the whole situation. 

Case Study 2

During his lunch hour, Mr Peni bought a serve of lamb stir fry from a restaurant. However, amidst eating, he noticed a cockroach in his food. Mr. Peni immediately highlighted this to the restaurant owner. While Mr Peni was offered a refund of $7.50, but the restaurant owner did not even bother to offer an apology. This matter has been referred to the Ministry of Health for their necessary action.

Due to number and nature of complaints, the Council is concerned with the negative attitude of some restaurant owners.

In fact the Council fails to understand why restaurant operators become aggressive with consumers complaining about unhygienic and substandard food. Restaurants are part of the hospitality business and must strive to treat their consumers properly. After all a consumer would only eat at a restaurant that provides high quality food and services.

The Food Safety Regulation 2009 Part IV section (14) stipulates for all food business operators to ensure good hygiene practices at all stages of production, processing, handling, storage and distribution.

Restaurants should be striving to improve their services especially with the grading system in place by the Ministry of Health’s Food Unit. With the grading system, consumers would be able to know which restaurants are giving priority to health and hygiene.

Consumers are advised not to “shy away” from confronting restaurant owners for encountering such experiences. Consumers must be proactive and report such incidents to the Council and/or the Food Unit so that action can be taken against such restaurant owners.