Call At Your Own Risk

poor-service

Tonight the family went to Outback Steakhouse in Clarksville, Tennessee. Since Outback offers “call ahead to be seated” service and we knew it would be packed we called thirty minutes ahead to reserve a table.

Unfortunately when we got there they did not have our name on the list. So after some civil, if not polite, negotiation they put us on the list and told us it would be about 30 minutes. This would have been mildly annoying at most, except that the reservations gir (I say girl because she looked about 16)l then told me that she was doing me a favor for placing me on the list.

A favor? She was doing me a favor after she failed to write down our name when we called in 30 minutes before we arrived.

The nerve.

Fortunately for her I wasn’t feeling very well and therefore I wasn’t up to my normal “not take this crap” mood, so I just said, “Fine” and walked away, leaving it to my oldest son to accept the little pager she offered.

Now this would be bad enough, but when we were waiting we talked to some other people who had also called in before they arrived, but who had also had not had their name added to the list. So what was a simple oversight turned out to be either laziness or incompetence or both.

So we waited our additional 30 minutes and were called, but while waiting on someone to escort us to our table I overheard another group being told the same story – their name wasn’t on the list and they would have to wait about 45 minutes for a table. Plus, still another couple was being told that, despite their calling in 45 minutes before they arrived and their name actually being on the list, they were still going to have to wait 30 minutes because all the call ahead list did was scoot you in a little earlier, not actually reserve you a table for your arrival time.

So basically they have a call ahead list that doesn’t do what it is probably intended to do which is get you in quickly so you can have a good time and become a regular customer. No, what it does is just piss you off when you first get there making it all that more difficult to enjoy your meal and pretty much guaranteeing that you won’t come back again.

Not exactly a smart business move considering how tight the economy is these days.

UPDATE:

There was something else I noticed during our meal. While we were there I saw no less than seven tables sitting empty for long periods of time while 30 or more people waited to be seated. Evidently they didn’t have enough wait staff and/or bus staff to keep things flowing well. Another stupid move when you want to keep people returning. Oh yeah, they had also changed their menu, and like nearly all menu changes by major restaurant chains, it was worse than the one they had before. I don’t know why they did that.

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4 Comments

  1. Same thing happened to us at the Outback in Omaha NE… and then the service was so bad that my hubby-who usually leaves the annihilation of perfectly good strangers up to me-yelled at the manager and got us a free dinner out of the deal. The second dinner was just as bad as the first and the fact that it was free did not make us feel better in the least.

    Next time go to Texas Road House… they clap and dance in the aisles when you walk through the door.

  2. Wow. Sounds like really bad management. I wonder if manager-wannabees have to take a course in providing bad service. Or maybe the managers just do a lousy job of training their greeters.

    We’ve never had an experience at Outback like you both have described, but then, we’re early eaters; we’ve also never wanted to eat there badly enough to wait a long time. The last time we were there, we noticed the menu had changed; they had removed the chicken dish my spouse had really enjoyed. They really don’t have anything I especially like, except for a couple of sides: We both now order one sweet potato and the steamed veggies. Nice, lite meal, if you don’t count the blob of butter and cinnamon they put on the ‘tato.

  3. My wife liked the steak salad which they no longer offer. I got some kind of steak sandwich was was not very good.

  4. Seems about right. Have you ever ordered on line and then go to pick up your order when it says it’s ready?

    Check out our adventure.

    http://mssc54.wordpress.com/?s=Outback+Steakhouse


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