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I Despise Incompetence

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I'm a professional chef with over 15 years of experience in the food service industry. I've literally worked every position there is in casual dining (both front and back of the house) save for having been a general manager. For the past few years, instead of running a commercially licensed kitchen or managing a restaurant (as assistant manager), I've been teaching Culinary Arts. It is my job to get students ready for entry level positions in the food service industry.

Given my background, I really despise incompetence. Like most chefs, I tend to critique meals. I also notice the quality (or lack thereof) of the wait staff.

Today I ate at Chili's. My server today was not very well trained. 

Instead of introducing himself as most servers do, he asked if I was ready to order. The server was apparently a "to the point" guy. Since I tend not to make small talk, I didn't mind this. I ordered shrimp fajitas. They were quite good. What bothers me was that in the middle of my meal, the server brought me my ticket. 

This bothered me for several reasons. Being an aspie, I'm going to generate a list. I take great comfort in listing things. Do any of you like listing things? I think I like lists because numbering things provides structure and I like a really well structured environment. 

1) The server did not suggestively sell dessert or coffee, both of which I would have liked.

2) Giving me a ticket this early in my meal made me feel as though I was being given the bum's rush to leave. 

3) Chili's installed Ziosks at all 800+ locations by March of 2014. A Ziosks is an electronic tabletop device that allows customers a number of options. You may order desserts, alcoholic beverage refills, and appetizers through the Ziosk by using its touch sensitive screen. You may use it to play games. You may even use it to pay your bill and to leave customer feedback.

 Why did the server bring me a ticket? Did he assume that because I'm 57 (with salt and pepper hair) that I'm not aware of what a Ziosk is or how to use one? Was he discriminating against me because of my age having made the erroneous assumption that older people don't know how to use these infernal new fangled gadgets?

I know I could have ordered dessert (I'm not sure about coffee) through the Ziosk but after receiving a ticket, I felt compelled to finish and leave ... and so I did ... but not before I left feedback regarding this experience through the Ziosk.

Since this is the SECOND TIME this has happened to me at this particular location, after I got home, I wrote a scathing email to the corporate office at Chili's. I really HATE getting a ticket before I've even finished my meal and I especially hate the lack of professionalism through the server's inability or unwillingness to suggestively sell coffee and dessert.

Since tips are typically generated as a percentage of one's total check, one would think that a server would be motivated to sell-sell-sell so that he or she could reap the financial benefits that should accrue from a higher tab. 

As it was, I was so annoyed that I only left a 10% tip. I usually leave 20-25%. 

I am now at home and I still want coffee and dessert. I have a container of crescent rolls in the refrigerator. I think I will adapt them by rolling them out and adding a layer of butter so I may fold it prior to rolling it out and refolding it to create a puff pastry dough. It will take some time, but for dessert, I will have croissants stuffed with nutella and crushed pecans along with a pot of coffee. 



P.S. I forgot to mention that everything related to Culinary Arts is part of my all-prevailing interests. Do any of you get annoyed if you encounter incompetence in your respective fields of interests? Just wondering. 

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  Oh yes... I've been working in the communications / computers industry for decades.  Programmer, System Admin, Databases, PC Tech, I have done it all.  I really despise when I get to be the client talking to some poorly trained customer care rep.  And because I'm older too, I also get people assuming that I don't know how to use the technology.  Oh yes, I understand the frustration.



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It's never good to be on the receiving end of poor performance. it is possible to feel some sympathy for the person performing badly if they are aware of their limitations and want to improve. Sometimes the problem lies with bosses who ask workers to do things beyond their skill level, or for which they either haven't been trained or have even been given the wrong advice. Some people though don't seem to care that they are doing a poor job or even believe that their way is right and others are wrong. Bad performance by someone in authority who seems unaccountable and even passes judgement on others really annoys me. It's not acceptable in other cases but it can be corrected with the right direction and support.

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3 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

it is possible to feel some sympathy for the person performing badly if they are aware of their limitations and want to improve.

This is a good point. Although I do try to be kind and although I am firm, fair, and consistent in my Culinary Arts kitchen, I struggle (as many aspies do) with the concept of empathy.

With this being said, although many servers expect gratuities and many restaurants take ruthless advantage of these expected gratuities by drastically undercutting wages to the point where many servers (depending upon location) are not even paid the MINIMUM for the Federal minimum wage, at the end of the day I think most customers give gratuities based upon the quality of service they received.

The fact this has now happened twice with two different servers suggests that the local Chili's may have a problem with training. This is partially why I brought this to the attention of corporate. I know from personal experience having worked in casual dining restaurants, that it's really easy for management to ignore feedback comments. These comments become much more important after corporate gets involved.

If corporate finds my remarks to be credible, they will forward these comments to whoever the regional manager is. Regional managers are responsible for supervising several units within 1 or more geographic areas. The regional manager will then contact the unit's general manager who will then be expected to address this issue.

The bottom line for corporate is this.

Why did they go to the expense of purchasing Ziosk table top units for every table in every Chili's location if servers are going to preemptively ignore them by issuing written tickets. This defeats the entire point of this investment. It also runs the risk of possibly annoying customers who did not request a written ticket and are now confused as to whether or not the bill is "set in stone" and whether or not they are excluded from further orders.

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