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Article Category: Blog, Habits

I was in a restaurant with a friend who ordered a beer and then didn’t drink much of it. I gestured at it and said, “So, you’re really not a big drinker.”

She said, “It just doesn’t taste right to me.”

I said, “Then send it back. Get what you want.”

She demurred, “No, that’s okay. I’ll just get some ice for it.”

A few minutes later she asked the server for ice and I had to hold myself back from saying, “She doesn’t like it. Can she order something else?”

If it had been my drink, I definitely would have told the server I didn’t like it. In the U.S. servers are trained to make the customer happy, no matter what it takes. In fact, if you’re in a restaurant and the server doesn’t make sure you are satisfied with your meal or drink, they aren’t doing their job.

If you don’t like your drink, entree, appetizer or anything you’ve ordered, don’t just force yourself to consume it. As soon as you realize it’s not what you want, say to the server, “Excuse me. This doesn’t taste right to me. May I order something else?”

Chances are the server will immediately take it away and bring you the substitute dish or beverage you prefer. The only thing to be careful of is not to eat or drink most of the item and then complain. You’ll look like you’re trying to get free stuff.

If it’s an item that can’t be substituted — for instance, if they only serve one dessert and you don’t like it — then they should take the item off of your bill. If you didn’t consume more than a bite or two of the item and told them you disliked it, but they didn’t remove it from the bill, point that out to them. You should not have to pay for it.

My ex-husband has worked in the American restaurant industry his whole life, and he’ll confirm all of this advice. If you don’t get good customer service from your server (or bartender), feel free to ask to speak to the manager. This might feel strange or uncomfortable, but in the U.S. asking to speak to the manager is sometimes the best way to get what you want. Once you say the words, “May I please speak to your manager?” the server must send the manager to talk to you. American restaurant managers want their guests to leave happy and she or he should resolve the situation.

If she or he doesn’t, then you can simply not go there again and let your friends know that you don’t recommend that place. In fact, that’s the behavior feared by restaurant managers such as my ex-husband. My ex will do back-flips to make a guest happy because word-of-mouth is critically important. If a manager gives you anything less than excellent service, they deserve the review they get.

My friend got the ice for her beer, but still didn’t drink more than another swallow or two. Even though I told her everything I’ve put in this post, she ended up paying for an item she had drunk little of, and that she hadn’t enjoyed. You don’t have to do that. Not in the U.S.

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