Consumer 6: Out of Service

Tuesday, November 23rd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

What do you do if you go to a restaurant and get bad service? Do you ignore it or complain? How do you complain if you're not happy? Consumer 6 looks at why customer service is slipping and what you can do to get the service you deserve.

Food service is a billion-dollar business in the U-S, but some customers may be getting the food without getting the service. Dr. Don Hackett from Wichita State University is an expert on customer service. He says customer service is slipping. “Certainly there is less customer service than there used to be," he said. "Part of it is we as customers have grown to accept it particularly in the fast food.”

Consumer 6 sent six shoppers to fifteen different chains at more than 40 locations in Tulsa. We asked them to rate the restaurants on five areas including service and cleanliness. As seen on KOTV’s 10:00 PM broadcasts of November 18th and 19th, we taped many of the visits with a hidden camera.

One of our shoppers’s said, "Once the waiter or waitress gives you your food, you can't find them." Restaurants say they have a similar problem when it comes to employees. They really can't find or keep good employees. This recruiting problem means hesitancy to train new employees. In the hospitality industry, restaurants expect to lose employees after a very short time, so any dollars spent in training them are lost.

Sometimes customer service is forgotten and you should complain. "Certainly let that manager know in a professional way and you'll be the judge if they in fact decide to do something about it," said Hackett.

Some restaurants do take service seriously. On the Border restaurant has role playing sessions before they open to the public to make sure servers are ready.
"Customer service is huge in this industry,” said server Melissa Meredith. “Customers are going to come back to a place where the service is better.”

Remember that you can fight back. “If you do complain and not much happens, then there's one easy answer,” Hackett advises. “It's a free enterprise system. Go somewhere else."