What to Do If You Have Bad Service At a Restaurant

It’s not just the food and location that makes a restaurant worth visiting, but also the customer service. No matter how optimistic you are, there are some bad servers out there, and you might even bump into them while trying to have a nice meal with your family or friends. So, what to do if you have to tolerate bad service at a restaurant?

Let’s talk about how you can tackle the bad service at a restaurant. 

Before You Complain, Think

Before you complain about the service at the restaurant, make sure you are not acting like “that” person who keeps complaining about every little thing. Remember that waiting tables all day is hard, and there is no harm in cutting some slack to the servers. 

However, genuine and fixable problems in a restaurant’s service that you think have already ruined the meal you wanted to enjoy should be conveyed to the management. Most big restaurants encourage their customers to give real feedback, i.e., both good and bad. 

Such restaurants would also want you to tell your complaints right away, while you are still present there, so that they can make it better for you or improve it before you visit them next time. However, most people find it hard to actually talk about the issue, even though they shouldn’t, because restaurants run on hospitability, and they’d never want a customer to leave unhappy.

If you are also one of those people who have difficulty while complaining at a restaurant or don’t know how to do it at all, here are some tips for you:

1. Speak Up at the Right Time

Speaking up at the right time can save you and the restaurant from a bigger problem. For example, if you got the wrong order or the food is too salty, speak right away while the food is still in front of you. Or, if you have any other issue, speak while it’s still going on. 

Also, don’t forget to think and evaluate whether complaining is even necessary or not. Anyhow, complaining after you have eaten the food or after you’ve left the restaurant wouldn’t do any good. 

2. Be Specific and Ask Any Questions That You Have 

Some people tend to get confused when complaining. Therefore, try to be very specific about both, complaint and the resolution (if you have thought of any). This way, you will not only save your time but also save the staff from getting confused.

For example, if there is a problem with the food you ordered, and you have told the issue to the staff as well, but they haven’t yet offered any replacement or other solution, ask again. Not asking for a replacement or remaking the food will only lead you to feel the “what if” for the rest of the day. 

If you tend to have a specific idea in your mind that you think can solve the issue, convey it. In short, knowing how to communicate your problem is the key. 

3. Don’t Expect a Free Appetizer but Do Expect a Wrong Dish to Be Taken Off the Bill

Restaurants don’t offer freebies until the disaster caused is beyond repair. The restaurant industry works on a razor-thin margin, making it quite hard for them to cover problems by offering free stuff. However, if you send the food away without eating it, you should expect it to be taken off the bill. Even if it is still on your tab, make sure you point it out to the server, as it can be a common mistake, and they can correct it right away.

4. Know That You Are Only Human, and You Can Also Be the Wrong One Here 

As we mentioned before, good restaurants encourage feedback, whether good or bad. So, before you send that plate back to the kitchen, know that it doesn’t directly go to the trash can, but the chef examines the food to know what mistake was made while cooking or serving it to you. 

So, if a chef says there wasn’t an issue, then you should consider the fact that you might have given the wrong instructions or had expected the food to taste exactly like what you ate somewhere else. Anyone can end up making mistakes, and you can also be the wrong one here. So, please accept it elegantly if the restaurant gives proper proof or explains everything to you about how you aren’t right about the complaint. 

5. Be As Polite As Possible 

Yes, we understand that a messed-up order or a rude server can give you a headache, and you can have the right to be angry; however, never forget to be polite. In a situation like this, calmly call your server or the manager and politely state your issue. If the issue isn’t that big, for example, a glass with a crooked end, just ask your server to change it.

However, if the server isn’t of any help or is providing bad service, it’s better to call the manager and let them solve the issue for you.

Acting calmly can actually get you your desired result easily, and of course, the restaurant won’t snitch about you after you’ve left either. Lastly, remember that serving problems can be a server’s fault, but they have nothing to do with the food that the chef cooked for you.

Some Tips for Getting the Best Service at Any Restaurant 

Now that you know the right way to complain about bad service, here are some tips that may help you get a better service:

Don’t Be the First or Last 

You definitely wouldn’t want to be the first or the last customer who enters the restaurant a few minutes before it closes. Believe us or not, the servers are actually at their worst at both these times – of course, there are exceptions. 

Being the first customer isn’t as bad as being the last customer of the night. At that time, the whole staff is preparing to wrap up and leave for home, but then all of a sudden, a customer decides to walk in and ruin their plans. You may get food that’s cooked without any care, and you may not even feel welcomed there.

Don’t Go To a Restaurant on a Busy Day 

Usually, Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest days for any restaurant, making the customer service standards also lower down a bit. So, if you want to enjoy excellent service, you can choose any other day than the weekends or holidays. If you visit a restaurant on an off-night, you’ll surely enjoy great service.


A bad dining experience can ruin one’s whole mood, but handling such a situation is also a skill that one must learn. As humans, we all make mistakes, and most of the time, minor problems in a restaurant’s service can be ignored right away. So, if you can ignore an issue and it works well for you, do it. For example they may react poorly when they receive a bad service at restaurant.