Yesterday OH and I decided to use a Groupon I had purchased for a gourmet burger special at Karibu at the Waterfront. I called ahead and was told there was no need to book. On arrival we were shown to a table, there were very few diners left as it was just coming to the end of lunch time.
We were given menus but they did not list any burgers at all and when the waiter came back and saw our Groupon voucher his whole attitude changed. He presented us with a small laminated card on which the “gourmet burgers” were listed and left.
The wine list was extensive with everything on the pricey to exorbitant side, the price of a very average glass of wine was between R40 and R60 so we declined and had a soft drink instead. The waiter eventually came back and took our orders and after a reasonable wait our food was delivered by another waiter who might have been more senior.
The food was OK, not amazing, not something I would pay their full price for. Too much food for a burger meal in my opinion. The best item was the onion rings.
From here things went downhill, our waiter ambled past more times than I could count, clearly not busy, and never made eye contact with our table. The waiter who delivered our food did the same. Our waiter stood at the bar counter with his back to us 70% of the time. He checked on us once only. I would have liked another cool drink but I could not get his attention. It took more than 15 minutes from the time we finished eating till he came back to the table to ask if everything was alright.
If this had been in the height of a lunch time rush I would have been cool with it but he appeared to be deliberately ignoring us and I am sure it is because we had a Groupon voucher. Maybe he thought us cheapskates and unlikely to tip well. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy as we were so irritated that we gave him a below normal tip and he had a lot to say about it. OH told him he was lucky to get what he did because he did not deserve it at all.
Here’s what I don’t understand, when restaurants do a deal with Groupon or any of the other such schemes they do it, I would suppose, to get more people to their restaurant but this comes at a cost of heavily discounted food. Think of it as an alternative advertising spend. Why then do they treat their newly won customers with such disdain? If I was a restaurateur I would make sure my wait staff were well briefed to give voucher holders the same, if not better service, than other patrons. Surely this is when you go all out to impress to ensure that they come back again and again and happily pay the full price.
Only twice have we had exceptional service with a discount voucher. The rest of the occasions have been mediocre at best but we have always tipped on the value of the undiscounted meal. But to be treated so badly in what is an upmarket restaurant annoyed us both so much that we felt a normal tip completely unwarranted. Needless to say we won’t be going back.
Sadly this is not the first time we have had an experience like this with a discount voucher and I now feel far less inclined to take up these offers and try a new restaurant when I can get far superior service at our local Spur.