Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dear Romano's Macaroni Grill, You've Got It All Wrong

     I try to be a person with a grateful spirit. I try to be understanding when things go wrong. I'm usually the first one to say to someone in error "That's okay." I'm all about fixing rather than fighting. But sometimes, insult after insult gets added to injury after injury and I just get fed up. 

     Picture it, Sicily, December 13th, 2011. Okay, maybe that was a bit too much Sophia Petrillo, but everything but the Sicily part is correct. We went to Macaroni Grill with our family. It's been a go-to spot of ours, always. Our local MG had a fire and was finally restored. We went in with our usual party of eight, and our reservation. Which is really more like call-ahead seating, because there's no table ready for you at your reservation time. There is a promise of only 20 minutes wait. Whatever, we get that this is, after all, a chain restaurant.  I had gone in prior to our dinner and bought gift certificates. They were running a promotion where you buy $25 and get a $5 bonus to use later. 

     They seated us at a table for six. The restaurant was half full. It was late. We had reservations for eight people.I requested they add another table. They said they could not. I felt under our table and it had extenders.  This never sits well with me. I don't think asking to add a table in a half full restaurant so we aren't bumping elbows is asking too much. We are bringing you business. From people who order appetizers and entrees and salads and soups and desserts. We aren't sharing a sandwich and getting water. Don't treat us like we are an imposition.

     We had our dinner. While I fail to recall all of the highlights, the gist of the dinner was:

Daughter #2 had chicken parmesean. It's what she almost always gets at MG. This time it was raw inside. Every piece. She sent it back. They offered to make it again and she declined. Her stomach was turned, and I don't blame her. She just sat there praying she didn't end up with food poisoning.  Eventually they brought her out what they said was a new dinner to take home. The next day when she checked it guess what!? It was raw inside, too!  Injury, meet insult. She did order a tiramisu, which was lovely. 

     When dessert time rolled around for the rest of us they told us they were out of tiramisu and other desserts, leaving us with slim pickings.  When the manager, Dave, called us he had someone check and they had indeed not been out of tiramisu, they had just not wanted to do the work. His words, not mine. Why did he tell me this? Insult, you've met injury, right?

My #1 son ordered a steak well done. Whether you agree with people who do this or not, you must at least respect that they can't deal with a bloody hunk of meat. What he was served was a steak which was rare. Rare, people. Did he want them to cook it some more? No, his stomach was also turned. (These kids will eat about anything, and they aren't little kids - we're talking college aged people, here) We asked them to box up his steak. When we got outside we realized they had not given us the steak. My husband went back in and told them we wanted it. They took seven minutes to come back out with the box. (Isn't this more than a little unusual?) When we got home guess what was in the box? The cake crumbs from Son #3's  cake. Hey Insult, you remember injury, right?

     This isn't even all, this is just all I feel like going into right now. In the past I  have written letters to RMG when we had an excellent server to let them know. I've written once when things didn't go quite right.  This time things went WAY wrong. Out of eight people two of us had a good meal that night. Not satisfactory. 

     When it was time to pay I gave the server our $150 in gift cards and my Discover card to cover the rest. When she brought back the check she explained that since I had paid with gift cards and a credit card that her tip showing on the credit card slip was only based on the amount we were paying with the card and she loses a lot this way. She apologized for the need to tell me about this but said to me she just didn't want to "get screwed" (who talks like this? At work? To a customer? Who just had a lousy experience?) Really, I'm still shaking my head over this. I looked at both receipts and did the math. Her 18% went into the gift card part. So it didn't take $150 off our total. She was asking me to double tip her on $150 worth of food! And even tip her on her tip on the first $150. Incredible! Insult, and Injury sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

     I went home and wrote a letter on their online 'Contact Us' page. I got a response the next day from the manager. He seemed genuinely unhappy with the way his staff  performed about some things, but on most of the stuff he made excuses about it being new staff and how so many of them are quitting so he has to pretty much hire anyone, etc. I've seen new restaurants open and have well trained staff. I really didn't feel like listening to him tell me why his job was so difficult. Please, just make this situation right. Do something to make me feel like you care about our bad experience. He promised to send me certificates on Friday.  (That'd be Friday, Dec 16th, folks) He didn't have much around because he had to comp so many meals lately. I told him this is fine. 

     Months go by. Nearly three of them. I write another note to RMG on their 'contact us' link. I tell them that they not only offered us a terrible time but they also failed to care about it. I would think the manager would have sent the certificates and then made a follow up call in a month or so to see how the second visit went. I told them  I was so unhappy with the lack of care we were shown that I refused to use the $30 in bonus certificates I got when I bought gift cards. I also told them I did not want Dave to call me again. I just wanted to let them know how things are being done. The next day I got a voice mail and an email from his boss. He said "I want to apologize for your poor experience and the poor follow up by my manager. I'm very sorry about that and I want to make this right for you. I'm responsible... I need to get involved and resolve this situation. I'm also going to send you an email with contact information as well." He gives his phone number and gives more apology. Seems pretty straightforward. 

     Then I get a call from the manager - who I specifically asked not contact me again - stating he sent them and he's so sorry I didn't get them. He remembers the address. No kidding, dude, I gave it to you over the phone. This doesn't mean you sent certificates. I lived at that address for over eight years and we never had mail issues. I don't believe for a second he sent me anything. This guy just fails to take responsibility. This bothers me. Deeply.

     So today, March 15th, I get this:

Seriously, Macaroni Grill? At least spell the name right. 

I think I am going to mail this whole thing in a big envelope back to them. Because, really. Have the $30 I refused to use and take the $30 you sent as 'comps' (whatever that means?) and just keep them. Because by now, I'm not feeling the good will from your company. I do not feel like a valued customer. I can find other places to eat, tip well, and take our party of eight.

     What do you think? I can't believe they did not honor my wishes about not having Dave call again. I would put all of this stuff in a trash can and burn it, while videotaping it and post it, sending a copy of it to the district manager, but I am way too lazy for that.

p.s. Don't bother stopping by, that's the old address. I gave Macaroni Grill the new one, but Dave is less than stellar and sent these to the address he originally had - three months ago.


  1. Wow that is an incredible piece of advice I can give you is "Carrabas!"

  2. We went for the first time to Buca di beppo in Strongsville by South Park Mall. What an awesome place. If you haven't been you must go. The portion the serving sizes to families as well as individuals. One of the best places I've in a long time.

    We lived (I can say that now lol) across from Great Northern mall and went to the MG by our apartment and hated every bit of it. Just wasn't to my liking and I would never go back.

    I agree and I would send it all back.