Friday, August 19, 2005

Notible Customers - Part III

Yes, these customers are so unique, and so utterly annoying, that they get their own Notible Customer post! Read on!

The PITA Party...

At the beginning of the summer, we started to have a live trivia game in the bar every Thursday night from 8:30-10:30. Every so often, this trivia game becomes part of a local, multi-bar trivia tournament, with a "trivia bowl" and everything. Trivia is an annoyance to most of the staff at our restaurant, the DJ is loud, annoying, obnoxious, etc. The guests who come in to play trivia, take up multiple tables and only buy beer, hoping to win free appitizers rather than buying food themselves. The bar area doesn't concern the hostesses really, but when larger parties come to play trivia and don't want to sit in the bar, i.e. because they have kids or they don't like smoke, then it concerns us. The one party in particular that none of us like, is the PITA party (Pain In The A$$). Thankfully, so far, they've really only come in for the tournament.

The PITA party has usually around 8 to 10 people, children included, and they never want to sit in the bar. Ever. The past tournament, the first I've been there for, was a particularly busy season for the restaurant. Thursday nights were almost like Friday nights with the number of people that would come in to eat. The PITA party comes about an hour or so before the trivia game starts so they can have dinner and feed the kids, so not only are they taking up at least two tables for the two hours trivia is in play, they're taking up two tables for an additional hour during peak dinner hours just because they can. We're always telling people that we have call-ahead seating available, though nobody ever seems to quite grasp the concept, and this particular party eventually learned that they had to call ahead if they didn't want to wait. They like many others, however, did not ever grasp the whole concept of call-ahead seating.

Before they figured out that they could call ahead, they would just show up with 8 or 10 people and expect to be seated right away simply because they thought they somehow deserved it. They would always have one of their children check (unless they were really ticked off because they had to wait, then you got Mean Lady or Mr. A-Hole, the ringleaders) and see "how much longer" it was going to be for their party and never really be satisfied with an answer unless it was "you're next so it will be just a moment". For some reason, they always felt entitled to special treatment, though none of us ever figured out why, it wasn't like they were our best customers or anything, and frequent asked for one of our managers in particular (not the GM). I guess they felt like he was being really nice and friendly towards them and making them feel special, or they just felt cool 'cause they knew his name and if they complained enough he did stuff for them.

After they figured out we had CAS, they got especially mean about it. Mean Lady would always call ahead one to two hours before they arrived and not give the poor hostess who answered the phone time to get a word in edgewise. If we would try to explain that we don't do CAS when we're not on a wait, she would snap "I know that but I'm giving you my name anyway" and hang up, after she gave us the name, number of people, and what time they would be coming in. Eventually, I learned to tack on an extra half hour, forty-five minutes, to an hour to what time they gave us because they never showed up at the time they gave us. Probably had something to do with the whole "we're special" attitude they seemed to have. That, and I think they thought that we "reserved" tables for them as soon as they called so they could show up anytime they pleased, that's what they seemed to expect (for no valid reason) anyway. Whenever they would arrive, and we didn't have a table set up and waiting for them (which we did on occaison if we could), they would pout around at the bar (outside if it was nice) and make comments to each other like, "I don't understand this, we called ahead", "If we called ahead we should have a table waiting", "We should talk to *manager's name* about this", etc. etc. You would think, that after coming in week after week after week, and having the same stuff, that is sooo bad, happen to them, they would figure out to either give us an accurate arrival time, call closer to the time their coming, or something along those lines. But, of course they didn't, because that would just make too much sense and be too logical for them.

PITA gives us no trouble after they're at their table, but boy you do not want to tick them off while they were waiting because they're out to make their wait a miserable time for the hostesses and anybody else that came near them. I might not mind them so much if they would at least smile once in a while. The guy usually does, and he's not all that bad, if you keep him happy. But his wife is a trip...she looks like she's in a constant bitch mode or something. I don't think I've ever seen her smile at any of our staff ever. They aren't nice at all though. They complain to our district manager whenever they get a chance (when he stops by for a "visit") over stupid little things that could happen to anyone. Apparently, ONCE they were misquoted a wait time and thought it necessary to bring it to our DM's attention. With all the times they've come in and waited, being misquoted once is an exceptionally good job on the hostesses part, but do they tell our DM that? Of course not. Any chance they get to pick us apart and try for free food, they go for it. I prefer Salmon Guy to these people! At least he doesn't complain about every little thing he can think of to our district manager!

Where do these people get off thinking they're better than every other guest that comes through our doors? Where do they get off thinking that they can treat the hostesses and wait staff like crap and whine and complain to the manger everytime some small mistake occurs? Would it kill Mean Lady to smile once in a while? (I personally, though, think that her face stuck that way a long time ago) What happened that made them think that they deserve special treatment? What makes them think we'll throw the rules out the window for them, and hold tables for them all night while we breathlessly await their arrival? Is it just because they bring money into the restaurant? Because, as much as they probably wouldn't believe it, the restaurant would continue to do good, even great business without their money. What really irks me is that we hostesses still have to open the door for them and smile so they get the impression that we like them and want them to come back. We're not allowed to talk back or defend ourselves, that would probably get us fired (not me, I'd have to do a heck of a lot to get myself fired, they need me too much), we can't explain to the manager what happened while they're listening (they'll contradict or disagree on details), we just have to sit there and take whatever crap they decide to give us.

We have to grin and bear it, just like everything and everyone else.