shutterstock_135035996 (640x456)It’s happened to every diner.  You ordered steak rare and it arrived well done.  Your “no mayonnaise” request was overlooked. You got diet instead of regular soda.

If you dine out frequently, odds are your order has been botched at least once.  Everyone makes mistakes – even our favorite restaurants.  But how should a diner handle the error?  The He Said/She Said team weighs in.

She Said – by Elizabeth C.

I have to admit, it is really upsetting when you take that first sip of your Coca-Cola and wind up with a mouth full of Dr. Pepper.  Or when the sandwich you have been eagerly awaiting arrives doused in the mustard you asked them to hold.  But, I fall into the camp of diners that rarely chooses to send food back to the kitchen.  In fact, sometimes it makes me cringe when others do.  Here’s why:

In my experience, people who send food back to the kitchen tend to take their frustration out on the server.  In most cases, it’s probably not the server’s fault (although in some dressing-on-the-side cases and the like, it is.)  It makes me uncomfortable watching a server take the fall for the kitchen’s mistake.

Plus, it seems to me that most of these order errors are the result of someone placing an overly picky order in the first place.  If you add 12 modifications to your sandwich, you greatly increase the odds of the kitchen getting one wrong.  Are you testing the server’s memory?! Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like those people with a multitude of specifications to their order (no onion, no tomato, no cheese) are also the ones most inclined to also send their food back to the kitchen.  It’s no fun to dine with someone who is putting the server through the ringer.  Just take the tomato off yourself!

I’ve also found that, people are a bit wasteful when it comes to sending food back.  I’ve seen whole steaks discarded and whole burritos trashed just because of one wrong ingredient.  At some point, that seems a little extravagant.  Is that “no onions” request really important enough to waste a full meal?

Of course there are exceptions to this opinion, like when a health risk exists due to undercooked meat or food allergies.  But I am one of those people who will grin and bear it when my salad arrives with the wrong dressing rather than make a big stink and ask for a new salad with the proper vinaigrette.

He Said – by Phil V.

It will come as no surprise that I disagree with Liz on this one.  If you order something and it doesn’t come out right then I think you have every reason to politely let your server know and get your order corrected.  It would appear to me that this is best for the diner, the server and the restaurant.  You want to pay for what you asked for, your server wants to make sure you have an exceptional experience and the restaurant itself wants to be sure to do everything in their power to have you come back again.  The only way that everyone gets what they want is by making sure that you as the diner are not sulking at the table because your order was wrong.  Send it back and enjoy your meal!

I will say that this does come with a caveat though.  Please be polite about this situation.  As Liz pointed out, people make mistakes and nobody intentionally got your order wrong to ruin your meal.  I’ve seen people completely go off the handle when something was missed on their meal and I don’t think this helps anybody.  Let your server know in a polite way and I’m sure you will get a friendly response and everything will get taken care of.  Also, I do agree with Liz that you need to make your requests within limits.  If you have an outrageous amount of changes to your dish (you can see our thoughts on that issue here), then it probably isn’t acceptable to go off the deep end when one of those requests was missed.  If you made a reasonable request, and it was not done, then it is reasonable to let your server know and get it corrected.

I’ve had several meals myself where something was not correct and I didn’t say anything about it.  It made my experience much less enjoyable and falsely left me with a poor opinion of the restaurant, but I had nobody but myself to blame for that.  Had I simply spoken up, my order would have been corrected and my meal would have been much more enjoyable.  So I say SPEAK UP if something doesn’t come out right. Just remember that it isn’t the end of the world and everyone is working very hard, so behave with some common courtesy and everyone can still win.

What are your thoughts on sending food back to the kitchen when an order comes out wrong?  As always, please let us know in the comments below!