Monday, May 19, 2008

Where have you gone, accountability?

I've got a bone to pick.

The particular target of today's wrath is La Dolce Vita, an Italian restaurant in Wharton where Marisa's cousin had a post-christening party over the weekend.

I'll say it upfront, for the record: The food was excellent, even by New Jersey Italian standards.

So why the wrath?

The restaurant managed to double-book itself for the day, with two post-christening parties of 40+ trying to fit into a room they both thought they'd reserved all to themselves. In fact, from what I gather, M's cousins were reassured that they would have the restaurant all to themselves more than once, presumably paying (or now, not paying) good money for the privilege.

That's unprofessional and embarassing enough, when a large, expensive party arrives to find someone else in the space they'd reserved.

But what really honks me off is the management type who told them he handles the booking responded to legitimate, reasonable (under the circumstances) complaints by saying, basically, "We're human, accidents happen."

I heard him myself.

No remorse. No apology. Just a sort of shrug and a "shit happens."

I told him he should be ashamed of himself. And that's after everyone else complained. Normally, I wouldn't say much about the mistake. I mean, it's true. Accidents happen.

But this kind of lack of accountability, this non-response, this shrugging off of customer service at a major event?

It's disgraceful. And I suspect he cost his restaurant not just a hassle over this party, but some future business. I, for one, would gladly eat there again for the food. But I have no intention of going back.

And what really irks me is, this is the second time in a couple of months I've gotten this kind of blase response from a restaurant supervisor over a problem.

The first occurred at a Marriott, but say this for them: A call to the customer service line resulted in a conversation with the assistant general manager of the hotel, who apologized, discussed the problems very professionally and frankly, plus promised a small gift certificate.

I have half a mind to ring up the restaurant and try to speak to the owners, not for a gift certificate or apology, but just to explain to them, as I did to Marriott, why this kind of indifference reflects far more poorly on them than the actual mistake they made.

But I suspect M's aunt, a take-no-prisoners lady by all appearances, has already read them the riot act. No need to pile on.

After all, there's the Internet to state my case on. I have my readers to think about, and warn.