I tried not to fall off my chair laughing today after reading an e-mail from a disgruntled diner. Disappointed with her lunch at a certain food establishment, and convinced she’d wasted $8 of her hard-earned money, she sent some friendly feedback to the owner. As a cautionary tale, I’m sharing their correspondence, names withheld to protect the not-so-innocent.
Reader’s “feedback” e-mail:
Hi [insert owner’s name here]! Well, I finally stopped today to check out your food. Being a vegetarian, I decided to get the beet and goat cheese salad. Sadly, I was very disappointed. I don’t eat a lot, but the portion was tiny — about the size of a small side salad. There was very little goat cheese, maybe, at the most, a dessert-spoonful (not as much as a tablespoon). The beets were good. And there was no bread, so all-in-all I was left quite hungry. I don’t know if this is your standard, but I had taken the recommendation from Nancy Leson so I expected better.
Well, I came home to 7 emails [re:] “add me to your list” and this one. This is my first neg[ative email] and she can kiss my a**! Love you and thanks again for all your help.
The reader said she was “quite shocked” by the above response, noting, “I have a feeling I was not supposed to get a copy.” [Me? I’m quite certain she wasn’t supposed to get it.] Then she asked for my thoughts on the subject.]
I told her I’d bet the restaurant owner probably had heart palpitations after sending that e-mail. And I noted that while the message was certainly crude, I’ve accidentally made a similarly dreadful faux pas — intending to forward a snark-filled e-mail to my best friend and instead replying (with much negative commentary) to the target of my poison pen — the very person I was dissing. (Perhaps you’ve done the same?)
I suggested she might volley, responding to the restaurant owner with something like this:
Dear Smootchy: I’m certain you didn’t mean to send me this response, and I hope after you’ve calmed down you realize that in this case `the customer is always right.’ I won’t be patronizing your establishment in the future, and hope you check twice the next time you forward this kind of missive. That said, I’m sure you were working hard yesterday and were tired and hot when you sent your message. Fear not! I forgive you.
So, what do you think? Agree or disagree? What would you do or say under the circumstances? Yeah, yeah: I know your grandmother might caution, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t hit the send button,” but then your grandma probably doesn’t spend as much time corresponding via e-mail as we all do.
UPDATE 7/24/09: As the reader and I felt certain, the “shocking” e-mail was sent erroneously. She wrote this morning letting me know that since our initial exchange, she had indeed received an apology from the restaurant owner — along with confirmation that the offending e-mail was meant for other eyes: those of the cook who prepared the too-small salad.