Claremore Past: Constructive Complaints

Photo credit: Epicurious

Being that there are so many complaints being tossed around Claremore these days, I thought this oldie-but-goodie from my dear old dad was appropriate. Also, who else remembers Juanita’s Hamburgers? We used to eat there all the time, and I just know it was in a trailer (possibly?) north of Sequoyah on 66. Anyone care to enlighten me?

-MCM Staffer Ashley

Originally published in the Oologah Lake Leader, circa 1989. 

Constructive Complaints

People who complain are not always grouches. Most complainers go unheard except by their families or dinner companions. Grouches get heard because they don’t care whose feelings get hurt so long as it is not their own. Most folks are good-natured and within reason will take what life dishes up to them.

A few of us gentle souls either have noticed that there are more things to gripe about or are just getting more crotchety as we grow older.

A while back, my family and I were dining in a Mexican restaurant. I had grown up in the city where the first restaurant in the chain had opened and I had eaten with the chain for many years. On this occasion, we were given a poor table, non-existent service, cold food and a shrug when we attempted to report our dissatisfaction. I decided that a letter written in the cold light of day was in order. My first impulse was to draft a scorcher that let somebody know that I was upset. Cooler reasoning prevailed and I tried to look at the problem like it was my own restaurant. Sentence by careful sentence, I explained what I had found wrong, expressed disappointment instead of anger and told the company that I wanted to do business with them, WHEN THEY HAD MADE IMPROVEMENTS.

The result was a telephone call from the company home office, a call from the restaurant manager, a follow-up letter explaining which steps had been taken to improve service and an invitation to return for dinner to experience the corrections first hand. A reasonable complaint had been registered, management had responded and the conclusion was satisfied customers and a more profitable restaurant. It was truly a win-win situation.

As economic conditions necessitate the wife working outside the home, more and more families depend on eating out. No one wants to work all day and spend the evening cooking, serving and cleaning up. Restaurants, both full service and fast food, are capturing more of the family food dollars. There are a lot of people who are taking advantage of the “eat out” phenomenon and going into the food business. A lot of these people should not be in the food business. Look around and see for yourself the number of eating establishments that have opened in the past three years. Now look again and see how many of these places are not there anymore. The law of the jungle is nowhere more capitalistically expressed than in the local beanery. While there are more folks eating out, there are just so many eating out dollars to go around.

When you eat out, expect value for your money. Restaurant operators are eager to please. They want you to enjoy the dining experience enough to come back. If service is not up to your standards, let management know that there is a problem. If the food is not cooked quite right, let folks know. Most situations are easily corrected as long as your host KNOWS THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM.

When you have a problem, talk to someone who can do something about the problem. The poor kid with the new braces and zits handing out the order in the drive-thru is not going to have a lot of authority. He will know how to find the manager and that should help you some. The local workers of the Engulf and Devour hamburger chain sometimes get so caught up in operating manuals that they forget that their job is to sell burgers and fries to hungry folks. They are the slowest to respond to a problem. That is why, whenever it is possible, I go do business with mom and pop diners and avoid doing business with anybody who runs national TV campaigns. Anybody who serves billions and billions doesn’t have time to cut the onion on a single burger. Juanita at the local diner remembers the way I like my burger without being reminded. She remembers because we go there a lot, even though I drive past a couple of sets of arches to get there.

-by James R. May