Catch Hell

What would be the best way to let a restaurant know if I had a terrible experience? I want to let someone know that the food and service wasn't up to snuff, but I don't want to be a jerk about it.

First off, congratulations. You're probably one of only a half dozen people left on the planet that doesn't want to extract the soul and dignity of your server. Usually your whiny ilk make me and my cohorts want to tie you to a fire ant hill and strap a Nachos Bell Grande to your inner thigh. It's the only solution to the .99 cent Taco Bell problem that you're raising a stink about.

Honestly, productive complaining is relatively simple. Just call the store back in a timely fashion and rationally explain that the .99 cent taco that you just got high and ate didn't exceed your expectations. Just don't berate us on how your taste buds weren't twerking on the tip of your tongue. We're peddling you food that's going to cause your heart to erupt like Mount St. Helen's, we're not offering up aged Kobe beef with fresh muscles that were tenderly massaged by virgin china-men. Don't give me any bullshit on how you have exceedingly delicate taste either. You're ordering from something called a value menu. You're not a  fucking Sommelier of the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger world, so stop giving us the stink eye and raising a shit storm over your lack of free condiments. Simply ask for your money back in a polite fashion. We'll always acquiesce, you'll get your money back, and we'll proceed to talk shit about you once you leave. That's the natural order of the fast food world.
I understand reasonable gripes, though, especially at pricier restaurants. I remember going to the moderately priced Benihana's and getting the surf-n-turf only to find out that our cook was manning his last table ever. You see, in his introduction to the table, the chef made the declaration that he was quitting. Incidentally, while giving us a heads up that he was officially checked out, he let it slip that he had gotten super baked before handling our food. For those of you that have never been to Benihana's. It's a $30 or $40 dollar a plate establishment where Mexicans pretending to be Japanese cooks prepare your food on an industrial hibachi grill right in front of you while performing enjoyable and unenthusiastic acts of dexterity. I'm talking about juggling utensils, creating the profile of Mickey Mouse out of fried rice, tossing shrimp tails into their pockets, etc, etc. Well, this mensch thought it would be amusing to tell us "happy 4/20" after every course that we were served. He then created a penis that was ejaculating butter out of our fried rice. Fortunately for us, he saved his real masterpiece for last. His creation was a Louvre-worthy work of art that involved making a marijuana leaf out of the vegetables. He managed to accomplish this all while flirting with what he thought was my girlfriend, throwing butter at one of my friends multiple times, and giving my entree to a strange smoking hot chick that was sitting at the other end of the table. 

It was a once in a lifetime kind of experience, but unfortunately it was one that I paid $50 dollars for. I didn't freak out, though. I merely waited until the end of our meal, received the check and then politely informed the hostess about my lobster-less plight. Her solution was to say sorry and comp me $5 dollars. Now I'll admit, I may have failed trigonometry, but that adds up to an astronomical amount of horseshit. Despite my shitty restitution, I still managed to keep myself from skewering what I'm guessing was a community college dropout with the empty kebab stick that was supposed to be home to half of my missing main course. Instead of taking this much easier, slightly more tyrannical approach, I opted to take the high road and simply not come back. Why? Because that's exponentially more painful than anything else you can do to a business. There's no need for me to slander the store or spit fire at the chick with the fake tits that's put in charge of seating people. A polite request to remedy the situation was all that was needed. And since my appeal of the check went unanswered, I just took the lesson that I learned, chocked it up to some added wisdom, and moved on. That's all that's necessary in this scenario. My patronage would have added hundreds of dollars annually to the coffers of the staff and management. Now, they'll get nothing from me besides a walking negative advertisement that unintentionally deters those around me from partaking in the otherwise enjoyable experience that is Benihana's.  Others who have similar shitty situations will wind up taking their thousands elsewhere as well. So the vote that I'm casting with my dollar will turn out to be the most impactful and damaging election I can make, and truthfully, that's all that it takes to separate a quality establishment from one that has a super high Asian uncomfortably slinging around ultra sharpened hibachi knives that are more like mini-samurai swords than actual steak utensils.

Most of the time blacklisting a restaurant is completely unnecessary, though. Just call the establishment back or smile and share your trying times. The owner/operator will usually comp you, give you something to look forward to the next time you visit, or they'll simply convince you that they're not worth your time. And is that so bad? Think about it, haven't you gone to a movie or played a video game that you didn't enjoy? Was your first thought to ever call the developers or the directors and bitch about how you sat through something like Grown Ups 2? Sure, the Grown Ups franchise made you want to take a melon baller to your eyes, but no, you didn't call Kevin James up and tell him to ride his Segway off the deck of his yacht. You sucked up your miserable experience and told everyone to go snuff out the lives of nearby toddlers so their virgin eyes could be spared the pain of having to grow up in a world where they would be forced to witness the atrocities that emerge from the mind of Adam Sandler. That, or you just opted not to see anymore Happy Madison productions like any normal human being would. Either way, there's no bitchiness required.