Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bargainers

 There is a growing collection of "entrepreneurs" in the dining world these days. I hereby will call them "The Bargainers".

 I am not sure where they all came from, or why they came, but they are possibly here to stay. Bargainers have dug in, and entrenched themselves into society during these last most unfortunate years of recession. These are a variety of diners that believe that restaurant managers and owners have unlimited resources to promote whatever, whenever. Somehow, we flat out owe them.

 Church groups and schools (looking for donations for a raffle, golf tournament, booster club, etc.) are the benign Bargainers. Some call them "beggars". There is at least a chance of a return on investment with those type donations. Unfortunately, managers are often, not in a position to hand out prizes and donations for everyone's financial crisis "bake sale".

 The true purebred Bargainer is a piece of work. In their mind, they are doing the establishment an extraordinary favor. They just want a discount for waking up in the morning. We recently had booked a party of thirty on a Friday night at seven thirty. Which, for your information, is when the entire planet wants to eat dinner. I felt that we had already given this group dedicated service, by providing a separate and private dining room, during a peak hour, while we were on a wait. This assessment was incorrect. The leader of the pack presented herself to the floor manager. She proceeded to tell him that she thought that we should not charge her group for their teas. She felt that since she was an "event planner", and since she had brought us her party's business, we should make this discount (about seventy five dollars worth of sales). My floor manager let her know that he was not in a position to approve such a concession. She huffed out a "Let me speak to YOUR boss." I reckon that was her error #44-3a (asking for the boss).

 "His boss" arrived and greeted the guest with a smile and a handshake. She delivered the same story, and she received the same answer. She then spewed her same response. "I need your corporate number then." OK, thanks, and come again... Bargainer. 

 How do these people conclude that managers can randomly discount meals with no errors on the restaurant's part? If one goes into Wal Mart and takes their entire bowling team, do they expect to get a discount? When taking your entire family to the dentist, is the result a discount? A pre-negotiated discount is one thing (still annoying), but at least there can be a pleasant discussion about what can or cannot be done. Trying to intimidate a floor manager with the whole "I will call your boss" routine just ticks me off.

 The wait staff certainly does not like the bargainers as a general rule. "Bargainer" and "generous tipper" usually are not found in the same paragraph or chapter. Waiting on these groups is a challenging task (especially if you want a fair tip). I will go ahead and put it out there. Serving a bargainer group is twice as difficult as a non-bargainer group. If the manager gave in to the "let me speak to your boss" routine, the server is their next course.

 Now let's not get carried away and start calling couponers bargainers. Hell, those who are not couponing these days are not cool, or even smart. The only concern I have is couponers discounting the service that they receive from the service staff. This of course brings to light the whole nasty subject of tipping. I will save that for another day. Please, when using a coupon, be sympathetic to the server. The good one's are hard to find, and harder to keep.

  Click here to view a clever gratuity chart.

Thanks for reading, 


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