Just because they give you a refund doesn’t mean you were right

refundImagine the scene.

You're sitting at a nice restaurant – the kind where there is white linen table cloth  on each table. You know, where a meal for two adults may cost you over one hundred dollars.

It's the kind of place where the tables are four or five feet apart. The kind where, when things are going right, you can't hear others and their conversations because the background music is just loud enough and they're just far enough away.

It's a special occasion you're celebrating. A birthday. Or an anniversary. And you've ordered your food but it hasn't arrived yet. So you're having a pleasant conversation – free from the children you left at home.

Can you see yourself there? Can you hear the music? Feel the linen?

And then it happens.

The couple at the table next to you starts having a loud fight with their waiter. From what you can hear, they don't want to pay for the bottle of wine they ordered.

They ordered a bottle of wine.

They drank it.

Now when they see the price, they don't want to pay it.

So they're fighting with the waiter. They demand to see his supervisor. They're making a large stink that it didn't even taste like a $70 bottle of wine.

This is when they kick in to explaining, loud enough for everyone to hear, that they've had $70 bottles of wine before. They've even had one-hun-dred-doll-ar bottles of wine.

They say it that way – all over enunciated. And as they say it, you're pretty sure they've never been in a nicer restaurant than this, and they've never had wine out of a bottle. This was their first time. And they couldn't tell that it was different from the box wine they normally have at home.

They're a fish out of water.

Now the manager shows up. And she's a class act. She sends the waiter away, but not before whispering something to him. And she begins by apologizing. Way more than you or I would ever have apologized.

After all – they ordered the bottle and they drank the bottle.

She asks them about the rest of their meal, hoping to get them to a place where they're remembering fondly the rest of their experience. She's trying to get them to good and happy place.

She's also trying to get the room back to normal.

She's also trying to get you and me and everyone else to ignore them.

She's also trying to make sure we don't think of her place as “high drama.”

And then she tells the couple that their meal has been comped – paid for by her. She thanks them for being customers and hopes that it makes up for the problem they had with her waiter. She again apologizes and walks away.

That's when they get on their cell phones.

They start calling friends and in a voice that's way too loud, likely from having had too much wine, they proceed to tell their version of the story to all their friends. They make one call after another.

“We were at this fancy restaurant. We ordered wine – told the waiter to pick something nice. We drank some – and it was ok. But it wasn't amazing or anything.

So when we got the bill and the wine was $70, we yelled at the guy. And demanded to see his manager. She came over. We told her!

I bet she fires that waiter. Plus she gave us our entire meal free. Because her waiter was so bad.”

Let me ask you this.

Why do you think she gave them a free meal?

And while you're answering that, answer this one too.

Do you think she fired the waiter?

Here's my take

If you've eaten at enough nice restaurants, you'll eventually witness the scenario I just described. I can't tell you how many times my wife and I have watched something like this.

It happens in nice restaurants, but it also happens on nice vacations. Some people show up and right away you can tell that the drama is about to start.

The problem, these days, is that every person out there has access to twitter and facebook. So in no time flat, they can promote their version of the events and it can go viral – even if the story doesn't match reality.

Did the waiter get fired?

Not likely. Instead, he was taught to evaluate customers and to communicate more effectively. It will be a great lesson to learn. And in the long run, he'll learn to look for leading indicators that his table has fish out of water. But that won't stop him from trying to be the best at his job.

Did the couple get a refund because of the waiter?

Not likely. Instead, the manager looked primarily to diffuse a situation for all the other guests. And a single meal isn't worth ruining the experience that the rest of us were having.

That's what managers do. They take the emotion and drama OUT of situations. Even if it means that some couple will likely take the wrong lesson from the story.

Lessons from a crazy meal

I know. You're wondering if this is a post that's just about eating at nice places, huh? It's not.

It's also about your most recent WordPress plugin purchase. Or theme purchase.

If you bought something thinking it would do one thing, and then discover that it does another, you may be inclined to make a stink.

Even though you're the one that read the details of the product. Even though you're the one that ordered and paid for it. No one forced you.

But you decide to send loud and irate messages in a ticket, on a forum, or in a facebook group.

You make a stink.

And guess what? In no time flat, you've become the couple that drinks wine from a box and is now complaining about a more expensive bottle.

Because you're thinking that you're owed something.

So you make a fuss. And you get on social media. And make more of a fuss. Until someone gives you a refund and tries to take the emotion out of a situation.

And what do you do? You declare yourself the winner. You say things like, “when the manager got involved, they finally figured out I was right.”

But guess what?

Just because they gave you a refund doesn't mean you were right.