My brother's eighteenth birthday today, so naturally, the family went out for dinner. A new location of a restaurant we'd been to before, Sofia. We'd really enjoyed the other location, and figured that the new one couldn't be too far from what we remembered.
(For the record, I'm currently a kitchen hand at a retirement village, and am completing my Cert II in Hospitality - Operations. My mother is Kitchen Supervisor and Head Cook at the same retirement village I work at, my grandfather was a Chef back in his day, my uncle currently works in the kitchens at the Jika (I'm not sure what as; I rarely talk to him), and my aunt was the Kitchen Supervisor at a child care centre until she quit three weeks ago.)
I know that the laws are different everywhere, but since the restaurant and myself are in Victoria, Australia, they and I need to abide by the Food Safety Act. Now, I know that said Act changes quite a bit every year, and that for someone who isn't working as Head Chef in a restaurant it's rather hard to keep up, but it's somewhat mandatory for all kitchen staff to, y'know, wear a hair net. And if they aren't, their supervisor shouldn't let them anywhere near any food product.
I ordered half a dozen oysters Kilpatrick (hooray for pay day after a public holiday), and since the staff were being so nice, didn't mention the hair in the rock salt on the plate. When my mother's dish came out, and a short, curly hair was blending in with the pasta? I made no comment when she sent it back to the kitchens.
A medium-rare steak cannot be confused with a completely burnt one. No, really, I promise. And trust me, five out of thirteen at our table have a rather large amount of knowledge of the cooking world - if a "medium-rare" steak comes out looking like a pile of coal, we're going to know it ain't what we ordered before you set it down.
Still, no complaints. That was my brother's meal, and he didn't want to make a fuss on his 18th. Fair enough, he ate it, said it was dry, and just stuffed himself full of birthday cake instead of eating his steak. Hey, everyone's happy. (Except for our grandfather, who was grumbling about wasting money.)
My uncle's girlfriend ordered a veal parma. That cued quite a few winces, since parma is the most commonly stuffed-up dish, but it came out looking fantastic.
Except for the part where it was burnt on the bottom.
As far as I know, everyone else's meals were satisfactory, or they kept quiet about it.
On meals that weren't ours, though...
...My grandmother ordered one spaghetti marinara. Four came out. I don't know how or why that happened, other than that communication between the lady who took our order and the kitchen staff who received it must've been really bad, but it happened. Not a loss to us, but since those other three seafood pastas got thrown out? A loss to the establishment.
After our meal, we ate the cake that my mother made. Lah de da, time comes to pay the bill. $349.90. Fair enough, we set about figuring out who owes who what.
Everyone pays theirs, but hold up, there's about $50 missing. We do a re-count, and then a re-re-count.
Then we glance at the bottom, and see "GST". Eh, alright, most places in Victoria add GST to the menu prices, but hey. We figure we'll ask about it when we get to the counter.
So we get there, my mother asks.
We ask why GST is listed at the bottom of the bill, and immediately, the lady at the register sighs and pulls out her wallet. Mum jumps in and says that we're going to pay the GST, but we just want to know why it's there.
During that small exchange, my godfather had been looking at a menu, and spotted "All prices are GST inclusive". So we point that out, and the lady starts getting snappy. So my mother started getting snappy back, and asked to see a manager. The lady motioned for us to stand to the side while another group paid, and we did so. I told my Mum to calm down a bit and not yell, so when the manager came around, she was quite polite.
Until he opened his mouth and flat-out said "You're paying this whole bill, darling."
We put forward our case, demonstrated our working-out, and then he took our bill and started working it out himself.
Now, because our working-out had been done without using a calculator, he whipped one out. My grandfather asked to use the calculator too, and when he got it, the numbers "268" were on it. When he asked why, the manager said that it was because he had "pushed a button". Sure, sure. Whatever you say, mate.
The manager insisted that the GST was included in the prices, and that it was put at the bottom for record purposes. Yeah, yeah--the same godfather of mine that picked out the "GST inclusive" kind of owns his own business, and I kind of do accounting. No-where near professional level, but far enough to know why GST is listed at the bottom of dockets.
My godfather points out that we haven't got a problem with the GST being listed at the bottom, we have a problem with being charged GST twice. At this point, my grandfather had asked to see the menu so he could find out how much his meal was (since the manager had taken away our bill), and the manager snatched the calculator away.
Manager started in on my mother again, she told him not to call her "darling", he continued doing so. I butted in with a (toneless is the only way I can think to describe my voice at this time) "sir, it goes against enterprise standards in any hospitality industry to be rude to any person in the workplace". So then, of course, he rounded on me.
"Well, little girl, maybe you should teach your mother how to speak to a person properly, then I wouldn't be so fucking rude!"
Beggin yer pardon, sir, but ain't that just a tad over-the-top?
So I try again, with a bit of emotion in my voice this time. (Frustration, in my mind. Icy according to my brother.) "Excuse me, sir, but could I please get your name and the phone number of the person to whom complaints are forwarded?"
Then my godfather grabs my arm, pushes me to the door, says "just leave it", does the same with my mother and grandfather, and gets everyone except for himself and my godmother to leave the restaurant.
He comes out some times later with two bottles of wine and $60, comments that he worked out the prices in front of the guy four times, and received an apology from another worker.
...It just really gets to me that after spending twelve weeks getting "do not, under any circumstances, be rude to anyone in the work place" drilled into my head, a manager goes against the standards that any decent hospitality or tourism industry would expect. Gah.
Also, that manager never did give me his name, or the number of the person who takes complaints. And no, he wasn't wearing a name badge.