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Steve Betz

Wow -- and here throughout your story, I was like -- hey, that was pretty responsive. Next time you want to have two glasses of wine and split a salad I guess you would have been covered. $50 isn't nearly enough to get over the negative feelings. $100 --- maybe, $200 sure.


[this is good]


I would have sent it back too. I'm curious about what you wrote with the returned "chump change".


I didn't put anything in the actual envelope with the voucher, but I did send an email to him and the nice PR person this morning so they know to expect it:
Dear Mr.,

Thank you for your letter. I am returning the voucher you sent
viapost,and I want totell you how disappointed I am with your

As I have written before, to you and Ms. (PR person),I am not a
disgruntled customer looking for compensation. If I were, the $50 you
sent would only serve to offend meas it does not even begin to address
the fact that my family and I traveled eight hours by car in order to
spend $300 at your restaurant. If I were looking for money, Icould
onlyfind your fifty dollar response offensive.

So that we are clear: please do not send me another voucher. I am
not interested in your money. I was simply following the advice of a
friend who assured me that you and the Keller organization would want
to know about my miserable experience. Now that you are aware, I
consider this matter closed.

Very sincerely,


Wow. Yeah - I was prepared for an over-the-top aplogetic response story. Wow. I just can't get over it. $50 probably doesn't even represent what their take-home profit was for your meal. No, you're right. They could've left you feeling very validated for your feedback, but instead they cheapened it. Too bad!


Thing is, what are they going to say here? Their choices are: 1) Occasionally we serve a lousy meal and oops you got one.2) Our food sucks, pretty much alwaysA specific apology would require that they fess up to one of these, and they can't, really. If they go with (1), then they will have extortionists after them, big time. If they go with (2), well, they can't. So they have to adopt the attitude that our food is always great, and you got a great meal, and you just weren't happy for some reason, so here's 50 bucks. Not really satisfactory, but it ain't nothin'.


[this is good] You got all the class in the family. I would have sent it back with a Wendy's coupon.


Sheesh - they could have given you a free dinner for 2... but $50?Not sure if money is ever the issue. When I had problems with our favorite place in Palo Alto - I let them know and they sent me $100 voucher which was more than enough to cover dinner there. So we took them up on it and had another horrid meal. We took quite a while off from the place and now they seem to care about their food and service again. I think I would have been happier with them if they had taken my input and fixed the problems at the time...I'm sure you sending back the voucher will give them the message you originally intended.


Stories like this make me mad. Not so much because of your experience (although you know I care). They make me mad because they were so close to having the perfect response and then blew it. Such a waste on their part of a great opportunity.For the future, when you get pissed at people and they send you free stuff and you want to make a point by not accepting it, go ahead and send it over to me. I'll be sufficiently indignant and also take the free things off your hands. It's what friends are for.


I'm betting (ha!) that the manager has a cap on the $ value he can send out as gift certificates to the underwhelmed. Once you were there in-house and saw you weren't a jerk, he'd have been able to comp you with free drinks, olives, dessert, etc - "pay attention to table 12" sort of stuff. This is all in the hopes of: filling the books, getting another chance to impress you, and still making some money in the end. I've never eaten there, but do have the cookbook: the skirt steak and gougeres recipes are both divine.


I disagree with the idea that fessing up brings out more extortionists, but even if it did, the price of treating everyone like a potential extortionist is too high for me. I don't own a restaurant but I do own a retail store and the best way we've foundto deal with customers is to treat them with respect and honesty. As long as you do that, even or especially when there are real problems,they trust you. If you lie to them or treat them like they arecreatingproblems, they will often feel diminished and disrespected - a very effective way to kill customer loyalty.
Bouchon, as Paul noted, was very close to getting it right. And while I am in favor of having executives face their own music, this guy would have done better to let his PR person take care of it.


that is a riot.
now if only I'd had a wendy's coupon...


dinner for two would have sent a more positive message, i agree. i still wouldn't have accepted it - if nothing else, I'm not driving to Vegas for a do-over, but i would not have felt offended (nor felt compelled to write this post).


i too, am disappointed. they were very close to fixing the whole thing and then blammo.

note to self: if you ever become an extortionist be sure to send the free stuff to Paul. (don't hold your breath)


if this guy wasa store manager i would agree that he is probably capped in terms of what he can offer, but as the general manager he should have loads of power. He's The Man (at least in Vegas).
I'm not surprised that the Bouchon cookbook is great, after all it'sfilled with Keller's killer recipes. I bet they're even betterwhen he's the onecooking them. ;-)


wow! i'm really surprised by how much the difference in customer service and feedback is there compared to here. If it were me, the gesture that the manager even sent a $50 voucher would be good enough. Although i would've kept the voucher :pHere they'll probably just read the mail with the feedback and decide it's junk =/


it might be the difference between "here and there" or it might just be the difference between you and me. ;-)
I am a bit older than you and when I wasyounger I was a great deal more forgiving about how i expected to be treated and what kind of value i got for my dollar.
these days, knowing that customer loyalty is one of the most important things to build in business, i expect others to take it seriously too - especially restaurants. customer loyalty is, if you'll excuse the pun, the bread and butter of restaurants, and to squander a customer's good will by avoiding being genuine, ortrying to save a couple of bucks seems short sighted to me.


It's frustrating that they obviously didn't even make an attempt to understand your emails/letters since you mentioned several times that you weren't looking for money. I think you did the right thing by sending it back. Too bad they won't learn a lesson from this. At least you blogged about it so we can all benefit from your experience. I know I certainly won't eat there next time I'm in Vegas!


I think you're right - the manager should be empowered with the choice to give you a free meal. in my experience (although I have NEVER worked a house as la-di-da as Bouchon) it was that once they got you back in the door that they could hook you up with all sorts of tasty deliciousness. But that would depend on your willingness to go back there, and frankly, even if I could afford it I won't go now. I bet it felt really, really good to mail that back to him.

Yvette Ivy

Rock On!
I am so impressed that you took a stand and mailed the silly voucher back. It's a crying shame that you won't be there to see the look on the manager's face when he opens it up! I agree with you whole-heartedly about customer loyalty having everything to do with treating them with respect and courtesy. I, for one, will forgive just about anything if you admit your mistake and make a genuine effort to make it right. I bow to your integrity!


So 50 bucks is roughly a dollar for every one of your friends who's read your account and will explicitly not visit Bouchon and drop $300 the next time they are trapped in Vegas. That's $15,000 in lost business. Ouch.


At least you blogged about it so we can all benefit from your experience.
Forewarned is forearmed, I always say. ;-)


I bet it felt really, really good to mail that back to him.
It did. But I would feel even better if I thoughtthe gesture made himthink for a minute or two about why I did it.


Your comment inspired me to run a google blog search on "bouchon las vegas" guess which post comes up first? (I was surprised too)


The power of Vox's SEO strikes again!

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