I have never actually sent a complaint letter out in my life, but after the way that I was treated at the Cheesecake Factory in Providence, I felt that I had to speak up and say something.
I have actually gone to this restaurant on many occasions, over the course of at least three years. And granted, Sunday was the night before Valentine's Day, so it was a busy evening. I was taking my partner out around seven, and when I was told we would have to wait 40 minutes, I understood perfectly.
However, after about 15-20 minutes of waiting, I observed two guys standing next to us--a bald gentleman and a man with blond hair, talking pretty loudly. No big deal, but I suddenly realized that they were talking to one of the waiters. They were clearly friends with this waiter, who was thin, with dark hair...and they were complaining about the wait. They asked him whether he could move them up.
The waiter looked around and said, "Hold on just a minute." I watched as he moved to the main receiving area, and checked the computer. "Five minutes," he said. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the waiter came back, and walked over to the hostess. "Table eleven's free," he said. The hostess turned and started playing with the computer. "Good thing the manager's not here, because I could lose my job over this..." she whispered to him. And then, sure enough, they were called up.
We waited around about two more minutes, and then turned our beeper in, and headed off to Fire and Ice, which is located down the street.
Frankly, I was surprised that the management at Cheesecake Factory would allow this to happen, and clearly, it is not company policy, but it's still not fair that these two guys got to be bumped ahead. They showed up about ten minutes after we had arrived, and should have been treated just like anybody else, and not given favorable treatment just because they knew the waiter.
I work as a Director of Public Relations, and I know firsthand the impact of one or two bad customer experiences. I certainly will be relaying my story to others that I know (and already have, actually), and also wanted to let the management of Cheesecake Factory know about this. Please feel free to pass my story on.