A Horrible Wait at Chili’s Greenbelt 5

My family and a guest ate at Chili’s Greenbelt 5 last Sunday, and had a horrible experience waiting for our table. I was so annoyed that I wrote the General Manager of Chili’s, and I am publishing my letter in full (except names, addresses, etc.) for those of you in the mood for a Marketman rant of sorts. I waited two days for a written response but did not receive any. I did, however, talk to the General Manager twice on the phone and summarize her responses below. I realize many folks wouldn’t bother to sit down for an hour or two to write a complaint, but my feeling is, if nobody does it, then we are just likely to get more and more bad service in the years to come…

Dear Ms. Chili’s General Manager (CGM),

I and three other people had lunch at Chili’s Greenbelt for lunch today and I would like to relate our experience at the hands of your restaurant manager and host.

11:58 am
We arrive and are met by Ms. Host (H), who asked how many were in our party (4) and asked for a name, which she wrote down on her clipboard as “The Teen” and party of 4. She explained that they were just “cleaning” a table and it would be ready shortly. She directed us to the waiting area by the window.

Several minutes go by, a few other parties arrive, they agree to be seated outside (on the terrace), and they are shown to their tables.

My wife approached the front desk and spoke with Ms. Restaurant Manager (RM), who appeared to have taken over the “waitlist” and asked how much longer we would have to wait for “The Teen” and she said there were two tables “billing out” and we would have a table shortly. This, to us, meant their bills had been requested and the payment was just being processed.

12:15 or so
A party of three ladies arrived, and they had their names down on the waitlist (done by RM, I think) AFTER our name and they were instantly shown to the bar, which had 4 seats vacant side by side, and this party was then given menus, and asked to if they wanted to place an order, which they did.

Ms. RM CLAIMED later that someone came into the restaurant saying she was “The Teen” and that they had taken the table. She then immediately changed this answer and said the lady who said her name was “The Teen” had instead claimed that she wouldn’t be waiting any longer, and when she walked out, Ms. RM crossed off our name from the list with a blue marker, despite the fact that my wife had just minutes before asked her how much longer we had to wait and it was clear we were ALL (including “The Teen”) waiting inside the restaurant, as requested by the host.

During this period, we also noticed that as soon as a table was vacated, it was cleared, cleaned and set within 2 minutes, hence the original advice of Ms. Host was clearly either a lie, or misleading at best, as NO TABLE WAS IS FACT BEING CLEANED for us as she had claimed.

I approached Ms. RM and asked why the three ladies who arrived after us were now being seated to a table for four, and had already placed their orders and their food was being laid down just a minute or so after, while we were asked to wait in the waiting area, unapproached for 25 minutes by their host or staff, not asked whether we wanted to place an order, and not called to a table.

Ms. RM said that a table was being readied for us. Then she said she had crossed us off the list. Then she said someone had claimed our table, then it was the mysterious “yung maputi” who cancelled and then left. If all of this were true, then why did she first say that a table was being readied for us when I first asked?

When I pointed out that two intelligent people should be able to manage a simple waitlist between them, she simply provided a blank stare. When she inquired with the host, they were unable to provide an honest, intelligent answer. Furious, I was quite incensed by the complete and utter lack of customer service, and the inability to recover from several serial gaffes. The best Ms. RM could muster was “we are sorry for that.” More appropriately, she should have said “I am sorry for having screwed up the waitlist” as it was she, and she alone handling the waitlist at that point.

We have been fairly frequent customers of Chili’s, with my daughter opting to eat there some 5-6 times per year for the past 7 years. At an average check of PHP2,500, often more when with guests, we have spent some PHP100,000+ over the years. If we continued that for the next 5 years, it would mean, at say an increased average cheque of PHP3,200 for the same amount of food, another PHP100,000 or so in business. In the words of my 13 year old daughter as SHE PERSONALLY filled out your own customer survey, “WE WILL NOT EAT AT CHILI’S EVER AGAIN!”

But more than that, a normal unsatisfied customer would tell some 10-20 people about their experience, but in this case, I am writing a post for a food blog which I maintain and hopefully some 10,000+ regular readers and restaurant diners will read it and act as they see fit. But I am writing you this facsimile letter to give you a chance to clarify any factual errors or otherwise respond to this narration of our experience at your restaurant, so that I may publish that response as well, if appropriate.

So here are some basic questions which I hope you can respond to as succinctly and factually as possible, after you discuss this facsimile letter with your restaurant manager and host.

1. Why did Ms. Host tell us that a table was just being “cleaned,” when in fact there was no table free yet, no table that had checked out, and no table that was actually being cleaned? (For me, telling someone that a table is being cleaned, means a table is being cleaned, and based on our observation, should have been ready in two minutes or so).

2. If there was no table ready, and none imminently ready, why didn’t Ms. Host or Ms. RM simply say that, and instead give a realistic estimate of the possible wait time? (The restaurant is not that large, certainly they can gauge this with some degree of experience (and as a restaurant manager, I would have expected that from Ms. RM). If we had been told that the wait would be approximately 30 minutes we would have simply found another restaurant to have lunch at. It’s a clear situation of setting reasonable expectations.)

3. When my wife approached Ms. RM, why did she say that two tables were billing out, when in fact those two tables had NOT YET asked for their bills, though they were close to finishing their meals? We SAW the two tables which were directly beside the waiting area, ask for their bills a few minutes AFTER Ms RM was approached. And since my wife clearly walked up to Ms. RM from the waiting area, and returned to sit in the waiting area, certainly she could have remembered that “The Teen” and party were in the waiting area.

4. Why were three ladies who came in AFTER us, seated at the bar, asked to place their orders, and shown to one of the two emptied tables before we were ever approached by anyone? Not a host, server or manager approached us in the waiting area for some 25 minutes to give us an update, ask us if we wanted to already place an order etc. Was the restaurant manager unable to understand the simple concept of a waitlist and serving customers as they registered on the waitlist, particularly in this case where a table for 3 or 4 was required by both parties?

5. How is it possible that the restaurant manager would forget that our party under the name “The Teen” was waiting in the seated area just minutes after speaking with my wife? Then CROSS OFF our name from the list when a “yung maputi” (her term) second “The Teen” told her to?

At no point did I receive a coherent explanation from the restaurant manager. She said “we are sorry for that” several times, but was unable to explain and answer any of the five basic questions above. So I pose them to you again and hope you can provide some honest and logical answers.

At the very best, this struck us as a comedy of errors, really sloppy waitlist management, insensitive customer service, and a basic inability to explain how we had arrived at this situation. But you have definitely lost several customers as a result. My post on this experience will be published on Tuesday, 24 March 2009. I look forward to your timely response to the five questions posed.




First of all, let me say I am pleased that the General Manager did call me twice to try and address the issues I raised in the letter. In my experience, most restaurants or businesses in the Philippines don’t even bother to do that. Having said that, there was no written response, just a verbal explanation, which frankly, in this country, can always be recanted or taken back, so unless it is in writing, I don’t give it too much weight, if you know what I mean. If I, the aggrieved customer, bothered to write them in an effort for them to improve their business, surely they could sit down and write me a proper letter in response. So in a nutshell, here is a summary of her answers to my questions after she reviewed the “incident reports” and discussed my letter with her staff (Host and Restaurant Manager):

1. There was no table being cleaned. The Host should not have said one was being cleaned. Basically, that was a lie, or at best, an inaccurate description of the truth.

2. In their experience, when they give time estimates for table waits, they are always too optimistic. So when I suggested they DOUBLE the time they thought was necessary, in order to overcompensate and greatly reduce the risk of irritating customers, she agreed that would be better for setting the right expectations. And customers could opt to go elsewhere instead.

3. RM was completely at fault, should not have said tables were billing out, when that was untrue, should not have forgotten that the party ‘The Teen” were patiently waiting in the waiting area.

4. RM, Host and Staff completely at fault, the next party of three should never have been seated at the bar ahead of us. They should have offered the bar seats to us. They should have approached us for an early order. And we should have had the first table that became available. They admitted fault on every aspect of this question.

5. She could not explain how RM conveniently forgot that our party was waiting. She could also not explain the cancellation of our table.

Overall, the General Manager basically agreed that every question or point I raised was valid and or accurate and apologized profusely for their staff’s performance, or lack of it. They also reviewed “The Teen’s” customer survey card. They realized that it was a situation that needed customer retention/recovery skills. She admitted that the restaurant manager never approached our table to try and correct the situation or mollify the clients, another breach of written internal policy regarding customer service.

In the end, she asked that we “give the restaurant a second chance”, to which I declined. I told her the fact that the incident had occurred, that I had pointed out the issues to the RM who was in a position to correct things right on the spot, and for a whole hour while we had lunch, and the now clarification that there were indeed serious flaws in the handling of the situation, I would bring my business elsewhere instead. I also pointed out that there was no written response and I gave her overnight to provide one but I have not received one as of this writing.

It’s one thing to admit fault (a big step, though in this case by a higher up, not the culprit themselves even when given the opportunity), but a lack of remorse or real understanding of what went wrong, and a lack of immediate corrective action is for me, nearly unforgivable. And there are so many other restaurants around, so I am more inclined to patronize the ones with better service. And the more the general public demands better service, the more likely we are to get it. Considering that expenditures on restaurant dining have been declining in recent months, it behooves restaurants to focus even more on their service levels unless they want to their business to lose more money…

Oh, and one last thing. The food, was vintage Chili’s, standard family fast food. But the prices seem to have have risen dramatically now that they are in their jazzy new location. So lunch for 4 ran roughly PHP3,200 or PHP800 per person or some $17 each (and The Teen only had a bowl of chili and a drink!). At PHP800 per person, you are DAMN RIGHT I expect some decent service. Even Jollibee and McDonald’s trump this recent experience at Chili’s Greenbelt 5. Two thumbs and two toes down from Marketman and The Teen, a combined “8 digit down” rating! :(


131 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post. Business must really be bad for this establishment. First remedy: cut costs by scrimping on staff training; second, raise the prices.

  2. That’s too bad that you had awful service at Chili’s, MM. We haven’t been regulars there but our last visit was just three weeks ago. Food was good in my opinion – I had the chicken tacos, three huge pieces, with rice and refried beans for only P270! Service was good too. It’s really unfortunate how bad service from staff can ruin your dining experience and possibly contribute to the demise of the dining establishment.

  3. I symphatize with you MM, I will not wait more than 10 mins unless they told me that the queue is long. In most cases we will abandon the restaurant but before that we will give the restaurant manager a good talk. We will also mark that restaurant not to eat there anymore.

    Another thing that I am amaze is how come those people doesn’t recognize you if you eat there more often. I have a restaurant manager whom I have only visited 4-5 times a year but they remember us and always treat us with a good service. That is what a customer service is for me.

  4. My sentiments exactly, if nobody bothers to write a letter of complaint, then the bad service will probably prevail. Last Sunday, I also wrote one to a photo studio who took pictures for my daughter’s school prom. Less than a month has passed since the event and the staff couldn’t locate the files for reprints. Standard practice was to ask clients to come back some other time and this happened several times. Its too common nowadays for businesses to think that they can push their customers around. They should think again!

  5. Thanks for the heads up. Mediocre food + bad service = stay away. Sometimes even if the food is that great, horrible service can still trump it.

  6. letters of complaint about bad products and bad service should always be written. in my opinion, better to write a letter than be a “boy fajardo” on scene

  7. Too bad, I loved the old Chili’s. Service was fairly prompt and food consistent. But on the other hand, I work in a company that is service-related and it is a danged job keeping the quality of service high…

  8. lessons learned, don’t go to Chili’s anymore!Boycott Chili’s! Down with Chili’s! Froze up Chili’s!

  9. I always write letters of complaint but in the same vein, if I am extremely happy with the service or food, I also write them a congratulatory note full of praises for my server! I once did this on a napkin for lack of piece of paper. Coming from the resto industry I can certainly feel for you and your family MM. I’ve received complaints in the past as well and the only way to keep the customer is to talk to them ASAP and rectify the situation before they ca walk away. Not a day or night should pass otherwise the customer has time to stew and brew and plot. :) Which we customers, as decent paying folks, love to do.

  10. A couple of folks tried to submit comments without providing legitimate email addresses. They were deleted. I can smell an attempt to plant favorable comments from first time visitors or commenters rather well after several years of maintaining this blog. It won’t help your cause.

  11. ragamuffin, I agree that sending letters when you have had a particularly good experience is also the right thing to do. And I have done that as well, but to be honest, my letters of complaint are probably 3-4 times a year, and the commendations are maybe 1-2 every couple of years… :)

  12. I would not wait for a table that would cost me 800php just for a soup and a drink..plus a very very bad customer service.. BETTER STAY AWAY FROM CHILLI’S FROM NOW ON.. IBOYCOTT ANG CHILLI’S! IBOYCOTT! IBAGSAK! hehehe

  13. Hi all, actually, while I wouldn’t personally return, I don’t think it would be appropriate to suggest that none of you should either. One experience such as this kills it for me, but if you enjoy the restaurant then I would say go ahead and eat there… just make sure you don’t end up waiting for too long in similar circumstances. I suspect after my letter, the likelihood that “RM” will make the same mistakes again is not very high… hopefully.

  14. hmmm. some insiders from chilli’s are sabotaging your blog?? maybe that’s the only thing they can do.. they cant even write a decent letter to you that’s why they just have to make positive feedbacks on chilli’s thru your blog.. their way of redeeming their reputation.hahaha. kala nila makakalusot sila sayo MM. hahaha. they dont know you.you are way, way smarter than them..hahaha

  15. Chili’s is overrated in my opinion and mostly because of the hype being an American food chain. I have eaten once and never would come back either. However, I must admit that it is very popular among Filipinos here in the Middle East just because of the hype “read – American Brand.” I agree, the foods are expensive but nothing to really love and I could not figure why people like them. If this kind of service (not counting bad food) continues, you will have more tables waiting instead of customers waiting. I salute your patience in this situation; I would have gone in a jiffy if I were you.

  16. Sometimes I wonder if negative comment cards actually make it to their intended recipients (i.e. corporate HQ or head managers, etc) because there’s some incentive for servers to destroy or toss them out.

  17. wysgal, I agree, unless you drop them into a locked box on the premises. But I have to say, the HQ read the teen’s comment card, and well, at 13, she sure is a chip off the old block. :) Oh and BTW, in general, I think I DID management a favor by writing up our experience at their store… at least now they can act to correct any issues and prevent this from happening too often! If I were a business owner, I would rather get and deal with mail like my letter than just see the customers do an about face out of my store or restaurant!

  18. I had a situation with Photo Line in SM Sta.Rosa. I took my digital camera for prints. They downloaded my photos and was told to come 30 minutes for the prints. I told them that I’m going to Netopia Internet Cafe to download my photos and copy the file to my personal email. To my surprise, that fine gentleman working as Netopia techician told me that there is no photo file in my camera. I immediately went back to Photo Line and indeed they made a mistake of transferring my file into their computer.

    They told me to come back and will transfer it back to my memory card. After an hour I came back and they told me is transferred already. When I asked them “I want to make sure that its there in my memory card.” Alas once again its not there. That was March 12 and I’m packing to fly to Australia the following day. In the end they lost all my photos in my camera but thankfully it is still in their computer.

    Can you imagine how angry I will be if upon returning to USA and find all the pictures in my camera are gone? Thank God I made that plan to copy the file into my personal email on the same day. I’m sure that if I come back after few months in USA, the Photo Line people will deny that its their fault.

    They ended up transferring my file in two diskettes. I was fuming mad. I spend my time from 9 am till 3 pm at SM Sta. Rosa waiting for them to recover my file. They did not even apologize for their mistake. I’m glad the gentleman from Netopia helped me transfer the photos from the 2 diskettes to my personal email. What’s inside the camera? My Mom’s 78th big birthday celebration and Chinese New year celebration.

    You see my Mom had a stroke and on a wheelchair. Losing special memory of my Mom is indeed very traumatic.

    I was very upset packing my luggage that I did from midnight till 4 in the morning of March 13. What time was my flight? Seven o clock in the morning

  19. Too bad, I like Chili’s very much! Maybe you should give them another chance.

    Long time ago, when they were still in the old place, I also wrote them a complaint letter. I couldn’t remember what was it all about but nothing really serious. Just like what they did to you, they called me and acknowledged the problem and promised to rectify the problem. I found it more personal for them to talk to me even if just over the phone rather than me receiving a letter of explation from them hehehe.

    Anyway, I tried them once more, and the rest is history. I always enjoy my visit at Chilis because of the over all experience. And by the way, they are cheaper than the other restaurants of their like.

    As you have said, you are a frequent customer of the restaurant and this is the first time it happened to you. Maybe you should forgive them and give them another chance =)

  20. the lesson is… the Philippines should start either training or getting COMPETENT people to do these jobs. people who actually KNOW what they’re doing and LIKE what they’re doing so they don’t bother other people. they should CARE. or else, this stupidity in the industry will happen over and over again. it’s a Filipino thing, for all we know. it’s everywhere!

    i especially hate it when you ask a salesperson or server or cashier or anyone on the street if they have this and that, or know how to go this and that, and they give you this stare or go “uhmmmmmmm…i think it’s there”… just say NO if you don’t know! don’t waste my time. or they’d go off to someone else and ask if they know where it is (hello, SM!). naman, during your free time, find out about the products where you are. chismis kasi nang chismis instead of trying to make your job and yourself better. these positions were not made for VERY stupid people, you know.

    so to everyone out there who have a business or will be having a business, hire people who, for God’s sake, KNOW the products they are selling or KNOW what they’re doing. if not, TRAIN them well (just shows you care for your business) or just close shop.

  21. what an unfortunate incident! i almost had dinner at Chili’s G5 on Saturday. good thing my friend and I opted to walk towards Pia Y Damaso. i used to frequent the old Chili’s and their service there was OK. i always thought American chains like Chili’s have better customer service, their crews are better trained. the host was probably overwhelmed by their new flashy location.:D

  22. My family celebrated my Birthday sometime this March at a Restaurant in SM The Block North EDSA. We came there and we were third from the waiting list. A waitress gave us Menus for us to order way ahead before having our own table. Soon we are ushered to our table, we waited and waited and observing some folks at a near table having their fill knowing we came in first, my dad called the manager’s attention and followed up our order. To our shock we were adviced that our order didn’t reached the kitchen and was first handed to the restaurants cashier! Furious and irritated my dad said any imaginable horrible word and swearing there is to the manager, she apologized and gave us the priority treatment. We planned to walk out then and there but funny, after my dad fumed and screamed at the manager and the waitress that took our order, the foods fly to our table that fast like magic. Later on while at our meal, the next table to our left received that same treatment and lo! They walked out and cancelled their orders! What a service huh? It was a Thursday night. The chinese restaurant’s name escape me as of the moment.

  23. I will not eat in Chili’s Greenbelt 5 ever!

    Daig pa sila ng Chowking namin hahaha!

  24. Kind of funny, because a 30- to 45-minute wait for a table at your average Chili’s in Anytown, USA is par for the course on weekends. Which is precisely why I never, ever go there during peak days/hours. Pretty cheap by American standards (the GB5 Chili’s sounds overpriced, by the way), but then again you get what you pay for in terms of horribly slow service and ho-hum food.

    Sometimes, though, their uber-salty ribeye or their chicken-fried steak just hits the spot! :)

  25. How absolutely sad! It’s a classic and deadly combination of lack of skills and poor attitude. Send them my way MM- I’ll train the dickens out of them… I specialize in Customer Service/Service Recovery :-)

  26. I work in the service industry and I must say that the best lessons always come from an irate customer. I also learned that a sincere apology and rectification done immediateley and on the spot helps to soothe the customer somehow and maintain some goodwill. I deal with the flaws and whys and sermons to the staff only after I have dealt with the customer.

  27. I am a regular visitor of this blog and this is my first time to post a comment. In Seoul, where I was stationed for more than 6 years, our favorite family restaurant is Outback and Bennigan’s. The first one (Outback) because they give you drinks like coffee or soda if you have to wait for a table for at least 15 minutes or so, Bennigans because of their “crunch time ” service wherein their is an hourglass and they guarantee to serve your food within a specific time frame( 30 minutes) or your meal is free. Chilis?, I’d been there only once, I also find their food so so.

  28. I only dined at the old Chili’s once and it was enough to swear never to return again…my order was fairly simple…roast chicken…all my companions were finishing up their orders while mine was still nowhere in sight even after several follow-ups… my companions shared their orders with me just so i could have something to eat… true their servings were quite big but i find them bland and not worth the price…

    and my order came when we were billing out already…we would have cancelled it but it would take too long again, i just had it to-go….

    and oh… the staff never apologized…

    i never went there again…i would rather go to italianni’s or fridays where the crew are trained to really dote on the diners

  29. Experiences like yours MM, makes me fuming mad! Why? Because I work for the service industry, particularly the Training Department.

    Even when I started out as an agent, it was drilled into my mind: quality service! Years of putting up with all the irate customers and all the profanity has conditioned me to expect the best from whichever store, shop or resto I take my business to.

    Probably the people at Chili’s did not realize that it’s your/ our business that pays for their salary. In the same manner that many in the government do not realize that it’s my/ our taxes that pay for their salaries, that’s why they give us crappy service. PRC is a fine example of this theory, :-).

  30. In the few days I’ve been in the Phil, I’ve found service to be rather inattentive at best, just plain crappy at worst. Even places like Club Filipino lack the finesse and professionalism one can find in similar restaurants in other large Asian cities such as Bangkok or Singapore.

    A similar event just happened to us yesterday at the Pizza Hut in SM Baguio (don’t ask what we were doing there–we really regretted it, but were desperate for food). My pizza was brought shortly, but my mother’s order was delayed. After roughly 20 minutes, she finally asked what the hold-up was–turns out they forgot to input her order! They immediately offered her a free bowl of soup while the lasagne was being made, and even as we left, they were still very apologetic. This is one of the few examples of good service we’ve experienced since arriving–they made a mistake, admitted it, and tried to make up for it immediately. Very different from MM’s experience.

    I think one has to look at the national attitude, not just the service industry, if one is going to lay blame. Look at the traffic–driving through Makati to Greenhills on a Monday night took us more than an hour, and I watched cars create 5 lanes plus 2 lanes of motorcycles on a 4-lane highway. What is going on in people’s minds to make them think that’s OK?

    After WW2 there was so much potential for this country, and I’m very sad to see most of it seems to have been wasted. Sorry if my comment seems disjointed, but I have too much more to say!

  31. marketman, forgive me if i cut to the chase. would like to kindly ask what you specifically want chili’s to do? pagbigyan mo sana ako at mahina ako umintindi.

    napakahirap mag pondar ng negosyo. mistakes and lapses happen. it is unfortunate it wasn’t handled well from the rm’s level pa lang.

    dont you think chili’s deserves a second chance considering that you have been served well(have you?)in the past?

    as pacman once said to korina, “with greet power comes greet responsibility”.

    you now have that power marketman.

    mabuhay ka! PEACE!

  32. Rona Y, your comment about national attitude echoes my sentiments.

    Whenever I go home I go to hospitals, clinics, stores, restaurants. I eat the whole gamut whether fast food or ala carte at fancier joints in Fort. Bad attitude as reflected in service is not that rare. So-so is common. I’ve experienced grouchy and rude service from a waitress in one of Fort’s coffee shop where the bill for a simple light lunch for 2 women on diet went over P1,000. Her attitude perplexed me… I was wondering if she was interested in receiving a tip or not.

    I used to be really frustrated and angry. Nowadays I think the general attitude is a reflection of the frustration and anger of the populace over the state of the lives.

    There also seems to be a general lack of pride in doing the best they can in whatever they do, whether it’s as a waitress or as a nurse. It’s a “Who cares” attitude.

    We pride ourselves for being nice and being hospitable and so I expect that to be reflected in commercial services too. But it’s not.

    I hope things change soon.

  33. And I was planning to try out the new Chili’s. But as any good foodie, will still do. If they learned anything, then I should have a better experience. And so, I will brave a weekend lunch with some friends and see what happens. I’ll let you know. Who are we looking for by way of, “So you’re the one…”? Hahahah! Seriously.

  34. My two cents worth, MM…

    I pity the staff at Chili’s. I used to go and patronize them but stopped since 2006 when I felt they were overcharging the meals… but I digress…

    Hopefully this experience will help trainors in the service industry to allow the waitstaff and frontliners of restaurants like this to THINK ON THEIR FEET to mitigate the ire of disgruntled customers. though I understand sometimes that the answers they give can be “de kahon” and when a situation presents itseslf that they have to come up with a creative solution, they cannot because they are hampered by policies which they cannot circumvent… and the answers they were told to memorise (like I’m Sorry For That) lose their point since nothing was done to rectify the situation there and then…

    But then again, in this case, I do not see any reason for the hostess or RM to fib / lie about the tables being readied. It would have better suited them to be upfront and honest about the situation.

  35. On the other hand lets not generalize it and instead focus on Chili’s Greenbelt 5 issue in which the Management of that restaurant has to sort things up if they want their business to florish. Let’s give our fellow pinoys in the service industry a benefit of the doubt. In fact pinoys are all over the world in the service industry like singapore, america, spain etc…and I feel that we have the capacity to be extra ordinary in service. There is of course restaurants in the Philippines who have good staff that will make your dining a pleasurable one so stick to those place and forget those that doesn’t care about their customer.

  36. Screw-ups happen, even the very best does it. The big difference is in the recovery. I dont think MM is not ever going back to Chilli’s because of the bad service, it is how they responded. They had their chance while MM and company were eating – if it were me, I would have walked out even if it pissed hungry companions. I have a pretty short-list of eating places since I never give restaurants who screw up second chances. It is my hard-earned money after all and any establishment that acts as if there are no alternatives will not receive a single centavo from me.

  37. The Philippines ≠ Chili’s.
    The Philippines ≠ a few crappy restaurants.
    This is a reaction to the posts of some commenters above who were not able to resist making hasty generalizations. Unless, of course, they’ve eaten at 50% plus 1 (to make a simple majority) of all the restaurants here in the Philippines and got crappy service.

  38. I have also sworn never to eat in a resto because of terrible service even if i really enjoyed their food. Lunchtime is important because it’s quite limited and you don’t want to be wasting time on such avoidable things such as poor service.
    I’ve eaten in Chowking branches that have given better service than MM received. And Chowking is supposed to be self-service.

  39. mabuhay, they had second, third, fourth and fifth chances. First after they mislead us about the first table and letting us wait 10+ minutes before we asked again. Then they messed up letting others on ahead of us. Then they screwed up by crossing us off the list while we were still there. Then when I asked for an explanation, they couldn’t give a credible one. Then when I was finally seated, and eating for an hour, not a single effort was made to mollify the client. I do have choices.

    If they simply acknowledged their mistakes right when they were pointed out to them, then explained why and sped up our seating, then maybe they would see us again. As some others have pointed out, service issues do crop up, but recovering from them is the key.

    What particularly irks me about this situation is that it seems the folks involved are caught red-handed lying about the actual situation. Lying about a table being cleaned and suggesting it would be ready very soon, lying about not knowing we were waiting when we approached them three times in 30 minutes, lying about clearing a table for us when they simultaneously claimed they had already crossed our names off the list. Lying and getting caught doing it is hard to recover from.

    If they had simply put our name on the list and forgotten it and let several others ahead of us, that would be only one incident, not several inexplicably stupid ones in a row. This is not a question of noblesse oblige as you seem to be suggesting, just honest to goodness service at a restaurant. If you had any inkling about how these restaurants operate elsewhere in the world, you would perhaps understand a bit more of the service expected of them. And their General Manager, and direct boss, seemed to completely AGREE with my point of view.

    I don’t think all service is bad in the Philippines, in fact there are some good examples of it. But on average, in my experience, the service levels in the Philippines appear to have deteriorated significantly in the past 20 years. And yes, it is a conundrum as we then send 5+ million service oriented folks elsewhere on the planet and a large number of them do very well indeed. And I don’t think it is just a service personnel’s issue, it is often a management issue as well. As someone once said about the finest and best run homes (manors, castles, etc.) “It isn’t the staff, it’s the management”… :)

  40. A percentage of disgruntled restaurant customers NEVER COME BACK AND DO NEGATIVE PUBLICITY FOR YOU(BAD MOUTH YOU). Another percentage write you a letter and complain. This is a better group because then you would know where you can improve on. To a certain degree you can do damage control.I know how you feel Marketman. I too never go back to an establishment when their service is that bad. My philosophy is: Why make them flourish if they don’t deserve it. The competition in the Resto industry is so great–patronize those who make an effort to train their staff well. It’s your right to spend your money well–and be happy doing so.
    When I have complaints too,I make sure all my food is served before I make my sentiments VERY CLEAR. There are so many ways resto staff can “dirty” up your food.

    I was at Chili’s Greenbelt February attending a 50th birthday party on the Terrace. The service and food was ok that evening. If I were MANAGEMENT–they should have attended to your complaint immediately–and given you a gift certificate for four equivalent to what you had paid them. That would have been less expensive than this “negative publicity ” they now have.They pay so much for publicity and location–the indifferent service was not acceptable.(I saw a resto establishment do this in Canada when we were visiting and my sister-in-law complained about the service. We were a group of 15!! They now have my sister-in -law’s loyalty for attending to a customer’s complaint immediately–and with a gift certificate at that!! )

    To Chili’s Mgmnt: It’s a pity really. This site has a lot of your customers reading this complaint.
    I’ve always thought they are over rated,but my children like dining there. I now have second thoughts about doing that again . I too DONT LIKE indifferent service.

  41. i have this self imposed rule before complaining which usually leads to fuming depending on how the manager of the resto will handle the situation, i usually complain AFTER the meal or just demand a full refund without touching the food. I believe its safer because we can never be sure what the staff did to the food we’re going to eat. we will even be a laughing stock as they watch gleefully while we eat the food they spat at, or sneezed at. imagine the really nasty things they can do to our food.

  42. mm, nag-abroad na ata ang mga great resto managers and waiting staff. everywhere we eat out here in singapore lagi may isa, dalawa or even apat-apat na pinoy servers at managers. lagi sila smiling, friendly and super maasikaso. ang bonus pa kapag ang manager ay pinoy, bininigyan kami ng 10% off sa bill (manager’s discretion siguro), tapos minsan sinauli ang tip at hindi naman daw sa kanila mapupunta!

    i believe our customer service has left the country with your experience at chili’s…so sad…

  43. It is sad that customer complaints are not taken very seriously in this country.
    I had a very unfortunate experience with Jollibee a few years back. I went through their drive-thru at around 10PM, all their lights were on, menu boards lit etc. There was a car in front of me so i waited for my turn to be served. Would you believe that the attendant told me that they were all done for the day and wouldn’t accept my order! I asked about the car in front of me and she gave me a very lame excuse— can’t remember what it was na. I was so furious as they didn’t even offer to sell me anything, not even leftovers!
    I ended up sending a formal complaint thru the email add they gave ( i think it was thru their website).
    It took them ages to reply and their only reply was that they already forwarded my complaint BACK to the branch. They assured me that they will forward all contact information so the branch can get in touch with me.
    Needless to say, no one from Jollibee got back to me— no explanations, no apology, nothing.

    I still continue to boycott Jollibee to this day. I do not want to patronize a company who does not value their customers.

  44. I think you did right. Many service-oriented places in the Philippines give crappy service because people do not complain.

    When one complains, he is labelled a prima-donna. Tama ba yoon? That is why we never rise to world-class levels in many aspects. We hate to be told we did wrong, and so we never learn.

  45. a booooo to chili’s…..in the first place, if you are a new branch of a restaurant on one of the expensive locations, in my opinion, you should treat your customers in the best way you can. the least they could have done is say sorry for what happened because its an obvious case of neglect,lying and incompetence. i have eaten in greenbelt 5 and i have to say that lunch is a busy time in that area. but if they have a waitlist and the person in charge is competent, they wouldnt go wrong…..besides, they are ways wherein you could approach your customers to assure them that tables are being readied. i have been at sumo sam, fely j’s who are quite busy during those times but their queing for customers is good…..(at least at the time i ate there!) sometimes, all it takes is to really acknowledge your mistake because if not you’ll regret it and that’s whats happening to you guys at chili’s!!!!

  46. you would think that anyone in the service business would have some rudimentary training in customer satisfaction. alas, everywhere you go, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. sometimes people have had a bad day & pass on negativity or in some cases, just engot!

  47. Just as we all have a bad hair day, it must have been Chili’s last Sunday. I sympathize with you and the terrible screw up by the staff and management.

    Today was a bad day for me and my friends at Italiani’s Greenbelt 2. We ordered a large salad and as we were 3/4 done with it, we find a worm on the platter. Obviously a leaf eating creature that thrived on the lettuce leaves. This obviously freaked us out. The restaurant manager was most apologetic offering us (for heaven’s sake) another salad. At least they tried to make amends. Many things can really go wrong but the Chili’s incident had one bad excuse after another.Speaking of bad incidents,I have to mention the cockroach leg in our salad at Sonia’s Garden many years ago. Yeeks………

  48. yikes! had a bad experience with chillis as well. i saw a big cat-like rat in their restroom! i never ate in chillis. ever.

  49. MM – This is one of several complaints I have heard regarding the service at Chili’s GB5. I think I came across another blog that ranted about it too (although I cannot recall where now). I havent been to Chili’s GB5 but was a regular at the GB1 branch. Service was never a problem there so I am surprised that things seem to have changed. It is really too bad for this place but I sincerely hope it is only in this branch that service sucks.

    Cheers to you MM!

  50. I used to love Chili’s here in Houston, but their prices went so high up that I just had to stop going, also the service is not the same. When were stationed in North Carolina, a military base town, the food customer service better be good or else, the marined will leave or ask for a certain compensation. Their time is so precious and with their military training, they are used to having courteous, honest service.. discipline that is. And we military civilians, expects that same service.

    Danney, I too had a “picture-developing” bad service from SM photo dept. I won’t tell it in details, but it was really a headache, and they tell lies, dishonest, and playing.. “I dunno” attitude. I went to the higher superior management, akala ko naayos, hindi rin. I lost some precious photos.

    Yeah, not all Filipino business are like that.. but somehow it is true that unless we speak up, old rotten service stays.

  51. For some reason, customer service in the Philippines is either good or really sucks, never experienced something great. I’m always fascinated why that is? I know most American restaurant chains are very good when it comes to customer service, but i guess some of us Filipinos do not take pride of our jobs. There is always laxity in many places i been to a certain degree. Is this why the Philippines just don’t get to the top like other countries? The majority of our service is very mediocre or less. You know, Filipinos are labeled great workers in other parts of the world! Does this mean back home we’re not achievers?

    “ntgerald” quote, “When one complains, he is labelled a prima-donna. Tama ba yoon? That is why we never rise to world-class levels in many aspects. We hate to be told we did wrong, and so we never learn.”

    -which i agree to a high level!

  52. Hi MM.
    Your post has triggered me to pen down my experience at Chili’s.
    I too have experienced the loooong waiting time as yours. My family & I just wanted to have deserts on a Friday night. We waited for a table for more than 1 hour. We arrived on the scene around 8.30pm (thought we have passed the peak dinner time).

    Patience was getting thin, until the staff manning the wait list offered a basket of nachos to those waiting for a table (1 basket per party in waiting). Nice gesture, helped tone down the heat that is building inside a bit. HOWEVER, they only did that after being chided by a waiting foreigner.

    I completely agree with your assessment on the quality of services. There are some great services out there, but those poor services really spoil the meal. Funny thing is – they sometimes seemed don’t care.

    I strongly believed that Chili’s services are at such standard due to the good businesses they are having now (read – the long wait list). It could be due to having a small place or really good spot, but a really poor judgement if that is really what Chili’s is thinking of. The false pretenses, sense of arrogance – “if you can’t wait, leave. Someone is behind you” – will one day catch up with them. They are just ‘enjoying’ the limelight now.

    Food business is at least a 50-50; 50 for great food, 50 for great experience.
    For us – as customer – well, we have choices. At least 1 place will be striked out or moved down the list, way way down, for the next gig.

    Too bad Chili’s.


  53. Look, it happens to everyone. If the service is inadequate do not come back. I have done my share of corporate letters and emails being shared to these intolerable eateries and institutions where the customer service just plain “sucks”. I just hope that the hostess and manager got some customer service training and revamping from your letter. My experience is that writing the Regional Manager or higher up might bring some solution to your incident. It worked for me and got compensated for the trouble.

  54. Be our cumulative voice. Speak up for us and bring to management’s attention who has decisionmaking abilities any and all complaints to bring up their customer service satisfaction up to par. Customers’ satisfaction is always the bloodline of any business be it from mom and pop type to mega bucks franchise operations.

  55. Agree.. their food is not cheap. And we expect to get what we pay for, in this case, good service or service that’s even better than others because of the premium we pay.

  56. Here is my pet formula for good service.

    Good salary + Good performance bonus – bad performance deduction = Great service

    Good salary = Job security (not contractual or part time) + Proper training + Proper management support (managers are there observing the staff and floor not doing anything else) + Just benefits (health benefit + above average compensation)

    Good performance bonus = Commendations from customer who are required to fill out customer experience cards + management evaluation on going above and beyond what is required + tip that all customers are required to leave (10% of bill standard for fair service but more expected for job well done) + profit sharing

    Bad performance deduction = customer complaint that is valid + management complaint that is valid like consistent absences, tardiness and rudeness and laziness (not attentive to customers regardless)

    *All factors are required.
    *Employee termination very last resort for exceptionally bad performance and repeated bad performances.
    *Most factors present abroad, especially above average compensation when compared to local compensation practices.

  57. Sayang that you experienced that at Chili’s. My family and I have nothing but good experiences dining at Chili’s.. at Tomas Morato.. I’ve never tried any other branch, but personally, I like the service at their Tomas Morato Branch.. I’ve dined there (with family/friends) 6x na siguro for the past 6 months and so far, ok yun service nila sa morato branch…

    One experience that I would like to share, was when we ordered the bottomless tostada chips (which I think is a great deal), we had like two refills then after we asked for our bill, the waitress asked us if we would like another refill, I said no since I was really stuffed, then she said “bigyan ko pa rin po kayo”. At first I was confused since sayang naman if no one would eat it, then when she arrived with our change, she was carrying this large paper bag full of tostada chips for us to take home.. I don’t know, maybe they always do that for everyone or maybe it wasn’t that much, but for me, I appreciated the effort that she did by asking us first, then insisting on giving us something that wasn’t part of what we ordered in the first place… yun.. maybe you can give the restaurant another chance?? haha, not the one in greenbelt 5 though…

  58. “When one complains, he is labelled a prima-donna. Tama ba yoon?” – ntgerald

    As long as you’re not going to do a boyet fajardo.. haha

  59. Wysgal, I’ve filled up not just one but a few of those customer satisfaction survey forms at a known pinoy chicken restaurant franchise here in the Bay area, and i even gave them my phone number and email, not a single response received. Do you know how they resolved their issues. They stopped giving out customer survey forms ;-). Their service is so bad but i love their chicken, so i ended up just ordering out all the time.

  60. the worst things that i dislike when i am dining out are slow service and unhappy-looking waiters and waitresses. in the first place, they should not be in that type of work if they are not happy with their job. if i am very satisfied with the food and service, i usually leave a big tip so when i come back to the restaurant, the server will remember me and will make sure that i get good service. it always works. however, if the service is lousy, i don’t leave any tip and will not patronize the restaurant again….

  61. I remember when I got spoiled fish (Chilean sea-bass) in a five-star hotel’s restaurant in the Pasig area. I complained to the waiter, and when it took more than 10 minutes before I was informed of what they were going to do to rectify the error, I spoke to the chef and suggested that he smell the fish that was served me.
    I was immediately told that they were going to broil another portion of the sea-bass (I love sea-bass and I didn’t mind the risk of getting another spoiled portion). In the meantime, while I waited, I was served free salad of my choice, and thence complimentary soup of the day.
    The replacement broiled Chilean sea-bass was perfect.
    At the end of the meal, I was told that my entire dinner was free.
    I was stumped. From then on, I never hesitated to eat there again. Thank you, EDSA Shangrila.
    Sometimes when the error came from the front-liners there is hesitation on their part to acknowledge it and therefore to make amends immediately because they get punished for the error. Hence, the necessity of speaking to the supervisory-level staff.
    In one restaurant experience, when I was about to voice a complaint, a friend warned me not to do it because the kitchen or wait staff would most likely spit or sneeze on what they were going to serve me. I think people who do this should be fired ASAP, on the spot.
    People leave tips for good service in restaurants. I leave tips for good service; it is just smaller if there was already a service charge. There should be no hesitation in making complaints, or else the place would never improve; they would just have fewer and fewer clients, and that is a shame if they give great goods but bad services.
    On the issue of not complaining because of the low salary of the employees, and therefore we should cut them some slack: lahat naman tayo dito sa Pilipinas tumatanggap ng compensation which is a small fraction of what we should be receiving abroad, eh. If people think they cannot stand the low wages here, that is not an excuse to deliver bad service. I am in a field where I receive about a third of what I should be receiving abroad, but I do my best everyday, and speak to clients in a manner that I think is appropriate. After all, the money that I receive in compensation for the service that I perform is hard earned money from my fellow Filipinos, and I chose to live and work here regardless of the lower pay.
    It is too bad that we cannot leave tips for good service in non-restaurant institutions, therefore the staff have little feedback on the quality of their service.

  62. A consumer review really raises the bar. The problem with a do over is that it breeds complacency.

  63. I had a bad experience at Chili’s GB1 more or less 2 years ago. We were a party of 10 people. When the bill arrived it included some items that we didn’t order and neither was served to us. Our host insisted that the food was delivered to our table while the Manager did not offer any resolution. To not completely ruin our night and after weighing out among the group that the amount might be deducted from someone’s salary, we decided to just pay for the whole bill. We never received a single word of apology (or a lukewarm thank you even) from the staff that we all vowed to never come back to Chili’s GB1.

    Then, last friday my bf and I with a friend (who was also in the “GB1 group”) found ourselves in GB5 and made an impulse decision to have dinner at Chili’s. It was still a bit early so it wasnt full yet. We asked the staff at the door for a table for 3 so she went inside to check. While we were waiting, some groups of people just walked straight in and were seated right away. After some minutes and the staff has not come back for us, we went inside and helped ourselves (that was a bad call on our part, we should have walked away instead). I would no longer enumerate their faults, bottomline is, the staff is snobbish, unreceptive and unwilling. Chili’s : NEVER AGAIN!

  64. I think giving a restaurant a second chance is solely the customer’s prerogative. Like MM mentioned, he’s not telling the world to boycott Chili’s, he’s just saying his family will never return. Fair enough. The others can give the resto another chance, me included because hubby likes their food and prices.:) There is one newly-opened and famous resto though that I vowed never to return to again: La Regalade. I blogged about it recently. The service was ok, the prices reasonable and the servings generous so why the disappointment? They served me bad clams. I was preggy and hungry so you can imagine my horror at being served something spoiled. It was our anniversary dinner too so we were all dolled up with high expectations of a quiet, romantic date rounded off by a good meal. Although the server apologized profusely, we did not get any discount, freebie or replacement for the dish. There was no manager around to explain anything and I heard Alan Raye only visits 4x a year.I should have been warned by the many empty tables when we arrived but I had gone on a friend’s recommendation. So sometimes there are good reasons to never return to an eatery. They not only spoiled my anniversary dinner, they made me worry the whole night about food poisoning. A good French bistro backed by a Michelin starred chef should never ever serve bad seafood. What is forgivable in lesser places is unacceptable in this one.

  65. Is this coincidence or what? Sometime in ’07 I sat down alone at Chili’s GB1 and ordered a bowl of chili, which arrived promptly, and was steaming hot. But, when I took my first bite, I discovered that it was still cool at the center (middle?), so I called the waitress over and asked her if maybe they could please shove it back in the microwave and nuke it for another minute or so… The look she gave me as she whisked my bowl away to the kitchen got me thinking awful scenarios about what the kitchen staff would do to my chili before sending it back to the “reclamador” sitting at table so and so. Anyway, my appetite went out the window, I asked for the check and paid my bill without waiting for the chili to return. So much for Chili’s.

    I’m with becoolano777: let’s “FROZE CHILI’S” !!!

  66. Hi MM,
    69 comments later, Chili’s did learn from them and would like to thank you all for sharing your thoughts. We do strive to give our best and we have been the last 12 years. Not too many restos in Manila have been able to weather economic storms… and we are still proud be around. We owe our success to people like you who give criticisms and comments.

    We look at every single card and have compiled reports for training purposes. We strive to reach above 100% customer satisfaction… but we do have bad days.

    As for the menu pricing, it’s all relative. Our goal is to always give the best possible product at the best possible price. I’m sure restaurant operators out there can appreciate and understand the economics behind pricing.

    Again, our apologies. It’s our loss that you’ve decided not to come back but an invitation will always be there for you and your family.


    Market Manila reader and fan

  67. Chili’s Timog is nice… I dine there once in awhile and i find good service and good food there. =)

  68. Maybe the they had a bad day, who knows. Oh well. I must say though, you’re mention of your blog with 10,000+ regular readers is a bit, how should I say … arrogant? I understand your frustrations MM as I too have experienced really bad service from time to time, but I wouldn’t use the popularity of a personal blog to increase the threatening nature of a complaint. I’m sure you have your reasons (and some would reason that doing something like that would be more effective) and it was probably a heat of the moment thing, but it’s a little below the belt in my book.

    If some you think the service is bad in the Philippines, you should live in North America a bit. The service in the Philippines is a lot better.

  69. Anbu, at least the 10,000 reader figure is a fact, rather than a fabrication. If you include folks who come back at least 2x a month, it is probably double that figure. And as I clarify in this post, I do not encourage anyone else not to go to Chili’s, only that we will not return as a result of the experience. I don’ t consider it below the belt in the least. Most bad experiences are relayed to 10-20 people, a recognized statistic by marketing professionals and probably an accepted fact; I was writing a letter of complaint, a fact; and it would be read by some 10,000+ readers of this blog, another fact. It may be a tough/pushy statement, but at least it is truthful. A far cry from being told outright lies, only to have your superiors confirm them and apologize on behalf of the restaurant manager/staff. And despite mentioning specifically that I would publish their written response, they have chosen not to write and send one.

    As for living in North America, I did so for over a decade, so I think it’s fair to say I too could have an opinion on service levels there and in my personal opinion, I think the service personnel in department stores, restaurants, airlines, hotels, etc. are on average more professional and logical than the ones I seem to be running into in the Philippines recently. And they do respond to complaints more often than not.

    I helped develop basic customer retention services for a number of large consumer banks on the U.S. east coast some 15+ years ago, and if I remember correctly, they were quite successful at retaining or recovering customers in situations similar to this, but with banking as the main underlying business.

    I was much more familiar with the customer retention economics rather than the psychology, but ultimately it was about financial logic. For example, let’s say you had a client with a checking account and a credit card. And after some basic profitability calculations, they realized this client brought the bank some $180 a month in fees, income and ultimately PROFIT. And the average customer stayed another 10 years. The present value of that client is some figure roughly worth $8-10,000 depending on discount rates. So the service personnel at the banks or manning the phones at the call centers were authorized to spend up to say $300 to RETAIN the client. They could give them 3 free years of annual fees. Send a gift certificate for a meal at a restaurant near the client, etc. all within the recovery effort. For one bank, they found that if they immediately sent an apology to a certain type of female client, together with a dozen roses or other flowers, their success at recovering the client exceeded 80-85%! The net result is that they kept the client, they continued to profit from the client, and in many cases, a bad situation was turned good as the client starts to tell friends about the fantastic experience that came from a bad situation… So when I do an occasional rant on bad service levels, whether intrusive calls from Ayala Land, delays on Cebu Pacific, etc., etc., I do write with some knowledge on the topic at hand.

    Chilihead, thank you for your comment and I hope my letter is used to improve services in future for the benefit of your many guests.

  70. I understand how you feel. My dad ate at shakey’s one time and they gave him the bill of another table. My dad vowed never to return again. Too bad coz I like shakey’s. hehe.

    I used to be a mystery shopper for Chili’s a couple of years ago. There’s a specified number of minutes that they deem acceptable for a customer to wait for a table. The form was pretty strict and with good reason. I’m guessing they don’t do the mystery shopper thing anymore which explains the decline in their customer service skills or the lack thereof.

  71. @ Anbu: I haven’t read any threat at marketman’s post. Maybe you misunderstood or put in a few meaning to what he said?

    I had this experience at a popular Chinese fastfood (not chowking) and it wasn’t from just one branch, it was from 4 different branches. That’s how I really liked their siomai. We were given immediately given seats, food was given at a reasonable time but what was consistent with those 4 branches was how slow the bill-out was. The last time I ate there I approached the cashier to ask for the bill after asking 3 waiters for the bill. Never did come back after. Discovered new Chinese restos that had better services and good food.

  72. Thank you for this post. I will avoid going to Chili’s at Greenbelt 5 like a plague.

  73. I share the sentiment of having to deal with bad, unacceptable, disappointing service. My girl friend and I went to Pearl Farm Resort in June of last year. Billed as a world class resort, I had high expectations going there, especially with the restaurant. On our last night, there was no buffet table set so we ordered from their regular menu. Half of the entrees listed were no longer available so I finally settled for a pork dish that came with “adobo-infused” hollandaise. I gave specific instructions that I do not want the adobo flavor, but just plain hollandaise. When our food came, it was not hot, not even warm. We found out that our food was cooked at the same time as our appetizer was prepared. There was no trace of egg in my sauce as it not was hollandaise at all – just plain gravy! I was ravenous with hunger then as I played tennis late in the afternoon and did not bother taking a snack after. Just imagine a hungry, angry creature!
    Our poor server had to bear the burden of our lectures and listen to our rants. We did make it clear that we were not directing the fault on her. She understood that she was there to channel our frustration and disappointment to the management, expressed her sincerest apologies, and did not charge us for the food we barely touched.

  74. this reminds me of my horrible experience with Max’s delivery (Commonwealth branch). It took over an hour for our order to arrive. I called to complain to the manager, and all I got was they had too many orders and too few riders. So I told him that they should have at least called to advise us that the order was going to be late. After giving him a piece of my mind for over 15 minutes he apologized. Then after ten minutes, midway through or COLD, RUBBERY Chicken dinner, a Max’s rider comes. Apparently, the manager had instructed him to replace the chicken. As in take the chicken (which was now just a carcass) and replace it with a freshly-cooked one. TSKTSK I was furious!! I have never dined at Max’s ever since. (Although I must admit I miss it dearly.)

  75. Celina,your mention of Sonia’s Garden ignited some bad memories. I was one of her first customers when she just had one small dining area. A friend of her invited us(at that time it was on appointment).I would often bring friends,balikbayans often to her place for lunch or dinner or to patronize the spa. One day,I brought a group including my daughter’s Brit boyfriend who mistakingly pushed a button which I found out turned off some lights (or fountain)inside her yard– can’t remember.I just know it was in a small overhanging cabana. Sonia herself came out and even when I introduced myself from the past and apologized for my guest,she was very rude and haughty for someone who owns a service eatblishment. We were all in a very jolly mood and I was totally embarassed by her hoity-toity attitude.
    It was really a shame as I have been part of her “free-advertising group”. She was so different when she had been starting out.
    I never bring guests there anymore. (It was one of my favorite places to bring balikbayans and guests). But when even its owner is very rude…and the “success” of her establishment has gone to her head I will not waste my money in places like that….I never recommend the place anymore. I spend hard earned money and will find better use for it in other more worthy establishments.
    My Brit guest was aghast with her attitude. Shame!!

  76. Marketman,

    The last time I went to the Philippines to visit family, I went all native…it was hot and muggy. Shorts, t-shirt, and tsinelas were the uniform of the day…I opted for sneakers though. I was looking to buy a new game console and several game cartridges for my cousin, the cashier looked at me and asked if I can afford it! How rude! I thought it was just a fluke as it were. I left the mall and changed into something more “presentable” and was going to eat dinner along with a few family members, the restaurant host just stared at us and ignored us until I commented in unaccented (bred and raised in CA) English about the horrible service, then he snapped to attention…we left even before he could apologize. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry about the service I did get at the restaurants…I had a much better time and MUCH better service eating at turo-turo and bbq stands talking to the proprietors and the locals…

  77. I’ve had my share of bad service and normally after ranting to the manager we just leave…as the “spit and other gross things in my food” is an all too real scenario (coz i have friends who have worked and are still working in fastfoods and fine dining establishments) even in the philippines

  78. like anbu i was a bit surprised (and put off) by the fact that you alluded to the number of people who visit your blog. Good service is the right of every customer, blogger man o hindi, popular man o hindi.

  79. marissewalangkaparis, I agree with you. Sonia can be very rude.I have heard of many complaints about her. I am sorry but I do not understand how people allow themselves to be ripped off by this woman. Her prices are highway robbery for what she serves. Thank heavens we were just being treated. I will never pay for her food ever.

  80. it’s good that you actually wrote a letter. a lot of people actually complain but never really do anything about it. i hate it when restaurants dont know how to handle such situations, its as basic as having decent food right? and it’s terrible that the manager would just say please give us a second chance without even sending a real sensible apology letter or even gift certificates or something to appease a disappointed customer? after having been lied to… thats terrible!!! i hope they hear about your blog from other people.

    thank you for posting about this. consumers should get their money’s worth and should be more empowered in this country against establishments. i was actually looking forward to eating there soon. well, as an act of protest, i won’t.

  81. Very few places in Metro Manila Area have any great customer service. I dont think a lot of them understand the concept of customer service unless you go a a very expensive place like Antonio’s in Tagaytay (been there multiple times and the service was always excellent)
    Bad services in QC area, specially in the Timog and Tomas MOrato area. Why? Underpaid, unhappy employees? Or just poor training and management?

  82. I’m an American living here on Leyte. Even I have run into the “can you afford that?” attitude. I’m originally from Seattle, so it is HOT here for me. I’m normally in shorts, a polo, and sandals.

    The last time this happened, I got the girl’s manager, told him what happened, showed him the stack of P500s in my pocket, casually showed him my Nokia N95 8G, and went to leave. The manager apologized profusely. I told him that it was too late and that perhaps his snotty salesgirl could afford the item … and left.

    I have yet to figure out why some salesgirls get so haughty.

  83. MM, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m sure that that 10,000 figure isn’t a fabrication, no doubt about that. It is certainly a truthful statement, but the truth is, it’s still a bit arrogant and underhanded, at least to me. Thank you for giving us that little lesson on customer retention and financial logic interspersed with the mention of present values and discount rates. I know it myself as I have that background, but it would certainly be educational for other folks. You’re an intelligent man and have a loyal following which includes me. But in this situation, I wouldn’t do what you did in writing that letter of complaint. To each his own.

  84. I think that in general, service here in the US is much better than service in the Philippines – more efficient, better at customer retention in case of problems, and quicker. In the Philippines, service staff is typically much more deferential towards customers, often bordering on obsequious. Probably a symptom of our deeply entrenched class-conscious attitudes. Having lived in California for the past 20-odd years, I now find that servile attitude disconcerting and off-putting rather than charming. Sometimes, oddly enough, it even comes across as patronizing even though that’s obviously not the intent.

    I know that that deference strokes some people’s egos, but personally I’d rather be helped by someone who’s efficient, friendly, and honest.

    If the wait for my table is going to be an hour, tell me up front so I can choose to leave if I don’t want to wait that long. If you screwed up by scratching my name off the waiting list by mistake, let me know you screwed up, apologize, and move on by doing your best to get me another table ASAP.

  85. Anbu, no problem at all. There are several ways to react to the situation and some folks would write, others wouldn’t. Some would be more aggressive, others less. That’s certainly up to them…

  86. I don’t find MM’s reaction over the top or demeaning. As a smart and well-informed consumer, we have certain rights and expectations on how businesses should be run and how customers should be treated. Restaurants should keep in mind that they are part of the SERVICE industry and “Customers are always right.”

  87. thanks MM for writing on costumer service. based on the responses, it is an area of concern for all service providers.
    i have recommended this particular post to the owners of a restaurant chain to whom i am related and who i know are seriously trying to improve their service. not an easy job considering that most service employees are hired on a contractual ( 5-6 months only) basis.

    i love your response regarding customer retention by banks. new learning for me.

  88. Even the bottomless nacho chips is now P300 bucks. DOn’t worry MM, Im sure the teen will find a better bowl of chili somewhere.

  89. i agree that customers deserve good service. on the other hand, i have seen how some customers treat service staff badly with no basis at all. i had to intervene once in a supermarket when two male customers talked to a pretty checker using sexual innuendos and looked at her lewdly from head to toe. one even tried to hold her hand. the poor girl did not what to do so I told the men to stop the sexual harassment. i hope we are as scrupulous in treating service staff with respect and consideration as we are in demanding good service.

  90. I only read the comments about Sonia’s Garden now and sad to say I had a very bad experience there the first and only time I went: cold food (too bad because they tasted good), dirty table linens, clogged toilets, harassed servers all around. It was a very busy Sunday but still… sayang the place looks nice and rustic. In any case I am one to give restos another chance more often than not (after running one myself eons ago and knowing just how very difficult it is), and while I have many many rants, when I rave about a place, I truly rave about it and become a loyal customer for life.

  91. Thanks MM for writing that letter to the management. Here in the Philippines, seldom do customers or consumers for that matter complain even though they are not being treated courteously by sevice providers in general. I think what really contributes to the poor service whether it be department stores, restaurants etc….is that a lot of the staff are contractual, meaning they’ll be employed for less than 6 months…and management really don’t invest on employee tratining.

  92. MM.. i know what you feel… but come to think of it, chili’s gb5 is only a new one, and they are always under staff that they have to cross train their servers to other branches since they can not do it on the restaurant itself due to fullhouse… i do complain but i hope you don’t generalize all the chili’s branch here in the Philippines… try going to Greenhills branch or even at Tomas Morato Branch… why don’t we just give them 2nd chance?… this incedent doesn’t happened in only one resto. but also to others as well.. especially during rush hour…

    and the prices i think the reason they increase is that…
    2) Recession
    3) COst
    4) VAT

    so that’s why.. Chili’s may be a like a fast food resto (but only in USA and CANADA or rich countries) but not in the Philippines…

    Sorry if you think i’m defending Chili’s… actually i’m not.. just a HRM student who had a project and analyze different American Type Resto.. i’ve spoken to some of them and if you put your feet on their shoes you will know how hard and physically drained you will become….

  93. Thinky, I did not generalize this experience to all Chili’s branches, just the experience at Greenbelt5 as stated. If anything, I would have argued that prices rose due to increase rent in a more fancy mall/location. VAT has been the same for the past few years. Recessions don’t increase cost really, more likely reduce consumer expenditure. And yes, food costs have risen for all restaurants I suppose…

  94. chili’s dishes have gotten smaller over the years. and they have started saving on frou-frou – meaning no more veggie garnish on most plates.
    (sadly) my husband loves the peppercorn burger so we are there fairly often and this is how i’ve noticed. they have the mankiest banyos!
    and you waited far too long for a table! the last time something similar happened to us, my cousin and i cursed the restaurant (it was a pancake house and i was about 9)..and lo and behold the next time we passed by, they had leveled it to make way for the makati shang….

  95. MM,

    A friend told me that she and her family were dining there as well last Sunday lunch time. They witnessed an angry man shouting and berating a lady manager near the door. The situation was shameful she said.

    Was that you? If yes, that’s probably the reason why she did not approach you anymore, to avoid a possible ugly scene.

  96. Jonas, it certainly could have been me, but with a dozen folks waiting after us, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened more than once that lunch.

  97. Woohoo powertrip! go show them! akala nila siguro you’re just a nobody, well they’re wrong. harharhar! buti nga sa kanila i want to see the manager’s face when she reads this!!! baka magkandarapa sya lumuhod in front of you! i’m new to your site but i’m addict already! :P

  98. lighten up. the general manager made effort to call you and apologize. accept it and move on. people make mistakes. and shouting in public is scandalous and unaccepted. no matter how much reason you have to do so. u shud have just eaten elsewhere if u didnt want to wait.

  99. Shan you weren’t there. And we didn’t know there was a 30 minute wait. Yes, people make mistakes, but if they can’t even own up to them when they are pointed out, they deserve the wrath of a customer.

  100. Poor customer service is really the norm for many of the restaurants here. Why? Because there really are no consequence. People get away with murder in this country (literally), so what do we expect for bad service?

    I agree with you that it is not so much the initial shortcoming that incenses customers like you and me, but the lack of common sense in providing a reasonable response to the aggrieved which is upsetting. All I ask for when this happens to me is for two things– One: For them to apologize profusely and acknowledge the screw-up. Two: Comp something! Free appetizers, one free dessert, free round of ice tea.. anything. Free food makes it harder for one to be angry for long.

    One rule of thumb I’ve heard is that it costs 10x more to attract a new customer than it takes to retain an existing one. Assuming this rule to be true, wouldn’t a P500 set of desserts be cheaper than the P5,000 in promo and advertising it would take to find a new patron?

    With the economy turning bad, many of these restaurants should learn how to treat customers better. We are already seeing so many people trade down to the Jollibees of the world. The most likely to be affected by this crisis are these restaurants in the middle segment who cannot afford service gaffes like this one.

  101. I think it’s important to point out when we encounter bad service. Yes, you may have just caught them at a bad time, but it is important thay they acknowledge and try to rectify to the best of their ability. If we just accept that it happens, then the servers get even more lax and think it’s okay because mistakes will happen.

  102. If I were you, I would’ve left the restaurant 10 to 20 minutes of waiting or walked around first. And if I wasn’t given a table when I came back, then I guess it’s time to choose another restaurant. Though I’m a big fan of Chili’s, I can really say that your experience is pretty bad. I go there practically 3 times a month and don’t receive the kind of service that you had. It’s a shame that the current restaurant manager at that time wasn’t able to redeem herself. If I were him/her, I would’ve given you a free desert or something in return for the wait. Well, it’s too bad you won’t go back to Chili’s anymore.

    I think it’s one of the best American franchises here in the Philippines. You’ll have other choices though: T.G.I. Fridays, Bubba Gump, Hard Rock, and Outback. However, those places don’t have the Molten Chocolate Cake desert and Big Mouth Burger Bites! Haha!

  103. In this global economic down turn, they should improve service to keep business afloat, or just to keep their job for that matter, brace yourselves for tougher times ahead lads.

  104. I’ve had unpleasant restaurant experiences myself and I know how it feels to be accorded such bad service.

    We’re actually planning to go to Chili’s this week.. good to have read this so we can try to reserve in advance and hope the same unfortunate incident does not happen to us.

  105. maybe you just over reacting…. you dint see that how cool they are they give time to answer you coplaint other restaurant wont even bother to reply to complaint…. that only shows thier professional enougth to face you… so should try giving them a break and try eating thier again may be its different,give them another chance… remember human makes mistakes… or your just only to hungry thats why you dont listen to explanation… and you want something in return…. men life is to short so be nice and learn to forgive… human makes mistakes…. :-)

  106. I just returned tonight from 2 weeks in the Phil. I’m happy to say I did have one very good experience at a restaurant in the Philippines–Le Chef at Camp John Hay in Baguio. It was actually a little too American (read: attentive) for my tastes, but that’s just a personal preference (I prefer a more European-style–staff are observent and responsive to your needs, but they don’t try to be your friend).

    I can’t recall getting what I would consider adequate service at any other place–from Bizu to Max’s, Italianni’s to Quezon City Sports Club. At least when you eat at roadside dives, you don’t really expect good service, but when you’re spending comparatively large amounts of money, good service should not only be expected, but required.

    And chrisb, you don’t have to eat at 50%+1 restaurants to make a generalization. You only need a random sampling. And I found crappy service at pretty much every kind of business I patronized–banks, department stores, taxis. . . But if I were getting paid a pittance, I doubt I’d be interested in providing good service, either.

  107. Hmmm, that is indeed a broad range of services where you got bad service. I don’t know, I guess some people are just magnets for such stuff…

  108. If you’re implying that I warranted bad service, I assure you I’m as benign as can be unless you piss me off. Being Canadian, I’ve been very well trained to be polite and unaggressive to staff. And in every case but one, I was part of a group (different groups at different times, and of varying sizes).

    Here’s a more specific example–we went to bank looking to exchange traveller’s cheques. We were asked to wait. Five minutes later, the woman came back to tell us they did not exchange traveller’s cheques at that branch. OK, so where can we change them? Ten more minutes later, she tells us the main branch. Where’s the main branch? Another 10 minutes, and she comes back with the address. I think we were dumb enough to ask another question, because we were there for a total of 40 minutes.

    Maybe some people just have lower expectations of service (or think they deserve less).

  109. That’s totally not what I meant. I wrote that in the same spirit as when Marketman remarked that he seems to be a “jerk magnet.”

    Based on your example, it seems you’re too nice. 40 minutes for nothing? I would have complained to the manager by the 3rd question. But, if this kind of service was the norm for you when you were here, I wouldn’t blame you for writing what you wrote.

  110. Bravo Marketman! Thank you for posting an inquisitive letter about your recent bout with Chili’s. You are right, if you don’t get your voice heard it will give these establishments veto power over repeating their same bad habits and principles. Have you taught of writing to the American counterpart where the chain originated and taking up your complaint? Because I’m pretty sure they would take action, they wouldn’t want to tarnish their brand name globally afterall.
    I have had many experiences going to these American established restaurants in the Philippines and let me begin to say that their foods are in no way the same as the ones they serve in the actual States. Aside from a very limited selection of foods, you can almost always gaurantee that the food they serve is pre-packaged, microwavable garbage. Basically, they don’t cook them–unless you count microwaving cooking… And its definately not worth the money… And don’t let me begin about their service!! I think most of the problem stems if the fact that the hostesses and waitresses think they work in hot sh*t. My dad and I think they screen their customers too, we noticed this when we where at Friday’s one time. It just seemed really odd that all the “white/tourist” people where near the windows or in front and everybody else less pleasing if you will where seated at the back. Coincedence? I think not. Basically, what I’m trying to say people is, to stop eating in these establishments they just don’t live up their hype, and there are WAAY more local, cheap, friendly establishments out there that serve way better foods.

  111. Riza…REALLY?
    My experiences with some of these restos are so far different from yours!
    Chili’s and TGIF’s service here in NA are not much better I’m telling you, and still one is always expected to drop in a 15% gratuity?

  112. it all happens in resto business..
    minalas ka lang na ikaw ung natyempuhan nun time na un..

  113. Yes Dennis, really!! Funny, because it seems to me we where both proving the same point. Wether your in NA, wherever that is, or PHI these American establishments don’t live up to standard expectations and charge hand and feet for trans laden crap!

  114. Kill Bill says:
    it all happens in resto business..
    minalas ka lang na ikaw ung natyempuhan nun time na un..
    It’s the other way around dude! Minalas ang Chilis that they did this to MM…

    Yeah Right. If all the customers in the planet had the”minalas ka lang” attitude all the time we get pushed around by these behemoth Food Establishments… with their big vat-add-on-and-service-charge wham-bam-thankyou mam… where in God’s earth will every customer be? What I have done to help in getting this noticed is to address the concern of MM and this web page of his blog to the DTI website and the Makati website of Mayor Binay. Since JOJO Binay is running for President, I would imagine he would not be really pleased about some big-shot food Establishment tarnishing the implied prestige and excellent service Makati Food establishments are supposed to be known for. This is disturbing, annoying… and more so the fact that store front personnel committed deceptive action to try to hide the operation’s incompetent processes is deplorable.

    The one in Charge should have looked into what the hell caused the Chaos/Crisis and devised corrective measures to address the problem. The very benign action taken by the restaurant is very frustrating for customers who shell out painfully good money to eat in these places. We most profoundly thank MM for bringing this matter to our attention and give us fair warning not to bring our business to these places less we become victimized by culinary carpet baggers who appear only out there intent on separating our money from our wallets. No more no less.

    For these pit creatures, customer service orientation is just a big “come on” as part of their little way to con unsuspecting customers. Thank you MM… God Bless…

  115. I live here in California and I’ve eaten at Chili’s once and never again! The food is bad and it isn’t cheap and service is blah!

  116. Where else in the Phils… once we were at Friday’s Robinson’s Place and I ordered soup for my daughter… when the waitress brought it out, the soup bowl was placed on top of a small platito/saucer which had a dead baby ipis and thin film of dust on it. Yechhhh! I was so appalled, I called the waitress’ attention, “Miss may ipis sa platito.” To my astonishment, she just looked at me blankly and said, “Patungan lang naman yan eh.” (!!!) My point is, if one of your plates is already that dirty, how can you assure me the other plates I’m eating on are clean, much less your kitchen conditions??? I got a satisfactory reply only when the supervisor came. In fairness, she was super apologetic and even gave us free dessert. Ewan ko ba, is it because yung mga rank and file are uh, less edukada ba or something? Sorry to sound snooty pero any educated and civilized person would know better than treat a customer like that.

  117. Chilis Greenhills has always given me good service for the past 8 years. :) So time for a location change, MM.

  118. try to message the owner itself… Mr. Luigi Vera, Robert Eeps, Richmond Yang… Director of Operations: Mr.John Art Latinazo, FNB Director: Mr. Mckoy Gabriel, General Manager: Ms. Ireen Francisco. these are the people behind those bad comment that we are seeing…

    happy new year..


    You can find them in facebook… hehehhe

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