I love IHOP. Great pancakes (and other foods), affordable meals, usually decent service. I would be much fatter than I already am if I were to eat at IHOP as often as I’d like. Given that, it’s a bit disappointing when I have a bad experience there. But when I do, you, my attractive and above-average-intellect reader (both characteristics developed by virtue of reading my work) get to share my pain.
Thursday night after work, several co-workers and I decided to go to an IHOP near the office for dinner/breakfast. We arrived around midnight, went in together, and waited just a minute for a serv-o-tron to offer to seat us. We asked for seating for 5, as that happened to be the number of people in our group, and we didn’t plan on changing seats frequently enough during the meal to need extra chairs. To our surprise, we are informed that seating 5 together will result in an automatic 15% gratuity added to our bill and we will not be allowed to split that bill when it is time to pay.
A quick thinking cow-orker suggested we be seated at two tables, with two at one table, and three at the other. At this, the delightful young lady (hint: look up sarcasm here, folks) turned to the person who would actually be serving us and said “You want to take care of them? I don’t have time for this.” And then she walked off. “Never mind,” said we, and off we went. After all, once any trouble is associated with your party, you are more likely to get the serv-o-tron special sauce added to your meal, and we each preferred to only consume/sample our own saliva that evening.
Had this happened on a Sunday afternoon with the church crowd amassing and leading to a 30-60 minute wait, we could understand. Had the restaurant been busy in any way, we could possibly understand. But this was right around midnight on a Thursday. There were 5 guests at 3 tables. There were 3 visible employees, and likely more out of sight. There was almost no visible traffic outside the IHOP, so a mass of unexpected customers swarming the site was unlikely. The chances that the extra 60 seconds it would have taken to handle our orders separately causing a major back-up for the rest of the serving staff, food preparation staff, or any other staff was so miniscule I’d suggest it was actually non-existant. I’m going out on a limb here and suggesting that perhaps this delightful young lady just didn’t want our type. Of course, I’m not sure how to classify our type other than well-paid technology workers who over-tip, don’t ask for much attention during the meal, and try to not disturb others. She might have had a different idea of what we were like.
Normally, I never give additional business to a company that I feel has slighted me. When a BP station failed to compensate me for a broken gas pump that resulted in my getting charged for gas I could not actually get, I stopped getting gas at any BP. After receiving bad service from a truck-rental company when moving one time, I started to always go to a competitor when I need a truck in the future.
But I love IHOP. Shoot, I even mentioned that at the start of this article. Do I just stop going to that location (4725 Showcase Boulevard in Memphis, TN in case you are wondering) and continue going to the others where I have gotten good service? Do I maintain my standard of hatefullness and punish all IHOPs for the misdeeds of one (my typical response to bad service)? Do I pretend it never happened, and just act like 4725 Showcase Boulevard doesn’t exist? I’m not sure. I know I won’t ever go back to that site, even though I’d never had trouble there before. I just don’t know if I’ll stop going to all other IHOPs as a result.
Does it even make sense that a business would make it standard practice to not split checks? I don’t even carry money with me most days. If I can’t pay with debit/charge card, I don’t think I’d be able to eat out usually. I don’t speak out against the added gratuity, but the serv-o-tron gets slighted by automatic gratuities when I eat out, because I won’t add to the required “tip” due to the offense I take at this being foisted upon me. Maybe for 10-12 people and up this makes sense, but at 5, it just seems obnoxious.