Mel's Diner Servers - © CBS TV

What Bugs YOU most about Restaurants?

Go ahead. Be frank. Be merciless. Tell it like it is. What bugs you most about bad restaurants? I have my own personal most-aggravating peeves about eateries and I’m sure you do, too. But let’s go beyond the conventional ones: bad food and bad service. Oh… Did I mention dirty bathrooms?

Gripe-O-Meter clip - © 2014 Consumer ReportsA taste of Consumer Reports’ Gripe-O-Meter info-graphic about restaurants.
Overall, servers got the most criticism of any aspect of restaurant dining.
(Click on image above for full graphic.)

Someone has finally done a comprehensive study on what people hate about restaurants. Some of the findings are obvious, but many are little things that apparently cause some diners major aggravation.

The respected advocacy organization Consumer Reports has released the findings of a recent survey showing some surprising numbers…

The top gripes of the 1,003 diners Consumer Reports talked to were not exactly what you might expect. Of the obvious failings – bad food, slow service and dirty restrooms – only the restroom issue made the top five cited by survey respondents.

Number one on the gripe list was dirty eating utensils (76%). The restrooms came in at number two (73%) and impolite or condescending servers (on matter how efficient, apparently) came in a close third (72%).

Back in the peloton (as they call ‘the pack’ in the Tour De France, which is currently on the TV a lot at my house) come servers who look sloppy or lack personal hygiene (67%), food or beverages not served at the correct temperature (66%), meals arriving at your table that aren’t what you ordered (62%) and being rushed to finish up and leave by servers who either anxious to get their tip before their shift ends or who need your table for an upcoming reservation because they’re over-booked (61%).

Well back of the leaders (in the 50% range) come things like food that does not match the picture or description on the menu, servers who remove your plate before you are finished your meal, having to wait more than fifteen minutes past the time of your reservation for your table, gratuities of 18% or more automatically added to your bill and – surprisingly way back at 51% – slow service.

At the bottom of the 22-item list of top gripes recorded by Consumer Reports were server confusion about who gets which meal, lack of nutritional information and – I thought it a rather wry comment on some eateries – so much nutritional info offered that it’s actually a turnoff to eating!

I’ll leave you to survey, at your leisure, the great info-graphic that Consumer Reports created to demonstrate its restaurant gripes findings. (Click on the image above.)

But, in closing, I must comment on one of the lesser aggravations that survey respondents reported: overly-familiar servers. You know, the kindly, usually older ladies who address you as Sweetie or Honey or Lovey or Darlin’ or something similar when they take your order or deliver your meal. I disagree. I like this sort of treatment, especially at family-style restaurants, diners and English-style pubs. So there.

~ Maggie J.