Dear TGI Fridays,
Now I'm not one for writing formal complaint letters, in fact, I've never done it before. I've complained on Twitter and expressed slight disappointment with a company, product or service on my blog, but I have never ever had an experience so terrible that it left me seething with anger and wanting to vent to everyone and anyone. Nor have I had an experience so bad I felt the need to take precious time out of my busy day and write a letter of complaint. However, I have now had this experience thanks to you, and therefore, am sitting here writing this.
On Monday I stupidly tried to make a booking on your website for your Covent Garden restaurant. I mean, what a silly thing to do! Really I should have automatically known that the huge button right there saying 'London Covent Garden Book Now' with a link to an online booking form, didn't actually work, as they don't take online bookings. But no, sadly I didn't know, so tried, and failed, to make a booking. So when the online form failed, I emailed the restaurant to ask if it was working, to which I had no response.
So then I turned to modern technology, and tweeted you guys to ask if it works. Now, being a community manager myself, I know a little about social media, first thing being 'always be clear with your answer to a question'. Your social media team failed at this. They told me that your Covent Garden restaurant don't take bookings. They didn't say 'they don't take online bookings, however you can call them to book', they just said 'they don't take bookings'. Once again you just assumed I'd read your company's mind and know that actually you do take bookings over the phone, just not online. So silly of me for not realizing this.
At this point I was slightly frustrated as I wanted something booked in for definite. There were going to be 6 of us, it was for a colleague's leaving dinner, and I know how busy you get. So I replied to that tweet and said we were a large party. They then replied with...
I thought, 'Brilliant! God I love TGI Fridays! I can't wait now!'
So yesterday we all trundled along to the restaurant after work, starving hungry and looking forward to chowing down on a big fat rack of ribs. We get to the restaurant, notice that it's empty and rub our hands together with glee at the thought of all that delicious food going into our mouths in the coming minutes.
But then, we were slapped in the face.
Not literally. But the guy at the door told us as there were BOOKINGS, we would have to wait up to TWO HOURS for a table. TWO. HOURS. BOOKINGS. YES. BOOKINGS. You take bookings? You don't take bookings? You said you don't take bookings? Why are there bookings? WHAT. BOOKINGS?
After being picked up from the floor from the shock and realization that the TGI's we'd been looking forward to and discussing with happiness all day at work had just been taken from us, I asked about these mysterious 'bookings'. The guy replied with 'Oh yes we take bookings, just over the phone not online'. I stammered out an 'excuse me?', before giving him the look of death.
Ha, just kidding, I'm more like 'bitch please'...
He then decided it wouldn't take two hours, maybe just an hour. As we didn't want you, TGI's, to ruin our night nor the ribs, fries, and american style burger goodness that we'd been looking forward to getting inside our stomachs all day, we decided ok then, it's fine, let's wait and just have a drink or two in the bar. We get handed our buzzer, and head to the bar.
We notice that half the restaurant is empty, with a few large tables for large groups like ourselves, so I go back to this guy and ask about it, his response is 'Oh yes half the restaurant is closed because we don't have enough staff'.
Um what? This is London, in summer, when there are bounds of tourists and hot and hungry city workers wanting an air-conditioned restaurant with calorific comforting fast food after work. Surely you would employ enough staff to cover the entire restaurant during this busy season? I used to work in hospitality, I know how busy restaurants get in summer.
So anyway, moving on, eventually, an hour and a half later, at 8pm, we're finally seated. We hungrily eyed up the menu and ordered garlic bread and some chicken wings to curb the gnawing hunger. The garlic bread arrived...then the chicken wings eventually arrived about 10 minutes later.
*Sigh* this is where it went even more downhill. Our main meals took forever...we waited...and waited...and waited. The hunger was getting too much, I just wanted my fajitas and fries, apart from one slice of your dried out and tasteless garlic bread, I hadn't eaten since lunch time so as to save myself for gorging on your calorific heaven, and by this time I was feeling quite unwell.
At 9pm, an hour after we ordered, (Yes. NINE PM. A full 2 and a half hours after we had got there) we finally got our main meals. well, everyone else's came out, then mine came out later on, because your staff clearly don't think people want to eat at the same time. We tucked in, but the fries were cold, and my fajitas were just...bleh. The 4 minuscule tortillas were too doughy and just a bit damp really, and they weren't nearly enough to fit everything into. Although the chicken was good it seemed to be sitting on a bed of sodding sodden onions. There were maybe one or two small pieces of yellow pepper, but apart from that? Onions.
I don't know about you TGI's, but I'm not really a huge fan of eating a plate of onions.
We ate quickly, hoping to leave quickly. By this time we were fed up and just wanted to go home. Just like everything else the bill took a while to appear, so we eventually left the restaurant at 10pm, 3 and a half hours after we got there. Thank goodness it was over and we were finally outta there.
By the time I got home I was worn out and felt cheated that I'd paid for what was possibly the worst experience in a restaurant in my life. You ruined my colleague's leaving dinner with your incompetence, and didn't even apologize when I queried the lack of service in the restaurant, and that, is what has made me so angry.
Our experience was so bad I think I'm slightly scarred by it. I've been a massive fan of your quick, fast, but pretty decent comfort food for years, but I think it's safe to say I won't be going back to TGI Fridays for a while, if ever. The service we received was unacceptable, so if I ever want American style comfort food in London again, I know where Hard Rock Cafe is.
PS: Also the Oreo Milkshake needs some ice-cream, it was far too runny. Pina Colada was good though.