A "hairy" situation over pizza...
August 10, 2007 6:29 PM   Subscribe

If a manager of a restaurant blatantly lies to you, what do you do? Should I continue eating at this local pizza place, or take my business elsewhere?

The Background:

A few of my friends were eating at a local pizza place. They are regular patrons at this restaurant, often times eating there a few times a week. The pizza's good, it's close by, and it's been a favorite of ours for a while. That being said, the manager knows us, and even mentions when we haven't been in for an extended period of time.

The Problem:

Hair was floating in one of the sodas. It was obvious, and identified as none of my friends due to its length and color. So, my friend walks over to the manager and hands him the cup and tells him of the hair. The manager proceeds to dig into the cup with a fork, removing a chunk of ice which the hair was frozen partially inside. He claims it was just a "trick of the eye" and that there was no actual hair.

The Questions:

How should my friend have responded to finding this hair in his soda? Do we forgive the manager and continue eating at one of our favorite pizza places even though he lied to our faces, just to save the cost of a dirt cheap soda? Is there any reason why he wouldn't just say sorry and offer a new soda? Should we just forget it ever happened and continue eating there like it's fine, even though it bothers us?

For the record, there would be absolutely no problem had he just offered us a new soda. Mistakes happen, people are hairy, and a stray hair is understandable. It's the lying to our faces thats the problem.
posted by MaHaGoN to Human Relations (26 answers total)
Depends on how good the pizza is.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2007

Don't go back.
posted by snap_dragon at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2007

Do they make their own ice (you mention the hair was frozen into a chunk of ice) or do they buy it elsewhere? If the latter, it might not really be the store's fault.

But then again, the manager did try to save face over being humble about it. If the lying offends you so much, then maybe you should find a new pizza place.
posted by fallenposters at 6:38 PM on August 10, 2007

The manager was running on autopilot when he responded to you. He didn't take in to account that you were loyal understanding customers, his first instinct was to deny the reality of the hair in the hopes that (in his mind at least) his restaurant, business, working life were not seen (perhaps by him or others) as dirty, inefficient, or a health hazard.

Furthermore there maybe other factors at work here. Perhaps he is frequently hustled by patrons looking for free stuff by claiming there is something wrong with their food...

Lastly, the guy manages a restaurant. Does it really matter if he is a "truthful person" or not? Does his lie make the pizza taste any worse? Is it really less of a value to you now knowing that you wouldn't trust this guy as an objective and honest judge of reality?

Anyway, why this is worthy of AskMe is beyond me... can't you make up your own mind about the restaurant?
posted by wfrgms at 6:40 PM on August 10, 2007

What would it cost you and what's it worth to you? If it's just as easy to find another equally-good place to hang out, then don't go back. If there's no alternative and not going back is going to have a huge negative impact on your ability to spend a nice night out with friends, then you should probably forget it ever happened. You're probably actually somewhere between those two extremes and you'll have to weigh out the options -- if you can avoid it, don't support this behaviour but, on the other hand, don't cut of your nose to spite your face.
posted by winston at 6:41 PM on August 10, 2007

I think I would have politely asked for another soda, and if the manager hadn't given me (your friend) one, I would have a real dilemma, because my first inclination is to think, "well, that's the last time I go here."

But this sounds like an established hangout for you and your friends, and it's easier to be all indignant right after something like that happens than it is to find a good pizza place.

So maybe just go back, tell the manager that your friend was weirded out by the hair in the ice thing, and give the manager a second chance before finding a new hangout.
posted by misha at 6:44 PM on August 10, 2007

It might help to isolate why this incident bothers you and your friends.

A) Is it an economic issue? "I didn't get a new soda."

B) Is it an ethical issue? "The manager lied to me"

C) Is it a hygiene issue? "If the manager is that cavalier about a hair embedded in ice, what exactly is comprising the toppings on my pizza."

For me, I would probably keep eating there for issue A, assuming the food is otherwise of good value. For issue B, I might or might not return, depending on how well the manager has previously treated me. For issue C, I would never return.
posted by jamaro at 6:46 PM on August 10, 2007

I think it's more like

D) The manager didn't value their repeat business and loyalty enough to admit there was a hair in the soda, so now they feel like chumps.

You should tell him that it's bugging you.

"Hey, I don't know what you were thinking, but we weren't going to make a huge fuss or embarrass you or anything...it was just a hair. But it was in there, and all we wanted was a fresh, hairless soda and a 'ooops, sorry about that'. "
posted by iconomy at 6:54 PM on August 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

That manager is an idiot. Soda is cheap. The margin must approach 100%. Did he really think he was making the restaurant more money by refusing to replace a cup of soda?

God only knows what other 'money-saving' decisions that guy makes.
posted by notyou at 6:57 PM on August 10, 2007

I doubt it was to save money - the manager was probably just embarrassed. (That may not be something to be embarrassed about - like you said, people are hairy. But embarrassment isn't always rational.)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2007

You're going to inconvenience yourself to "punish" his lying.
posted by smackfu at 7:22 PM on August 10, 2007

You're going to inconvenience yourself to "punish" his lying.

I agree with that statement. I tried to boycott a local restaurant once because they did something to piss me off (and for the life of me I can't remember what it was), but the point is, it hurt me much more than it hurt them. I loved their food and I missed going there. I eventually gave up on my boycott because I realized it was meaningless.
posted by amyms at 7:33 PM on August 10, 2007

Seconding Spaceman Spliff, he was probably embarrassed, possibly because you're such good customers and didn't engage his brain before taking action. It sounds like the service is otherwise excellent, so I'd go back without a doubt, it's not such a big deal. Everyone has off days.
posted by indienial at 7:58 PM on August 10, 2007

Your friend should have complained about the hair and asked for a fresh soda. It sounds from your description as though he just said "there's a hair in my soda" and let the manager try to guess what you wanted done about it. Maybe the reason the manager didn't say sorry and offer a new soda is because he thought you guys were looking to get your entire meal comped, instead of just getting a fresh soda.

This why you should always state what you want when you complain to management, so there's no confusion about what needs to be done to resolve the situation. To you it's just the cost of a soda, but it's not clear the manager knew that.

If you like the place, keep going back. It was a fairly minor issue food-wise and likely a misunderstanding about what you guys wanted done about it. It's probably not worth giving up good food over.
posted by stefanie at 8:08 PM on August 10, 2007

There was a cafe in my neighborhood that had decent, fast brunch. $10, with a mimosa. Went every weekend. Then one week I went, and I was told by the waiter they don't accept credit cards for anything under $15. No, you're wrong, I said, I'm here every week. So then the manager comes over. They've instituted a credit card minimum because they don't want people buying $3 coffees (which in my neighboorhod is the main point of cafes) and charging them. Despite my pointing out that it's stupid to have a $15 credit card minimum when brunch is $10, the guy was a huge dick about it. Fuck that place. That was almost 2 years ago, and I never went back. And I tell everyone I know not to go there, and they don't. You should not go back to the pizza place, and you should tell everyone you know about your experience. Nobody wants to waste their time and money on a business that isn't going to treat them right. Not to mention the whole thing with the hair (gross!)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:17 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

make your own pizza, it's a quick, simple, easy process. i do it twice a week in the summer, and i eat better pizza than any of you.
posted by bruce at 9:45 PM on August 10, 2007

So, not only should he let it inconvenience him, he should hold the grudge against the place for years. That's not healthy.
posted by smackfu at 9:47 PM on August 10, 2007

Sounds like a great time to go on a Pizza Hunt for the Ultimate Pizza in your area. Have some fun with experimentation.

If this place is really the best in your opinion, you can request the health department reports for it -- betcha didn't know that was publicly available, did you?

Then you'll know if it's the best pizza AND a relatively safe place to visit. Who knows? This incident could've been a one-off. Or it could be indicative of a bigger problem. But go try some other joints first.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:48 PM on August 10, 2007

Seriously? It's a hair in a soda. So the guy lied. Maybe he was having a really bad day and the hair in your friend's soda was the least of his problems at that moment. Why he lied, I have no idea. Ya know, people do strange things all the time to cover their butts. For the record, I know what he's talking about. I'm not saying you didn't see a hair, but I get what he was saying too. I can't believe I care this much but did he hand the soda back or get a new one? If he grabbed a new one then you're really splitting hairs here (pun intended.) I guarantee he's already forgotten about it. Hopefully you can too and just continue eating pizza there. Really, this is petty. I mean, you've never told a little white lie at work to cover your butt for whatever reason? Never? If you haven't I nominate you for sainthood.
posted by smeater44 at 10:12 PM on August 10, 2007

Get over it.
posted by trevyn at 10:26 PM on August 10, 2007

Make up your own mind. If you go back, you are saying that you don't mind eating at a place where they might serve you hair in your food and won't replace the food when asked. If that doesn't bother you, or the pizza is good enough to make up for it, then go.

Personal boycotts have little effect on anything, they're for your benefit. I don't go to Future Shop anymore to avoid a number of things. I don't care what it does to their bottom line, it keeps me sane and that's good enough.

If it were me, well... I certainly wouldn't have walked out of the place with a new soda, or else words would have been exchanged that would have resulted in my not coming back. I don't care whether he admits there was a hair in the drink or not, I would be asking for a free drink and meaning to get it. I would hope that the owner would know me enough to realize I'm not trying to "score" some dirt-cheap soda. Maybe you want to try to explain that to him and see how he reacts. Then you get to realize if he sees you as good, regular customers or just another few bucks in the till.
posted by splice at 3:15 AM on August 11, 2007

He lied because you cornered him. It wasn't bright, but it was probably just a defensive reaction.

I called a restaurant once to tell them that myself and 3 of my co-workers got food poisoning from lunch the day before, and they got all defensive and in denial about it. People are strange.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:46 AM on August 11, 2007

Let it go.
posted by LarryC at 6:46 AM on August 11, 2007

My dad stopped going to our neighborhood gelato place when I was in high school because of some minor moral outrage. Everyone else in the family kept going there because the gelato was freaking amazing. I've never had better, and I've been to all those places in Rome that everyone says are the best gelato in the world.

The place closed a year after I went to college. I would have felt so bad if I'd stopped eating that gelato a minute before I had to. If this place shut down, how much would you miss it? I think that's what I would base my decision on, because it's not exactly uncommon for a small independent foodservice enterprise to shut down.
posted by crinklebat at 2:41 PM on August 11, 2007

Isn't it possible that he wasn't lying, and he DID think it was just a hairline crack in the ice? Lying is a strong term. He might have just been wrong. Nevertheless, as others have said, soda is cheap and he should have replaced it.

This made me laugh because my Mom used to do that kind of thing all the time - "What hair? No, honey, I don't think that was a hair, it just looked like one." Or "No, I didn't use "X ingredient" in that casserole," X being one or another ingredient one of us kids was picky about. She's always been very honest otherwise, but she was very wiley about trying to get her persnickety brood to eat.

Are you young? It kinda sounds like he was treating you like kids instead of adults. At any rate, using another throwback to my mother, she always used to say "don't cut off your nose to spite your face." As others have said, if you like the place, let it go.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:37 PM on August 11, 2007

i've worked in a few pizza shops around the world, different countries. the most important thing about good service is hygeine. the hair isn't the point. the point is the place is managed by someone who doesn't respect delivery to the customer, and doesnt' prioritise hygeine in his store. forget about the hair, i assume the kids that work there arent washing their hands when they shoudl, and maybe worse. talk to the guy.
posted by edtut at 9:56 PM on August 11, 2007

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