The Cheesecake Factory: How To Lose A Customer For Life

The Cheesecake Factory

It’s pretty hard to lose me as a customer. I am usually quite forgiving and realize that everyone has their bad days and things can go wrong that are not the fault of the person I’m dealing with. I almost always give a company a chance to rectify the issue at hand and in most instances, they come through. That certainly wasn’t the case with The Cheesecake Factory.

I was on the road and stopped in for dinner. I ordered a salad and burger. I decided to place some of the salad on the burger when it became painfully obvious that the salad wasn’t vegetarian. Mixed among the greens was a juicy, dead moth. While I don’t mind extra protein in my diet in most instances, I’m not in the habit of eating dead moths in my salad or on my burger. I politely called the waitress over and pointed out the extra hors d’oeuvre and asked if it might be possible to get another salad and burger.

At this point, it probably was within my right to be a bit upset as finding a winged critter in one’s food has the effect of kind of ruining one’s appetite, but stuff like this happens. It wasn’t going to kill me and, thankfully, I had seen the intruder before I had actually taken a bite out of it. I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it and demand anything since they weren’t offering any (which I think quality customer service would have done in such a situation) if I could simply get my meal sans the extra added morsel.

I received my new meal and I thought that I would be coming back to The Cheesecake Factory again until I received the bill. For some unfathomable reason, the management found it acceptable to not only charge me for the entire meal, but also for the first salad with the moth in it. As you might expect, I wasn’t nearly as forgiving this time and called the manager over. He said he would take care of it, but instead of bringing back the bill himself, he had the waitress do it for him. When I then asked for his card from the waitress, he again didn’t materialize, but the waitress brought it over to me. For the record, the manager did ultimately comp the salad (the cheapest item on the bill — nothing else), but it was done in such an unprofessional way that it left a huge, bad taste in my mouth.

A complaint to the corporate website has gone unanswered and so The Cheesecake Factory now has some dirty laundry aired out for all to see (and me telling everyone that I won’t be going there again and encouraging anyone I know do avoid that restaurant was well). It didn’t have to be this way if they had provided even some basic customer service for this situation.

If this had been you in a similar situation, what would have been your reaction and what would have you done?

(Photo courtesy of Bob B. Brown)

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28 Responses to The Cheesecake Factory: How To Lose A Customer For Life

  1. david says:

    That’s disgusting! Couldn’t they be shut down for serving insects in their food?

  2. deana says:

    My parents ran a restaurant when I was younger. If anything like this had ever happened, the entire meal would have been free. I can’t even imagine what the manager was thinking?

  3. ben says:

    It always amazes me when stores let things get to this point. It would have been so easy to fix and the mere fact that this has now been printed on the Internet will cost them more than if they had quickly and efficiently dealt with the problem when it happened.

    The true test of good/great customer service isn’t when the first thing goes wrong, but when the second and third things go wrong.

  4. Joanne says:

    Sounds like you encountered a manager that is in need of additional training. In today’s world, customer service is everything! Can’t imagine why you haven’t heard back from the corporate office???

  5. dave says:

    I would contact the local health athorities. In my experience, if there is poor customer service, there are also a host of other problems with the restaurant. If this is an unlucky one time instance, then there shouldn’t be any issues. If it is an indication of a larger probelm at the restaurant, better to have the health authorities take care of it before someone gets really sick.

  6. greta says:

    I don’t think I could have eaten anything else if I had seen that. My meal would have been over right then and there!

  7. Teresa Jones says:

    They need Restaurant Stakeout it’s obvious they don’t know that if they have no returning customers or customers don’t recommend their establishment they won’t have a business very long especially in Santa Barbara. I’m always asked where to go for lunch/dinner and I never will recommend Cheese cake factory!!

  8. benjamin says:

    This is a problem of corporate-run restaurants wherein managers are pressured to deliver profits at any cost. Customer service becomes secondary to the bottom line. This manager must have been trained to think in these terms and it emulates the overall philosophy of the upper management.

  9. connie says:

    The customer service was deplorable but the moth could have flown in the salad after it had been served and at least it wasn’t a roach. A moth is not a sign of being unclean just a creature that flew in the door but whatever if it had been me as the manager I would have apologized gave you new food and reduced the bill and even given you a gift card!

  10. Karen says:

    I agree with you Dave. If their eyebrows didn’t go up in surprise, they are accustomed and desensitized to this sort of problem because of its frequency.

  11. Penny says:

    I think the customer did the right thing,even writing this review.

  12. Carol says:

    Years ago my husband and I went to IHOP while on a weekend vacation – and the waitress (accidently) knocked over the complementary pot of coffee onto me. She offered me paper towels to wipe up (luckily it wasn’t scorching hot). We never saw the waitress or any other wait staff the rest of the meal. She must have been watching us, because she somehow got our bill on to our table without us knowing. Yes, the full bill – nothing was comped, even though my clothes were completely covered in coffee.

    Couldn’t find a manager, couldn’t find a wait person. We paid for the food only, and then also wrote to the corporate office. Nothing in reply.

    I avoid IHOP like the plague, and based on your experience, I will also avoid Cheesecake Factory.

  13. Bob says:

    I agree with you. I was the “not come back type” before opening a restaurant 16 years ago. I became much more forgiving and would explain my dissatisfaction to the waitress etc. Your experience was pretty unforgivable in my book. The flip side is that I’ve learned to recognize a true problem vs needless whining!!

  14. Marianne says:

    I had a different experience at a Red Robin, but same ultimate result. A child at a nearby table vomited. Gross, but it happens. The restaurant’s reaction, and then corporate’s, is what lost me as a customer. The restaurant used a regular mop to slop the contents around as it was ‘cleaned up’, didn’t check to make sure it was all removed, and there was no manager in site to discuss this with. When I contacted corporate, they said they’d have the restaurant contact me, which never happened, then corporate never responded when I followed up with them informing them of the lack of local response. So, I let everyone know why I do not go into a Red Robin restaurant any longer.

  15. Mara says:

    While I may not go back to that particular restaurant, I wouldn’t punish the entire chain. I have found hair in my food and just let them know, insist politely it be taken off my bill, and leave quietly. While I may tell others, I don’t and wouldn’t find it necessary to alert the entire world. Things happen,maybe a bad day or perhaps they were so humiliated they could not face you. Get over it. We are all humans.

  16. jay says:

    Not defending the behavior at the restaurant, but I’d like all to remember how hard waitpersons work, at both Mom&Pops, and corporate chains. They seldom even make minimum wage, typically are overworked, tips are now frequently pooled, and one can lose their job in a split second. Managers in chains are also under tremendous pressure and time constraints.
    It’s a tough line of work, with little monetary reward.

    That said, there should be protocols in place for incidents such as those mentioned here. As they say, “the customer’s always right” and restaurants depend on their return customers. Obviously, word of unprofessional behavior spreads like wildfire.

  17. JoeP says:

    I’ve been to the Cheesecake Factory exactly once, and will never go back. The reason? While waiting for our table, we headed to the bar for a drink. I got a draft beer, and she got a glass of house white wine. The bill came to almost $15.

    I understand that restaurants make a lot of their money on bar service, but these prices were over the top. In this case, I think the CF thought that since they were recently opened, and were in the ritzy side of town, they could charge that much and get away with it. They did with us…exactly one time.

  18. I think I’ve just lost my appetite for dinner. I’ve heard Cheesecake Factory criticized before. Not on my list of places I want to go to.

  19. jeanne says:

    I would contact the Board of Health or similiar agency’s to send them for an inspection…this can be done annonymously (sp)..look it up on the internet for the agency in that area..I would again notify corporate and again…(doesn’t cost you anything to do this)…my family loves the Cheescake factory and I’ll be sending your story to them.

  20. Mikee says:

    So you didn’t have to pay for the salad with a moth, and that’s somehow evidence that the Cheesecake Factory didn’t take care of you?

    First World Problems from Whiny Crybabies With Too Much Time.

  21. Meg says:

    I had a bad experience at Banana Republic returning a bag that started unraveling on first use. Store staff gave wrong information, another was rude on the phone, after confirming return policy with headquarters local staff still didn’t replace my bag. I used the story as an example at staff development talk at a well ranked university and informed the store and headquarters I had done so. That got their attention.

  22. Bob says:

    I am a restaurant manager and I have to say something. What the hell is wrong with people? Why do people think they can go out to eat and treat the enitre restaurant staff like slaves. People come out to eat and act like they are entitled and own the place and that the server should kiss there butts the entire time. Excuse me last time I checked we were all human. People come in and act like they own the place. When the kitchen or staff makes a mistake I own up to it and apologize but I am not going to give the farm away. We are a business and I have to make a balanced finanical and guest service based decision. Why people think they can come out and order something then tell me they dont like it just because and expect it off the bill is crazy. You ordered it , we made it correctly. Because you got soemthing and didnt like it I should have to pay for it? NO my friend. I think everyone should have to work in a restaurant or retail for some point in there life to see how rude and arrogant people are. People are really nasty and have this self entitledness about them. As to the the original post, dude you got a salad and a moth flew in it. Im sure the kitchen doesnt have dead moths in a cambro to put in peoples salad. The manager did a table visit and has a lot of things to do than running back and forward to your table because you had a little moth in your salad. You got it off the bill not a big deal. Im sure you have ate worse.

  23. Bob says:

    You sir said it exaclty!

  24. Bob says:

    ARE YOU SERIOUS? You need to find something better in life to do. Call the health inspector because a harmless moth??? YOu are exactly the type of people that get made fun of and servers/restaurant workers hate. Please keep your money and make your own damn food at home. Its a moth, they fly in the air, are we supposed to have nets in restaurants to catch all the possible moths that can fly in the door when its open? Give me a break lady.

  25. Bob says:

    People its a moth. There is no way to prevent a moth from flying in the air, its going to happen. Its not like they served him a moth on purpouse. Call the health in spector?? You all have way to much time on your hands and are the people that restaurant staff hate. Please keep your money and self entitledness home and make your own damn food.

  26. Bob says:

    Good please dont go. YOu are the type of people restaurnat staff hate as well. YOu all have no idea what your talking about, you obviously dont work in the industry Teresa or Greta. It was a moth. It flys in the air. BIG DEAL. They made him a new one. Im sure you have ate worse. And trust me We can tell your type when you walk in the door Teresa, you probably talk down to the staff and think you are the best thing on earth. Why dont you take a long hard look at your life and find out how you got this air about you that makes you think your the best thing on earth. and the cheesecake factory is a multi billion dollar company so I dont think they are going anywhere fyi. Iggnorance is not bliss

  27. Joe Teh Blow says:

    A moth? A MOTH?? How Dare THEYYYYYYY????!!!!! Wow, the responses from people over a moth are over the top. If you feel you were treated poorly at any place, don’t go back. If you want to join in this blogger’s HArumPHing with over the top outrage due to a moth, please, for the love of Mike, get a life. Thanks.

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