View Full Version : Poor service on recent trip

08-10-2006, 05:21 PM
I have an opinion question for you all, but first, my unfortunately lengthy explanation. We returned yesterday from a trip to WDW, and the service we received on this trip was noticeably worse than on previous trips. It was poor by any standards. Not across the board, because there were some restaurants (Citricos, Fulton's) where the service was just fine.

- We had 11:30 reservations at Brown Derby. Our server only had 2 tables, yet my husband's drink glass remained empty for a full 15 minutes. The server passed by THREE times, each time saying he would be right back with a drink, before finally bringing a fresh drink. At that point, our meal was over.

- We ate at Victoria & Albert's, and our server waited 12-14 minutes after we were finished eating before she cleared away our dirty plates.

- Our server at Beaches & Cream first got our drink order wrong, then ignored us until another server stepped up and began helping us. The second server ended up finishing out the meal as our server, and the first one never re-appeared.

None of our servers were rude. They were all very friendly and courteous: they just weren't doing their jobs. We were not on the dining plan, so it was not as though their tip from us was guaranteed.

For those wondering how I know the times so closely, my husband & I do mystery shopping, so I have fallen into the habit of keeping time of how long it takes the servers to clear, how quickly our meals are brought, whether we're addressed by name when our check is brought back, etc. Just good serving skills that we now automatically register & remark upon.

None of these incidents were dramatic enough for us to call a manager, but as time went on and this problem seemed to be systemic, we became concerned.

My question is this: would you write a letter to Disney about this? We always write a thank-you letter when we return, so this would be a separate letter. I don't know whether we should do this or not, because we are regulars at V&A's, and they will immediately know who we are when we send in the letter. I don't want a complaint to spoil the relationships that we've built there, but I am concerned that the problem of poor service is going unaddressed.
Any thoughts?
Heather W

08-10-2006, 05:51 PM
I would not write a letter. Since you are talking about three different incidents at three completely different areas in and around the parks it sounds to me like a stroke of bad luck. Sort of like having "one of those days" where everything seems to go wrong no matter how many times in the past things have gone right. I guess I'm also one of those people who like to address service problems at the time and then tip accordingly. So if it were us with the non refilled drink issue I would have probably stopped another waiter and told them that we told our server x times we needed a refill but nothing has happened and could you help us out. Usually that will snap the first server back into their job and they will go above and beyond to make sure the rest of our meal is wonderful. I think servers are owed to know at the time of service if they are wonderful and went above and beyond or if they need a little tweaking. If it is going to bother you though, write the letter since it sounds like all your concerns are valid. I wouldn't think that doing so would hurt the relationships you've created.

08-10-2006, 07:26 PM
Heather, were you on the Dining Plan?

08-10-2006, 07:33 PM
...We were not on the dining plan, so it was not as though their tip from us was guaranteed...
Heather W
Doesn't look like it, Treehugger. What would you do, write the letter or chalk it up to 'one of those days' as CrzyforPiglet suggested?
I think I'd let it ride, or if I must, write a general letter to Hospitality (or whoever handles Food & Drink for WDW) pointing out that only because the gaffes in service occured at three different times and places was it being brought to their attention.

08-10-2006, 08:40 PM
I would probably just let it go, but that's me. Heather, your post is very good in outlining the problems you experienced and I'm am sure that Disney would welcome your comments, if you do decide to write them. I probably wouldn't notice some of these things because when I'm at Disney I enter this weird Zen state <insert Twilight Zone music here> that I become a total airhead. I once let a baziillion Brazilian teens cut in front of me on Splash and didn't even realize it until my sister was going ballistic. I can only recall two times when I had borderline service, not bad for 30 trips! I hope you have a better experience next time. :wave2:

08-10-2006, 09:19 PM
I don't know what I would do, but I'm glad you shared your thoughts about the service.

08-11-2006, 05:25 AM
Servers are tasked with responsibilities that we patrons don't actually see them perform, but contribute to our experience nevertheless. For example, before noon, you can expect that servers are helping setup and stock the prep areas, since there are typically only a few patrons in the restaurant then. This helps keep the server fully utilized while they're working. From your description, it sounds like the server was indeed busy, and even mentioned each time that s/he hadn't forgotten about getting the drink. It may seem like a long time, since you were keeping track of the time so meticulously.

Do keep in mind, though, that the labor market in Orlando is really bad right now: There are simply no high quality, experienced workers available. So there are clearly going to be some ramifications of that. I'm not sure I'd write a letter given your circumstances, since the ramifications of the tight labor market are well-known to Disney, and as you suggest, you may not appreciate the downside impacts of your letter, on your next visit.

08-11-2006, 08:34 AM
I probably wouldn't. Not to downplay your complaints, but getting a drink order wrong, not refilling water/soda or waiting to clear the table wouldn't warrant me writing a letter to anyone. I might not give a full 20-25 percent tip, since this was clearly-server related, but I save my letter writing if I witness something really, really bad in a restaurant, something that might jeopardize one's health. The things you described, if they really bothered me at the time, I probably would have brought up with the manager.

08-11-2006, 08:42 AM
I`d write to the manager of V&A - after all its a high end restaurant and service should be top notch. If I were the manager I would want to know.
I would mention the many good visits you`ve had there as well though.

08-11-2006, 08:49 AM
As others have said, I think its a stroke of bad luck.
I am a waitress and work in a very busy restaurant. I believe I am a good and competent waitress. Many guests fail to see that I am not solely serving them. I am responsible at any one time for up to 12 tables and whilst sometimes everything can run smoothly, meals for tables come out at staggered times (ie not having 3 tables meals ready at the same time) or infact 3 tables finishing their meals at the same time. But sometimes I have to take a table of 4's meals out, take over the sauce trays, take drink orders and deal with any other matters etc, somehow put the drinks through the system, repeat the process twice more for the other tables, take desert orders for another table, deliver drinks etc. So sometimes the waitor/waitress can't clear the table as soon as your meals have finished. Its hard because they are your main contact and provide your experience ultimately.
You can imagine whilst running round like headless chickens, the odd thing can slip our minds. What people dont see immediately round them may be the cause of a problem.

Its not a difficult job by any stretch of the imagination, but you need to be really organised and some people just cannot juggle these things in their minds. Which appears might have been the case! We had a bad experience at the restaurant in the Polynesian Restaurant on our second visit. It's hard as I'm a waitress and I analyse everything and am like 'well I wouldn't do it that way' etc. Its obviously the same for you as you are mystery guests...we can't switch off! ha ha

And as for tipping, i agree... tips are to be earnt, not expected!

I hope it didnt dampen your experience too much!!

08-11-2006, 09:08 AM
It seems like what the poster is pointing out is not any specific problems that ruined their experience, but a pattern of sub-par service that, at one time, was not acceptable at WDW. Labor market or not, they hold themselves to a higher standard...it's built into the tradition of the corporation. So it's interesting to see so many people making excuses for them.

I think your concerns are valid, and if you would like WDW to respond to your experience, a letter seems like a good choice.

08-11-2006, 11:33 AM
I disagree. First, I remember all these things happening, occasionally, even during the same visit, over the past ten or fifteen years. Second, Disney does hold itself to a higher standard, and achieves that standard, exceeding the quality that you get at other comparabe theme parks, nationwide. There is no reason to expect that labor market problems wouldn't affect even the best.

So it's interesting to see so many people making excuses for them.This comment is argumentative and non-constructive. Discuss the topic, not the discussion. :teacher:

08-11-2006, 12:09 PM
Here's another excuse for them: At this point they've been dealing with huge summer crowds...all the WDW employees are probably just sick to death of "people" in general. Probably can't wait for things to settle down a little bit. :teeth:

08-11-2006, 01:15 PM
Thank you for all of the replies - I appreciate hearing different takes on this. For us it is different, since we were the ones noticing & bothered by the service.

I wanted to reiterate that this did not in any way impair our overall enjoyment of the trip. It was just something that I remarked upon, and, since it occurred at a variety of restaurants, it seemed to create a pattern of poor service rather than isolated incidents. Nothing was serious enough for us to speak with a manager about; we just felt a concern that grew with each experience.

Thank you again,
Heather W

a Really Bad Egg
08-12-2006, 03:34 PM
Forget the letter...and hope for better next time.

08-12-2006, 04:31 PM
Whenever I am deciding if I should complain at a restaurant about a specific employee I always say to myself "Is this worth ruining their day?" I am a server and I have had guests complain about me twice in the eight years that I have served (it happens!), both days my night was totally ruined, because no one likes to have people complain about them. If it is something that has been done that is unacceptable, and worth ruining their day than you should complain. If it is something small, and it didn't ruin your day/trip it is not worth it. Servers are human too, they make mistakes, and generally they are totally unintentional. Some errors do need to be brought to the attention of management though, and that is where you have a decision to make.

08-12-2006, 05:56 PM
Hi Heather - I could tell you were a shopper reading your post! I schedule shoppers and have shopped for 8 years now and you just still always notice timings etc and know what the standards should be (probably are).

Its funny (well this wasn't especially funny) but I was a bystander during a theft yesterday and was able to tell the police that at 3:03 I entered the parking lot and the car was not there, that I passed these specific descriptions of people) as I entered the building. That at 3:17 the kids reported that someone pulled up to the car, etc etc....the timing and paying attention is just a way of life now.

I would think that if I was going to send a letter about your specific problems I would make it an overall observation note to the main guest email line and not be so specific as to give your identity away (especially for V&A).

You did make some overall observations that are valuable and even if servers have other repsonsibilities generally dishes are to be cleared within just a few minutes, drinks refilled in a timely manner (and without having to ask over and over again) etc.