Delivery service snafus


Returning incorrect orders to the kitchen is common practice in a restaurant. Why should it be different for delivery? I recently had a delivery customer who called us to complain that he received the wrong item. Totally our (the delivery driver’s) mistake. I told him I would of course send the right item out immediately. When the driver got there, he gave the customer the correct item and asked for the wrong one back. The customer was furious that we would want the wrong food back and accused us of wanting to resell partially eaten food. 

– Owner, Pizzeria, Brooklyn, NY


In a previous column we discussed scammers and chronic complainers. But in this case, where the restaurant clearly made an error, I think your guest has a point. The key distinction in this case is the timing.

If a guest is sent the wrong item in a restaurant dining room, the offending item can be whisked away, a replacement made as quickly as possible, and, if necessary, a quickly prepared appetizer sent to appease a hungry, cranky guest.

With delivery, the incorrect order sits in the guest’s home for twenty or thirty minutes or more, while she or he waits for the replacement. The rest of the party may be eating and the temptation of the food sitting in front of the guest may be too great.

Ultimately, when your driver returned, the guest was simply getting what he should have gotten (and paid for) in the first place.

A good customer service rule to keep in mind when solving problems is “Fix + 1.” That is, by sending the correct item you fixed the guest’s problem, but at an inconvenience to the guest. An appropriate +1 could be to take the item off the bill completely, let the guest keep the wrong item, or, better, to offer a discount or complimentary item on the next order as an incentive to keep doing business with you.

The guest may also have been surprised by the driver’s request and it was too late to return the wrong order (it sounds like it was eaten). As usual, clear communication is key.

Finally, keeping track of your guests by their address or phone number in your POS system will help to weed out the legitimate concerns from the chronic complainers so you can offer great service, building loyalty to your restaurant.

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